"A JAZZY BUSINESSMAN" - A Larry Jackstien profile
"When you love jazz, you just have to play it!" That's sums up the feelings of a jazz fanatic who keeps performing in spite of the demands of a full-time business career, church, family, and community obligations. In real life, Larry Jackstien is a businessman of note in the Salt Lake area where he serves as Managing Director of Sales and Marketing for Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, one of the country's top ski and conference destinations. For nearly 27 years, Mr. Jackstien has been either in the advertising, hotel, or resort business, but he has never stopped performing regularly as a jazz pianist, vocalist, and composer.
"My love affair with jazz started in junior high school and has been ongoing since that time," said Mr. Jackstien. In high school Larry was recognized as somewhat of a prodigy in the jazz world. After winning the western regional competition for best jazz group, he thought seriously about a career in music, but time performing on the road changed his mind and he shifted his education to business, eventually earning an MBA degree in marketing. All the while, music remained an important part of his life. He became one of the busiest local musicians accompanying the likes of touring artists such as Nancy Wilson, Henry Mancini, Mel Torme, even Elvis Presley.
In addition to performing, Larry took advantage of his executive positions in the hotel business to become a concert promoter. From 1975 to the present he has been responsible for presenting nearly every major jazz artist in concert. His latest series, which he initiated about 7 years ago, is called "Jazz at the Sheraton". This yearly series of jazz performances presents 10 concerts annually to sell-out crowds of about 1,200 people. In the nascent stages of the series, Larry, along with a choice rhythm section, accompanied many of the nationally known performers including Milt Jackson, Stanley Turrentine, Roy Hargrove, Clark Terry, Jack Sheldon, Kenny Burrell and many others. Larry is also heavily involved in Snowbird's own Jazz and Blues Festival, selecting the artists for the Jazz night. In 2000, he also started this country's only winter jazz party at a ski resort. The event, which was a two night affair, featured 22 of the finest artists from the west coast.
Larry could be called a "mainstream" player. "I grew up on jazz in the late 50's and early 60's and it continues to be my bag," he said. "I'm heavy into jazz standards, Horace Silver tunes, jazz ballads, and the songs of the great composers like Richard Rogers, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. My singing is reminiscent of Bobby Troup, more of the cool approach."
A few years ago, Mr. Jackstien recorded his first album. It was an ambitious project which saw him take a suite of music written by Johnny Richards, which had been recorded in 1956 by a large Stan Kenton ensemble, down to a trio plus Latin rhythm section. The CD also included several Richard Rogers songs. "Cuban Fire & Classics by Richard Rogers", as the album is titled, remains today only the second recording of Johnny Richards' great masterpiece.
"I love jazz," Larry explains. "It's in my blood. I guess you could say I'm a fanatic when it comes to this music. My day job is very demanding and I put a lot of energy into being a successful marketing director, but during many of my after hours, you'll find me playing piano, singing, or just listening to the music."
As the result of his huge collection of jazz CD's and LP's, Larry was often asked to recommend his favorites. The result was a listing of the "Best Jazz Albums of the Past 50 Years," assembled for those interested in superb recorded jazz performances.
Larry resides in Salt Lake City, Utah and is the father of four children.