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The Sound

Iowa Jazz Music honors its own


Scott Davis will be inducted into the Community Jazz Center Hall of Fame on Sunday, Oct 28.

On Oct. 28, the Community Jazz Center (CJC) presents its 2012 Hall of Fame induction ceremony. For lovers of jazz in central Iowa, the CJC has been a long-time patron.                

“The CJC has been around for over 20 years,” said Hall of Fame founder John Krantz. “(It was) formed as an organization for students interested in jazz, to give them an outlet to play. They’ve been having jam sessions one Sunday a month at Java Joes where students have the opportunity to play with professional musicians as the rhythm section. They’ll run down some standard songs and really get a chance to perform in public for the first time.”               

So when Krantz and fellow jazz lover Abe Goldstein were first fleshing out the Hall of Fame, the CJC seemed like a logical partner.                

“Back in 2001, I had the concept of honoring the city’s jazz heroes — people who’ve entertained us for years,” Krantz said. “The CJC is the vehicle, (and) this is a fundraiser for them. It’s really turned into a celebration of Des Moines jazz.”                

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The first Hall of Fame class was inducted in 2001 and included Irene Myles, Speck Redd, “Cigar” Bates and Bobby Parker. At least one person has been inducted every year since.               

“Des Moines and jazz have quite a legacy, going back to the 1940s. It’s really meant a lot to the people who’ve given their lives to this art form and have really gotten very little recognition for it,” Krantz said.                

So the Hall is happy to welcome horn player and bandleader Scott Davis into the fold this year. After graduating from Drake University with a master’s degree in performance and education, Davis has been an indefatigable member of the central Iowa jazz scene. Perhaps best known as the titular leader of the Scott Davis Quartet, Davis also performs with the Freestyle Varsity Band, Fat Tuesday and the Greasefire Horns, Trio Trio and the Festival Brass. For anyone familiar with the jazz scene in Iowa, Davis’ inclusion among the great names of the art form is an easy decision. But the night will honor more than just Davis’ accomplishments.                

“We have other recognition levels that we award, because we honor the past, the present and the future (of jazz),” Krantz said. “The past are the guys who have been around for a few decades and have made an impact through either teaching or performing; then the present ones are the ones that are out playing every week; and the future is the students — we always recognize the student efforts as well.”                

“We have one Hall of Fame (inductee), three certificates of recognition, one student award, then we’ve introduced a new one this year. We call it ‘Next Generation,’ ” added Goldstein. “So we recognize (people) for their work, and hopefully they’ll stay in Des Moines and work with the community.”                

Those receiving Special Recognition awards this year are: bassist David Altemeier, vocalist Tina Haase-Findlay and local music patron Linda Bisignano. Southeast Polk High School’s Nathan Sparks is the 2012 recipient of the Bobby Dawson Award, which is awarded to a student musician who’s shown his dedication and talent in the CJC’s monthly Java Joes jam sessions. And the first Next Generation award for young musicians making an impact on the local music scene will be awarded to pianist Nick Leo.                

Krantz and Goldstein see the ceremony as an important part of fostering jazz music in Iowa. Often jazz musicians will toil at their craft for years, performing and educating others, to little or no fanfare. That’s what the Hall of Fame hopes to correct.                

Krantz summed it up: “It’s all about giving them recognition.” CV


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