VOL.10 NO. 2 THE MAGAZINE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH FALL 2000
From accompanying Johnny Mathis, Natalie Cole, and Maureen McGovern to playing backup for 4th graders, Jerry Floor ex68 and his children, Emilee BA94 and Gregory BA96, fill their lives with musical projects, performances, and pursuits. The recording studio in the basement of their Salt Lake City home attests to the seriousness of their interests, and the Celebrity Gallery (a wall filled with autographed photos of stars whose performances theyve backed) in the family room is one indication that being a musician can be great fun.
Photo by Mark Dempsey
Musical training in the Floor family starts early. Jerry grew up playing woodwinds, particularly the clarinet. Emilee was playing a keyboard at the age of three and composing tunes beyond the normal cute little thing by the age of six, Floor says. She played piano and flute through her school years and now teaches piano, performs with local bands (including her fathers), and has become, Jerry says, a very good vocalist.
Emilee, whose University degree
is in French, is now a teaching assistant at the U, pursuing her masters
degree in French. Greg grew up playing several woodwind instruments and
received his degree in music on a full-ride music scholarship. He has
also been instructor of the U jazz band and has cut his own CD, The
Greg Floor Quintet: The Grand Inquisitor. Greg will begin working
on his masters degree this fall at the New England Conservatory
of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
Backing many well-known artists, cutting CDs of their performances, playing on request with the Utah Symphony, playing in one of the Jerry Floor bands (the Dixieland band, or the 18-piece jazz orchestra or one of its smaller components), and playing with The Great Basin Street Band (with whom they performed in the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy) should fill the Floor clans days. But much of their time is spent on the twofold mission of Jerrys organization, Jazz Arts of the Mountainwest (JAM): to make possible music education in the schools for young students, and to educate parents of those students about music through live performances. If parents can hear the music, they are much more likely to support their child when that child comes home asking if he can play the trumpet, Jerry explains. JAM takes smaller groups from Floors 18-piece band to elementary schools, performing for the students, introducing them to the instruments, and talking about the art of jazz.
With a nonprofit tax designation and some help from the Zoo, Arts and Parks tax, JAM is pursuing a youth instrument program in selected schools. Many people have an old instrument or two in their basements that they havent played in years, Floor says, and they would be happy to donate them to this project. That will be the easy part. What will stretch us economically is getting these instruments repaired and back in working order. When this is completed, the instruments will be assigned to selected schools and individual students.
Financing such a project is always a problem, Floor says. You try to do something beneficial, but it always comes down to money. The ZAP tax will help in the pilot project, but we never have enough.
The youth instrument program isnt Floors only dream. He is working with Mayor Rocky Anderson BS73 to start the Salt Lake Jazz Orchestraone entertainment component not yet found in the downtown areathat could be housed in one of the theatrical or concert venues there. He sees his 18-piece JAM band becoming the original Salt Lake Jazz Orchestra.
Whatever the setting may beschool, dance hall, concert halland whatever the groupjazz orchestra, Dixieland, small jazz band, keyboard and vocalsthe Floors may well be a part of it. And if the mayor has his way, music lovers may see them on the park grounds of the City and County Building in a summer performance, with wife and mother Connie cheering them on.
Nettie Bagley BA59 is Continuum editorial assistant.
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