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The genesis of the MJC

Joe Donato has been endearing himself to jazz fans in South Florida for more decades than he would care to admit.  Rick Katz is an attorney whose passion for jazz began in 1969 at the University of Rochester when the Dave Brubeck Trio including Gerry Mulligan performed at a campus concert.  In the mid-1990's, Joe and Rick were introduced and the two of them began a more than ten-year conversation about starting a jazz club in Miami.  When they realized that they could not justify the investment to start a jazz club, they turned to the nonprofit model which is common to the performing arts.  In 2010, with the encouragement of acclaimed jazz pianist and Dean of the University of Miami Frost School of Music, Shelly Berg, Joe and Rick recruited a stellar Board of Directors who, in turn, convinced a group of South Florida jazz musicians to join the nonprofit mission of the MJC as Founders.  The musicians who comprise the MJC Founders are a virtual Who's Who of South Florida Jazz and are the key to the MJC achieving its mission. 

Mission Statement of the MJC

The Miami Jazz Cooperative, Inc. (MJC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization the mission of which is to establish and operate a dedicated jazz facility in Miami for the mutual benefit of jazz students, jazz musicians, and their audience. To this end, the MJC is committed to supporting the appreciation of jazz in the South Florida community through education and outreach.

The jazz facility will serve the community on several levels:

  • To establish after-school and weekend master classes for  students interested in performing jazz;

  • To establish a Miami-Dade County high school jazz band program for those students who do not have access to a student jazz band in their school;

  • To provide a rehearsal space for student jazz groups;

  • To provide an evening performance venue for the South Florida jazz community, including students and professionals.  The MJC envisions regularly scheduled performances by local professional and student groups, as well as organized jam sessions. The venue will also feature touring headliners as circumstances permit; for example, in conjunction with teaching engagements at local universities.

  • How will the Miami Jazz Cooperative be funded?

    The MJC will be funded through a combination of public and private grants, private benefactors, sponsors, and revenues generated from evening admission charges and beverage sales.  Additionally, with the participation of our Founders, we will stage concerts which will be fund-raisers and image-builders for the MJC.  As the endowment of the MJC grows, the income will be used to (1) offset operational expenses (allowing a higher portion of revenues to be paid to local performing musicians) (2) underwrite jazz education in the community, and (3) fund scholarships for college level music degree programs.  If the MJC is ever dissolved, any net assets shall be used to establish scholarships for college level music degree programs.

    Has this nonprofit model been done elsewhere?

    Yes.  There are a number of examples.  While the Jazz at Lincoln Center program has thrived in the jazz stratosphere that is NYC, more realistic models for the MJC to emulate are the Pacific Jazz Institute in Seattle, the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, Jazz St. Louis, and, although not dedicated 100% to jazz, the Outpost in Albuquerque.  We encourage you to visit the web sites of these organizations to familiarize yourself with the MJC concept in a mature form.  It works.

    What about other jazz organizations in South Florida?

    The MJC supports all efforts to bring jazz to South Florida audiences.  As we develop the MJC web site and social media, we will promote jazz events in South Florida regardless of the sponsoring organization or venue.  

    Who operates the Miami Jazz Cooperative?

    Rick Katz is the Founding Executive Director and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the MJC.  Rick reports to the Board of Directors.

    Who is on the Board of Directors?

    The Board is comprised of Brenda Alford, Frank Consola, Joe Donato, Jim Gasior, Rick Katz, Gary Keller, Jamie Ousley and Wendy Pedersen.