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They CARE About Jazz
by Nathan Orme - Tribune editor
Apr 26, 2012 | 2809 views | 1 1 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Nathan Orme - John Graham on sax and Jean Driver on vocals comprise the duo Sax and Song.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - John Graham on sax and Jean Driver on vocals comprise the duo Sax and Song.
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RENO — John Graham and Jean Driver have a show marriage.

But that’s OK, it’s all about the sax anyway.

Graham, who plays saxophone, and Driver, who sings with a three-octave vocal range, comprise the musical duo Sax and Song. Together, they are an easy-listening show that entertains intimate gatherings around the Truckee Meadows with their takes on jazz classics, pop standards and even a few modern tunes.

Each of them are northern Nevada transplants — Driver from Georgia and Graham from the Midwest — and both started at an early age with music. Graham, now 67, grew up listening to his father’s saxophone playing and Driver started singing in shows at age 5. Driver, who is 54, has been singing all her life, including some stints as an opera singer. Graham played saxophone in the Air Force band, performing all over North and South America before taking a 25-year break to raise a family. Three years ago they met when Graham’s wife was Driver’s real estate agent in Reno. Both had recently split with their bands and were looking for new avenues to explore with music. They got together and tried out a few things before settling on a sound.

“One day we did some jazz and said, ‘That’s it, that’s our sound,’ ” Driver said.

They now make the rounds as a duo specializing in smooth jazz performing mostly in intimate venues. With similar tastes in music, they rely on a lot of jazz standards but also try to work in their own renditions of modern songs to appeal to younger listeners. Driver said she particularly likes the song “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson, and they both like the songs of Norah Jones. They get a little help staying on top of what’s current: Graham from his wife, who chooses modern music for teaching a spinning class, and Driver from her 25- and 23-year-old sons about what songs will work with her voice.

“We’re doing some stuff I would never have done in the past,” Graham said.

“We try to make it our own without wrecking the song,” Driver said.

“Sometimes we wreck the song, but that’s OK,” Graham responded.

The chemistry between Graham and Driver is undeniable, as they easily banter back and forth. They even describe themselves as musically married.

“I’ve been playing sax since dinosaurs roamed the Earth,” Graham said when asked how long he has played his instrument.

“I thought it was since before that,” Driver said without missing a beat.

“It could have been,” Graham replied.

Their easy style lends itself to quiet, classy settings such as the one at which they will perform today. From 5:30 to 9 p.m., CARE Chest of Sierra Nevada will host “Taste for Jazz,” a Mardi Gras-themed fundraiser at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. “Revelers” will be treated to music from Graham and Driver, wine from exclusive wineries and food from local favorites such as Wild River Grille and Men Wielding Fire. An auction will feature tickets to jazz festivals, original artwork, a trip to New Orleans, opportunities to enjoy local restaurants and entertainment and more. Funds will help CARE Chest provide free medical equipment, supplies and emergency prescriptions for local families in need.

Tickets cost $75 per person at the door. For more information, visit ww.carechest.org.
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lisacoe
|
May 01, 2012
Jean Driver has a beautiful voice and a great sense of humor. I can't wait for her next performance.

They CARE About Jazz by Nathan Orme - Tribune editor


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