CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Davin Seamon did not start on piano until the seventh grade, and before that he had played the trumpet.
“I only studied piano for four years,” he said.
His teachers included Mary Frances Smith back when she worked as the choral director at Lincoln High School in Seamon’s native Shinnston; as well as Mary Ann Angotti, a Juilliard-trained pianist whose son, John, now has a professional career as a singer and musician.
Seamon’s interest in jazz grew.
“At one point, when I studied with Mary Ann, I asked her to teach me jazz theory and harmony, and she said, ‘I can’t.’ I said, ‘Who can?’ And she said, ‘No one around here.’ So I listened to a lot of records and transcribed a lot of solos and deconstructed things people did, and took the best part of what people did and made it part of my musical stuff.”
Still, as big of a part of his life as piano was to him, Seamon did not envision a career in music when he went off to West Virginia University.
“Now you can minor it, but back then you couldn’t,” he said. “But I played in the jazz ensemble every semester, and there was a Latin ensemble that I played with almost every semester.”
Plus, there were programs that allowed musicians to form trios, quartets and quintets.
”I did that for several semesters. I always felt I was hanging on par with a lot of music majors, even though I wasn’t a music major.”
When he graduated, however, Seamon knew what he wanted out of life.
“I always say, ‘I don’t do the starving artist thing very well…