Letter from the President, December 2013

Greetings Jazz Lovers,

It has been a number of years since my last Letter from the President of The Sidney Bechet Society. I would like to update everyone on all the activities that are taking place with The Society.

Our recently completed 2013 season was artistically a huge success. March featured San Antonio’s Jim Cullum Jazz Band. April featured Catherine Russell, the first time a Bechet Society concert was lead by a vocalist. June’s concert was Dan Levinson’s Jam Session of the Millennium, featuring 18 musicians. September saw the return of Ed Polcer, an SBS original who performed in our first year of concerts. And October featured the always popular Evan Christopher, with special guest Marty Napoleon. I believe our 2013 season is a great example of how the Sidney Bechet Society continues to present the best of classic jazz in New York City.

Our upcoming 2014 season promises to be an even more eventful concert season. April will bring back Dan Levinson for his Jam Session of the Millennium-Encore!. We had so many enthusiastic, positive comments about Dan’s 2013 concert that we’ve decided to bring back the whole gang. But rest assured this will not merely be a repeat performance. Dan has assured us there will be some new faces and added surprises.

May will be a truly historic concert for both The Bechet Society and fans of jazz. The Mat Domber Tribute Concert. Mat Domber (for those of you not familiar with Mat) was a huge supporter and promoter of jazz. Mat and Rachel Domber founded Arbors Records in 1989 and for the past 25 years have released over 300 CDs featuring many of the artists who have appeared at Bechet Society concerts. Additionally starting in 1994, the Dombers produced their extremely popular March of Jazz Festival in Clearwater, Florida. Sadly Mat passed away in 2012. The Sidney Bechet Society along with Rachel Domber are producing a concert in Mat’s honor that will truly feature an all-star lineup. Confirmed so far are the following musicians (although this list is bound to expand): Randy Sandke, Anat Cohen, Wycliffe Gordon, Dick Hyman, Bob Wilber, Bucky Pizzarelli, Warren Vache, Joel Forbes, Rebecca Kilgore, Ed Metz, Rossano Sportiello, Harry Allen, John Allred, and Rajiv Jayaweera. Truly a concert not to be missed.

The complete details of our fall concerts are still being finalized. However I can tell you that the September concert will be led by the recently nominated Jazz Journalist Association upcoming musician of the year Bria Skonberg. Bria plans to feature musicians whom New Yorkers rarely get to hear live in the Big Apple. Our October concert will be led by the extremely popular but rarely seen in New York trumpet virtuoso, Byron Stripling.

As you can see, 2014 should be another fantastic year of Bechet Society concerts. As I said earlier, 2013 was artistically a very successful year but financially this was not the case. Due to the continued escalation in costs of putting on these concerts, The Bechet Society for the first time in our history showed a loss of income. The Bechet Society has never accepted nor sought out any grant money or government funding. And we have only hinted about donations in a low key manner. For those of you who have donated over the years, we express our deep gratitude. Rather than ask for donations (although we will still gladly accept any), I have a suggestion, or maybe I should say a request.

Please think about purchasing a season ticket for all four of our concerts rather than individual tickets. Even better, how about purchasing an extra ticket and inviting a friend? Perhaps someone who might not normally attend a traditional jazz concert? Doing so would accomplish two things. First it would help ensure that we will sell enough tickets to cover our expenses and, more importantly, it will expose more people to this great music that we all so love and appreciate. And hopefully these newcomers will in turn become regular attendees at Bechet Society concerts.

On behalf of Donald, Phil, Katherine, Geri and myself (the Bechet Society volunteer staff), we thank you all for your continued support of The Sidney Bechet Society. This will be our 17th year of producing wonderful concerts. Hope to see you all starting on April 21, 2014.

Eric Offner
SBS President

PS: Currently, tickets for the 2014 season can be purchased directly from the Sidney Bechet Society. Season tickets can only be purchased through the Society, via this mail form. The Symphony Space box office will start selling tickets in early 2014.