Jazz Society gets into the swing of it

It's been a year for big wins and big losses for the Central Florida Jazz Society, the venerable organization whose annual scholarship fund has been the beneficiary of the Orlando Music Awards since the event debuted in 1997.

The wins have been for this year's scholarship recipients; auditions held on May 15 yielded six winners, including vibraphonist Christian Tamburr, now a member of lounge king Michael Andrew's Swingerhead, nominated in the Lounge/Swing/Rockabilly category. Somewhat of a prodigy, the Satellite High School student has been playing on a pro level for years. Tamburr was recognized for his vibraphone work with the $1,000 Rick Fay Memorial Scholarship.

The late Fay, a jazz musician himself, was one of the CFJS's defining members who died this year, along with longtime president Sid Weinberg -- serious losses to the group. But the society's goal to develop educational opportunities to propagate the art of jazz continues. In early spring, the CFJS will accept applications for its 2000 scholarship fund, which is open to any student of music from high-school seniors on up to any-age musician, as long as they've not yet graduated from college. Ultimately, the musicians must prove their mettle during a live audition, usually staged at the University of Central Florida, where they jam with professional jazz musicians -- always paid for their participation, of course, as was the reigning precept of the late Weinberg, a career musician, who was always able to support himself as such.

A panel of judges scores the auditions and winners take home the cash. How much they award depends on how much is raised during the society's annual jazz jam and other fund-raising sources, including the Orlando Music Awards, which donated $800 of the $4,500 pool. Last May, guitarist George Dimitrov of Seminole Community College, a native of Hungary, was the recipient of the $1,000 Orlando Weekly scholarship.

Another $1,000 memorial award, one honoring the late legend Jesse Stone, was given to pianist Dan Palmieri of the University of North Florida. Other recipients included Rick Lee, trumpet, Florida A&M University; Kyle Lavery, bass, SCC; Ryan Bricknell, trombone, SCC.

Karen Weinberg, widow of the late president, whose own association to the CFJS goes back almost to its start-up in 1974, says there's only one problem: getting the word out to aspiring musicians about the availability of the scholarship. With the membership of the organization skewed older, there's a need to draw fresh blood to jazz -- appreciators and musicians.

Outside of the scholarship efforts, the CFJS exists to present live jazz -- the society gathers every third Sunday for an afternoon concert at the American Legion Club -- and to pay the artists for their performances. What a concept.

For information, call the Central Florida Jazz Society, 539-2357.

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