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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

NORTHEAST OHIO JAZZ SOCIETY

NORTHEAST OHIO JAZZ SOCIETY

The NORTHEAST OHIO JAZZ SOCIETY has become one of America's leading organizations devoted to promoting the appreciation of jazz music. It was founded late in 1977 at the instigation of jazz enthusiast Willard Jenkins, who became the group's first president and subsequently was made executive director of the National Jazz Service Organization in Washington. Formally incorporated on 22 March 1978, the Northern Ohio Jazz Society by the end of that year had begun presenting concerts and publishing a newsletter, Jazz Central. Working with CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, it helped launch the first Tri-C JazzFest in 1980. Two years later it inaugurated an annual series of free summer Sunday afternoon jazz concerts at CAIN PARK. With the aid of grants from the CLEVELAND and GUND foundations, the NOJS in 1989 hired John Richmond as its first full-time executive director and opened an office in the Heights Rockefeller Bldg. on Mayfield Rd. In 1991, the NOJS was chosen for membership in the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest National Jazz Network. Subsequently, Network funding was used to commission the composition of "The Picasso Suite" by saxophonist David Murray, who performed it during a major Pablo Picasso exhibit at the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART in 1992. In 1993 it published Cleveland Jazz History by local telejournalist Joe Mosbrook, who also edited the society's monthly newsletter. Numbering several hundred members by 1995, NOJS was presenting more than 40 concerts yearly to an aggregate audience of 13,000.