Our Mission

The mission of the Heart of Carolina Jazz Society is to promote and increase public knowledge and understanding of jazz
through performance and educational activities. We are committed to involving minorities through diverse programming,
outreach and involvement on our Board. We are dedicated to presenting excellent guest jazz artists as well as running a fine
community/volunteer jazz orchestra.

Board of Directors

  • Rob Hill, President
  • Dr. Gregg Gelb, Founder and Musical Director
  • Lauren Winkens
  • Jordan Anderson
  • Reverend Iris Jordan
  • Dr. Darin Knapp

Our History

Way Back When

The Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra originated as the “Community Jazz Ensemble” in 1990 when Gregg Gelb was a Visiting Artist at Central Carolina Community College. His love of jazz music and the opportunity to share it with others was an exciting venture of the Lee County Parks & Recreation Department. The group began June 11, 1990 and met weekly at the Lee county Arts & Community Center in Sanford, NC. The orchestra’s first public concert was held there October 11, 1990. The merry band of original players included (on saxophone) Sister Blaise Semple, Carolyn Poplin, Bob Bennett, Marty Foster, Bill Fritz, Gregg Gelb, and (on trumpet) Don Pike, Paul Irvine, Sam Tinsley, Tim Mercer, and (on trombone) Frank Burgoyne, Olin Sluss, Don Wazenegger, Jerry Johnson, and (in the rhythm section) Bill Falconer on Piano, Reinette Seaman on bass, John Brookes on Drums, Kenneth Graham on congas, and Marian Carlsen on guitar. Don Nedza was the vocalist.

Where We Are Now

Since 1990, the Orchestra has played for thousands of jazz enthusiasts around North Carolina at schools, artscenters, festivals, dances, and more. More than 35 guest artists have performed at the Jazz Society’s Temple Theatre series in Sanford. In 2002, the orchestra’s book has over 240 tunes (and growing). The book includes a carefully considered repertoire of pieces that reflect a wide range of Big Band Jazz styles and arrangements. Included are classics such as Two O’clock Jump, Stompin’ at the Savoy, and Frenesi, as well as many ballads such as The Nearness of You, Imagination, and September Song. That’s a far cry from the 10 or so tunes in the book at our first Fearrington Fall Fling where we had to play pieces twice and some thrice to fill the time.

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