At 5 years old Michael Gordon, of Linwood, was studying piano and already composing music. After about a year, he picked up his piano teacher's guitar and started to play.

"It felt a lot more natural than piano," said Gordon, 17, a junior at Mainland Regional High School. Still, it took another two years for him to start taking guitar lessons with Linwood's Nick Palermo.

"From the beginning, it was a lot of rock and blues," Gordon said of the music he played. He and some friends started a band in middle school, "3 South Benson," which is still going strong and will play from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 26 at Bayfest in Somers Point, Gordon said. The other members are Linwood residents Tommy Robbins, 18, and Jake Blumberg, 17.

While studying with Palermo, Gordon discovered jazz.

"After a while, rock is like the same thing over and over," Gordon said. "Jazz is something that has a little more soul. You can express more musicality."

It's also one of the most difficult genres of music to play, he said.

Now he studies with Ocean City-based musician and educator Tim Lekan, and just received the first jazz studies scholarship from the Somers Point Jazz Society. It is to be used to study one-on-one with a professional jazz educator.

Gordon, who also plays in several school musical groups, said he will probably use it to study with a Philadelphia-based jazz musician once a month.

Gordon's parents are Maureen and Todd. Sister Anna is a freshman at LaSalle University in Philadelphia; and brother Tommy is in sixth grade in Belhaven Middle School.

Gordon will be honored 7 to 10 p.m. Monday at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro, where he will play with the Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band. Admission is $10. Call 609-927-6677 or visit

'Language and the Brain'

Beacons by the Sea visiting scholar Fatjona R. Lubonja will present "Neuroscience: Language and the Brain - A Journey of Learning Languages" at 5 p.m. today at Atlantic Cape Community College, 5100 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing, in the Walter Edge Theater, C-building.

The Northfield resident and native of Albania speaks six languages and holds degrees in visual communication and instructional technology and education from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Lubonja will also present "Neuroscience: A Conversation with the Latest Research," 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 7, also in the Walter Edge Theater. Both events are free and open to the public.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post: