Gregg Gelb, one of our region’s great resources with regard to jazz history and traditions, has produced a powerful new music video with his Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra, taped (in HD) at the Duke Energy Pavilion in Depot Park in Sanford. This performance features the regular contingent of the ensemble’s stellar players plus four magnificent guest artists: Al Strong, trumpet, Will Ledbetter, bass, Brandon Mitchell, vibraphone, and Dorien Dotson, drums. The chance to see these folks in action – and at much closer range than is normally possible during live concerts – should not be missed by jazz and big band aficionados.

The music, titled Unforgiveable, an original score by Gelb that is of course enlivened by further inspired improvisations as it unfolds, was initially inspired by the twin tragedies of Charlottesville and George Floyd’s murder. Gelb notes in the YouTube post:

“Friends, I was compelled to write this music and produce this video because of how disturbed I have been about recent events in our country: Charlottesville 2017; the killing of George Floyd; and January 6, 2021. The Lee County Arts Council, which gave me the grant to make this production, says, ‘Gregg Gelb’s Unforgivable will surprise and delight you. It is exuberant, defiant and joyful, quintessentially American. It is filled with energy and hope. We are privileged to be able to record this wonderful music and make it broadly available.’ I am thankful to the many people who made this project possible and to the social justice organizations that endorse this work. After viewing the video, please consider making a donation to one or more of the social justice organizations that support this project. Thank you, Dr. Gregg Gelb.”

You may see it here: The music is preceded by a written introduction by the composer that scrolls for approximately two and a half minutes.

Unforgivable is powerful stuff: thoughtful, penetrating, moving, evocative of the horrible events that launched its creator’s thought processes but at the same time consoling and hopeful, ultimately showing musically and emotionally the way to a better tomorrow if we will but learn from the agonies of the past. The performance is stunning in many respects, demonstrating virtuosity in the service of art in individual solos and riffs and the best kind of chamber-music-like ensemble playing, even when the band is going full tilt.

Bookmark it, for you’re likely to want to experience it more than once.

The eleven-minute film is by GHME Productions (videography & video editing), Johnathan Quick (on Gimbal camera), Bo Osborne (audio engineer), Kathy Montgomery Gelb (text editing), Christian Tamburr (consultation), and Art-in-Motion’s Rob Stoller (video editing).

Gelb writes that “tax-deductible donations are appreciated. Please use the following links to make your donation through Lee County Arts Council:
PayPal Link:
Square Link:

“Donations will be distributed to each organization by Lee County Arts Council. Select the amount you wish to donate, then add in the memo space which organization. You also can follow-up with an email

“These are the beneficiaries: NAACP Lee CountyFailures Not an OptionFair PromiseLee County Arts CouncilHeart of Carolina Jazz SocietyExperience 180.”