Giavanna performs with Michael Saucier (bass) and Quentin Dennard (drums)

*With hip hop dominating the airwaves it’s easy to assume that our young people have completely forgotten all about the legacy of jazz music.

Fortunately that doesn’t even remotely apply to 16-year-old jazz guitarist Giavanna.

What makes her story even more inspiring is that she had no formal training; she is self-taught and is an honor student in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), a district with no arts budget.

But in spite of the lack of arts and music programs, Giavanna was determined to master jazz. She learned to play by ear, listening to the radio and CDs. It seems she’s a science whiz by day and a jazz guitarist with the older cats by night.

Grammy producer Bobby Martin (Patti LaBelle, The Ojays, theme song to Soul Train, Lou Rawls, etc.) heard her play last year and is now mentoring her.

That leads us to her show-stopping appearance at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood this past week. With Giavanna out front on guitar, she was backed up by Rick Olson (pianist with Herbie Hancock), Quentin Dennard (drums) and Michael Saucier (bass). And with April being Jazz Appreciation month, she gave a special tribute to the legendary Wes Montgomery.

In an interview with Hub City news, she tells of being inspired by Montgomery at the age of 7:

“The first time I heard Wes Mongtgomery I was listening to (jazz station) 88.1 and I heard ‘The Thumb.’ I was blown away because he made the guitar sound like it was talking to me and listeners. He was a genius”

At the show, Bobby Martin attended along with legendary blues singer, Linda Hopkins, Platters singer Kris Lamans, and Pamela Hasselhoff and other celebs and educational reps.

Check out more photos (by Ian Foxx) from the event:

Giavanna and her mentor, producer Bobby Martin

City Honors High School Teacher, Gina Tucker Williams, Giavanna, legendary blues/jazz singer Linda Hopkins, City Honors Arts Director Jerome Richardson, City Honors Principals, Thelma Brown & Eric Ballee

Miguel Martin, Bessie Martin, Giavanna and Bobby Martin

Giavanna and her guitar up close