As you probably know, Ralph Knowles passed away on July 18 at the age of 93. Talk about an avid Jazz Pensacola supporter! He could always be counted on as a hard working volunteer, steadfast financial supporter, enthusiastic attendee at virtually all events, active leader as a Board member and interested advisor in the Sparks group – Ralph gave his all for Jazz Pensacola for a long time.
When Kat and I moved to Pensacola in 2003, it was Ralph and Janet at the door for our first Jazz Gumbo. They were so friendly and inviting. We were hooked on Jazz Pensacola, and we began a very close friendship with them. We were so sad when Janet passed in 2009, and now Ralph. But hey, 93 is an enviable age to reach, and he led a fantastic life – one to be celebrated as well as missed.
Ralph was a truly kind and good person, and he loved jazz too. He loved that hot traditional jazz, with a toe-tappin’ beat, and I think he was warming up to that progressive jazz I presented from time to time. You could always find him in the merchandise tent or the VIP tent or around the Gazebo or at the Jazz Jams and Jazz Gumbos or at the college band concerts or wherever Al Martin was playing. Of course, many more good things can be said about him. Just want to say again – we will miss Ralph.
Norman Vickers, Jazz Pensacola Volunteer Executive Director Emeritus, is featured in the August 2020 edition of The Syncopated Times, a popular publication for fans of jazz, ragtime and swing.
“Norman Vickers is known as a harmonica-playing physician who was a pioneer in his field in his adopted city, and who for the past 40 years, has been the jazz ambassador and moving spirit behind Jazz Pensacola, one of the country’s more active jazz societies,” reads the article, with the headline “Norman Vickers: Jazz Doc and More.”
Read the complete article here or via the PDF below.
I recently received a delightful note from Joe Galetovic of Denver, Colorado. He is a jazz friend who I first met in the 1980s while we were both attending the famous Dick Gibson Labor Day weekend jazz party in Denver. We have kept in contact and he and his wife Linda are now more active than I in traveling to similar events. Consequently, he updates me on their activities and comments about the performers.
He had recently attended the San Diego Jazz Party and kindly sent me the program. Interesting, duo pianists Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi were among the performers. (I’ve blogged about this couple and saw them a week or so later at the Ragtime Festival in Starkville, Mississippi.) Interestingly, some of the other performers at the SD Jazz Party had performed for us previously in Pensacola. They include saxophonist Harry Allen, trombonist Dan Barrett, vocalist Rebecca Kilgore, bassist/vocalist Nicki Parrott, clarinetist Ken Peplowski and guitarist Frank Vignola.
Longtime guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli was a recent death, along with his wife, both victims of COVID-19. Bucky was a wonderful person and a wonderful jazz ambassador. Bucky was a regular performer at the Gibson parties and jazz host Dick Gibson always would schedule a duo performance along with jazz violinist Johnny Frigo. There is a Nina Fritz painting in the jazz room at our downtown West Florida Public Library depicting Bucky and Johnny. It was painted based on a photo I took of them rehearsing — each had their instrument in hand. In five minutes, they would discuss songs and keys and then perform them for one hour.
We had Bucky and Johnny perform for Pensacola JazzFest but separately, as their schedules did not mesh. Frigo came with Frank Vignola and, a few years later, Bucky came with Nicki Parrot. Both duos were marvelous.
I want to quote the tribute that Joe Galetovic wrote me about loss of Bucky and wife to the virus:
“Linda and I were left breathless — like losing a member of the family. Over the years Bucky was a regular at Summit Jazz in Denver, so it was Bucky who ‘took us’ to San Diego Jazz Party first time. It was Bucky who made us go to West Texas Jazz Party, Bucky was ‘the reason’ we went to Atlanta Jazz Parties. Bucky introduced us to Matt and Rachel Domber and Arbors Jazz parties. He also took us to Elkhart and Cleveland … not to speak of all the times we went to New York to listen to him; tape new CDs ad NOLA studies, heard him at 92nd Street Y, at Symphony Hall on the West side, in Cavatappo; at Hotel Carlisle, Feinstein’s at Regency etc …”
Yes, Bucky will be greatly missed, but his son John is carrying on the legacy.
So thanks, Bucky for brightening our lives and leaving loving children to honor your tremendous musical legacy. Also, thanks Joe and Linda Galetovic for your friendship and enthusiasm for jazz. Keep us in the loop!
We are in the summer months still trying to plan how to hold a Jazz Pensacola event. it is very frustrating.
Just when you think it is safe to go back in the water (“Jaws” theme in a jazzier version ), no it is not. Yes, we planned a July Jazz Jam and Jazz Gumbo, only to cancel.
Safety first. Nobody needs to be reckless. We certainly do not. Truth is, we are not sure when we will be ready to have an event — an event where everyone feels they are not in harms way if they attend; an event where no one feels on edge by the fact a musician is blowing air through a horn, a vocalist is projecting breath, all in the air. Outside? Many feel it’s too hot. We are in Florida.
We will continue to plan, and, of course, hope for the best — the best time when we are all OK with being together. We are in the middle of a jazz improvisation section, waiting to play the melody again. It’s not time.