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Jazz in the Burbs Life on Earth with Dave Kaspar

Jazz. The great American art form. To me, jazz is the most supreme of all musical universes. And it often ecompasses and includes the bones and blood of all the other styles and genres out there. Thus, the players who play jazz are the truest astronauts of the ever expanding universe we know as music. Jazz is its own Big Bang.

Thank God that part of that universe includes the tiny neighborhood of Syracuse – located right here, on the dust speck we know as Earth. Think about it. The universe is out there, vibrating away. And Earth is pumping jazz into the cosmos one note at a time. Among the earthlings here in Syracuse that are thriving practitioners, and promoters of jazz, is Mr. David Kaspar. Dave has been helping jazz reach the Syracuse listening consciousness for a long time, and is the head-honcho of Jazz in the Burbs. Something you should know about. 

Dave is good enough to visit with us to talk about Jazz.

Chuck Schiele: As a jazz promoter in the Central New York area, how do you see the situation, and tell us all what you do about it? 

Dave Kaspar: The Jazz scene is slowly growing again in the Syracuse Area. We lost Syracuse Suds Wednesday program, but Pasta’s has restarted, Jazz at The Fitz, Jazz on The Rocks, the restart of Syracuse Jazz Fest, and of course #JazzinTheBurbs. 

CS: Please elaborate on Jazz in the Burbs. How did it come about? 

DK: I started looking for a place for a friend to continue a residency he had for seven years. I found the room, but he wasn’t interested in continuing the residency. So I pitched Philippe (owner of Green Gate) a four week series. That went well, then a six week series, then eight, now I book thirty weeks a year. 

CS: I know you as an aficionado of jazz. Do you play? 

DK: No, I’m not a musician. I played trombone in Elementary school, but didn’t practice, and was encouraged to stop if I wasn’t going to do the work. My love of live music is how I entered the scene. 

CS: Elaborate on your history as a jazz energy in the area. 

DK: I was an active member of the jazz audience for many years. Attending many Central New York Jazz Orchestra shows including, Jimmy Heath, Rob McConnell, Joe Lovano. I attended every act of Syracuse Jazz Fest since 1994. Trips to Saratoga and Rochester for their festivals. In 2017, I started #JazzinTheBurbs and last year #JazzByTheLake. 

CS: Cool. Super cool. How did you come to appreciate jazz the way you do? 

DK: It’s a story I love to tell. I was at the first Syracuse Jazz Fest at Oliver’s on Erie Blvd. in the early eighties. One of the headliners was Nancy Kelly. She came out in a white Marilyn Monroe style halter dress, and sang ‘All of Me.’ I thought to myself, I think I love jazz! That was the entry point. My main genre of music I enjoyed back then was Southern Rock. But that was also an entry with the improvisational aspect of the live jams from those groups as well. 

CS: What are some of the highlights in your path as a jazz promoter? 

DK: Some highlights include watching #JazzinTheBurbs grow to a thirty week a year showcase. Also my production of “The Young Lions of Jazz” at the Palace Theater in 2018, and now starting a new series at The Oswego Music Hall called #JazzByTheLake. 

CS: What would you like to see for the Syracuse jazz scene, right now and in the future? 

DK: Ultimately the increase in either Jazz Clubs or rooms that have a continuous Jazz series. This area is loaded with outstanding jazz talent with limited venues to showcase that ability. 

CS: What does jazz mean to you, personally? What do you love about it? 

DK: It’s the improvisational aspect that I really enjoy, watching talented musicians listening to each other, and playing off each other. Also I love watching young talent grow from jamming, to being sidemen in groups, to becoming group leaders. Leading a group is a big jump, putting together a group, setting a playlist, interacting with an audience from the stage. To see that growth in a musician is something special. 

CS: Who made the first impressions on you as artists; and who’s in your radar, nowadays?   

DK: Locally, well obviously Nancy Kelly, Ronnie Leigh, Jeff Stockham, Joe Carello, John Rohde, Rick Montalbano, and Jimmy Johns to name just a few. Nowadays, Will Gorman, Theo Curtan, Michael Passarelli Jr., Jake Lawless, again just to name a few. These artists are the future of the jazz scene. 

CS: What (else) is in your near future? 

DK: I just started a new series in Oswego at the Oswego Music Hall. It’s called #JazzByTheLake. It’s a Guest Curator Program. I was invited by Mark and Ellen Wahl to submit a proposal for a jazz series. They accepted a two concert series, have extended it to two more shows, one on April 1st featuring The Latin Groove Connection, and on May 6th with The Jazz Horn Legacy Sextet. Now there’s a possibility of six more shows in the fall of 2023 and the Spring of 2024.

CS: How do we keep in touch with you and your shows? 

DK: I promote both series through Facebook, Instagram and for my non-social media followers at CNYALIVE.COM. And lastly at area live music shows where I promote the old fashioned way, face to face, and by pressing the flesh. 

CS: Thank you, David. I appreciate your time to talk with us here at Sounds of Syracuse. See you out there! 

DK: Chuck, I appreciate your efforts in keeping the CNY area music scene strong, and taking the time to support others trying to do the same. Thanks brother, look forward to seeing you soon!

Chuck Schiele, Creative Services


Chuck Schiele Music


Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.