From songwriter/Broadway actor Clifton Davis to a couple of the founding members of American jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra, you never know who might show up at Rick Moore’s jazz sessions.
Organized by the Jupiter Jazz and Performing Arts Society—founded by Moore and his wife, Cherie, in 2012—the jams take place at Double Roads Tavern on the last Sunday of every month. Impromptu energy abounds as young musicians show up to improvise with the Bossa Jazz ensemble, led by Moore. The sessions touch on all types of jazz: traditional, Latin, bebop, mainstream, and avant-garde. “It’s American music, a part of our culture,” Moore says. “Over the years, it has changed so much. We try to present all styles so we can attract an all-ages audience.”
A jazz pianist who grew up in New Jersey, Moore says he started the nonprofit organization to preserve jazz as an American art form and nurture interest and talent in youth. Teens from the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach often showcase their talents during jams, and the organization raises funds for the nonprofit JazzPath, which provides lessons to youth even if they can’t afford lessons or an instrument.
When he moved to Florida in 1986, Moore—whose uncle founded the New Jersey Jazz Society in 1972—started playing long-term engagements at upscale venues like the International Polo Club in Wellington, The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and the Jupiter Island Club in Hobe Sound. But he noticed there was a distinct absence of live jazz at Jupiter-area bars and restaurants. “There was no jazz anywhere,” he recalls. “So instead of trying to go out and get gigs, I decided to promote jazz itself and the people who like it—to build a community. [The society] is not about the music per se but about the community that loves the music.” That community stays connected through an e-newsletter, which is sent out about twice a month to more than 1,500 subscribers.
The group’s president, Cathleen Scott, originally got involved to support her son, Dylan Thomas, 19, who played in his high school jazz band and began performing at Double Roads in 2015. Her husband also plays guitar and sings, and she embraces opening new doors for underserved children so they can tap into new opportunities by honing their creative expression through jazz.
“Music can be a way out,” Scott says. “A lot of the kids may be talented but don’t know they are talented. [The society and JazzPath] offer a way to open kids up to opportunities they couldn’t reach before.”
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