Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

S Shopper Stories


BILLBOARD TOP 10 ARTIST OPENS NY/LA MUSIC IN VIRGINIA BEACH

Jazz great Johnny Capers, Jr. has opened NY/LA Music in Virginia Beach

by Candance Moore


Billboard Top Ten recording artist and jazz-great Johnny Capers, Jr. <BR>has opened NY/LA Music in Virginia Beach as a place to develop and mentor local musical talent.

Billboard Top Ten recording artist and jazz-great Johnny Capers, Jr.
has opened NY/LA Music in Virginia Beach as a place to develop and mentor local musical talent.

Good music. It’s getting harder to find these days - and nearly impossible to make without a giant budget in a big-city venue. Of course, good music requires studios with amazing acoustics, pitch-perfect instruments, the latest recording technology and a patient, focused engineer with a sharp ear for detail. Yet beyond all this, what it needs most is access to accomplished producers.

As Hampton Roads sees many homegrown musicians either giving up on their dreams or seeking greener pastures elsewhere, a new studio has emerged to foster local talent. NY/LA Music recently opened in Virginia Beach’s Indian River district, offering production, recording and rehearsal spaces, as well as music lessons and more—all at a professional level found in the nation’s largest metropolitan centers.


“The music industry expects
young people to make
too many sacrifices.
It shouldn’t be that way.
This studio is a safe space
in a quiet community,
where developing musicians
can learn the craft from established,
highly-respected mentors.”

                             —Johnny Capers, Jr.

  
“The music industry expects young people to make too many sacrifices,” studio owner Johnny Capers Jr. remarks. “It shouldn’t be that way. This studio is a safe space in a quiet community, where developing musicians can learn the craft from established, highly-respected mentors.”

That’s the way Johnny learned music in his youth. He was the eldest of ten siblings in a family that might properly be called jazz royalty. His father played with the legendary Duke Ellington, helping to elevate jazz internationally, while his mother nurtured a career of her own. Like a member of the family, music was always present in the Capers’ Bronx, New York home.

The Bronx was a rough-and-tumble borough in those days, and Johnny’s parents saw music as a way to give their children dreams. They wasted no time in putting a trumpet into Johnny’s little hands. He was made to practice for three hours a day. At first, he was less than enthusiastic, often stealing glances at his friends playing outside. But then music and the dream of being a successful musician took hold of him.

“I remember one day when I was on the street looking around,” he recalls. “I passed several impoverished people with difficult lives. Something inside of me decided that I’d be a success.”

Johnny and his siblings grew to embrace music—particularly jazz—as a serious career choice. The Capers  siblings formed a quartet when he was just 14. By age 18, when his friends started to think about the future, Johnny was off playing gigs in Chicago.

Many of his siblings followed similar paths.  His sister Virginia won a Best Actress Tony Award for her role in the Broadway musical Purlie, and appeared on many classic TV series–including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the reoccurring  role of Grandma Hattie Banks.

When Beatlemania cooled America’s taste for jazz in the 1960s, Johnny spent time in Europe. Working with a broader range of talent enhanced his sound. He returned to the states with a fresh energy that moved him to the top of the genre. In January 1969, Johnny played at Richard Nixon’s presidential inauguration.

Under the stage name Jonathan Capree, he cracked Billboard’s  Top Ten with the deeply soulful yet playfully funky single Gonna Build Me a Mountain. Before he knew it, he was in Las Vegas sharing jam sessions with Bobby Darin. There he met a bubbly Italian music lover named Darlene DeFazio.

Johnny spent the next several decades playing in some of the world’s best venues and appearing on television. He went on to open his own night club in Arizona. At age 72, seeking a more comfortable climate for retirement, he arrived in Virginia Beach.

“I heard good things about the talent that’s come from here,” he explains. “So, once I settled in and surveyed the area, I decided to build a high quality studio  where local musical talent could be developed.”


Johnny Capers, Jr and Darlene DeFazio

Johnny Capers, Jr and Darlene DeFazio


Darlene had also relocated to the area to be closer to her daughter. When Johnny reached out to her about running a studio, she was all in. She now serves as Studio Director.

After choosing a location, they used their network of friends to build an impressive team. Doug Miller, musician extraordinaire who has worked with such greats as Lena Horne, signed on to be a teacher. Sentara’s Gad Brosch, MD, who moonlights as an accomplished keyboardist, also joined the team. Professional DJ King Born handles engineering. Each team member is vetted by Johnny and Darlene, not only for musical ability but also for their character.


“I’m excited to see what the future holds.
With any luck, it will include many more music stars and celebrities
who got their start right here in Virginia Beach.”

                               —Johnny Capers, Jr.


“All of us are here to cultivate the best new sounds in music,” Johnny insists. “There are no egos or hidden agendas. We simply want to be a part of shaping music in the next generation.”

Although Johnny’s background is primarily in jazz (he can do some mean scatting), he knows a great deal about the fundamentals of music across all genres, and he’s assembling a team of instructors who can teach diverse styles. Students from all backgrounds can get lessons in vocals, piano, guitar, trumpet, and more. Parents are welcome to sit in for a few lessons while nervous children adjust. Recitals give students a chance to show off what they’ve learned.

The location has three private sound-proof studios, a separate drum room, a large rehearsal space, and on-site engineering. Artists of every musical genre are welcome to use the facilities. NY/LA Music even offers videography.

The studio hosts Jazz Jam Sessions every Sunday afternoon that are open to the public. Johnny and Darlene are planning other public events, including a talent competition, to help infuse love of music into the whole community.

“Music changes as time passes,” Johnny notes, “but that doesn’t mean music will ever stop being great. I’m excited to see what the future holds. With any luck, it will include many more music stars and celebrities who got their start right here in Virginia Beach.”




NY/LA Music

5660 Indian River Rd., Suite 125
Virginia Beach, VA 23464

757-424-6952