Bob Savoia
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Bob Savoia

Rochester, New York, United States | SELF

Rochester, New York, United States | SELF
Band Jazz


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"The jam session at the Rochester International Jazz Festival was just heating up one night last June when a man with a tenor saxophone stepped on stage to join the Bob Sneider Trio on "Stella by Starlight." I was skeptical. He looked more like a businessman than a performer. But when he put the sax to his lips, he proceeded to play a wonderful solo, venturing far from the melody with inventive bursts of notes. I found out later that his name was Bob Savoia, and he was no regular on the jazz circuit. In fact, you can find him most days at Savoia's Pastries on Clifford Avenue. But the fact that a baker could step up and drop a wild, tuneful solo got me thinking: What is it about the connections between Italians and jazz in Rochester?

Savoia grew up on Rochester's East Side and attended EastHigh School with Pee Wee Ellis. As a teenager in the 1950s he played in a band with Gene Cornish, who emerged from Rochester to become a member of the Rascals. "Like most people, I started listening to blues: Earl Bostic, Red Prysock, Louis Prima. Then I got into jazz --- Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, and, of course, Charlie Parker."

But once into his 20s, Savoia put down the sax and went to work at his father's bakery. It wasn't until decades later, in the early 1990s, that he decided it was time to start playing again. As a kid he had played by ear. This time Savoia wanted to know the mechanics of the music. After some theory classes at the EastmanSchool, he was ready to begin playing around town.

Over the last few years, Savoia had shared some gigs with the members of Bob Sneider's trio, so he thought it might be fun to show up with his sax at the jam session. Just before stepping on stage he was a bit nervous because one of his heroes, saxophonist Eric Alexander, in town for the festival, had just walked into the bar. Savoia was especially pleased to get his blessing afterward. When I mentioned the Italian connection, Savoia wasn't surprised. "You know, I've thought about that myself," he said. "These Italians players' roots are mostly from the South of Italy, places like Sicily. There's a lot of music there. My family came from there and I was always drawn to music."

Savoia sees the ideal situation in the music as one embracing both African Americans who have cultural roots in jazz and those, Italian or otherwise, who came to it out of a love for the music. "On Joe Romano's last night in town he played at the ClarissaRoom and the crowd was half white and half black. It was so cool; it was so hip; it was so nice."

- City Newspaper (Rochester, NY)


Introducing Bob Savoia - Takin' Care Of Business (2011)



Bob Savoia has played jazz saxophone in the Rochester, NY area for many years. Along with many others, he has worked with guitarists, Bob Snyder and Mark Manetta, of the Chuck Mangione Band, vibraphonist, Joe Locke who presently performs in NYC, and trumpeter, Sal Speranza, of Naples, FL. He studied jazz theory and improvisation under Raymond Ricker, woodwind department head at the Eastman School of Music .