|By KRISTYN ADAMS - Special to TimeOut||
June 5, 2014
WEST BEND - Local saxophonist Dave Petty is happy to have
found the perfect name for his jazz combo.
From venue to venue, Impromptu may be a solo,
duet or quintet performance depending on the available talent at his
side. Digital backup fills the gaps and off he goes. Wherever he
plays, as long as his clarinet and tenor sax are within reach, Petty
is ready to smooth things out.
A native of New Jersey, he discovered his love
for jazz in fifth grade. The genre made its presence known from within
a rural environment. “If you’ve lived in New Jersey, you know why they call it
the Garden State,” Petty said. “Where I lived, it was all farms and countrysides.
I worked for a dairy farm out there. The music came from grammar
Petty recollected his chance introduction to jazz
and brass. “We had a grammar school band that was very good,”
Petty said. “The more I listened, the more I thought jazz was
so cool. I went and talked to the band director. He said I could be in
the band only when I was good enough, so I wanted to start lessons
Because musical instruments were not rented during those times, Petty’s
choice was extremely limited.
baritone (saxophone) was the only instrument the band director had
Petty said. “I can remember the first day I came home from
school with a baritone sax. My mom and grandma saw me through the
kitchen window bringing this huge instrument up the driveway. It was
longer than I was tall, but I took to it right away.”
Later, Petty’s father bought him a tenor saxophone. To this
day, Petty enjoys playing tenor sax and jazz clarinet at local
intimate venues. A faculty member at West Bend Music Academy, Petty
said finding and developing your own sound is worth the time it takes.
off by listening to players you really like. They can’t be
duplicated of course, but there has to be a target. With some
musicians, distinct tone quality develops naturally. Imitation has a
lot to do with the result but in the end, you will always end up
sounding like you.”
“As a musician, you always hope the audience enjoys the music - that’s No 1. In this day and age, that’s tough,” said Petty.
Petty describes his tone as dark, smooth, and
smoky and said songs like Joseph Kosma’s “Autumn Leaves” and Duke Ellington’s “In a
Sentimental Mood” are good material examples.
sound isn’t of the bee-bop variety,”
Petty cites Sims, a saxophonist who played with Benny Goodman in the 1940s, and jazz icon Jimmy Hamilton, who worked with Duke Ellington for 25 years, as major influences.
Hamilton played at the Jersey shore when I was there. He was a nice
guy and a great player with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He took me
under his wing for a bit and was a huge influence,” Petty said.
Benny Goodman and Lionel Hampton are just a few jazz greats who inspire Impromptu vibraphonist Bob Maynard of Wauwatosa.
dad was a jazz musician so I always had jazz in my life,”
Maynard. “I’ve been playing almost 58 years and I would never
think of stopping. I learn something new every time I play and every
time I practice. It’s no different than being an athlete or any other
occupation, but whether it’s a ballad, swing, or a waltz, music is the
finest motivator there is.”
Drummer Bill Schmidt of West Bend also performs
with Petty and Maynard. The group’s next performance is from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Saturday at the Poplar Inn, 518 Poplar St., West Bend.