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Take Five With Jon LaTona

Jon LaTona By

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Meet Jon LaTona:

Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I loved jazz so much that I wanted to go to school for it. Now I have a debut record that I am extremely proud of. It was so thrilling to record because I was working with musicians that I grew up watching and listening to.


Acoustic bass.

Teachers and/or influences?

My favorite teachers are James Kurzdorfer, Kevin MacConnell, and vibraphonist Tony Miceli. Those three teachers were such a pleasure to work with. They did a great job relating information to me with enthusiasm.

My other influences include Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Larry Grenadier, Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, and many others.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

After my first gig at the age of 15. There is no greater thrill than playing in front of people.

Your sound and approach to music:

What can I say, I love to swing. I love the vibe of jazz from the late '50s and early '60s. But I also love trio music involving the absence of a chordal instrument.

Your teaching approach:

Always get an understanding of the basics. Once that happens, it's all about having fun—that's why we get into the genre. It's definitely not the money.

I have also been in communication with Larry Grenadier about getting a private lesson from him. There have been scheduling conflicts, but I am looking forward to the time when he does become available.

Your dream band:

Eddie Henderson: trumpet; Lee Konitz: alto sax; Chris Potter: bass clarinet; myself: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

I did a humble gig at a nursery home playing some standards by myself. I had three ladies who were five decades my senior request my phone number and ask if I was married. I told them I had a girlfriend; they didn't care about that and that they still wanted my number.

Favorite venue:

Chris' Jazz Café, in Philadelphia. From attending jam sessions, playing in Lars Halle's big band, or playing a quartet gig, every night had its fun little surprises.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My debut jazz record! It was my first record as a leader and I recorded with musicians I never thought that I would ever meet, let alone work with.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

John Coltrane's Interstellar Space. Whoa, was I in for a surprise.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

A solid pocket. Even in a loose trio setting, the importance of timing is invaluable.

Did you know...

I am a pescetarian. I eat fish, but no other meat.

CDs you are listening to now:

Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden, Alone Together; (Blue Note);
Grant Green, Solid (Blue Note);

Jimmy Smith, Home Cookin' (Blue Note);

Joshua Redman, Spirit of the Moment: Live at the Village Vanguard (Warner Bros.);

Chris Potter, Live at the Village Vanguard (Sunnyside).

Desert Island picks:

Miles Davis, 'Round About Midnight (Columbia);

Brad Mehldau, Art of the Trio Volume IV (Warner Bros.);

Sonny Rollins, A Night at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note);

Wes Montgomery, Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Riverside);

Hank Mobley, Soul Station (Blue Note).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

The crowds are a humble at times. However, it is still great that people still come out and support, whenever they can. But no matter how many people are watching, it is great that performers still give it their all.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Support! Fans should come out and support live jazz. That is number one factor that immediately comes to mind.

What is in the near future?

I am new to New York. Getting out to as many jam sessions as possible is crucial. I do want to play as many shows as possible with some of my own music when I meet the right musicians. I do have material lined up to record my second album.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?

Dragging or rushing with the rhythm section.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

"I'll Be Seeing You."

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

"All Blues," a very simple and easy tune to whistle in the shower.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Professional poker player. I have been in the past and have rumbled with some of favorite poker players on TV. I actually hung with them, believe it or not.


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