Keepers of the Flame

By Jim Bonar

“Keepers of the Flame” is a column dedicated to all of the working jazz artists who play regularly in New Jersey and keep the jazz flame burning for those of us who love this music. We visit with some of the best musicians out there today and give you a chance to meet them if you haven’t yet, or think about them if you haven’t for awhile. To me, “Keepers of the Flame” describes the deep pride these artists feel to be a part of the jazz tradition.

As I began to prepare for this column by reflecting on the scope and depth of Michael Pedicin Jr.’s influence on Somers Point Jazz Society and the jazz scene across the Philadelphia-Atlantic City corridor, a humorous image came to mind: “Kilroy was here!” Kilroy was the super soldier during WWII and later the Korean conflict who always showed up way ahead of everyone else. By the time you got there, Kilroy had gone on to the next achievement, the next act of heroism, leaving behind the cartoon of hands and nose and wall. This is somewhat like Pedicin’s world where there has always been a series of concurrent projects, musical and non-musical, in various stages of development. Jazz tenor saxophonist, band leader (and innovative creator of gigs of all kinds out of thin air), educator, Somers Point Jazz Society Board member, in addition to other endeavors like his counseling practice and weekends selling CDs and photographs one summer at “The Jazz Hut” at Gardner’s Basin in AC, Michael is constantly looking over the landscape and seeing the possibilities.

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