News Column

Music In The 239: Naples Jazzmasters deliver free music every Saturday

June 19, 2014

By Dave Osborn, Naples Daily News, Fla.

June 19--Music emanated from his Naples home, and Dr. Jim Gover heard a rap on his front door.

Gover was practicing with his fellow members of the Naples Jazzmasters, a local Dixieland jazz band. Figuring someone was upset about the loud sound, Gover opened the door to find a man standing there. The band plays free concerts 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays in the summer at Norris Community Center, 755 Eighth Ave. S.

"He said, 'I see musicians here on Tuesday mornings,' " Gover recalled the man saying.

"I thought, oh, now he's going to complain about the noise. He asked if he and his wife could bring chars and sit and listen. He said, 'I want to be your audience.' "

The neighbor was renowned historian and author David McCullough, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his nonfiction books "John Adams" and "Truman." For several years now, McCullough has stopped by Gover's home in the Aqualane Shores neighborhood of Naples in the winter months when the band practices.

"He was just walking by. I had no idea who he was," said Gover, 81. "I didn't expect anyone famous to be around. He comes, he brings his wife, sometimes he brings his children and grandchildren. He loves Dixieland."

Naples Jazzmasters played to a crowd of more than 60 on a recent Saturday in June. A retired dentist, Gover serves as the band's emcee at shows.

"I usually spill my Coca-Cola halfway through the performance," Gover joked, after he had bumped his soda can just before the show was to start.

The band's set list included 19 songs that day, including everything from "It Had To Be You" to "It's A Long Way to Tipperary."

Gover sang "If You Knew Susie," then set up another song, the "Calliope Rag."

"Things were simpler in the 1920s," Gover said. "It didn't take much to entertain people."

Jazzmasters is an offshoot of the Naples Dixieland Jazz Band that performs in the winter at Cambier Park in downtown Naples. Jazzmasters formed about seven years ago for those musicians who didn't head up North after winter, Gover said.

"Someone said, 'Nothing is going on in the summer so let's get together on Tuesday mornings and play for the fun of it,' " said Gover, who recently had open heart surgery.

Then someone suggested playing at Norris Center. They had charged in the past, $15 a person and $25 per couple but they decided to make it free this year, just setting out baskets for freewill offerings, Gover said. Money goes to the Naples Jazz Society.

"We increased the size of our audience and we're having more fun," he said. "And the money is turning out to be the same either way."

The band features accomplished musicians such as trumpeter Renald Richard, who co-wrote "I Got A Woman" with Ray Charles, and Jean Packard, a pianist whom Gover said played piano for the original Broadway production of "Cabaret."

Lilo Schwartz of North Naples attended the Saturday show because she always sees the jazz band shows at Cambier.

"I just like the sound of the New Orleans music, the Dixieland and the jazz," she said.

Corky Maschinot of The Villages in north Central Florida, who was visiting his daughter in Naples, said he appreciates the free concerts.

"It works for me," said Maschinot, 78. "I like to listen to it because it's happy music and it makes me happy."

Maschinot, who plays trumpet, said he is in five bands back home.

"You don't have to be a musician to understand this music," he said.

Ragtime was a musical genre that began in the 1890s. It evolved into jazz in the South, Maschinot said, and it eventually moved north to Chicago and other cities, including New York.

Dixieland followed Ragtime, Gover said, which began to revolutionize American music. The music continued to evolve, becoming jazz, swing and other forms and eventually it became rock 'n' roll, Gover said.

"Like a gumbo of different seasonings and sauce, the music assumed a shape that was uniquely American," he said.

He believes Jazzmasters and the audience are transported back in time during shows, if only for a couple hours on a summer Saturday.

"Styles change, clothing, all sorts of fads come and go, but this music has persisted," Gover said. "Somehow it has survived and here we have it Naples, Florida. People like it."


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Source: Naples Daily News (FL)

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