Dave Scoggin Trio at the Avalon
There's really no substitute for acoustic piano, according to jazz affectionare Dave Scoggin.
"There's an immediacy to hitting a key and hearing the sound distributed by an organic instrument," he says. "Music played on digital keyboards is emitted through a speaker, and that creates a bit of a disconnect. When you play a real piano, you feel like the keyboard is an extension of your body."
Avalon Bar & Grill in Talent touts an acoustic piano, and Scoggin has organized an upscale jazz scene that will be a regular happening at the restaurant.
Scoggin and a trio of rotating musicians will perform from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturdays at the Avalon, 105 W. Valley View Road. Most often, Jeff Addicott will be playing upright bass and Dave McClure will be on the drums. Throughout the summer, look for Michael Vannice on organ and sax, Jeff Stanley and Paul Turnipseed on guitars, jazz vocalist Danielle Kelly, folk artist Tish McFadden and bassist Bruce McKern. Guitarist Page Hamilton (frontman of alt-metal band Helmet and a faculty member at Britt's 2014 Rock Camp) also will make an appearance.
"We play jazz, R&B, Latin jazz, pop, gospel and classical music," Scoggin says. "I play contemporary acoustic jazz piano, but sing mostly Southern R&B, like Dr. John and Ray Charles. Lately, I've learned modern Brazilian jazz and pop and old-school gospel.
"I like music that resonates emotionally," he says. "I think all musicians do. We have gut reactions. After that, we intellectualize it and keep it interesting. I like surprise and unpredictability in music."
Scoggin's parents started his classical piano training when he was 4. His father was a pipe organist and a Bach scholar.
"I love Bach, but I skipped the classical and Romantic eras to went straight to Impressionism," Scoggin says. "A lot of modern jazz musicians — from Duke Ellington to Herbie Hancock — are influenced by composers Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky. That's where their modern jazz harmonies come from."
Scoggin discovered blues at an Interlochen summer music camp in Michigan when he was 12.
"I started a blues band the next year in the seventh grade," he says. "Then I saw Dr. John at the Pop Arts Festival in Amsterdam when I was 14, and he's been a big influence since. He's the world's foremost expert on New Orleans piano." During his early teens, Scoggin traveled Europe with his father.
Scoggin taught jazz, rock and pop history and jazz piano for 13 years as an adjunct instructor at Southern Oregon University. He'll teach at Britt's 2014 Rock Camp for the fourth year this summer and at the Ashland Middle School band camp.
Scoggin runs the Music Room at Briscoe ArtWing in Ashland, where he teaches private piano, records, holds rehearsals, jam sessions and recitals.
"I direct a 17-piece rock band for teenagers called the Briscoe House Band," he says. "They'll play the Avalon on Monday, June 2."
The band will perform a rap song by Ozomatli, Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4," "Happy" — a song penned by Pharrell Williams for the sequel "Despicable Me 2" — and one original by Scoggin and the group called "The Briscoe Magic Jam."