Celebrating the 2016 Super Fans

Celebrating the 2016 Super Fans
Tessa Souter and Andrea Wolper BY

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You've seen them around. They're at all the gigs, their attention focused deeply on the bandstand, as much a part of their local jazz scenes as the musicians and venues. They know and love the music, and musicians love them back. These passionate music-goers are The Super Fans, and they are an essential part of the concert experience. "Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force... When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand." (Karl A. Menninger) Each month, All About Jazz focuses the attention back on one of The Super Fans to find out who they are and what they love about live jazz.

AAJ launched the Super Fans column in June with Sal Capozucca. Here, in alphabetical order, are our monthly selections so far. Be sure to follow the column; we'll be kicking off 2017 with our first Super Fan based outside of New York!

Meet Judy Balos

"Jazz Judy" Balos has earned her nickname. A live music fan since the age of 16 when she saw Nina Simone in concert, this New Yorker has been going out to hear live jazz four or five times a week (sometimes even two or three times a day) for over 50 years; she's even traveled to Africa and Europe to see her particular favorites. Long lines, "sold out" notices, lack of transportation? No problem—Jazz Judy has her ways! continue.

Meet Sal Capozucca

He came, he saw, he took a picture! Our first Super Fan, 94-year-old Sal Capozucca, has been going out to hear live jazz for more than 80 years, ever since getting hooked by a Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa concert in 1937. You name 'em, he saw 'em—Pops, Bird, Billie, Miles, Coltrane—and he doesn't plan to let up any time soon. "I saw 118 shows in New York last summer. It's what I live for." How often do... continue.

Meet Roberta DeNicola

Roberta DeNicola, a favorite of musicians on New York City's downtown and experimental jazz scenes, has very broad taste in jazz—from straight-ahead to out—but the more out it is, the more she needs to experience it live. She saw her first jazz concert (jazz flutist Hubert Laws) on a date with her teenage boyfriend. However, it was seeing one particular singer that turned her into a Super Fan. "When I saw her, I just flipped!' We figure that Roberta's probably... continue.

Meet Joe France

Dubbed "Mr. Saturday Night" by jazz bassist Peter Washington, because for years he was unfailingly at the Village Vanguard every Saturday night, 87-year-old Super Fan, Joe France, has seen—and hung out with—them all: Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Jackie McLean. Nowadays, you'll mostly run into him—on Saturday nights, of course!—at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club. Got a reluctant partner? Check out Joe's cunning method for turning unsuspecting ordinary citizens into jazz lovers! continue.

Meet Francesca Miano

A Newport Jazz Festival-New York concert at Carnegie Hall in the early 1970s got Queens native Francesca "Cha Cha" Miano hooked on hearing live jazz—even though, she says, some of the music she heard on the mixed bill that night was way ahead of her at the time. Little did she know that her magnificent obsession would eventually lead to an unexpected close friendship with one of the most important and influential jazz vocalists of our time. continue.

Meet Don Shire

Don Shire's club-hopping habit started in Pittsburgh, but his introduction to the capital of jazz was a 1971 Freddie Hubbard gig at New York jazz institution, the Village Vanguard. And he's still going strong 45 years later. One concert particularly stands out. "When it was over, the people just looked at each other. The feeling was, 'Why go out anymore? We'll never hear anything to equal this!'" There is one jazz great that got away, though not for Don's lack... continue.

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