Take note, renowned jazz saxophonist and clarinetist Victor Goines is officially tuned into his role as Jazz St. Louis’ President and CEO. Monday September 19 was his first day and he took over from Gene Dobbs Bradford, who led the organization for 23 years.
“I was excited, I really didn’t have the words to express how excited I was,” Goines said.
Goines sees his role as a great opportunity for him to be part of the Jazz St. Louis legacy and help the organization continue to play its important role in the community.
He knows the venue of Jazz St. Louis well, it was part of his favorite ground as a young musician. He remembers playing there when it was at the Majestic Hotel.
“It’s always been an exciting club,” he said.
goins became a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 1993 and has composed 200 original pieces. He has performed with many jazz and R&B greats, including Terence Blanchard, Bob Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie, Branford Marsalis, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder.
Goines was most recently Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Music at Northwestern University, where he served 14 years. Under his leadership, the Jazz Studies program at the Big Ten institution has grown into a premier international program.
He also served for seven years as Artistic Director of Jazz Studies at The Juilliard School, where he created the curriculum for the Juilliard Jazz Studies program. He has been an education consultant for Jazz at Lincoln Center since 1995..
The New Orleans native was born for this job, raised around music. Goines says he grew up listening to jazz, R&B and Top 40. As a child, he played the clarinet to help control his asthma.
He studied classical music in middle school, but in high school he fell in love with jazz. The talented musician says he heard a John Coltrane recording and was blown away.
“I was like, wow that’s it, I want to do this,” he said.
He continued his studies in classical music but his interest in Jazz intensified. He frequented local jazz clubs to watch older musicians play, and he says they hugged him and sometimes invited him on stage. He credits some of the things he learned as a composer, musician and teacher to his mentor and close friend, the late great Ellis Marsalis.
Goines said his first big jazz gig was at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and he brought everything the greats taught him to the stage.
“I have a ton of lessons that I learned from [Marsalis] and I look forward to sharing them with the community here in Saint-Louis,” said Goines.
Goines says he wants the club to be recognized as an institution steeped in history, with national and international fame.
“He deserves this kind of world-renowned recognition,” Goines said.
“I want everyone to come here, [St. Louis Jazz] has done a lot to become a home where musicians come and perform in this club”
Musicians such as Herbie Hancock and Brad Marsalis have played there recently, and Regina Carter will be the opening act for the upcoming season.
Goines plans to show off the liveliness of St. Louis through the club by bringing people from the jazz community who otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit.
“I want to show them that jazz can be for everyone,” he said.
But Goines didn’t go into his new role thinking he knows everything. He plans to collaborate with his staff and build on the established legacy. It also means listening to the community of Saint-Louis.
“Together we can take the club forward,” he said.
“There are a lot of things here that I don’t know yet. I’m a student at Jazz St. Louis, which is great. I am learning again.
Ashley Winters is a reporter for Report for America