I really wanted to meet David Froman because I not only enjoy his playing, but he seems to be everywhere there’s jazz in Denver. Despite the breadth of his background, Froman has certainly made his mark in Front Range jazz. You’ve probably seen David playing trumpet in the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra or introducing shows done by Gift of Jazz in any number of venues around Denver. He’s hard not to recognize.
There’s no self-aggrandizement going on here. He’s a quiet, self-effacing fellow who simply and quietly gets stuff done. It’s going to be a challenge to describe him because I could start from any number of places.
First, his trumpet and sax playing. Raised in California, he comes from a family whose parents were both big music lovers and supporters. It was required that the children learn piano. David dutifully studied for two or three years but preferred his activities in boy scouts, swimming, hiking, and skiing. Today he wishes he had had more focus. In fifth grade, he wanted to play the sax but the school wanted him to play clarinet. He settled for the trumpet as his next best choice. He studied privately with a teacher named Joe Alessi, who was strict and expected David to practice two hours a day as well as forcing his own children to do so! Well, Alessi must have been doing something right—Joe Junior is the Principal Trombonist in the NY Philharmonic today.
David continued to play some during college but actually majored in philosophy, graduating magna cum laude from UC Santa Barbara. During his senior year, he suggested the college have a jazz festival and initiated the 1st Annual UC Santa Barbara Invitational Jazz Festival. His goal was to find the 10 best college bands and have them play. He cleverly started by inviting North Texas State’s One O’clock Lab Band by implying he had an opening if they wanted to play in this prestigious event. Their acceptance made getting the other nine bands easy! The festival was a great success but has never been repeated!
David never did foresee making a career in music and went instead into his family’s furniture business until moving to Colorado. After that move, in 1994, an odd jazz connection led him to learning about a then-new concept, the Internet. He studied it, taught himself HTML, and ultimately built a career developing websites for furniture stores. Oh, yes, he still played trumpet, but it was clearly a sideline.
Today, David still has full-time work but his passion for jazz music continues. To further his playing abilities, he took his adult self to the University of Denver for two years and sat in on enough college classes to earn a Certificate in Music Performance in Jazz. Today he has deep connections with everyone in any role in jazz: musicians, promoters, club owners. Let’s focus on Gift of Jazz, his most pronounced achievement, to which he devotes enormous amounts of time.
Gift of Jazz was founded in the mid-1990s by Ms. Jerry Fredericks to support local jazz causes, produce loft concerts and issue a monthly newsletter. It grew like topsy once David became involved around 2008. In order to qualify for grant money, the mission was changed. Today, the organization is a force to be reckoned with!
Here is what they do:
“Jazz for the Schools” busses Denver school children to the McNichols building for an interactive introduction to jazz, meeting the Colorado Music Education standards. All free.
“Artists in the Schools” is a high school clinician program that focuses on teaching the interpretation of jazz concepts.
“Instrumental Lesson” is a newer project to provide free music lessons to kids from under-served communities.
“Saturday Adult Jazz Education” classes are held via Zoom and in person, teaching jazz piano and composition to non-professionals adults.
“Beverly Clifton Scholarships” for students of jazz is intended to support educational costs for students committed to pursuing a career in jazz.
If that’s not enough, then there are the concerts. There’s a Women in Jazz series, Blind Tiger events, and other shows in various venues. These always focus on a particular jazz composer, singer, instrumentalist, or leader and feature our best local talent. I had to ask the origins of the name “Blind Tiger” and was delighted to learn this: During prohibition, when alcohol was illegal to sell, jazz promoters would sell tickets instead to “see a blind tiger.” That cued the prospective audience that liquor would be available. When Gift of Jazz promotes a Blind Tiger event, it includes wine and a catered meal.
Because of his tireless work in the jazz community, David was honored as a “Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association in 2022.
Future plans for David include more performing and less day-to-day detailed planning for Gift of Jazz.
Upcoming Gift of Jazz programs include an evening of jazz flute with Vince Wiggins & Social Groove; a centennial celebration of the life and music of Barney Kessel with Bruce Forman; Spencer Zweifel presenting a tribute to Ahmad Jamal; and Tenia Nelson’s Love Letter to Mary Lou Williams. Each of these is at a different venue. And keep your eyes open as November approaches. Gift of Jazz will be presenting a Thad Jones tribute at East High School (with Keith Oxman, of course!) on November 12. I, for one, can’t wait!
Stay connected to KUVO’s programs and our community! Sign up for the Oasis E-News today!