Taking music down the road of life

Davina and the Vagabonds open this year’s ‘Hot Jazz’ season.

By
August 28, 2019 13:14
4 minute read.
Taking music down the road of life

DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS. (photo credit: CHRISTIE WILLIAMS)

Over the years, the Hot Jazz series organizers have brought over a motley range of artists that span many walks of jazz life, with some extramural fare thrown in for good measure. It is safe to say that the forthcoming round, here, of the Davina and the Vagabonds crew will be one of the most entertaining of the lot.

The eponymous troupe front woman is one Davina Lozier, who humorously notes that her “claim to fame” is as “singer, songwriter, band-leader and go-getter of Davina and the Vagabonds.” Judging by the energy she exudes at her gigs, Sowers is probably capable of even more than that lengthy list of roles, and will surely convey that in spades during the band’s eight-date circuit of the country, September 7-14.

Lozier, who is coming over here with her quintet of husband trumpeter-vocalist Zack Lozier, bassist Chris Bates, trombonist Matt Hanzelka and drummer George Marich, seems to feed off some of the jazz-blues disciplines’ earliest sounds and vibes. There is a definite New Orleans feel to her work, with a pronounced highly individual attitude and more than a touch of the burlesque about it all.

That, says Lozier, is very much attributable to her initial home environment. “I was raised with an old Edison gramophone,” she notes. “My – adoptive – father, who was born in 1902, would play beautiful standards and that era music. I loved it growing up and I love it now.” That, Lozier feels, can have a beneficial knock on effect for all concerned. “The spirit of early American traditional jazz has a way of making any situation lights and playful,” she adds.

THE SINGER-KEYBOARDIST and ukulele player fed off a rich musical diet from the word go. “My mother was a folk singer and my father loved early American music,” she explains. “I grew up with an extreme variety of genres.” She says her musical influences span “anywhere from Fats Waller to Led Zeppelin.”

By the time she was six, Lozier was exploring the mysteries of the piano although the idea of eking out a livelihood through music was more a matter a gradual evolution rather than a preconceived career choice. “It was never a plan. It is my genuine path and I work hard to stay on it.”

Lozier’s first tentative steps towards developing her own, hands on, musical consciousness were taken without any outside instrumental accessories. “Singing, for sure!” she exclaims when I inquire which – of vocals, keyboards or ukulele – emerged first. It was something of a primordial infancy development. “I’ve always loved to sing, since before I could even form words.”
After developing her vocal skills off her own bat, and furthering her mastery of the piano in a more formal educational setting Lozier relocated and just took off. “I moved to Minneapolis and hit the ground running,” she says. “I started booking shows and hired by word of mouth.” Thirteen years, four albums and countless shows across the United States and Europe later, Davina and the Vagabonds is very much a fixture on the global entertainment scene.

Lozier says the band packs a spread of musical and personal baggage, which only enriches the bottom collective line. “Musically, we all come from different background and different likes. It brings flare to every song. You can hear the different influences from each of us and I believe it brings a specific sound to our songs and vibes. It makes us sound like Davina and The Vagabonds.”

The group moniker, explains the band leader, references accrued mileage and street level goings on. “I am a traveler and spent a lot of time experiencing life through travel. I wanted to manifest a traveling band, bringing happiness through music, all over the world.” It is, she posits, basically just a matter of meeting life head on, and says she was drawn to the blues and jazz by “the honesty.” That has been central to her artistic and personal development which she endeavors to convey through her work. “I’ve grown so much in outlook of life in general. I believe that shows in my musical choices.”

That resonates in her tools of trade too – her writing and musicianship. “As I get older, I have learned to let go and take chances with my music. I’m not as worried about being perfect, but approach it with more connection not perfection.” That also informs what she presents to her audiences, and what she tries to pass on to the people she encounters on the road. “I play what I want and what I feel. I love to write and I also love to arrange standards to be more true to my voice and heart. I just want to make people smile and be happy.

The Vagabonds’ audiences up and down the country should get that vibe, and then some.

For tickets and more information: (03) 573-3001, www.hotjazz.co.il and https://bit.ly/30JVjy3


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