Tim Hagans’ return to the area to perform at Gilly’s on Saturday is highly significant for the jazz musician.
The New York-based trumpet player, a 1972 graduate of Meadowdale High School, credits a variety of local influences with helping shape him into the international performer, composer and recording artist he is today.
“Gilly’s was my first jazz club,” said Hagans, 59. “I remember hearing all these great musicians there like Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Milt Jackson, Ahmad Jahmal, Jimmy Witherspoon and Eddie Harris. Those experiences helped me form what I thought music should sound like and I’m still trying to realize that vision. I don’t get to Dayton all that much anymore so it’s always great to come back to play at Gilly’s.”
Gilly’s was just one local factor the Grammy-nominated musician credits with his early development.
“I had a great band director, Don Durst, at Meadowdale,” Hagans said. “He was a drummer and he was interested in jazz. He actually got the jazz band on the high school curriculum. Then there was the Living Arts Center that George Zimmerman started when he was the superintendent of music for Dayton Public Schools. George was a great mentor to me. He used to take me to concerts in Cincinnati and Dayton. He loaned me records. He was a great inspiration.
“The Johnny Mack Youth Band was also a great thing that was happening in Dayton,” he continued. “Johnny was inspired by the Stan Kenton method of mentoring and involving kids in big band music so they started a youth band. We’d rehearse for two hours before they had the adult rehearsals and they would be there and be coaching us.”
Those early experiences paid off. Hagans left Bowling Green State University after two years to join Stan Kenton’s band and never looked back.
“I went out for a couple of weeks while the trumpet player was on vacation,” Hagans said. “I thought I was going to go back to school but the trumpet decided he wanted to stay on vacation, so I stayed for the next two-and-a-half years.”
Hagans went on to work with musicians such as Woody Herman, Thad Jones, Marc Copland and Maria Schneider. He spent 15 years as the artistic director for the Norbotten Big Band in Sweden. Today, Hagans divides his time between leading his own band, exploring a variety of side projects and doing shows with pickup bands. For his return engagements in Cincinnati and Dayton this week, he’ll be backed by the Steve Schmidt Trio.
How to go
Who: Tim Hagans with the Steve Schmidt Trio
Where: Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St., Dayton
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
More info: 937-228-8414 or www.gillysjazz.com
Artist info: www.timhagans.com