Everyone knows the only Jazz in Utah play basketball. Everyone, that is, except Reverend Willis, otherwise known as Sherm Clow. Clow is a jazz music aficionado and his collection of recordings is audible proof that, as he says, “There’s always been jazz in Utah.” When we say recordings, we don’t mean purchased CDs and downloaded music. We mean recordings Clow has made himself of jazz played in Salt Lake City, beginning in the ’70s. His collection amounts to an audible history of local jazz music.
Where to hear
Every Wednesday at Lake Effect, in the Rabbit Hole.
155 W. 200 South, SLC, 801-285-8494, lakeeffectslc.com
Gracie’s features live jazz on Monday nights.
326 W. Temple, SLC, 801-819-7565, graciesslc.com
The Bayou has live jazz on weekends.
645 S. State St., SLC, 801-961-8400, utahbayou.com
The Garage on Beck features live jazz—check the calendar.
1199 Beck St., SLC, 801- 521-3904, garageonbeck.com
For more jazz information check out the Salt Lake Jazz Festival website: slcjazzfestival.com
“Jazz here has waxed and waned,” says Clow. “But you could always detect a heartbeat.”
The downstairs of the house Clow shares with his partner is devoted to his passions—besides jazz, he loves film noir. But jazz is first and foremost. In addition to his collection of self-made recordings, Clow also carries a history of Salt Lake jazz in his head. He riffs on memories of places—Kilby Court, Monk’s House of Jazz, Zanzibar and low profile underground clubs—and the players who performed there. Names like the Joshua Payne Orchestra, the Chisholm brothers, John Henry, Henry Wolking, the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra emerge as if he heard the music yesterday even though some of his recordings are decades old. “I’ve always been interested in recording but in the late ’90s, digital equipment made it affordable,” says Clow. Now he has hundreds of recordings.
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