When it was formed in 1984, the Madison Jazz Society had as its mission, “…encourage the performance of and education about jazz.” In 2021, it was announced that MJS would cease the performance portion of its activities and transition to concentrating on its education mission through its School Grant and School Residency programs. The new MJS format will be led by five members of the present Board of Directors and others interested in its purpose.
Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band performed at the Society’s final concert and celebration on Sunday, May 21, at the East Side Club, Madison. That concert was preceded by appearances by Cornet Chop Suey in September 2022, the St Louis Stompers in October 2022, the West End Jazz Band in February, Groovus in March, and the Midiri Brothers Jazz Sextet in April. The Board wanted the last six concerts to take MJS out in style.
Over 125 MJS members and jazz fans attended the May 21 event that featured great music, an historical display, a cake, and recognition of those who served MJS over its almost 40 years. The music went beyond the scheduled end time for over 30 minutes. The election of new officers and board members to lead MJS in its new format was also held.
A local TV station provided extensive coverage of the day, interviewing MJS President Linda Marty Schmitz and Co-President Elect Laurie Lang who noted that they are hoping to pattern the new MJS education work on the Wisconsin Youth Symphony which offers multiple opportunities for young musicians to learn and perform.
As noted, those attending who had served on the MJS Board and various committees were recognized. In addition, the MJS Board (without her knowledge) presented a resolution renaming the Society’s School Grant Fund the Linda Marty Schmitz Jazz Education Grant Program, in honor of the Society’s founder and president for almost 40 years Linda Marty Schmitz. Later, the Board gave Schmitz the title of President Emeritus.
The performance was recorded and, as it turned out, that was the last recording of clarinetist Kim Cusack who died on June 2. Bob Schulz, leader of the Frisco Jazz Band, is looking into the possibility of producing a CD of the concert.