Jazz society puts money where its music is

The group will present a season-ending concert and six scholarships. "It all comes back to the fact that we love jazz. ..."

Published May 18, 2007

SPRING HILL - Though far removed from the Christmas holiday season, the month of May brings to members of the Hernando Jazz Society a chance to play Santa Claus to some worthy kids.

Each spring, the club's scholarship committee chooses three recipients to receive $500 grants to further their musical education. However, thanks to a gift by a longtime society member, the committee was able to put three additional names on this year's scholarship list.

On Sunday, the society will stage its final concert and dance of the season. In addition to the traditional jam session, club members will hand out scholarships to Ashley Campbell, Coleen Campbell, Cortney Cook and Ashley Schoendorf from Springstead High; Cameron Gordon from Nature Coast Technical High; and Nicole Baita from Central High.

"We've always enjoyed being able to help young musicians, " said society president Ed Lawrence.

Lawrence is one of the club's founders. In 1993 he and five Spring Hill musicians called the first formal meeting of the Hernando Jazz Society. The group spent some time discussing club business - then the instruments came out.

"It's always been about the music, " said treasurer Frank Domick. "The club has done a lot of things in the community, but it all comes back to the fact that we love jazz and want to see it go on after we're gone."

Much of that effort is directed toward supporting music education. The society has developed bonds with young Hernando County musicians. Each spring, it hosts the Hudson Middle School jazz band for a special concert for society members.

Although its ranks have dwindled in recent years, the club still boasts an active roll of more than 200. Some of them have a reputation for generosity, said Lawrence. Last December, longtime member Edward Sheren established the Ruth S. Sheren scholarship in memory of his late wife. The money from the fund enabled the club to increase its scholarship program.

Lawrence believes the money is well spent.

"I have no doubt that these kids are going to become great players, " he said. "I've heard them, and some of them already are. Hopefully, they'll come back to our community to entertain some day."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 352 848-1435.

If you go

Get into the rhythm

The Hernando Jazz Society will have its final spring concert and dance from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the SNPJ Hall, 13383 County Line Road, Spring Hill. Set-ups and light refreshments will be available. Admission for nonmembers is $7. Call 666-4842.