The future sounds jazzy in Somers Point

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SOMERS POINT--Jazz guitar legend Pat Martino will headline the 2013 Cape Bank Jazz @ the Point Festival, according to Nick Regine, president of the Somers Point Jazz Society.

Martino, a Philadelphia-born post-bop and modern jazz practitioner who has recovered from a 1980 brain aneurysm, will headline the annual festival, which takes place April 11-14 at various locations throughout Somers Point.

Martino is scheduled to perform Saturday, April 13 at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro, Regine said.

The festival will feature 10 jazz performances. Ticket prices will remain the same as this year, with a weekend pass priced at $60 if purchased prior to the festival.

The Jazz Society has been active in supporting the local music scene as well as charitable causes in the community. It recently participated in a joint fundraiser with Passion Vines of Somers Point and Egg Harbor Township. The event, called The Right Notes, raised $37,000 to mainly benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, with the Jazz Society as a lesser beneficiary.

The Right Notes featured an evening of wine and jazz, with a performance by tenor saxophone master Michael Pedicin and his quartet. After the performance approximately 230 guests enjoyed a wine tasting of more than 50 wines from around the world.

“It was a home run,” Regine said. “I think it’s going to be a yearly thing. There was so much good feeling about it; it was absolutely wonderful.”

The Jazz Society not only presents live jazz concerts throughout the year, but also sponsors jazz education programs at area elementary schools, high schools and the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

“We do a workshop each year with high schools, where students get to study with musicians and perform with them,” Regine said. “We feel it’s our mission to take this music and present it to a younger audience and let them grow with it.”

The society underwrites other jazz initiatives in the area, such as bassist Tim Lekan’s big band concert series at Sandi Pointe.

“We try to support jazz wherever it is, by bringing in young jazz musicians and featuring local, regional and national jazz artists.”

Early next year, on Feb. 24, March 3 and March 10, the Jazz Society will co-sponsor a series of educational performances at the Ocean City Library featuring jazz bassists, drummers and vocalists, respectively. The series was originally scheduled for this fall, but the library space was reserved by FEMA for its Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

Regine said the Jazz Society’s 350 paid members have formed a team that has spawned a renaissance of music in the area.

“Jazz is happening all over the place,” he said. “It has not been an easy five years, because grants are much less than they were. But we’re lucky we have a broad base of membership and support from the community to be able to do what we do.”

The society is seeking sponsorships for the Jazz @ the Point festival, especially from nonprofit arts organizations. Sponsorships range from $500 upward. To become a sponsor or for information call (609) 927-6677 or see  Proceeds benefit the arts program in Somers Point public schools.

To give “The Gift of Jazz” this holiday season, the Jazz Society is also offering memberships starting at $25 per year.

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