Jazz trio with local roots to perform: Drummer Bob Savine originally from Altoona

Courtesy photo

Bob Savine (left) who graduated from Altoona High School in 1975, is shown with Fred Moyer. Both play in the famous jazz group the Fred Moyer Trio and will perform at the Mishler Theatre on June 26.

When Altoonan Jim Daski, 82, owner of JD Promotions, an entertainment booking company, posted a photo on social media showing the Altoona Swing Quartet, the connections resulted in the scheduling of a homecoming performance by Bob Savine, a talented drummer who plays jazz internationally with the Fred Moyer Trio.

The famous jazz trio — comprised of Moyer, Savine and bassist Mike Pope — will perform at the Mishler Theatre June 26. It is a partnership between JD Promotions and Altitude Entertainment.

Daski and Savine’s father, Robert E. Savine, played in the quartet with Daski on the accordion and the elder Savine on trombone and drums as the group traveled the private party and club circuit in the 1950s and 1960s.

When Daski, a 1955 graduate of Altoona Area High School, learned his old friend’s son was with the Fred Moyer Trio, the wheels started to turn.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to have Bob play in his hometown,” Daski said.

The younger Savine graduated in 1975 from Altoona Area High School, attended Penn State’s College of Music and eventually settled near Boston.

As a purchasing manager for Blair Electric Company, Daski said he learned a lot about entrepreneurship from company owner Don Devorris. He applied those skills as he started booking gospel music groups at area venues and churches. He retired from Blair Electric in 2000. Then, about four years ago, he created JD Promotions to bring stage shows, concerts, southern gospel and big band music to the area, such as The Glenn Miller Band, Artie Shaw, Gary Lee Lewis & the Playboys and Brooklyn Bridge. Earlier this year, his promotions company partnered with Altitude Entertainment, a division of the Altoona Mirror. Together, they are bringing top musical talent to the area.

The collaborative effort enables both parties to “take it to the next level,” Daski said, “Success breeds success. By working together we’re able to get more exposure.”

Altoona Mirror and Altitude General Manager Ray Eckenrode agrees.

“The partnership we’ve developed with Jim and JD Promotions has been a win/win, I think. His audience is a little different than Altitude Entertainment’s and he ventures into some areas, like jazz, where we might not have gone, otherwise. So, we’ve given his shows a wider audience in terms of promotion and he’s broadened our horizons a bit.”

The Fred Moyer Jazz Trio should attract a diverse demographic as the trio “plays a nice, soft recognizable jazz,” Daski said. The Moyer trio is unique as Moyer, who trained as a classical pianist, transcribes American Songbook jazz note-for-note.

Moyer and the younger Savine first toured together in 2009, Moyer said. The transcription method he uses is unique in the jazz arena as he writes out the pieces much like a symphony orchestra brings to life the works of classical composers.

The second half of the concert features their original jazz and is “deeply inspired and formed by our work and studying the style of jazz. A lot of people enjoy hearing us as it’s extremely unusual to copy exact notes played by other jazz groups,” Moyer said.

Savine decided to focus on playing drums early in his musical career, he said. “Fred brings incredible musicianship and artistry into these jazz pieces,” Savine said. “Fred brings them to life. That’s why I really enjoy this project and playing with him. It’s pretty amazing.”

Moyer said each musician is afforded an opportunity to solo and it will be especially meaningful for Savine as it is his hometown.

“When Bob solos,” Moyer said, “he has a poetic approach to his drum solos that’s unique.”

Savine said he focuses on interpreting the music and “won’t be twirling the sticks.”

Both men grew up among musicians. Moyer’s father played in the Boston Symphony, his grandfather was a professional pianist and numerous relatives also carved out careers in music. When Moyer soloed with the Boston Symphony, his father, William Moyer, a retired BSO musician, served as its personnel manager. His mother, Betsy, was Moyer’s first piano teacher.

The Savine household hummed with music, so Savine said he knew at a young age that he would pursue a career — and jazz captured him.

“It takes a lifetime to learn jazz. For me, it’s been jazz, jazz, jazz. There is so much to play and learn … it’s a lifetime journey,” Savine said, who admitted to mixed emotions to play before family and friends. “It is easier to play in font of an audience of strangers,” he explained, “It’s more nerve-wracking to play in front of family. It’s strange and also exciting … I’m looking forward to it.”

Moyer agreed that playing in front of family is “stressful but special because family is perfectly willing to tell you what you did wrong.”

Staff writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.

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