by Chuck Reider
For the Love of Jazz (FTLOJ) is northern Nevada’s jazz go to organization to find and enjoy your favorite jazz. Founded in 1974, FTLOJ was and always will be a labor of love for the members who support and organize jazz events. As a part of Reno’s jazz community for over thirty years I have had the pleasure performing at many of their produced events over the years and knew those that lead FTLOJ. For forty-three years their support of Reno jazz is steadfast. I had the pleasure of speaking with the current president Scot Marshall and one of its founders, Bill Filter. Here is what I found out.
1974 was still the halcyon days for casino showrooms with five or six casinos hiring full time orchestras to back the headliners in their showrooms. The musicians who came needed an outlet, a place to play what they wanted to play after the gig, so a group of jazz aficionados got together to discuss how to provide those opportunities. Their original name was simply the Reno Jazz Club, but everyone attending knew they needed a better, catchier name. Jazz vocalist Herb Jefferies was holding court at Harold’s Club that year and was in attendance. To kick off the discussion he said “well, for the love of jazz…” and before he could finish his thought everyone jumped up and said “that’s it!”. They never did hear Herb’s suggestion. From that moment till today FTLOJ is synonymous with great jazz.
FTLOJ became a non-profit in 1978 and codified their mission to provide possibilities to play jazz, learn jazz, and create a community for all those who appreciate jazz. They do this by producing jazz concerts (more on this later), provide scholarships and financial support as well as educational forums for students interested in becoming jazz musicians. They also advertise and post information about all jazz performances in our community. Their artist webpage has bios on thirty local jazz artists and groups. Their events page provides information on upcoming jazz performances with photos and bios of the performers and they highlight venues hosting jazz performances. If you are looking for a one stop shop for jazz visit www.renojazz.org.
You have heard Scot Marshall, though you may not know it. He has a deep baritone voice that has launched a thousand radio spots and TV voice overs. Scot has been FTLOJ’s president for six years and he shared with me what they have been up to recently. FTLOJ produced concerts are usually collaborative. For example, just last Friday they partnered with UNR’s jazz program and Steinway Gallery to present vocalist Sara Gazarek, a gifted singer steeped in jazz tradition, but adventurous enough to embrace music that moves her generation. Backed by Mark Ferber on drums, Larry Koonse on guitar, and Richard Giddens on bass, each of them have extended jazz resumes. Without the support of FTLOJ, our community would never have experienced this performance. In addition, FTLOJ helped to sponsor a workshop featuring Sara and the trio at UNR at no cost to students. They partner with the Reno Little Theater (RLT) as well, hosting a jazz concert at the RLT one Sunday evening a month (7-9pm). November’s concert features jazz electro-acoustic harpist Susan Mazer. Susan pioneered the development of the electro-acoustic harp and is only one of a select few jazz harpists. Don’t be surprised if her long time music collaborator (and husband!), Dallas Smith, join her on woodwinds. With seating for 100, jazz is up close and personal at the RLT. For the last five summers they have produced Jazz at the Sands, thanks to several sponsors. This is a free concert series every Sunday evening from late June to early August. There you will hear great local jazz artists with one concert set aside to feature the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra (RYJO). I am proud to say the Reno Jazz Orchestra and FTLOJ partner to sponsor Saturday jazz on 89.5 (6-10pm). The RJO’s own Dallas Smith and Scot co-host the show.
Education is always an FTLOJ priority. Scot has a vision to pass on our generation’s jazz experience to the next. Young jazz students need to know jazz tradition, but must take that tradition and evolve the jazz experience for their generation. Every generation must have its jazz voice or jazz will simply become museum music. That is what motivates Scot and FTLOJ to provide the best possible jazz interactive activities. Whether it is supporting RYJO performances, hosting workshops by guest artists they bring in from out of state, or promoting Moody’s summer Jazz Camp in Truckee.
I asked Scot what brought him to jazz and, as you might expect, he came from a musical family. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and both mom and dad were musicians, dad on trumpet and mom on the piano. Music was always in the house either live or on records. His dad’s good friend, Jack Feierman, was a music director for many great artists like Steve and Edie Lawrence and Johnny Mathis. It was a treat for uncle Jack to visit because Scot got to see these artists when they came to Omaha. His passion has served him well as he leads his own group Brass Knuckles, featuring his son Grahame on violin, backs artists on bass, and keeps FTLOJ’s mission alive and well. Thank you Scot for all you do.
Now you know all about FTLOJ, or do you? Want to learn more? Then attend their annual membership meeting 11/19 in the Wild River Grill’s River Room 1-4pm. You will be in the company of jazz aficionados of all ages, learn more about FTLOJ and how you can help, as well as enjoy a free concert for members and new prospective members.