This is the third installment in a series of post introducing and re-introducing local jazz musicians to the JazzRochester audience and beyond. In this post we introduce husband-and-wife jazz duo Laura Dubin and Antonio Guerrero, who have been playing music together since the day they met in 2011. Since then, they’ve traveled and performed together all over the world, established themselves here in Rochester, recorded and released eight albums together, launched their own Virtual Jazz Club, ultimately creating a unique musical concept together that by all indications delights their audience. Laura and Antonio come as a package musically so have answered a few questions in this post, which is drawn from their responses to a set of questions I forwarded.
JazzRochester: How did you and Antonio come to be playing your instruments and jazz?
Laura: I started playing the piano when I was 6, and also started taking jazz lessons when I was 12. My uncle David Dubin is a jazz pianist and was the first person who taught me how to improvise. I took classical piano lessons here in Rochester with Roberta Honadle, from my very first piano lesson all the way until I graduated from high school, and from middle school through the end of high school I also took jazz lessons with Richard Delaney at Hochstein. In high school I had the opportunity to connect with the pianist Fred Hersch, who pointed me in the direction of Western Michigan University, where I ended up going for college. I studied jazz piano there with Steve Zegree, and Fred Hersch also became a mentor as he was a visiting artist at WMU during that time.
Antonio: I studied percussion in the Superior School of Music in Mexico City. My first years as a professional musician consisted of performing throughout Mexico and Latin America, as well as studio and session work with different artists and bands.
Laura: Antonio and I met in 2011 when we were playing in the same jazz trio on a cruise ship; we’ve literally been playing music together since Day One! It was the most fantastic place to meet, and of course we got to know each other very quickly, both as people and musicians. After our time on cruise ships came to an end and we were back on land again, we began forming our musical concept together and we made the decision to perform together exclusively. Of course, we invite other musicians to play with us, but we’re both committed to performing with each other at all times rather than playing separately with other bands or as solo performers. We love being able to build our life together in this way. It’s truly such a joy for us to play and perform together, and we both feel incredibly lucky!
JazzRochester: Who have you been listening to recently?
Laura: We’re always listening to a variety of music, but recently we’ve been really digging into the Clifford Brown-Max Roach Quintet recordings (their self-titled album as well as Study in Brown). These albums have been longtime favorites, but we’ve been getting deeper into them lately and we’ve been learning many of the tunes and playing them at our live performances. Plans are underway for an entire concert of this music, hopefully in 2022!
JazzRochester: How long have you been playing in and around Rochester?
Laura: We’ve been playing in Rochester since we moved here together in 2014.
JazzRochester: Tell us about your favorite places to play in Rochester and elsewhere?
Laura: Our favorite venues where we regularly play in Rochester are The Little Theatre Cafe, and the recently opened Faircraft Brauhaus. Of course our performances at the Jazz Festival have been career highlights for us; we performed there in 2016, 2017 and 2019. In addition to these, one of our favorite and most unforgettable performances was in France! We played at a venue called Le Canapé in 2019, which is in a suburb of Paris called Gif-Sur-Yvette. There’s a tune dedicated to this venue (and the owner, Gwendal Wiren) on our Pieces of Paris album.
JazzRochester: How has jazz scene in Rochester and the Rochester area evolved over the time you’ve been playing here? What do you think could be done to build a more vibrant scene here?
Laura: There have definitely been venues both coming and going during the time we’ve been playing here, but we may not have been living here long enough just yet to see any noticeable changes either way. It’s always surprised us that there’s not a true jazz club here in Rochester, given the fact that there are so many jazz fans living here (as evidenced by the massive attendance at the RIJF every year!) I know that there were several jazz clubs here in the past; we really hope that another one will open someday! (We’ve often dreamt about opening one ourselves—you never know!)
JazzRochester: The pandemic has been a very hard time for musicians, for live music and the venues that present it. Your approach during the pandemic has been unique, especially here in Rochester. Tell us about the Virtual Jazz Club and expand on what it has meant to you and Antonio, setting it up, and something about the audience, how it has sustained you during the pandemic, will you continue it after the pandemic fades, etc?
Laura: First, the details about where and when to watch our Virtual Jazz Club: we livestream every night at 8:30 pm on both Facebook and YouTube. Don’t forget to “Like” the Facebook page and subscribe to the YouTube channel! Also, I should mention that whenever we have live performances around town, there’s still a pre-recorded Virtual Jazz Club concert that airs at the usual time on both platforms.
Right from the start of the pandemic we knew that we’d have to figure out - and figure out quickly—how to keep going with our music when everything was shutting down! Since we’d already had some experience with live-streaming (and already had the audio/video equipment on hand, although our setup has evolved since then) we were fortunately able to start our livestream concerts right away. When we played our first online concert on March 16, 2020, we had no idea that we’d end up doing it every single night from then until now, but it ended up being the absolute best decision we could have possibly made! We’ve never have any desire to stop, and we have no intention of discontinuing the Virtual Jazz Club (even when—or if!—the pandemic finally ends) because it’s our favorite part of the day and it has truly been one of the most joyful experiences of our life.
The pandemic has of course been the most difficult situation that we’ve ever lived through, but having the routine of our nightly concerts has been so important for our mental, physical and musical health (even on, actually, especially on the hardest days!) We discovered how much we really love playing virtual concerts, and it turns out that our home music studio has become our favorite venue! It’s also been great for staying connected with our audience, and we’ve been so lucky to have had viewers every single night. We’ve truly appreciated their support of our music, and we feel that we’ve been able to experience a deeper bond with the audience (even with the virtual format) during this time. Many of our followers here in Rochester have been watching, and friends from all over the US—and the world—have been able to tune in as well. The power of the internet is amazing!
On top of this, donations from the audience helped to sustain us during the times when live performances weren’t possible (and still now, when live performances are back but they’re not as frequent as they were before the pandemic). Our online concerts are always free to watch, but audience members are welcome to make a donation or become a monthly “patron” by visiting this page on our website.
JazzRochester: Where and when will your next gig in Rochester be?
Laura: The Little Theatre Cafe on Saturday, December 18th from 6:30-8:30 pm, and Faircraft Brauhaus on Wednesday, December 22nd from 7:00-8:30 pm. Both performances are with our trio, and they’ll both be holiday-themed.
JazzRochester: What was your last recording? Tell us about it and where people can get it.
Laura:Our most recent album is Pieces of Paris, which we released in June 2020. It’s available for download on my website All of our previous albums are available there as well. We’ve got a new album currently in the works, which we look forward to releasing sometime in 2022!
JazzRochester: Anything else you want to let Rochester jazz fans know?
Laura: In addition to performing, I also teach virtual piano lessons through Zoom. You can visit the website to find out more information about Laura’s Virtual Lessons. I teach jazz piano and classical/traditional piano as well as music theory and composition; students of all ages and levels of experience are welcome! (Kids through adults, beginner through advanced) After teaching virtually for almost two years now (I was previously teaching at a studio before the pandemic) I can definitely say that virtual lessons are just as effective and engaging as in-person lessons, and there are also many benefits to the virtual format, such as the ability to take lessons from the comfort of your own home, and of course being able to take lessons from anywhere! (Most of my students live here in Rochester, but I’ve also had students from all across the US, and even from Mexico and Canada! The power of the internet strikes again!)
Also, there’s a mailing list signup on the homepage of our website; I encourage fans to sign up if you’d like to stay in the loop regarding our upcoming performances and projects! (As well as any other news we might share—the mailing list is always the first place we make announcements!)
Thank you, Laura and Antonio for providing our readers with insights on your background, your music, and your musical life together. Please feel free to add comments in the comment field to this post and I’ll make sure Laura and Antonio see them.
Check out the earlier posts in this series, which can be found here: