A B O U T
Back in 1970-71 a group of Syracuse area fans of traditional jazz began to gather informally to listen to and discuss their favorite music. Usually, one of the group would prepare a tape or bring recordings to make a presentation. Out of these sessions grew the notion of forming a club of enthusiasts for the purpose of preserving, promoting and presenting a variety of traditional jazz forms. Soon a formal organizational meetings was arranged.
Local jazz fan and radio personality Ray Boyce attended that first meeting prepared to suggest a name for the new club. The word jazz derived from the word jass and Ray used the acronym JASS to form the title Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse. The club was officially formed in March 1971 with Attorney Dick Ames appointed Acting President.
There was irregular printing of a newsletter during the first couple of years. JASS enjoyed its first real growth beginning in 1973. A set of By-Laws was established and Dick Ames was elected President and began to publish JazFax on a regular schedule (10 issues per year). Dick Ames, as Editor, suggested the name JazFax, and under his guidance JazFax was steadily improved and today is widely recognized as one of the leading publications of its kind.
The first tape-and-talk sessions gave way to live jam sessions. Many of the area's leading Dixieland musicians took part and often a special guest personality such as Slam Stewart or Maxine Sullivan was brought in to make the gatherings more interesting and attractive for the audience. This inevitably led to the contracting with an outside band to come to Syracuse to play a concert under the sponsorship of the club. On Feb. 9, 1976 the Happy Jazz Band from San Antonio, Texas played the first such concert in the upstairs ballroom of the old Drumlins Country Club. Over the years JASS has brought many of the top traditional jazz bands to Syracuse and for some time has regularly scheduled three or four such events each year.
On March 13, 1982 JASS sponsored a concert in the Ballroom of the Hotel Syracuse which reunited the Salt City Six. The Salt City Six was the band that was formed among Syracuse University students about 1952 and which achieved great acclaim wherever it performed. After twenty-five years together that band broke up in 1978 and the concert sponsored by JASS was the first of three such reunions which produced some very memorable moments.
Today the Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse has several hundred members.JASS presents a half-dozen concerts annually as well as hosting periodic jam sessions.
The society's newsletter, JazFax, is exchanged with other jazz clubs throughout the U.S. and Canada. JASS was a founding member of the American Federation of Jazz Societies which unites hundreds of jazz clubs and thousands of fans from all parts of the U.S..