As a kid in the Dominican Republic, Pavel Polanco-Safadit fell in love with piano and spent hours each day perfecting his technique. This passion and skill eventually earned him a college scholarship to study music in the U.S., and he went on to earn a masters and doctorate in music. For years, Pavel taught music at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where he continues to be a leader in the community as Executive Director of the Richmond’s Amigos Latino Center. In this episode, Pavel talks about his experience immigrating to the Midwest, his passion for Latin jazz, and the power of music as a bridge across cultures. He also shares more about Richmond, a small town with a surprisingly large role in the history of recorded jazz.
To hear more of Pavel’s music, visit the Facebook page for his band, Pavel and Direct Contact, which has videos of recent performances and information about upcoming shows. During the covid-19 pandemic, the band has live-streamed several virtual performances together with Dominican jazz musicians. He maintains a strong relationship with his native country, returning each year to lead the Music Ed Fest, providing musical opportunities to a new generation of young Dominicans.
To learn more about Gennett Records, visit the Starr Gennett Foundation, dedicated to preserving the history of recorded jazz in Richmond, Indiana. For even more detail, check out Rick Kennedy’s book, Jelly Roll, Bix, and Hoagy: Gennett Studios and the Birth of Recorded Jazz or listen to this episode of the Everything Sounds Podcast. Middle Tennessee State University professor Charlie Dahan maintains a soundcloud playlist of Gennett recordings and a Gennett Records website with a bibliography and discography. Listen to him talk more about Indiana jazz history in this episode of the MTSU On the record podcast.