This week the Triton Museum of Art will expand its already expansive portfolio of community cultural events with a new concert series, Sounds@Triton. The series kicks off on Jan. 27 with the History of Jazz, presented by Santa Clara resident and pianist Andy Lagunoff.
“We’re delighted to be able to offer these concerts to the community,” said Triton Executive Director Jill Meyers. “Cal Arte’s Sunday Gallery chamber music concerts give listeners unparalleled opportunities to get acquainted, or reacquainted, with classical repertory in an intimate way. And now Sounds@Triton is offering unique and original programs like Andy Lagunoff’s History of Jazz.
“We are deeply grateful to our community donors to the piano fundraising campaign last May who made these new concert series possible,” she continued. “We’re also grateful to pianist Tamami Honma for helping us to acquire the Steinway, Council Member Teresa O’Neill for promoting the campaign, and especially Assemblyman Kansen Chu for his matching grant.”
In honor of Black History month coming up in February, the program features four African-American jazz composers–Scott Joplin, W.C. Handy, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington–and spans the development of jazz from ragtime, through blues, Dixieland and swing.
“I want to show people the artistic cultural components that influenced the creation of jazz,” says Lagunoff.
And while jazz didn’t attain the status of “serious” music until after WWII, in all of its incarnations it has always been an extremely sophisticated musical form. “One of the pieces I’m playing, Scott Joplin’s ‘Bethena’ concert waltz, is fascinating,” he says.
“It’s technically a ragtime piece. But within its structure there is an unmistakable influence of Western European ‘classical’ music.” But Joplin’s music never got the serious attention the jazz-influenced music of later composers did, said Lagunoff, because of the racial segregation in every aspect of the performance world.
Lagunoff’s love of jazz started early. He began taking piano lessons at four, and trumpet lessons at seven. At 10 he was attending classes at the Cal State Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and was a member of the invitation-only Maple Leaf jazz club and the Scott Joplin Preservation Society. At 12 he received his American Federation of Musicians union card. Lagunoff is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and performs on both the piano and trumpet.
He was a lead soloist for the Pride of Cincinnati Drum and Bugle Corps, played first trumpet in the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra, performed with the Southern Calif. Dixieland jazz band and the Dixie Kings, and was a founder of the Satin Finish jazz band in Columbus, Ohio. Lagunoff has also performed in in Las Vegas at the Riveria and Rio hotels.
The concert is presented in the memory of Lagunoff’s parents, the late Barbara Stahl and Alan Lagunoff.
“I wanted to dedicate this concert to them because I wouldn’t have the music if it wasn’t for my parents,” said Lagunoff. “They nurtured and supported me in so many ways that I didn’t appreciate until I was older.”
Barbara Stahl was truly a citizen of the world. At 19, she worked in England as an administrator for the King George VI Memorial Fund. Following that, she briefly lived in an Israeli Kibbutz. Born in Australia, she earned a teaching degree in English and special education from Cal State Los Angeles.
After marrying, she and her husband moved from Los Angeles to Cincinnati, where she served as President of the Business and Professional Women’s Organization and on the Executive Board of the League of Women Voters.
After her four children were out of high school, she was offered the opportunity to work as a high school college counselor internationally. She and her husband grabbed the opportunity and her first posting was in Taiwan. Her journeys included stops in Singapore, Bangkok and Zimbabwe.
After returning to California in 2001, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But Stahl never let that stop her from being engaged. Instead, being wheelchair-bound made her a strong advocate for disabled people.
As a member of the Santa Clara’s ADA committee, she was instrumental in getting an automatic door for the City Council chambers. She also put her international experience to work as part of the now-defunct Santa Clara International Commission and the City’s Cultural Commission.
“She wanted to always be giving to the community,” said Lagunoff. “My mom loved Santa Clara.”
Andy Lagunoff plays “The History of Jazz” on Friday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Triton Museum, 1505 Warburton Ave. Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to “give what you can.” Donations support the artists. For information about the Triton, visit www.tritonmuseum.org or call 408-247-2438.