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Celebrating the 2017 Super Fans

Celebrating the 2017 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. We kicked off 2017 with our first Super Fan outside of New York, and continued the year with visits to Super Fans on the east coast, west coast, and in between. Read on for our 2017 round up!

Luis Torregrossa

Dr. Luis Torregrosa has been a Super Fan for as long as he can remember; you could even say his love of music is no less than a calling. Based in Trenton, MI (our first Super Fan outside of New York!), Luis has spent the last 45 years of his life not only enjoying the music he loves, but also helping to maintain and support it, something he feels is the duty of every super fan. If you're wondering just how you can help keep the music thriving, read on—Luis has no shortage of ideas! continue.

Ari Silverstein

Some people are jazz aficionados. Then there's Ari Silverstein. Hooked from the moment he saw the light of jazz, was he content merely to listen? Not Impress-Ari-o! Once he was in, he was in all the way, from organizing concerts to getting his New York tour guide license in order to start shepherding tourists to his favorite New York city night spots. Read on to find how how Ari turned his love of music and musicians into a part-time professional calling. continue.

Richard Berger

A regular on the New York jazz and avant jazz scenes, Richard Berger is frequently seen about town in the company of his wife, our December Super Fan, Roberta DeNicola. Music has long been Richard's "positive addiction," giving him the best of times and helping him through the worst of times. "Jazz is very much a part of my life," says the avid supporter of live jazz. "I keep it alive and it keeps me alive." Richard's devotion to music may have roots in his relationship with his beloved older brother and with coming of age during the wild and woolly '70s, but his earliest musical memory is of hearing a song that seemed to be speaking directly to him (we think the big band fans here might be able to guess what that song was!). continue.

John Reilly

John Reilly—yet another of our Super Fans who works for the city of New York—was born on Staten Island, where he still lives. We don't know if it's something to do with working for the city, or just a function of growing up in the capital of jazz, but John is the real thing. The son of a Frank Sinatra bobby soxer, he got into jazz in his teens, and the first live performance he attended was one of the most famous come-back concerts in jazz history. No wonder he got hooked. Oh, one more thing about John: like any true jazz Super Fan, he has opinions! continue.

James Busby

Our youngest Super Fan to date, and our first from the west coast, James Busby was weaned on the popular music of the '70s and '80s. His first jazz concert—Donald Brown at a local club in Knoxville, Tennesse for a $3 cover—was life-changing. He may not have discovered jazz until he was in college, but ever since then he's been in deep enough to go the extra mile—even when the extra mile means driving from Knoxville to Atlanta, or flying from Portland to Chicago. And as serious as he is about the music he loves, he's got a wry understanding of the jazz world we know you'll recognize and appreciate. continue

Donna M.

Raised on soul music, Donna M. was a relative late-comer to jazz (Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts score notwithstanding!), but once she got the message, she jumped in as a full-fledged Super Fan. Her journey with jazz took her from tragic loss to love, and her desire to share her enthusiasm for the music she says saved her from despair led to unexpected social media success. continue

Abby London Crawford

Abby London Crawford is just the sort of Super Fan this column was created for. A jazz hero, she can be seen all over New York city at live music events, radiating love and positivity. But being a listener alone has never been enough for Abby, who's found numerous ways to nurture and support the music and the people she holds so dear. Never one to draw attention to herself, she exemplifies the old adage, "still waters run deep"; if you didn't think to interview her for a column you might never find out she's been deep in the scene, breaking bread and rubbing elbows with a pretty astonishing cast of characters! continue

H. Alonzo Jennings

H. Alonzo Jennings, artist, photographer, poet, and jazz aficionado, has been photographing jazz musicians since 1976 and going out to support live jazz music for even longer. His photographs include images of jazz legends such as Billy Eckstine, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan and Cassandra Wilson. "My objective as an artist/photographer is to provide a visual record of these sublime moments of transcendence, reflecting the purity and honest spirituality of the artist's souls." Music is no less than an entryway to the soul. One particular jazz titan is his daily meditation. Can you guess the title of his desert island disc? continue

Tom Wells

Born and raised in that other "capital of jazz"—Kansas City, birthplace of Charlie Parker—Super Fan Tom Wells, along with long-time jazz date, his wife, Geri St. Clair (a future Super Fan—stay tuned!), is a huge supporter of the local scene. How huge? Well, Tom and Geri once followed the University of Missouri Kansas City's Jazz Orchestra all the way to Paris, Switzerland and Holland for the "jazz experience of a lifetime." continue

Geri St. Clair

Welcome to KC Super Fans, part ll! Tom and Geri (no, not Tom and Jerry!) aren't the first spousal Super Fan team we've featured (that distinction goes to Roberta DeNicola and Richard Berger), but they're our first Kansas City super fans, and we love them for it. Geri St. Clair and her partner in life, love, and jazz, October Super Fan Tom Wells, make it absolutely clear—should anyone have doubts—that their city has great musical offerings and a powerful jazz community. Read on to find out why Geri thinks KC is the best place to be. continue

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