September 27, 2016

Mr. Jazz SLC: Meet the Founder

gordon hanks slc jazz

Jazz SLC founder and program coordinator Gordon Hanks

In 1960, Gordon Hanks was a sophomore at Granite High School. “That year,” the affable GAM founder said, “they offered an Appreciation of Jazz class taught by a young teacher who wore a beret and drove an Austin Healey. We all thought he was really cool.” The teacher was cool, but it was the music that excited Gordon. In particular, Gordon really connected with Ahmad Jamal’s music. From that introduction, he was hooked on jazz.

Gordon’s academic training was in pharmacy. He first worked at and then owned and operated Holladay Pharmacy from 1967 to 2008. Among various and sundry retail offerings, the dispensary sold jazz CDs. Gordon shared his love of a particular jazz style not only with his customers, but also with his family. In the early 90s, Gordon decided to spread the love of jazz to the greater community.

Gordon started the Jazz SLC music series in 1994. Since then his foundation has produced more than 210 concerts. The concerts, now performed at the Capitol Theatre, offer mainstream jazz. “I don’t do anything esoteric,” Gordon says. “If you do avant garde, you’ll get some kind of audience, but our audience is middle-of-the-road.”

The Jazz SLC series draws national acts, including Gordon’s long-time friend, Ahmad Jamal.