A list of brilliantly influential saxophone players would fill a small city phone book, but one of the most overlooked beyond true Jazz aficionados is Ernie Krivda.
The Cleveland native learned clarinet at age 6 and alto sax at 16, dividing his time between his high school band, orchestras for local productions and his own Jazz band. To placate his Jazz playing/Classical loving father, Krivda studied clarinet at Cleveland’s Music School Settlement and Institute of Music while haunting the neighborhood’s Jazz clubs. At 17, Krivda toured with Jimmy Dorsey’s band; at 19 he was in a house band that accompanied Soul acts like The Temptations and The Supremes.
Krivda worked desultory Florida gigs before returning to Cleveland and exploring the rising Jazz scene at the Smiling Dog Saloon. In the mid-’70s, Krivda relocated to L.A. and toured with Quincy Jones, then moved to New York where he recorded his first three albums and received glowing critical praise from the Jazz press. Ultimately, Krivda returned to Cleveland to pursue teaching and composition. He’s maintained a vigorous recording/touring schedule ever since.
Krivda’s latest album, last year’s Blues for Pekar, has been ecstatically received. The album pays tribute to the late underground cartoon icon/respected Jazz critic/contentious David Letterman guest Harvey Pekar, who hailed Krivda as “one of the best Jazz tenor sax men in the world.” Krivda’s new live show is similarly dedicated to Pekar. Here’s hoping for screen depictions of the Cleveland curmudgeon’s erratic television appearances as a backdrop for Krivda’s old school genius.
ERNIE KRIVDA plays Friday, March 30 at Blue Wisp Jazz Club. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.