Loren Schoenberg probably gets tired of people saying, "You were born too late." The 54-year-old tenor saxophonist and jazz historian was first exposed to jazz in the '70s when his love of old movies led him to discover Benny Goodman. While most of his friends were listening to rock 'n roll and folk music, Schoenberg, who grew up in Fair Lawn, was collecting 78 rpm records by Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller.
Today, Schoenberg is executive director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and on Sunday, March 17, he will play saxophone and talk about jazz history at the New Jersey Jazz Society's Jazz Social being held from 3-5:30 p.m. at Shanghai Jazz in Madison.
Schoenberg began taking formal piano lessons at age 3, but by the time he was 15, he began to teach himself how to play the saxophone, inspired by the music of tenor saxophonist Lester Young. In 1976, he enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music as a music theory major with a minor in piano. While in school, he got a job playing saxophone with guitarist Eddie Durham's quartet. As a result, he met such legendary jazz musicians as trumpeter Roy Eldridge and drummers Jo Jones and Panama Francis. After two years at MSM, he switched his major to saxophone.
In the '80s, Schoenberg formed the Loren Schoenberg Big Band, dedicated to keeping the jazz music of the '30s, '40s and '50s alive. In addition to his duties today at the National Jazz Museum, he is on the faculty of the Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies. According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Schoenberg's "chosen role as dedicated archivist, educator and energetic advocate for jazz is his greatest contribution to the music that he loves." However, his big band continues to appear occasionally, something he describes as "a labor of love."
The New Jersey Jazz Society Jazz Social is free to NJSS members and $10 for non-members. There is a $10 food and beverage minimum.