The Orange County Regional History Center will present a special series inspired by legendary Jazz icon, Sam Rivers, on Saturday, October 7, 2023,

Sam Rivers 100, is being billed as a celebration of the 100th birthday of the jazz icon who spent the latter part of his life and career in Central Florida. The day’s events culminate with a special downtown performance by the 16-piece Sam Rivers Rejuvenation Orchestra.

Born September 25, 1923, Sam Rivers grew up in Chicago in a family with deep musical roots: in 1882, his grandfather published one of the first hymnals for Black congregations after Emancipation. After his death in 2011 at the age of 88, his orchestra continued to perform for audiences still eager to hear his unique compositions played live.

The October 7 celebration features a 2 p.m. panel discussion at the History Center moderated by Matt Gorney, the musician’s manager and producer in Central Florida. Panelists include special guest Monique Rivers Rencher, Rivers’s daughter; Doug Mathews, bandleader of the Sam Rivers Rejuvenation Orchestra; Rick Lopez, author of The Sam Rivers Sessionography; and Michael Heller of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Music, home of the Sam Rivers Archive.

Also at the History Center, a pop-up exhibition of images of Sam Rivers in Central Florida by noted Orlando-based photographer Jim Leatherman will be on display, and copies of The Sam Rivers Sessionography by Rick Lopez will be available for purchase. Visitors can also experience the museum’s nationally award-winning exhibition, Figurehead: Music & Mayhem in Orlando’s Underground, which includes information on Rivers. All daytime activities are included with museum admission. 

Capping off the celebration, the Sam Rivers Rejuvenation Orchestra takes the stage at The Social, 54 N. Orange Ave., a key venue in the Rivers legacy in Central Florida. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. performance. Tickets are $10; a presale for museum members begins August 21, with ticket sales to the general public starting August 25. More information is available at

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