Debi Incandela, Lifelong Learning Committee Group member envisioned a musical dinner experience featuring blues and jazz for her fellow Colleton members. Debi reached out to the multi-talented musician, Lavon Stevens to conduct an evening of music and its history and they soon learned they both speak the language of music.
Mr. Lavon’s extensive repertoire encompasses soulful jazz, blues, contemporary, and gospel. A native of Savannah, Lavon began his musical studies at the age of seven with the violin. By 13, he was listening to his classically trained brother and then playing piano by ear. He studied piano and voice at Dekalb College in Atlanta from 1979 to 1983. Lavon performed nationally for years before returning to the Lowcountry.
Mr. Stevens offered a delightful blend of entertainment and education as he discussed the roots of jazz and then illustrated his points with music and song. Explaining that jazz is the only truly original American art form, he pointed to the influence of African music (string plucking), drum lines, horns used in funeral processions and ring shouts. The origin of the word, ‘jazz’ is still an historical contention but the best contender is the similarity of “jazz” to “jasm”, an obsolete slang term meaning spirit, energy, and vigor.
Lavon characterized gospel as the sound of hope. Gospel music is a form of euphoric, rhythmic, spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of the African American South. Its development coincided with – and is germane to – the development of rhythm and blues.
The ‘Nicklaus Jazz Club’ evening was a resounding success.