David Aus

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David AusBio submitted by David Aus

For David Aus, one of 90.7 KFSR’s Morning Jazz personalities, the music doesn’t stop when he leaves the radio studio at 9:00 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. In fact, many days, it’s just beginning for David. For in addition to his day job as a marketing writer with Pelco in Clovis, David is also one of the San Joaquin Valley’s most in-demand jazz pianists, and a significant personality in the local jazz scene.

David moved to Fresno in early 2002, after working as a management consultant in San Francisco during the dot com era. Before his time in the Bay Area, where he was active as a musician in a number of different contexts (from jazz to funk and beyond), David lived in the Washington D.C. area, and worked in economic consulting.

A native of Baltimore, David’s interest in jazz began early, listening to the Dave Brubeck records his parents loved. “As a young kid, I knew that whenever the jazz records were on the turntable, it was something special -- exciting and sophisticated. People came over, cigarette ashtrays emerged from drawers, grown-up conversation filled the room, and it became an interesting place.” After five years of classical piano studies, David picked up the saxophone, playing in his junior high and high school bands. In college at the University of Texas in Austin, David was active playing in different jazz combos on his first instrument, the piano, and soaked up all the jazz scene had to offer. After college, during his five years inside the beltway, David continued to go to jazz clubs in D.C. and New York, yet wasn’t active as a musician. After moving to San Francisco however, David once again went back to his love of musical performance, playing jazz, as well as playing piano for dancers and performance artists. He was also the keyboard player in a popular Bay Area jazz/funk/hip hop fusion group called the “JDogs”.

Soon though, life would bring David and his music to Fresno. “When I was dating my wife, who was living in Fresno at the time, I would drive down here and whenever I travel somewhere, I always check at the left end of the radio dial to see what the non-commercial radio stations have to offer. One of the first things I heard on the radio in Fresno was [Station Manager] Joe Moore’s show on 90.7 KFSR. So before I even moved to Fresno, I was already listening to the station,” says David. “Soon after that I went to one of the jazz jam sessions at Tokyo Garden, and got plugged right into the local jazz scene. That night, [pianist] Craig VonBerg invited me to play and introduced me to [bassist] Nye Morton, and about one month later, I got my first gig in Fresno playing with Nye at Primavera’s.

David says the jazz scene in Fresno, while much smaller than the Bay Area, has its advantages. “It’s very hard to break into the scene in the Bay Area, because there are so many players, all hunting for the same gig. Club owners, since they’re already in a very risky business, tend to be risk averse, so when they find a group that works, they tend to stick with them. Per capita, there are actually more playing opportunities for jazz musicians here than in the Bay Area.”

While he’d like to see more venues support jazz, especially larger jazz ensembles, he thinks Fresno’s jazz scene is growing. “Right now there aren’t enough opportunities to play in settings with a drummer, because a lot of owners are concerned with noise levels, but overall, I’m totally and completely optimistic about the jazz scene, and the creative scene in general in Fresno. There’s a great story happening here in the Valley, and I’m happy to be a part of it, both as a musician, and as a part of 90.7 KFSR.”

Being on the radio however, wasn’t necessarily in David’s plans when he came to town. With a background in consulting and management, and no prior radio experience, but a great voice and enthusiasm for jazz past and present, David quickly picked up the radio skills when he began his on air work with the station in 2004. “I really think Davis is a natural for jazz radio. I’ve rarely seen anyone pick up the techniques so quickly as David did. And he’s not only a great DJ, he’s a great person to have on our staff of volunteers. It seems like he’s been here forever, so I’m always shocked for a moment when I realize he’s only been here since September of 2004,” says Station Manager Joe Moore.

And while David didn’t necessarily intend on becoming a jazz radio host, in hindsight, he says he thinks it makes a lot of sense. “Back when I was in San Francisco, I took a career counseling course, as I was checking out other options. They asked me a variety of different questions about my goals and interests, and at the end they give you a report saying which fields would be your dream jobs. I had forgotten about the report until recently, when I came across it one day, and occupation number two was “disc jockey,” said David. “I never thought I’d end up doing it, but here I am.”

 Listen to David Aus on 90.7 KFSR’s Morning Jazz, Monday and Wednesday mornings from 6:00 a.m. till 9:00 a.m.