|Feb 8--Clarinetist Syl Lafata in style of Benny Goodman|
Clarinetist Syl Lafata and his jazz quartet will be featured at the Space Coast Jazz Society meeting at 2 PM Feb. 8 in the Cocoa Beach Country Club.
The quartet will include Lafata on clarinet, Ron Pirtle on bass, Rich Abrahams on piano and Stan Soloko on drums.
Lafata not only sounds like the great Benny Goodman but looks like him, too. Jack Simpson calls him a “master of the instrument.”
Lafata discovered the clarinet at age 15 and has been honing his skill for 60 years. “I play for myself, but mainly I play for the audience,” he says. “Benny always realized the audience was part of what he was doing and I try to relate to the people I am playing for, too.”
In 1951 Lafata entered the Army and was trained in small arms repair but when the leader of the Second Infantry Division Band heard him play, he got a new assignment. Because he couldn't read music, he was teamed with the French horn player, Ronald Silver, a Julliard graduate (a nephew of the Marx Brothers) who taught him music theory .
Lafata and his wife, Gloria, married in 1954 and moved to Cincinnati to raise a family. He began a career as a systems analyst, purposefully deciding against a career in music. “I just loved to play the clarinet,” he says. “I didn’t want to become a professional. It just happened by accident.”
One night in 1965 he sat in with the Bill Coburn Band at the Colony Club in Dayton, Ohio. Coburn didn’t even let him leave the stage. He hired Lafata on the spot and started him that night.
In 1975 Gloria’s relatives encouraged the family to move to Cocoa Beach. By 1976 he had found no work so he played for a steamship line out of New Orleans. He says of the experience, “Can you imagine a floating prison?” There was some glory, though. In 1978 the six-member band appeared on the Dinah Shore show.
Locating a job as a data processing manager in 1979, Lafata gladly jumped ship and relocated to Orlando. Today he’s retired and plays regularly at popular Orlando jazz venues.
Tickets for the Feb. 8 concert will be on sale at the door after 1 PM. They are $10 for SCJS members and $15 for nonmembers. Students are free.
|Annual SCJS Benefit March 8 features Big Jazz Band and rising stars.|
Like the 2014 SCJS Annual Benefit, this year’s annual benefit will feature rising jazz stars and the 17-piece Space Coast Jazz Big Band.
Don’t miss it. The event will be held on Sunday March 8 from 2 PM to 4:30 PM in the Cocoa Beach Country Club auditorium. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Student tickets are $5.
All proceeds help fund the SCJS scholarship program, which is awarded to high school seniors who will be studying jazz in college.
At the benefit, the young musicians will be from the FIT Jazz Panther Big Band directed by Jamie Younkin and the FIT Jazz Syndicate directed by trumpeter and former astronaut Winston Scott.
Tickets will be sold at the next 3 SCJS concerts and at other Big Band events in January, February and March. There is limited open seating. Tickets for the concert can also be purchased on line at www.spacecoastjazzsociety.com. You can also get tickets by mail.
The Big Band is the brainchild of former SCJS President Joel Greenblatt, who is a trombonist and co-leader of the band. The other co-leader is guitarist Phil Coe.
Members of the band are Greenblatt, Julio Matos and John Lisbeth on trombones; David Ewing, Gordon Wallace and David Quenzler on trumpets; Dan Wilborn, Dexter Wilborn, Andrew Cleaver, Charlie Alameda, Ian Gray and John Babb on saxophones, Mason Margut on piano,; Jon Chybion and Fred Goodnight on drums, and Ron Pirtle on bass.
The band will be featuring several of Brevard County’s most accomplished musicians as special guest artists. Back by popular demand is Michael Mirand performing as Frank Sinatra.
Pianist Mason Margut was a winner of the SCJS scholarship last year and he was also a finalist in the recent American Jazz Piano Competition.
Benefit tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. To order by mail, send a check for $25 (per ticket) and a self-addressed stamped envelope to SCJS Tickets, PO Box 344, Cape Canaveral, Fl.
You can now use a Paypal account or a credit card to buy SCJS memberships on line. If you have a Paypal account, you must use it. If you don't have a Paypal account, you can use a Visa or Mastercard account.
Click on the Membership tab and follow the directions.
Of course, you can still pay by mailing in a check. Instructions and a membership form are also under the Membership tab.
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We meet for a jazz concert on the second Sunday of every month, unless otherwise noted, from 2 PM at the Cocoa Beach Country Club. Music charge is $10 for members, and $15 for nonmembers. Students are free. For more info, call 321-453-4191. Here is what's coming up:
Sunday, March 8, 2015
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