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Marvin Stamm
Jazz Trumpet

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Marvin Stamm performing with the BBC Big Band - ITG Conference - Manchester, England - July 2, 2002

In Response

This area is for those of you desiring to respond, pro or con, to my writings in the "Cadenzas" section of this website.  Please feel free to express your own views on various subjects to which this website pertains: music, culture, education and other subjects that relate to the society in which we live. 

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In Response to:

Cadenzas - Edition XXXIII

Jim Ferguson is vocalist and bassist who has worked with everyone! Among the people with whom he has worked are Nat AdderlyMose Allison, Gene Bertoncini, Eddie Daniels, Urbie Green, Benny Goodman, Stephane Grappelli, Jimmy Heath, Al Jarreau, Marian McPartland, Jay McShann, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Bucky and John Pizzarelli, just to name a few. Jim has been featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz,” “Jazz Profiles” with Nancy Wilson, and “American Popular Singer” with Eileen Farrell. He currently serves as a National Vice-president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and is on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists. Jim currently teaches jazz voice and double bass at Middle Tennessee State University and has participated in numerous clinics and workshops in the U.S. and abroad. He holds a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance from the University of South Carolina and has three recordings under his own name including two critically acclaimed quartet CDs - his latest, in duo with renowned guitarist, Mundell Lowe. He writes:


Hi Marvin,


As usual, you're right on target with your observations on the condition of our union. We take for granted that it will last, though it's likely much more fragile than the "America, love it or leave it" crowd would have us believe. It won't fail because we take too good care of the "least of these" among us, though. It'll fail because we become so entrenched in demagoguery that we grind to a screeching halt. Our system of government is predicated on compromise. It doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on. Running for office on a platform of no compromise or signing a pledge to vote a certain way if elected is the antithesis of democracy. It dooms us to retreat to our respective corners, lick our wounds, and wait for failure.


Robert Draper, author of the new book “Do Not Ask What Good We Do,” has recently exposed the chilling plan, devised in a meeting just following inauguration day by the Republican leadership, to oppose everything President Obama might propose during his first term, regardless of its merit toward the good of the country. If accurate, this revelation should give pause to any American, regardless of party affiliation.


Thanks for your continued commentary on music, life, and the state of our country. Edmund Burke, who perhaps ironically is considered one of the fathers of conservatism, is credited with saying, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Admittedly, it's often easier to exist in our fan-based business, in the short term at least, by avoiding politics and justice issues all together. It's also easy to get so depressed about the seeming intractability of factions of our society and government that speaking out seems pointless. But speak out we must. I am glad you aren't "so quiet".


All the best,



Jeffrey Mironov is a magnificent musician, a guitarist fluent any many styles of music. I had the great pleasure of working with Jeffrey for many years in the New York recording studios. Jeffrey has always been a deep thinker, someone who felt deeply about people, music, and the world we live in. He writes:




As I indicated in my previous email, I rested deeply after reading your thoughts about Music, along with your accompanying topics of concern. Of course they are all related in a powerful and wonderful way and I want to speak to that underlying relatedness now. Everything that you want to know and hear in a musician is in their tone… in the whole note, quarter note sixteenth note, in the phrase, and most powerfully in the stillness between the notes as well. That Deep Maturity that we all find so moving is Soulfulness and it is that quality of Creative Intelligence that is beyond the human personality entirely. It is that most compelling Precious Attribute that animates our human personality resulting in spontaneous accomplishments that reflect this deep wellspring of Creative Intuition and Order. In the process of a life well lived, we come under the influence and guidance of this magnificent Creativity which renders us Awake and Alive. We learn to Listen and Hear, to Learn of this Enriching Understanding and Fundamental Originality, and then to express the ideas that we are Hearing and Feeling. The scales, register ability, technical facility, and chosen styles are only the vehicle to personally express this Deeper Content. In the absence of this Inner Connectedness or Listening Ability, we are empty and having to resort to relying on the vocabulary skills and devices which are inherently insufficient in and of themselves. It is that precious Inner Knowing and Originality… the development of the inner ear which empowers us to Listen, Hear, and then express the Gifts of the Soul. It is this Art of Listening that results in Music… that powerful abundant and transcendent quality that speaks from and of what is beyond our worldly or mundane accomplishments. This is where we are nourished and renewed, fulfilled and now directed by an Understanding not of this world but certainly for it.


It is this same Indwelling Understanding that is so essentially necessary in all of the other related areas of our human and worldly interaction. Only then are we grounded and oriented in that most personal and intimate Creative Fulfillment from which we become Soulful beneficiaries and expressers of the Simple Solutions of the Soul. Mingus said, "Making things complicated is commonplace… but making things simple, profoundly simple, that's Creativity!" His insight speaks volumes of what Creativity can do… in our music, our families, communities, our politics, international affairs and global economies, and in the necessary matter of being Conscious Stewards of our beloved world and its natural and codependent systems.


In summation, we are speaking to the essential experience of Knowing Thy Self… from which we are freed of the torment and terror of fear. Self-Knowledge renders us Creative rather than competitive, Cooperative rather than conflicted, Certain rather than tentative and doubtful, Musical rather than technical. The Remedy for what 'ails' us as musicians, husbands, wives, parents, children, workmates, educators, political leaders, corporate heads, and whatever other roles we assume, is Knowing Thy Self. That is where the 'rubber meets the road'… that is what matters most… and where our shared Creative Reality can enter into our human affairs and Express and Do the Good that is inherently at the core of our beloved Life and Living.


Love & Peace,

Jeffrey Mironov

Graham Ashton was born in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Music. He is currently Professor of Trumpet, and Chair of Brass at Purchase College, State University of New York. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras around the world including the BBC Symphony, the London Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony in Johannesburg, New York Virtuosi and Orchestra of Our Time. Recognized for his commitment to brass chamber music, Mr. Ashton was a member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble from 1981-84 with whom he made 5 records. He formed the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble in London in 1989, and reformed the ensemble with virtuoso brass players from New York City when he relocated to New York in 1999. Mr. Ashton is also a recognized composer and arranger and has written for film, theatre and the concert platform. He writes:

Hello Marvin,

“Why so Quiet” - such a good read. I think this is a global attitude. So much of what I used to love about England doesn't exist anymore: the stoic, work-ethical, caring society with a perfectly functioning government-funded health system, cheap public transport, housing for all, and free education K-16 - has all disappeared. And the notion of placing fairness above all has long gone. I could go on but we really must hang a little this summer.

All best,

Graham Ashton
Chair, Brass Studies, Director, Purchase Symphonic Winds
Purchase College, State University of New York

Charlie Melk comes from a family of fine musicians and brass repair people. He lives and works in Milwaukee, but is known and respected the world over for the quality of his work with brass instrument repair and innovation. Charlie is also one of the truly nice human beings in this world. He writes: 

Hi Marvin,

It is very good to hear about the relationships you have been able to develop through the years.

So many shape who we are, and encourage us to expand our minds. I am glad you chose to write this section and I do have a few comments about the Why so quiet? section.

First, I am a Christian and know there is a "Supreme Being" and he does want and expect us to care for our environment. 

The quote from Shadyac about the I Am documentary hits it right on the head. St. Augustine said, “Determine what God has given you, and take from it what you need; the remainder is needed by others.”  Shadyac says, “That’s my philosophy in a nutshell.” Or as Gandhi put it, “Live simply, so others may simply live.”

2nd, When you talk about Jesus' teachings in the arena of politics, I do agree. There is not much Kingdom Living going on there. But I know many who are doing Christ's work all over the globe. A number of my very good friend do things like, take care of orphans in Columbia, build stoves for families in Guatemala, care for prisoners incarcerated in Wisconsin, and many others.

Sadly, our nation is becoming less and less Christian, but it is our voices that need to heard, in a loving way. Those shouting, need to find humility and to act in a way of cause for the good of all. And this is something that I pray for often.

Lastly, I believe human life is of the highest valve. When people talk about Women's rights, How is it that killing an unborn child is considered a right? Many of these abortions would never happen if we demanded that Women and Children are treated properly. Wiping out any kind of domestic abuse should be at the top of any man's list.

I trust all is well with you and pray for safe travels.

Charlie Melk
Charlie's Brass Works - C. Melk Trumpets

Curt Wilson holds BME and MM degrees from Texas Christian University, where he also served on the faculty for 35 years from 1976-2011.  He is an accomplished composer, arranger, and conductor. A professional woodwind performer, Curt played with a number of groups, among them the Fred Waring, Tex Beneke,  and Tommy Dorsey-Warren Covington Orchestras. As accomplished composer, Curt has written more than 150 compositions and arrangements for marching band, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, and choir.  His “Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble” is an amazing piece and one of my favorites. Curt retired from the School of Music at TCU as Professor Emeritus in 2011. He writes:


I really enjoyed reading every word (new retirement benefit) of Cadenzas. Having spent 53 years as a member of the AFM (Fort Worth/Dallas) as a commercial woodwind/saxophonist and 43 years as a college/university teacher -jazz educator, I could not agree more with every word you wrote from the music- end (sacred) to the political (profane) .

I am, personally, disturbed by the lack of respect that many in the conservative niche display towards the president. Regardless of policy differences there is a disturbing , in some cases, racist, agenda against President Obama. My goodness, look what the man inherited! I do not agree with some of his decisions and policies but I firmly believe that he is trying his best for the good of this country. It's difficult to comprehend factions on the other side of the aisle vowing that their main agenda is to see that he does not win a second term. Really???

You often speak to the "totality" of the musical experience - expressing the beauty in "classical" music AND jazz. If there is one thing that I hope I have achieved as a teacher it would be the concept of the student (and teacher) embracing the wonder and excitement present in both idioms. If someone can love a great Bill Evans performance as well as Samuel Barbers Violin Concerto then that person is, indeed, a very hip mother - grabber!

I just returned from an hour at the gym and heard some Woody Herman, Four Freshmen, Pat Williams, Cal Tjader, Stan Getz, Shostakovich, and me!



Terry Steele received an MM in classical performance on saxophone from the University of North Texas in 1975 and spent 32 years teaching at Slippery Rock University, retiring in 2007 as a Professor Emeritus. Since then he has been the saxophone instructor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Mr. Steele is the saxophone soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony on all concerts and tours that require a saxophone and he is busy as a freelance musician, playing with legendary musicians including Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Bobby McFerrin. He taught at the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts for eight years and served three terms of office as the PA State President of IAJE. He writes:

Hello Marvin,

We have never met, but I attended NTSU a few years after you and have had a career as a university professor, free lance saxophonist and served three terms of office as the Pennsylvania State President of IAJE.

Your words on the political and moral decline in America rang true with me. Every word rang true. There is always hope for America, but I have never witnessed this kind of greed and divisiveness in my lifetime. Yesterday Jerry Bergonzi and I had an hour long talk about this on the way to the Pittsburgh airport and he feels exactly the same .... of course .... all educated people with a heart feel as we do. Perhaps it has to reach this point before we can have a real change in Washington. If we are to ever recover from the 8 disastrous years with George Bush, we have to work together ... even with our 
differences. Musicians do this every day. It's not that hard.

Thank you for being outspoken. We normally don't need to enter this arena, but America is in a crisis situation so it has become necessary. You have earned respect worldwide, so your comments will resonate.

Thank you, Marvin


Terry Steele

Larry Dwyer plays trombone and piano, and serves as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. A member of the Baha'i Faith, Larry believes that spiritual principles of unity among all people will ultimately solve the world's problems. 

Hi Marvin,

Reading your latest issue of Cadenzas brought tears to me eyes. You speak the truth. 

In regard to your political rant, Why So Quiet?, it seems that the United States is clearly heading toward total fiscal insolvency. One would think that the prospect of national bankruptcy surely would impel our national leaders to do something. But based upon their track record, none of them will. Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not anyone. And after we default on our ballooning national debt, none of them will take responsibility. The Ds will blame the Rs; the Rs will blame the Ds; and the rest of us will suffer the dire consequences. Political divisiveness will kill us. As you know, I believe that spiritual unity among all people will provide the ultimate solution.

In regard to What Is Music? I came across this YouTube video recently:
In a Mellow Tone (Part 2/2) It  has an all-star group playing In a Mellow Tone.
Part 1 (if you are curious) has solos by Benny Powell, Buddy Tate, Dizzy, and James Moody. Part 2 begins with wonderful solos by Clark Terry and Gene Harris.

Then comes Harry "Sweets" Edison, who plays from 3:42 to 5:34. How would you like to have to follow Dizzy Gillespie and Clark Terry? Marvin, you could do that, but still the thought occurs, What can Sweets play that wasn't already said by Dizzy (even though it was not his best day) and by Clark (who was playing marvelously). The smile on Ray Brown's face says it all.

Sweets embodies the qualities you describe in your article. Every note he plays has human feeling. One of Sweets trademarks was repeating the same note numerous time, and then trailing off with a descending figure.He does it right at the end of his solo (beginning at 5:19), with 18 consecutive Bbs, and every one of them "matters."

Finally, in regard to What Was It lIke Playing With...? Although my playing skills on trombone and piano are not at your level, I have had the opportunity to play in groups with dozens of "famous" musicians, and in backup groups behind numerous "stars." You are right, we humble musicians never get to fraternize with the stars, but getting to talk with the musicians has always been a treat. One of the great experiences of my life was after the 2008 Collegiate Jazz Festival here at Notre Dame, getting to talk with you and Jim McNeely about music, life, people, the world, God, and all of reality. 

So thank you for taking the time and effort to write Cadenzas, because it is always a treat when you share your wisdom. 


Larry Dwyer
Director of Jazz Studies
University of Notre Dame

Danny Hollis is an old and dear friend from Memphis. Danny is an excellent trombonist and pianist, having a very successful career working in Memphis and Dallas. He now lives in Nashville. Although Danny is quite modest, anyone who has played with him will tell you he is a very fine professional musician with a wide scope of music under his belt. His observations about music and teaching are deeply insightful and relevant to what is going on today. Danny is certainly no "lightweight," and what he has to say carries great meaning. He writes: 


As always, I enjoyed reading your newsletter.

As I have aged, I think a lot about how much I owe to those musicians I played with when I was a young man who either hired me or stood on the bandstand with me during my early years. It has always been important to me to be able to perform with people better than I am…I think it’s one of the best ways to learn. You were one of those people in Memphis, and I thank you for your generosity. You were one of those people who always asked me where my horn was if I showed up some place where you guys were playing…even if it wasn’t my intention to be in the way of “men at work.” I never made it to the level where I was privileged to play with people of the stature you mention in your article. You guys were my stars. Now that I don’t play anymore because I’m losing my hearing, I wonder sometimes if I would have been better off in another business. Then, I close my eyes and I see a face or hear the voice coming from the end of a horn and I know I would do it all over again. I thank you and everyone else who were a part of my growing up years.

Musicality is such a hard thing to define. Some people just have it. Some people have to go to school and find the right teachers to get it. For some, it’s a combination of a lot of time in the practice room and a lot of time glued to the record player. Notice, I said record player. There are so many ways to hear music now, but I hold on to my vinyl like an investment in prescious metals. Young players today are fortunate to get so much jazz education! The only jazz class we had at Memphis State in the 60’s was lab band…no improvisation class and no jazz history. When I was at TSB here in Nashville, before I went to Memphis, we started a little Dixieland band back in I think 1956. We didn’t have anyone to teach us that music and we only had maybe two or three records. The rest of the music we heard we had to stay up late at night (sometimes at the risk of getting into trouble) and listen to whatever we could find on the radio. There was no jazz on the radio here in Nashville then. I think about what it might have meant to us to have someone help us with our music and how much of a jump it would have given me when I moved to Memphis for College. I actually tried to get rehab to send me to Peabody so I could stay hear, because my last year in high school and had already begun playing with some of the bands here in Nashville and I didn’t want to give up my place on the stairs. It didn’t work out…rehab wouldn’t send me to a private school. Sorry about the aside…it doesn’t have anything to do with what I started out to say.

Sometimes I think the kids get so much education now before they’ve had a chance to hear a lot of music or gather some kind of historical perspective that it hurts the development of their musicality. Some of it is just the eagerness of youth to demonstrate what they can do. I don’t have a solution. I just think the kids have to sort it out for themselves.

For years, there has been a group of trombone players who have felt the need to play the top of the horn because Bill Watrous does. There are a couple of marvelous players here in town who I enjoy hearing very much…Roy Agee and Roger Bistle. They both use the whole range of the instrument and they both still know what the slide is for. I wish more young aspirants could hear both of these guys play. You know, I went to school at North Texas with people who had no idea who Jack Teagarden was! 

I wish I knew more about post bop harmony. I don’t know that I would ever play that way, but I would like to know what they’re doing. My hands are small, and some of the voicings I don’t think I can reach. I do think that when it comes to contemporary jazz, some consideration has to be given to the audience. We suffer now from dwindling listeners and a lot of those who still attend jazz performances just don’t hear the same things we do. I don’t mean to say that new things shouldn’t be happening…there should always be growth. If we want the music to stay alive though, we have to remember to consider the people listening.

As to politics, I hear the rhetoric from both sides every day and I just shake my head;. It isn’t worth losing friends over I think people forget how lucky we are to live in a country where we are free to express our opinions. Having the freedom doesn’t issue a license for bickering and name calling. I’m afraid the 24 hour news cycle bears some of the burden. They have to do something with all that air time.

All right. I’ve used enough bandwidth for now. My best to you and your family and good luck in your travels. We’ll see you the next time you’re down here.

Just Old Dan

Bob Bush is married to a dear friend of mine, Winnie Carson-Bush, with whom I played in our high school band. We have recently become reacquainted after many years – a source of great pleasure for me. Bob and Winnie now live in California. Bob received a BS in English from the University of North Dakota and an MS in Administration from Chapman University. After serving two years in the US Army during the Korean War, he worked for Bank of America, then went back to school, taught high school English for four and one-half years, but then went to work for IBM to support his family. Bob got back into teaching at the four through six grade level, then moved to the middle school area, teaching grades seven and eight English, Drama & Physical Education. Now retired, his teaching career totaled thirty-seven years in the classroom. He writes:

Marvin---I so enjoyed this issue. You have so much musical knowledge that I lack I hesitate to tell you what music is to me, but here goes. The first record I bought as a teenager was Billy Eckstine's "Caravan." It was a 78rpm slate record I had to play on a neighbor's player, as we didn't have one. I bought it so I could imitate Billy, which was a usual thing for kids my age to do. The more I listened to the song, primarily for the words, I realized that what I really liked about it was, for lack of the right musical words, that it was "complete." His voice went with the lyrics, which went with the music, which went with the instruments, which went with the arrangement. It was as though they belonged to each other. You know I taught English, so you know I am more of a word person, but that concept of completeness has stuck with me over the years and helped me enjoy the beauty of what you and others do so well: make beautiful music. 

Your commentary on why you have been quiet brought out my current concern. Consider that Congress members -- past, present, future AND their families-- have their health insurance paid for by citizen-taxpayers IN PERPETUITY. A majority of one party passed the Affordable Healthcare Plan, with the other party not only voting against it, but voting against parts of it that they had sponsored and voted for when they opposed the Clinton plan. So now thirty-some attorneys-general have sued, and nine Justices, ALL OF WHOM HAVE THEIR INSURANCE PAID BY CITIZEN-TAXPAYERS, are going to determine whether requiring citizens to take personal responsibility to pay for their health insurance, is constitutional. Why is it constitutional for all citizens who pay taxes to pay health-care costs for two parts of our government, but possibly unconstitutional for congress to require citizens to bear personal responsibility for their own health care costs. There is an incredible irony here. Whatever one feels about the individual requirement, one has to see that there are inequities with the interpretations of parts of our Constitution. What infuriates me about this is that the arguments are predicated on the political position to limit the President to one term, rather that evaluating what is good for the citizenry! Like you, I have grave concerns about where our nation is headed. I remember that an American statesman once said that "Compromise is the art of politics." We sorely need statesman and artists in America!

Winnie and I are doing well, just aging! So great to hear from you. 


Dr. Judith Schlesinger is a psychologist, author, educator,  jazz critic, musician, and producer. Her writing has appeared in both the popular and professional press, but as she is allergic to hives, you won't find her on Facebook or Twitter. Her Shrinktunes column, about the intersection of psychology and music, has appeared on allaboutjazz.com since 2002, along with her CD reviews, musician interviews, and assorted cultural commentary. Judith’s new book is The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius (available online at www.theinsanityhoax.com.) The product of three decades of scholarly research and creative experience, it systematically (and humorously) dismantles the popular link between talent and psychopathology, arguing that great creativity should be celebrated, rather than diagnosed. She writes:

Hello Marvin,

Good to see your bytes again! Fully understand and agree with you, as usual. Glad you were able to get all that off your chest, and well-said, as usual! Here's my publishable response:

As I look around at the sociopolitical landscape (and/or try to avoid it by not watching commercial TV or joining the twittering hive), I've been wondering whether my dismay and disgust are just a function of the aging process. The question is: have I simply attained my natural curmudgeon status, when, more or less automatically, everything was better before, the kids today have no respect, and the country is going to hell in a hand basket? 

Although I currently have no cane to wave in the air - thank goodness - I feel like I'm doing it figuratively. And, predictably. Someone once read me a quote about the decline of civility etc. in the younger generation, and it turned out to be from Plato.

And yet - and yet! - I do believe there is a qualitative difference, and not a hopeful one, in today's culture. It is not merely having to step aside for the new, which is alien in so many ways. There really is a deterioration, a coarsening, and a thoughtlessness. I've long been complaining about educational practices that began in the 1970s that minimize the pursuit and recognition of excellence because it might make the less capable feel badly about themselves. That's when self-esteem became more important than learning. It's not a big step from there to the belief that everyone can be a celebrity, even for doing nothing of value. 

Moreover, when you fold in the lack of personal boundaries, where there are no brakes on intimate disclosures or limits to voyeuristic curiosity, and add the dazzling speed of communication, which makes so many people terrified about not being up on the latest whatever – you produce a climate that rewards both shallowness and extremism. Finally, the fact that the Internet offers a giant, insatiable content maw means that every piece of information is necessary and important – and therefore, nothing is. 

Like you, I have other agendas to cover. For one thing, my three decades-long campaign against the mad genius stereotype has finally produced that book I’ve been wanting to do (shameless plug department): The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the myth of the mad genius is now at online retailers as well as www.theinsanityhoax.com But you can be sure that my own cultural discontent is in there, among all the psychology and jazz and history. 

OK, down soapbox.


Jim Vedda is a veteran saxophone and woodwind player of 40 years. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he and his brother led their own band in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. He has performed in jazz ensembles around the country and currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia. His work involves policy research and analysis for space programs at NASA, the Defense Department, and other government agencies, which explains his acquiring a Ph.D. in political science instead of music. In addition to playing music, he reviews jazz CDs, with the goal of being the best jazz reviewer on Amazon.com. You can check out his reviews at Amazon.com: Profile for James A. Vedda. He writes:


You must out of breath after such a long solo break. How do I begin to share my rabid agreement? Let's take it one section at a time.

What IS Music?
I bet everyone reading this piece started thinking about all the characters they've played with who fit your description of less-than-musical soloists. I've worked with my share of players who display far too much flash, far too little style and taste, and make every solo sound the same. Some of them actually see this as a mark of virtuosity, and get miffed if they don't feel they're getting enough solo space (which is most of the time).
I just think back to a teacher, 40 years ago, who used to invite students to his house for listening sessions. He kept saying things like, "Listen to the ideas that cat is playing..."

What was it like playing with... ?
You end this piece by saying it could fill a book. Well, why not? You obviously have both the writing skill and the life experience that would keep readers interested.

I've been reading a few jazz biographies lately. (I'm almost finished with the new one on Norman Granz, which is quite good.) These books feature the celebrities, but the rank-and-file don't get the recognition they deserve. For some time, I've toyed with the idea of a book with a title like The Unsung Heroes of Jazz: Life in the Studios. It would tell the story that you highlighted in your piece, which reminds me of my formative years when an important component of my jazz education was reading album liner notes. I wish I could be the one to write that book, traveling around to interview my heroes and to research jazz archives, but it would take way too many years given my other commitments. Maybe this is the book you should write, and I could help you, if you think you need any help. Something to think about.

Why so quiet?
You are an astute observer with the ability to think analytically. My condolences. I'm afflicted with the same unfortunate characteristics, which can sometimes provoke anger that would make the Incredible Hulk look like a wimp.

I did not become a political scientist, and eventually settle in Washington, because I like politics. I grew up equating politics with partisan sniping and negative election campaigns. I hated these behaviors then, and I hate them even more now. On the other hand, as I grew older I discovered that we have a system -- institutions, a policy process, an environment for public-private sector collaboration -- that can work miracles if employed properly. Improve living standards at home and abroad, advance science & technology, defeat threats to international peace and prosperity, etc. The trouble is, we seem to be reaching the nadir of our ability to employ it properly.

You nailed the education problem pretty well. Politicians count on exploiting ignorance. One of my pet peeves is people rewriting history to suit their ideological goals. Another is the tea-partiers and others who wave around their little pocket copies of the Constitution, but clearly don't understand what's in it. Let's see, there's checks and balances among three branches of government, a bicameral legislature -- in short, the founding fathers were saying that in a democracy, it's all about compromise. Yet the extremists point to the Constitution and scream, "No compromise!"

I just finished writing my second book. (I hope to have it out by late summer.) A major theme is the demonstration of how partisanship and parochialism in the past few years have undermined our ability to formulate and commit to a sensible strategy for space exploration and development. I'll spare you the details now, but suffice it to say that the space program is not immune from partisanship, and never has been -- contrary to conventional wisdom.

I can see from your rundown of the issues that we'd have plenty to talk about if we sat down together. Maybe I could fill in some of the "inside the Beltway" perspective, but I can't promise that I'd tell you anything that would soothe your concerns. Possibly just the opposite. Well, we could always go back to talking about music.

Be healthy and try to relax, 


Cadenzas - Edition XXXII

Evaluation and Reaffirmation

Danny Hollis is an old and dear friend from Memphis. Danny is an excellent trombonist and pianist who has had a successful career working in Memphis and Dallas and now in Nashville. Although Danny is quite modest, anyone who has played with him will tell you he is a very fine professional musician with a wide scope of music under his belt. He is certainly no "lightweight!" He writes:


Thanks for your music, and for the work you do in trying to keep jazz alive.

Regarding your most recent newsletter and the responses you posted I’d like to say a couple of things:

1. Regarding the concept of creating music instead of just demonstrating your skills, I once heard someone say “It’s better to learn to play inside before you learn to play outside.” I can remember playing a dance band job on piano with a big band that included a number of young players from UNT. The leader of the band called up one of those old Glenn Miller stocks that we’ve all grown so tired of through the years. One of the young guys playing tenor saxophone stood up and proceeded to try and play everything he knew in 16 bars. It was out of character for the chart and it certainly didn’t get anyone’s attention in the audience. I’ve found too that trying to talk to younger players about historical perspective is difficult…especially if they’re sure they play better than you do. I’ve stopped doing that because most of them actually do play better than I do now. It has to be up to people for whom they have a lot of respect to get this message through.

2. About technology. I agree with a lot of your respondents that the prevalence of technology today has created some problems that we’d be better off without. At this point, I have to speak for myself. When I went to college in Memphis, my life would have been so much easier if I had had a computer with a text to speech program for writing papers, a scanning and reading program for reading textbooks and literature, a music printing program for theory, composition and arranging and a keyboard I could plug headphones into for practice time when no practice room was available. WOW! That must be the king of run on sentences, but I couldn’t figure out a different way to get that said. I have all of these tools now and though it’s a bit late for their use to mean anything with regards to my career, these tools do let me continue to study and read in an easier manner than when I was young.

Because I don’t see well enough to read and play at the same time, I found it easier to play with traditional jazz bands and other small groups that didn’t require reading skills. I got labeled as a Dixieland player in Dallas because I spent more than 20 years playing with Tommy Loy’s band. I won’t take back a single note. I had a good time doing it and when a lot of other guys who were critical of the style we played were looking for work, I was able to feed my family. It should be noted that as a part of that group, I got to play with and get to know people like Fred Crane, Rich Mattheson, Lloyd Ebert and Phil Kelly. Most of the time, I’ve played trombone, but for the last few years I was in Dallas, I mostly have played piano. The people I started out playing with here in Nashville encouraged me to learn to play everything and play jazz when I could. That’s been my mode of operation.

My ears are giving me problems now. I can still hear myself play, but I have trouble understanding what people say to me. So, basically, I’m retired. My wife and I try to get out and hear some music from time to time. I go over to the jazz workshop and listen to the jam sessions. I’ve had a pretty good life in music working both as a player and as a teacher, but I think from here on my new occupation will be as a listener.

Sherri and I are looking forward to the time when you perform here again. Please keep us informed.

Be well young man, and keep playing.

Just Old Dan (Danny Hollis)

Wade Mikkola is a very fine bassist with whom I had the great pleasure of playing the summer of 2009 in Finland. Wade is a very fine performer and teacher who also spent ten or more years working and studying in the U.S. He writes:

I am the bass player from Finland with whose trio you did a trumpet workshop in Otavan Opisto a couple of summers ago. I've been glad to receive your Cadenzas Editions since then. It has always been a pleasure to read about your experiences and viewpoints, especially since they usually, or actually always coincide with mine.

I had to respond to this edition, since I agree so strongly with your view on the lack of the "We concept" these days. Every time I get a chance to hear a band performing jazz nowadays, I seem to leave the place disappointed. There may be great individual efforts and skilled performances, but the overall music leaves my soul untouched. This applies to both more experienced players and younger ones. The experienced ones mainly because they are often accompanied by younger ones. I have spent a lot of time contemplating on the "whys", and have come to a conclusion that unfortunately the reason seems to stem from the "developed" educational system of jazz-music today. At least here in Finland. 

The jazz-schools seem to emphasize too much the theoretical and technical  aspects of music making. This, included with the "modernistic" emphasis on choices of different styles of jazz, seems to increase the lack of understanding of the essential aesthetics of jazz, which were developed long before the "modern" concepts of the 60's. Unfortunately here in Finland, the older styles are considered of lesser artistic value and given just the stamp of "only entertainment." Thus the "baby is thrown out with the bathwater," if you understand what I mean. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but they are increasingly few. In performances, the musicians seem to be geared to showing off all the things they can do on their instruments, instead of formulating the music into a common goal, as you pointed out in your "Evaluation and Reaffirmation" section.

Innovation can today be considered another curseword, as far as the music is concerned. The youth is instilled with the goal of being innovative, and unfortunately this seems to mean that one has to avoid doing things that have been done before. This could be a great concept, but it usually causes the musicians to color their music with tricks and effects that they think nobody has done before, and this is not meeting the demands of the music, or how to make it sound better. The media and different official institutions of jazz seem to have fallen prey to this striving for sensational innovations.

I am sorry to sound so negative about these issues but it is increasingly frustrating to try to maintain one's commitment to musical aesthetics these days. That is also why I wanted to respond to you, to thank you for your viewpoints, since they have been very helpful in these efforts, and given support to continue on my chosen way. 

What is the answer? How can we have an effect on these new developments? These phenomena seem to be so global that it looks like a cyclical phase. It is sad to see that the educational curricula have not been able to instill better aesthetical understanding of jazz on developing musicians. In my classes of Afro-American Music History and Aesthetics, I try to emphasize on the plethora of musical materials in the earlier styles of jazz, and how it serves as a source for the individual to pick materials that best serve one's own direction and capabilities - and start developing one's own style from those premises. Hopefully it will give a wider spread of musical, aesthetic and stylistic understanding in the minds of the students.

Hopefully I did not bore you with my points, because based on your experiences on a higher and wider level, and your writings, you have gone through a lot. I just wanted to let you know that you have given great support with your Cadenzas to my struggle in this wide world of music.

All the best wishes to you,
 Wade Mikkola 

P.S. Looking forward to seeing "Waiting for the Superman". Thanks for the review! And good to read about your experiences in the Cadence-interview.

Jim Vedda is a veteran saxophone and woodwind player of 40 years. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he and his brother led their own band in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. He has performed in jazz ensembles around the country and currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia. His work involves policy research and analysis for space programs at NASA, the Defense Department, and other government agencies, which explains his acquiring a Ph.D. in political science instead of music. In addition to playing music, he reviews jazz CDs, with the goal of being the best jazz reviewer on Amazon.com. You can check out his reviews at Amazon.com: Profile for James A. Vedda. He writes:

My first reaction was, "So you've noticed that too?!" It seems like a lot of players today, in every age group, aim simply to impress the audience and/or their peers with their technical prowess. Some never outgrow the misplaced belief that a great jazz solo will result from the following:

1. Play as many notes as possible without hitting any clams.
2. Play as high as possible, especially toward the end of the solo.
3. Don't leave any empty spaces.
4. Remember, don't hit any clams.

As a young saxophonist, I always wanted to listen to the flashiest players like Phil Woods and Don Menza, and never paid adequate attention to lyrical soloists like Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, and Paul Desmond. That came later -- along with a realization that Woods and Menza can also be lyrical, and Cohn, Sims, and Desmond were technically very proficient. To give just one example of both qualities: Menza's solo in "Time to Leave," the up-tempo closer of his 2005 CD "Menza Lines." Recorded when Menza was in his late 60s, the solo is both very melodic and very hot! What a brilliant demonstration of improvisational maturity.

These days, I still hit some clams on occasion, but I approach each solo as a spontaneous composition of ideas that people might actually be interested in hearing. An old teacher always recommended jazz artists and particular recordings by saying, "Listen to the ideas this guy is playing!" The more my playing and listening matured, the more I realized he was right to express it that way.

My best,

Gerald Gordy is a recreational amateur bassist living in southern Illinois. He grew up in a musical family and acquired a strong background in music. Although Gerald did not pursue music as a career, many of his family members perform and teach music, and he has been surrounded by music all his life. Upon retirement, Gerald acquired an old bass and proceeded to learn to play. In doing so, he has rediscovered the joy of playing and being a part of music and enjoys working with and helping talented musicians of all ages. He writes: 

Here is my take on many young talents and professionals I've heard who have mastered their instruments, but often fail to fully contribute in a meaningful way to the quality of music in a group. 

1. No one ever told them, or impressed on them (or they've forgotten) that what ever you do when playing must be for the good of the piece. 

2. They get full of themselves and play just to show off their own ability. It's great to show one’s ability to play fast, add difference cadence, other skills, as long as it is for the good of the piece. Sometimes it seems that one or two feel they are so gifted the rest of the group should just lay back and enjoy how good they are. They play for themselves not the music. 

3. They get off on being the one to be heard.  In singing in a group of two or more, one should blend with the others. If you hear yourself above the others you are singing louder than you should. 

4. Expression and feeling are often the victims of the "hear me play" syndrome. It's loud, hard, and often fast and that's that until it's over. 

5. I believe a great deal of the dilemma described in your article, concerning solos and lack of feeling, is from a core "lack of musical ability." One can master an instrument, learn all the fundamentals of music but may not have the musical ability to improvise, or create beauty in music. 

6. Playing beyond your ability. I have taken young, very talented, individuals to jams to introduce them around. When someone ask them to play something or, name a tune for the group to play, they will name or attempt the most difficult number they can think of and proceed to play it at the very limit of their abilities, or often beyond their abilities. I tell them--"Do something well--play a good tune with expression and feeling, and if fast, make sure you do it at a most comfortable speed and are articulate.

7. Some players don't seem to know that when jamming or playing what I call structured improvisation, one should:  Always play for the good of the piece; back up the soloist; work with the soloist; work with others; lead the music if you wish but be aware quickly if no one caught on or is following you and get back. Ones talent and ability will, if there, come through.  I guess things come with maturity. 

I love your playing. It's interesting that you listen to your early playing and say you hear the youthfulness coming through. One would think, from the way you play now, you always played "for the good of the piece". 

By the way, I enjoyed being able to spend a little time with you Bill Mays and Rufus in St. Louis. I'm sure Bill and Rufus don't remember me out of the crowd at these events but I'm a big fan of all of you. Bill is so good to give his time to the International Society of Bassists. He is really a fixture at the conventions. it would be hard to have the ISB conventions with out him. Rufus always plays and presents at the conventions. 

Thanks letting me rant.
Your Southern Illinois fan,
Gerald Gordy

Al Molina is a very fine Jazz musician, a trumpet player, living and working in the San Francisco Bay area. He writes:

“Evaluation and Reaffirmation” caught my attention and is a very thought provoking piece. I thought it would benefit our local players (mostly trumpet). To be honest, I couldn’t resist and sent them a copy. I gave them your email address, with the offer you gave to respond. I apologize for not asking your permission first. But I was so moved by the piece. The condition that you describe is prevalent in SF.  If you play with older (boppers) players there is a more (inside) mode with a swinging attitude. Whereas, if you play with the younger (boppers) players, there is a tendency to the (outside) everyone do your own thing. The ballad becomes an excursion to the same place, without space, taste, nuance, sustain, etc.. We call it the “trapped insect” groove.  The result is that there is a division among the players, usually defined by the gaps in the concepts instilled in the separate generations.  The younger players seem to feel liberated by freeing themselves from melodic, chord , form and time restrictions. Hmmmmm. I was taught that those are the elements of music – not to mention the “we” factor. 

Al Molina

Cadenzas - Edition XXXI

A Letter To Myself

Mike Metheny is a marvelous trumpet/flugelhorn soloist. A native of Missouri, he holds both a bachelor and masters degree in Music Education. Mike was a member of the U.S. Army Field Band in Washington, D.C., and later a faculty member at Boston's Berklee College of Music. While in Boston, he led his own quartet, appearing in numerous club, concert and festival settings across New England and the U.S. In addition to appearing on numerous jazz recordings as a sideman, Mike has released eight solo albums and is one of the few trumpeters to regularly perform on the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument). Today, Mike is a freelance performer and music journalist in the Kansas City area and former editor of Kansas City's Jazz Ambassador Magazine (JAM), a position he held for nine years. Mike and I have shared the stage several times, always a source of great pleasure to me as we share so many musical values. You may learn more about Mike and check out his musical contributions at http://www.mikemetheny.com/. He writes:

Another provocative edition of Cadenzas. As always, many thanks for sending.

You've already been kind enough a couple of other times to give me some space on your site, but I'll go ahead and press my luck once again.

Along the lines of "things ain't what they used to be"...

Recently I had a spirited (and enjoyable) exchange with one of KC's top jazz musicians. He is in his mid twenties, hosts a very hip weekly jazz radio show, and is someone I consider to be part of the up and coming generation of very capable young performers we must count on to take things forward.

We had a bit of a debate about how "the good old days" contrast and compare to 2010 (remember, he was born around 1985) and his position was that "things will never be the way they once were" and that many musicians today are just as interesting and forward-looking as those who have come before. This YouTube clip, a trailer for "Icons Among Us," was one of the ways he made his case:


And yes, I sent him to your web site and my essay "When I Was Your Age..." (Maybe this response should be called, "When I Was Your Age, part 2.")

One thing this discussion brought to mind was that, at this stage of the game it's easy to be torn between nostalgia and optimism. My young friend has little or no memory of hearing important legends live (let alone playing with many of them, as you have), so in his world, which is more about today than yesterday (as it should be? or maybe he doesn't have as many "yesterdays" as I do!), he has no qualms about singing the praises of (fill in the name of any one of today's excellent young and/or leading players) while wondering if we "older musicians tend to see things through rose-colored glasses."

He might have a point. And, as a bona fide cranky geezer, I'm okay with having my world tested now and then.

That said, I'll still take Miles over Wynton any day. But, at the same time, I will always enjoy the beautiful playing of Till Brφnner, Alison Balsom, Roy Hargrove... and the great Marvin Stamm!

Keep up the excellent work, both on the horn and on this enjoyable site.

Mike Metheny

Harry Smallenburg is a musician (vibes, drums, trombone, arranging/composing) with a PhD in English from UC Berkeley and an MFA in photography.  Over the past 35 years, he has taught at Wayne State University and the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and Pasadena City College and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.  He has been teaching Bible as Literature for at least ten years, and spent at least eight or nine years teaching History of Scientific Ideas. He writes:

Hi Marvin,

I'm working my way through the most recent Cadenzas, but I wanted to respond to your question about where to find bright spots in a world that seems to have more examples of horror than goodness and caring.

First, I don't have any final answers, but one thing I do to try to balance what I read in the papers is think locally rather than globally (though even locally I can find examples of callousness and abusiveness). The global problems (BP, Darfur, Afghanistan, etc.) I personally have very little control over--even if I were to devote my life to one or another organization. I limit my media exposure most of the time, especially to the idiots, and I am skeptical about the possibility that any politician can make much difference given the necessity of playing for votes in order to do anything at all.

But around me I see many examples of people living their lives fruitfully, lovingly, with dedication and commitment to things they care about. One recent example that stands out in my mind is a post my wife put on her Facebook page: a  holocaust survivor who went with his family to do a "victory" dance at holocaust sites (to the music of "I Will Survive"--it is funny, touching, and defiant--a belated but still timely answer to one of the horrors of the past. My daughter in Connecticut keeps her music store going by offering summer camps, deals on lessons, etc., etc.--and this gets kids in and involves them in a potentially lifelong source of satisfaction. If I were a politician, I'd try to do things like that. You yourself are a wonderful example of a disciple of the gospel of joy--you and George have been very inspiring to me in terms of what jazz can mean at its deepest level ("The Holy Grail of Jazz and Joy") and Bob Rolfe's comment recently that your dedication is an act of love--that's deep, and it means that there are people making the world a better place. I heard a moving story on NPR the other day about a woman in Haiti who lets some 100 people live in tents in her back yard. The interviewer asked her how she could do that--he didn't think he'd be able to. She replied that that was because he wasn't in the situation. For her, when the need arose, it was a matter of "being human"--there was no choice for her; she did what was necessary, in her way, to alleviate the suffering of people around her. Similarly, for all the stories of athletes who can't seem to do anything socially useful with their wealth, here and there I see stories of guys who operate community programs to get kids involved; likewise, for extraordinarily wealthy people--apart from apparently venal Wall St. CEO's, there's someone like Bill Gates, whose foundation works hard to bring various kinds of benefits to the world (understood, there are huge tax incentives for this, but still--he isn't just trying to shelter all his income, he's targeting significant world problems and trying to help solve them).

I don't by any means want to suggest that all is well--there are plenty of stupid, callous, and disrespectful people locally--like the girls here in Burbank who went up and down the streets breaking into unlocked cars and rifling the contents of glove boxes in hopes of finding an Ipod or some other trifle. And then there are the political and global problems we read about all the time, and the political opportunists--the list goes on. I get to weigh on those in nearly meaningless ways--the occasional trip to the ballot box, and financial support for causes I  believe in.

When I look through Cadenzas, though, I feel like I enter a world where life is positive, good things are happening, there's a community of like-minded people dedicated to art in a wholesome way, and your outspokenness (since I tend to agree with your perspectives) is refreshing.

So, thanks for Cadenzas and your other activities. These are the local sites where I look to find the positive.


Lou Gonzalez is a trumpet performer and teacher in Las Vegas. He has played with many bands and backed many top name performers. He is well versed in both music and literature and works with many young people in his teaching. Reading Lou's writings is like reading poetry--very moving and quite touching. He writes:

Thanks for the new musings-you nail it every time, as a great lead player does.

your letter to yourself bared your soul, those words, and the review of your younger self, and the young cats you recently performed with, are priceless. the buddhists say "would you rather consult someone with 25 years of experience, or someone who as had the same experience for 25 years in a row?"

you have come a very long way, and have the words to describe a unique journey. this is not a gushy fan letter, it's that there aren't any musicians who can talk straight about a lifetime of sitting behind (jakes words) "the coil of torture" and who make some sense of our baffling world...and the cats on bandstands here, well, lets just say they not only never heard stravinsky or brahms, but never heard or heard of oscar levant, ogden nash, langston hughes, poulanc, samuel becket, or charlie margolis, pee wee hunt...booker little, oliver, thad...this town is devoid of musicians of a certain age, who were curious, interested in more than mouthpieces and lead pipes and double c...dude, i feel like a dinosaur at the ballet. no, they don't know who wrote that music in fantasia, either. and books on paper are being outsold by books on the kindle electric reading board.

i tell the kids i teach that they are going to another era, back in time to a place where one slowly, through diligent and arduous effort, learnt and earned the joys and laughter of music and community, of a shared culture, of the creating of a society of citizens, and yes, of HARD WORK, partaking of a very special kind of camaraderie-a team of individuals dedicated to expressing ancient and new beauties through their very own unique efforts. no electric tools, gameboards, big screens, special effects...no need to be a heroic jock, or to mock a lesser talent (they learn to teach and help each other from day one.) they get an old, old way to become something new-, to appreciate each other, to become more human, to do what we get admonished to do in churches of all kinds-to give, to love, to share compassion, all created by learning to breath and move and act in harmony...and if it wuz easy, everybody would be doin' it.

your words from the heart also make tangible and concrete what we hear when we listen to guys like horowitz and rubenstein, who played the same tunes in 1930, and in 1980. their chopin and scarlatti and schumann evolved, and transformed,and eventually became something new. we heard them growing up. miles, pops, dexter, newk, snookums and those jones boys...all our heroes, and hey...sinatra, beverly sills, callas, james brown and john lennon, and pollack, picasso, robert frost, alice walker-all these folks became, changed, struggled to evolve... they didn't just show up one day and KA-bang!!!, that's it, got my act, i'm done, perfect,gonna keep on keepin' on with this thing. 

i pulled these names out of history specifically 'cuz they exemplify what you say in your writings. 

listen. practice the techniques that keep the physical and mental tools honed, supple, and poised to do the bidding of the soul/mind/spirit/artistic nature. then listen. 

gee, that sounds easy...no, not easy, but sounds like simple clear advice, and a nice way to approach a lifetime of study. very uphill for me, but every day i work at it. if not with the horn, then with students, my house, the laundry, dishes. aha. more buddha. life is simple, not easy. "boil water. make tea. drink tea. wash up." and i get to start over every day...i get to listen and learn. and i'm so impatient and angry and frustrated and i hurt and am hurt and the economy and the politix and...i listen, and begin again, and put my face to the sun, and breathe deep, deeper. and i hear peace. you got my attention. i listen. i go play with lame asses and with great players who listen, and listen hard, and great Performers who hear nothing but Their Sound (oooohhhh) and kids who lay for the High Note. and i learn, and i play better, or worse. and i begin again, frustrated, mad, sad...and i get over it, and someone says-wow, we really sounded great on that, it was as good as it gets. and we smile and try to carry on, humbler and laying for the Music, the sharing, that Thing that says we are all in the moment and the swing is there..."DYNAMICS???? i'm playing as loud as i caaannn!!!" yeah, man. "hey, i got credentials, buddy de franco AND buddy rich AND buddy guy stiffed me." yeah, well. mf don't always mean mezzoforte, ace.

your words tumble out on the page, they seem unedited, free, flowing, yeah, like trane, sure, with lotsa technique, power, and control, yet full speed, full tilt, soaring, a bit wild,  because you finally can say what you wanna say-flourishes and pyrotechnics may show up, but they are the icing, the embellishments, not the ravings of a kid who can do all this neat stuff, not just clever and glib and flashy...but deep-down true, and spoken with the authority earned not just through experiences, but with deep reflection and introspection, and analysis of a serious person taking  measure of a life. oh, crap, did i just  call you "wise" ???/ sorry. i'm sure there is a wife lurking to disabuse you of the misconception, thats what wives are for, eh??? but, hey,  the shoe fits...don't get mad, now, my daddy always warned us to be careful of taking ourselves too seriously-that was a crime in his book. he also chided me to seek wise counsel, so i take advantage of your good nature, but not frequently-i don't want to be a nuisance. and your wisdom and learning and growth and evolution come out on the bandstand-the kids hear it, too, they describe the group as having a conversation, as a team like the lakers, striving together... they never ever heard that kinda music before, but they see it, they hear it, and they get it, it's not like the music they watch on tv-this stuff is deeper, has more to offer. some kids don't like it, but they get the point of it from their mates-they understand at an evisceral level that this is real, and deep... 

as a friend said on hearing a performance of the same piece by two super trumpetists, one 19 yrs old, the other 40. she said the younger sounds great, and has style, and chops and interprets well-and is at the limit of his expression, and pushing his strengths, trying for the maximum with every nuance...but the older player is like a glacier. you hear beauty and suppleness and subtle lines, but that's really the minor, obvious, immediately accessible part of the performance. it's the other, inner workings, that hidden, deep, massive 80% of the glacier you can't see, yet you absolutely feel, and know is there-that reserve, control, and strength giving subtle shadings and richness...the depths of his soul are coming through his play.

you incite. i read your cadenza at 2 am, and sat down here at 7.30-it's 11.30 now, and ive written a bit, done some dishes and laundry and cooking,etcetc and am still in your debt-i was battling the downside, you've again given me the lift, the bouyancy, the push to get to work, to transcend the bullshit, yes, to aspire...thanks, coach. 

well. more inspiration, more hard work, more study. wheres my metronome, charlier, schlossberg...dayum.


Mark Hatch studied trumpet at the University of Utah where he also met Nyles Steiner, the inventor of the EVI (electronic valve instrument). Mark has performed on both the trumpet and EVI on numerous TV, film, and jingle sessions in Los Angeles. He also played and recorded with Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Rufus, Bette Midler, Louie Bellson, Vinnie Colaiuta, and others. Mark "officially" retired from the business in 1996. He writes:

Marvin, you may recall we met a couple years ago at your concert at the Jazz at the A frame concert in LA. We spoke about Walt Fowler etc. and exchanged a few emails. I'm a trumpet player from Los Angeles who first met you when I was a student in Bill Fowler's college program back in the late 70's when you came as visiting faculty. 

Anyway, in regards to your letter to yourself in the latest Cadenzas... First of all, I hear you in your frustration about the general state of things and your not wanting to dwell there in your writing. You asked for subject ideas, and I'm taking this opportunity to suggest a subject I've always thought would be interesting, and that you would be very qualified to write about. You were so involved in the NYC scene during that very special and unique period of roughly the late 60's through the late 70's. I'm taking about the "jazz studio scene" (for lack of a better description) when all those classic Verve, Solid State, A&M, and CTI records were done. It seems like that must have been such a special time for you all, as you were able to actually stay busy in NYC recording regularly on creative jazz recordings. I'm thinking of Oliver Nelson, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Gary McFarland, Thad & Mel, Pat Williams, Duke Pearson etc. How about telling what that scene was really like from the inside? All the great jazz players that were doing regular studio work (yourself, Bernie Glow, Jerome Richardson, Clark Terry, Randy Brecker, Grady Tate, Herbie Hancock etc). The scene at Jim and Andy's etc. You get the point here I'm sure. For those of us coming up and learning the music at that time, those records, musicians, and writers were legendary, and they played a big part in inspiring us to become musicians. I've only ever seen a few articles about that time. Hope you'll consider it. I think there's a great story (stories) there to tell.

Thanks for the years of enjoyment and inspiration you've given me through your playing. I've been a fan since Machinations came out (still have a copy)! By the way, your playing on that great Frank Foster album, Manhattan Fever, is wonderful, especially “Stammpede.”

Al the best,

Mark Hatch

Dave Arndt was born in New Jersey and attended the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts. Trained classically, Dave worked with Leonard Bernstein on the broadway show "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue", and many 'legit' venues, including the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Orchestra Brass Quintet. Dave Arndt has been Principal Trumpet with the Colorado Philharmonic and Principal Trumpet with La Orchesta Sinfonica de Maracaibo from 1980 to 1983, touring the U.S. with appearances at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. He has also performed with Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Steve Lawrence, Edie Gorme, Michelle Legrand, Nancy Wilson, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis, Shirley Bassie, The Spinners, The Temptations, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross, and others. He writes:

OK, Marvin, You're ON.  Much of what you said in your "letter to yourself" resonated with me.. so I've got a comment or two (?) and a suggestion for a future topic.  So at the risk of being perceived by you as a real "pain in the ass".. here are some responses [inline]... I'm going with my suggestion for a Cadenzas topic first... because my other responses are apt to get under your skin, then you'll stop reading. (!)  So here goes...

Marvin: Well, smart-ass, why don’t YOU suggest something that you would like me to write about? ...Thoughts, anyone? 

Dave: Here is a topic for you:  The fate of live music...  and what we might do about it. 

I personally believe there is at least a "secondary" correlation between a lack of live music and a lack of civility in our society. I'm not talking about "concert halls." I'm talking about good live music in casual settings:  "ubiquitous music"... in restaurants, lounges, clubs.... sidewalk cafe's.. you name it.  It was once customary to at least hear live music at weddings. But "DJ's" ... once a "cost cutting measure" (for those who could not afford live bands)... are now a "preference" among the 20-something crowd. Why? They have lost the ability to appreciate live music... because they have never experienced it! What we're left with is a sterile, "mechanical" experience where once existed the most vibrant, humane and civil expression of personal interaction in the universe: live music!

I have been on a personal crusade over the last few years to introduce as much live music as I can muster in my part time in as many venues as I can crack open.  In the course of doing this, I've sponsored my own groups in restaurants and lounges in the northern New Jersey area, and also promoted other musicians. I've persuaded restaurants to run series with jazz musicians, put groups into lounges, promoted locally, and run ads on WBGO. I've experienced some long term and short term successes - and couple of flops.  Nevertheless, I believe THIS should be the crusade of all musicians - and all those who love and appreciate music.  I've got my own ideas... I would love to hear yours (and I'm sure other musicians would as well).

OK.. that’s stuff we might agree on. Now for the controversy....

Marvin: My problem is seeing a world that is so opposite to the world in which I grew up. Or maybe it is my perception that the world was so different when I was growing up. 

Dave: I say this over and over again to my kids. Some things have changed for the better - communications, some progress with race relations, etc. But the slow and steady erosion of a civil society, that seems to relate closely with erosion of freedom and the expansion of government,... is very troubling...  I tell my kids that I won't lie to them: I grew up in a free society, but I really don't believe they are as lucky. And I believe it will get worse. 

Marvin: I remember a world in which people were civil to one another, a world in which people actually cared for one another. I can’t feel that in our society today or in the world as a whole. 

Dave: I believe that as you curtail freedom, curtail the need (and opportunity) for individual initiative,.. and attempt to eliminate RISK ... while increasing reliance on a centralized "one stop shopping, cradle to grave government"... that it breeds animosity, divisiveness and drives civility - and HOPE - into the ground.. partly because it eliminates the need for US... as individuals, and good neighbors to voluntarily care for each other.  "Someone else" is going to do it. Why should I get involved" is the attitude.

OK.  Getting off my soapbox...

Dave Arndt

Marty Erickson was for twenty-six years principal tuba with the U. S. Navy Band in Washington, DC. Marty currently teaches the tuba-euphonium studio and directs the tuba-euphonium ensemble and brass choir at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, as well as serving as tubist with Millennium Brass and the Brass Band of Battle Creek. He also teaches the tuba-euphonium studio at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Marty has two current CDs - Smile (upon which I had the pleasure of playing) and My Very Good Friend with pianist John Sheridan. Soon to be released is a new CD in duo with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. You can learn more about Marty Erickson at his Website: www.martytuba.com.

Thanks Marvin,

Great reading and you are so right on target with respects to feelings about trying to make money. People who do not understand the satisfaction of a great
collaboration with other musicians you love and respect, wonderful
arrangements, etc. will never get the other part. I think we make as much as we can when we can, hoping it may be enough to provide some money for another opportunity to perform, to share, to interact, and mostly, to continue the learning process.

Thanks for your thoughts and for refusing to be pigeon-holed into convenient "Media-Slots." It is a bit ironic to me that many think of me as "the jazz tuba player." While I love it and enjoy the opportunities those skills have given me to share the stage and recording booth with world-class players, that activity represents only a small percentage of what I do as a musician; teaching, brass quintet, orchestra, brass choir, brass bands, recording, playing with community groups, touring around the world, etc. etc.

Thanks for representing THAT side of our musicianship; the daily practice--it doesn't ALL come naturally as many think. Many fine players give up on their dreams or accept the "Slot." They play well, sound fine, and all of that. The people who continue to believe, to create, to stay the course through LOTS of roadblocks have earned my unswerving respect. It takes courage in any field to carry a passion to conclusion; dodging the pitfalls and economic issues, and keep those creative juices flowing. Will all of our work be peak, creative, artistic opportunities--probably not for some time. But, we CAN work with integrity with vision and realize it's all part of a process. Did I love all the music I've done--no, but it may have provided that meeting with another caring musician, and THAT was worthwhile!

The famous actor Sir Anthony Hopkins was asked by an interviewer once (paraphrased): "Why have you bothered to make some of these....well.....not so grand movies?" His straightforward answer was: "It is what I do. I am an actor. I work. Much of this work keeps my skills alive for the truly creative things I love." That's not exactly the quote, but after a one-hour interview, it touched something in me. Playing is a privilege.

More later and thanks again Marvin,

Marty Erickson

Charlie Bertini began playing the trumpet at age nine in Cortland, NY, active in marching band, concert band, orchestra, and chorus. He started his own dance band in the ninth grade and at age 19 joined the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros Circus, touring for six years as first trumpeter and later as musical director and eventually relocating in Florida. Charlie is a very versatile musician and plays a variety of styles: Dixieland gigs, show clubs, stage shows, and free-lance engagements, recordings and more. He played four years at Circus World Theme Park as first trumpeter and conductor then toured as musical director for the Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Circus. In demand as a first-call trumpeter he has backed up artists such as Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, and Ray Charles and played on network TV specials for Walt Disney World, Ringling Bros Circus, and several PBS music specials. Charlie has played in 45 states, Europe, and China, and he has led workshops and lectures at high schools and universities all over. Charlie is based in Orlando and, being one of the most versatile and respected trumpeters in the industry, enjoys a variety of musical settings. He writes:

Marvin, I certainly share in your frustration over the state of things in the world, but you know, youth can be very inspiring sometimes.

In a recent interview at a jazz fest, the reporter was asking musicians in the break room about the state of jazz and music in general. All of the seasoned musicians who sat with her pissed and moaned about how it used to be and how it will never be the same, blah, blah, blah.

Then she asked me, and I said that I was exuberant about the future of jazz in our society. Sure, the venues and opportunities have changed and diminished, but the internet has captured youths' attention. What better way to learn, explore, share ideas, watch the masters, study them on youtube, etc.

Jazz education has never been more prevalent in our society than now, and young players will ALWAYS find a way to express their creativity, with or without jazz clubs or big band buses. When the "older" guys stop talking to the kids, then there is a problem, but I think that's up to us to continue to do, like you and so many others.

So, why not talk about the guys who are doing that, passing knowledge on to younger players. There are tons of band camps where this is taking place. Bill Allred, John Allred, Terry Myers, Eddie Metz, and countless others teach each summer in these camps. I just came from a concert in Gainesville where the Gordon Goodwin band camp had taken place for a week. Five big bands of KIDS led by Gordon, Wayne Bergeron, Andy Martin, Sal Lozano, and Bernie Dresel. These kids were awesome, and they got to work with these LA greats for a whole week!

You, Bill Mays, Richard Drexler, Jeff Rupert, and probably gobs of others are out there, doing it for the youth and the future of jazz. Nobody said it was easy, but it is great that so many seasoned artists are passing on knowledge.

And don't forget (between you and me), no matter how many jazz players the schools produce, 80% of them will not be very good, and only a few will rise to the top, just LIKE ANY OTHER BUSINESS, AND JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS. And even some of those will self destruct, once again, like any other chosen occupation.

Anyway, don't give up hope, and keep doing the great and wonderful things you are doing for music in general. Hope this helps you find some positive energy and topics for Cadenzas.


Cadenzas - Edition XXVIII

Common Courtesy

New Management

Jim Vedda is a veteran saxophone and woodwind player of 40 years. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he and his brother led their own band in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. He has performed in jazz ensembles around the country and currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia. His work involves policy research and analysis for space programs at NASA, the Defense Department, and other government agencies, which explains his acquiring a Ph.D. in political science instead of music. In addition to playing music, he reviews jazz CDs, with the goal of being the best jazz reviewer on Amazon.com. You can check out his reviews at Amazon.com: Profile for James A. Vedda. He writes:


Thanks for writing the latest edition of Cadenzas. Yes, I read the whole thing. I'm glad you had such positive experiences with the students you met on your recent travels. There may be hope for our favorite art form.

Regarding your piece on common courtesy, I understand your feelings. Email is a wonderful and convenient way to stay connected, and also a great way to ignore people (intentionally or not). It's a superb tool for making people more productive, but only if they're disciplined and 
organized. Those who aren't, quickly become overwhelmed. It amazes me how many people have inboxes with dozens -- or even hundreds -- of unread messages, and that number never gets any smaller. I don't believe in working like that. At the end of each business day, it's rare that I have any unread messages.

One of the things I figured out a long time ago is that some people are really good at responding to email, but really lousy at responding to phone calls. Other people are just the opposite. The trick is sorting out who fits in which category, and remembering to use the right method to contact them. (I try to be responsive to both methods, but I'm probably a bit better with email than with phone calls.)

Your discussion of courtesy didn't address the worst offenders: people with Blackberries and other such devices. The truly addicted ones will ignore you when they're standing right next to you, and you're trying to have a conversation. Such people can't stay focused. Personally, I prefer to pay attention when I'm at a meeting, attending a seminar, at lunch with friends, on the phone, etc. I agree with the headline of a newspaper article I saw a couple of years ago (I believe it was in the Wall Street Journal): "Multi-tasking Makes You Stupid."

I don't have a Blackberry, even though most of my co-workers and business acquaintances do. Aside from the rudeness factor, I don't believe in being on call 24 hours a day. I'm not a medical doctor or a first responder. I need to read and listen and think and write without being constantly interrupted or else I won't do my best work in the most efficient manner. I have a cell phone that's capable of linking to the Internet, but I don't subscribe to the $15-per-month Internet connection because I'd never use it. My cell phone is only on when I really need it, not all day long.

Another pet peeve is call waiting. I can see why this would be useful for businesses, but why do so many people have it on their home phones? I suppose there are some valid reasons, but my observation has been that it's almost always used like this: "Hang on, I'm going to put you on hold. I've got another call coming in that may be more 
important than you."

As I said, I understand your feelings. But if you've never been ignored face-to-face by someone mind-melding with their Blackberry, be aware that you may eventually experience even higher levels of discourtesy. One can only hope that the people perpetrating these acts will experience some type of techno-Darwinian selection that will remove them from the gene pool.

Stay safe & happy.
Jim Vedda

Don Sipe is a graduate of the Eastman School and a professional trumpet player for 25 years. He was the Principal Trumpet of the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra and served as the Acting Associate Principal Trumpet of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble, the Chicago Brass Quintet, the Milwaukee Brass Quintet, Present Music, the Fulcrum Point New Music Ensemble, and the Summit Brass. His arrangements for brass quintet have been played by many brass quintets including Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet. Over the last 15 years Don has worked simultaneously as an artist manager and producer with his company Omicron Artist Mgt., Inc. At the height of this management business he represented a roster of 25 clients, mostly conductors and soloists to symphony orchestras but also chamber music groups and jazz groups to presenters of all types. Over the last few years he has focused on his first love, the trumpet, though still pursues various entrepreneurial projects as time allows.

[For the record, I was Marvin's manager for a period of about 5 years in the late 90s and early 00s. He is without a doubt one of the best musicians I had the privilege of working with in this capacity. Though we have moved on from this relationship, we continue to be good friends. - D. S.]

Don writes:

Dear Marvin,

I was happy to see you mention in Cadenzas XVIII your new manager Jay Nachowitz and describe some of the important qualities in a excellent manager. Having been there and done that, so to speak, I wanted to add a few observations which I hope will be useful for younger players and those molding younger players.

Most musicians do not learn enough about music management and how it relates to the individual artist. We have all heard horror stories about managers, who in some minds rate just above lawyers and used-car salesmen. However, the vast majority of managers are decent people trying to do a job. Finding the right person to work with as you build your career is very important.

Inherently, the business side of music is not as interesting as music itself, and let's face it, there are only so many hours in the day. But given how much time we spend crafting our art, doesn't it make sense to do what is necessary to make a living at it and bring it to the widest possible audience? 

Understanding of the music business is not emphasized in most music schools. In fact, at times I have run into hostility on the part of applied faculty at major conservatories when it comes to discussing management, the union, or commercialism of any kind. Fortunately, many programs have been developed over the last decade that allow a person to double major in business and music, major in arts management, or simply learn more about the music business. Unfortunately, given the fast changing nature of the business, unless the faculty is "actively working" or brings in people who are, the course is basically history - which may not be useful.

With rare exception, the musicians who are working - doing well, however you want to express it - are those who have an understanding and interest in the business aspects of their work. Whether they have management or not, their ability to focus a certain amount of attention on “business” is critical to their success. Furthermore, the work one does with a manager is a partnership and requires active participation. Thinking "well, I have management, the gigs will simply roll in," is unrealistic and counterproductive.

What follows are a few observations on the role of management and a few recommendations for musicians. 


Why do we have management? Ideally, the manager has the skills to create demand for the artist's work through marketing and PR, negotiate fees, execute contracts and administrate the myriad details required for a musician's performance to be successful. Also, there are venues/presenters who won't take a musician seriously unless they have management or simply like working with a professional manager. And then there's money. A manager can usually ask for and get the best possible terms on your behalf. This allows you to have a non-confrontational relationship with the presenter (buyer).

How to structure management? Exclusive management means that one entity handles all your work or a very large and clearly defined part of your work. They charge expenses and take a commission which can be anywhere from 10-20% of gross or an agreed upon net (minus travel, etc.). This is the "traditional" arrangement. 

Non-exclusive: Essentially the same as above, except you have more than one entity working on your behalf. The drawbacks: the buyer may not be sure who to contact, and unless defined at the outset, the managers could disagree on who got which gig. This only works well if the managers are divided into specific well-defined genres or geographic divisions, i.e. a manager in Europe and one in North America, or perhaps a manager for combo concerts and one for solo orchestral engagements.

Manager works for you. You pay for someone to do the marketing, PR, phone calls, emails, etc. There is no commission. Most established managers will not work this way, but it can work well for a chamber music group or small group jazz ensemble that is willing to put in the time and effort. I recommend this option when you are starting out and established managers are not (yet) interested in working with you. 

Before you approach management, there are a lot of things you can do yourself or have someone do for not a great deal of money. 1) Network and keep track of your network with contact management software. 2) Look professional: have an attractive website with audio, video, photos and useful information. If necessary have complementary print materials. 3) Be nice and easy to deal with. It doesn't cost anything to be nice. 4) Deliver! Be prepared and exceed expectations in your playing. 

Questions to ask? The network and skills of the manager need to mesh with the network and skills of the artist, so ask the following questions:

- Does the manager have experience in your genre or area? An opera singer needs completely different management than a jazz pianist.
- Does the manager have other artists similar to you? If you are a jazz pianist, and the manager already has 5 jazz pianists, maybe you should find someone else.
- Ask about their network of contacts, how they market artists, how much time they have for PR activities. Make sure they have enough time to take on another client.

Get in touch with other artists on a roster; find out how things are going. And most important, make sure you feel comfortable with this person. Trust is crucial, not just when dealing with money but at all times. Try to meet in person before entering into an agreement and while you don't need to be best friends, you do need to have some sort of rapport, otherwise it's probably not going to work.


Okay, that my piece; I hope it is helpful in some small way. It's not "rocket surgery" as Frank Caliendo likes to say, but it is important if we want to connect with as wide an audience as possible and make a living doing what we love. 

Don Sipe

Bruce Peterson grew up as an Army brat. He graduated from high school in Killeen, Texas, in 1965 and earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Abilene, Texas, in 1969. After teaching for a year, he was drafted into the Army, first serving with the 1st Cavalry Band in Ft. Hood, Texas and finishing his military service in Hawaii. While earning his Masters Degree, Bruce was the trumpet teacher at ACU, and afterward settled in the Rio Grande Valley to teach in Harlingen, Texas, for two years. He then left teaching to try other things, eventually moving to Central Texas to build houses some 14 yrs ago. Seven years later, he got a call from a former student who told him that he had made a great difference in his life, and this led him back into teaching. He writes:


I really enjoyed reading this edition of Cadenzas. I especially was impressed with "Common Courtesy". Cutting my teeth on the great Kenton era of jazz, you were one of my 'trumpet' heroes. Having Don Owen as one of my mentors gave us a link....but what I was impressed with, is that you wrote me back. Recently I told you that I was doing a clinic on jazz improvisation at TMEA. You sent me a wonderful essay about your thoughts. I just wanted to let you know that it was a 'standing room only' occasion, and thanks to your input, was very successful. One member of my performing group was Ron Wilkins. If you ever have an opportunity to play with Ron, you need to take advantage of it. He is a remarkable trombone player. 

After being out of teaching for over 20 years, I got back into it 6 years ago. My goals have changed. I used to be about 1st divisions....now I'm about trying to make a difference in kid's lives. I teach in Killeen, Tx....My kids don't have the opportunity to take privately, and a lot of their parents are deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. But my middle school program is 230 strong and we do okay..and have lots of fun.

I am with you on "Common Courtesy"....I even forwarded to my brother, who is an English Professor at a University. It is so easy to be courteous electronically, but we also need to do it in teaching. Here's an example of what I'm talking about: I might have a kid who comes to me while I'm very busy and wants to tell me something. My thought is "Go away kid. You have no idea of how busy I am"...But my reaction is: "What is it, sweetie"....After all, it may be the only interaction this kid has with a caring adult all day. You struck a chord with this topic. 

Thanks, Marvin,

Jim Ferguson is vocalist and bassist who has worked with everyone! Among the people with whom he has worked are Nat Adderly, Mose Allison, Gene Bertoncini, Eddie Daniels, Urbie Green, Benny Goodman, Stephane Grappelli, Jimmy Heath, Al Jarreau, Marian McPartland, Jay McShann, Phineas Newborn, Jr., Bucky and John Pizzarelli, just to name a few. Jim has been featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz,” “Jazz Profiles” with Nancy Wilson, and “American Popular Singer” with Eileen Farrell. He currently serves as a National Vice-president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and is on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Bassists. Jim currently teaches jazz voice and double bass at Middle Tennessee State University and has participated in numerous clinics and workshops in the U.S. and abroad. He holds a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies and Performance from the University of South Carolina and has three recordings under his own name including two critically acclaimed quartet CDs - his latest, in duo with renowned guitarist, Mundell Lowe. He writes:

Hi Marvin,
As always, I enjoyed reading this issue of Cadenzas. I’m writing because, unlike your recent experiences with education, my colleagues and I are facing an immediate crisis in Middle Tennessee. Tennessee is a beautiful state, as you know from your personal history here. Unfortunately, we operate on a budget funded mostly by sales tax. With the recent decline in retail and the residual effects of the Federal cuts over eight years to state funding, our Governor Bredesen has been forced to impose budget cuts across the board. Middle Tennessee State University has a worst case scenario of having to eliminate nineteen million dollars from our operating budget. It’s possible, we’re told, that the stimulus package could reduce that to twelve million. 

The president of the school established an Oversight Steering Committee tasked with identifying and recommending cuts in everything from operating, non-academic areas to actual degree programs and faculty. Each department head was required to assign values to the majors in his school from most important, mid level important, least important, based on the mission statement of the department. I’m told that our mission statement is very Music Ed oriented. Needless to say, this must have been a thankless task. 

The first piece of bad news we got several weeks ago is that the school is seriously considering elimination of our 40 year old 24-7 jazz station, WMOT, a valued treasure in Middle
Tennessee and a serious contributor to musical diversity in the Nashville and Mid State areas. These developments have been difficult enough to watch. On Monday, the OSC published its “final recommendations” on the MTSU.org website. Listed in the programs recommended for elimination from the Music School are our BM and MM in Jazz Studies and our Theory/Composition degrees. Coupled with the proposed demise of WMOT, we’ll pretty much be left with country, rock, and hip-hop radio formats, with the sole exception of WPLN, our mostly classical public radio station in Nashville and *no* jazz degree programs in Middle Tennessee and Nashville, “Music City, USA”. Since I know you’re very aware of our music school and our jazz station, I’m assuming you’d want to know what we’re facing. None of it is carved in stone, but from what I’m told, it’s not looking good. I don’t envy the folks on these committees or blame them for the final decisions. Currently, Tennessee’s legislature is hard pressed to make ends meet, but some of these issues have been much longer in the making. They’ve not properly funded higher education for decades. For instance, there hasn’t been an adjunct pay raise under the Tennessee Board of Regents in the eleven years I’ve been a faculty member, and I’m told it’s been that way since the early ‘90s. There’s no moral justification for that policy, just financial convenience. I’m sure the custodial staff and kitchen help have all gotten raises in that time period. But I digress easily, as you can see. Our current focus must be on saving our jazz majors and our jazz radio station.

I hope you continue to have positive experiences in your educational endeavors and that you regularly report the good and the bad. It helps me believe there may be more out there than our current reality.

Warmest regards,
Jim Ferguson

Lew Polsgrove, as a teenager, played saxophone in several big bands around Galveston, Texas, his home town. He also attended the University of North Texas, playing tenor for a couple of years in one of the lab bands. After a 25-year hiatus pursuing a professional career in psychology and an academic career in special education (children's emotional and behavioral disorders), Lew returned to playing.  He began playing with a blues band around Bloomington, Indiana, and also co-founded the Two-Five-One Trio which appears regularly at various Bloomington venues. Lew has also been involved with “Jazz from Bloomington” serving as Treasurer and Chair of the Funding and Development Chair. He writes: 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts again, Marvin. Some of us read and appreciate them.  I found Mr. Paulnack's address particularly meaningful.  Several of the local jazz venues have closed recently due to the economic downturn, and I've asked myself some of the same questions as he.  But...at our last gig at Tutto Benne's here in town a large racially diverse group came in about an hour before the end.  They were clapping and whooping after every tune and solo, dancing, and asking for encores [!].  That's the way it used to be and should be always, right?  Well, here's the most incredible part:  They were Jehovah Witnesses ! 

While your cosmopolitan experiences clearly eclipse ours, it's important for all jazz musicians to keep in mind that the long hours we spend shedding are not about making bread, but learning to express more fully our inner human spirits.  Sharing this wonderful music brings joy to others, and it can happen anywhere-- in Yakima, Moscow, or Bloomington. 

Keep it alive,

Joe Lowe is native Texan. He graduated with degrees in business and mathematics from the University of North Texas in 1961, then entered the U.S. Navy serving four years in intelligence and spending time aboard aircraft carriers. Joe’s entire career was in the investment business, operating firms in New York, Chicago, Columbus, and lastly, San Francisco, where he and wife Judy, a native Minnesotan, raised their son and daughter. Joe retired in 1998, moving to San Diego where he and Judy golf, sail, travel, and enjoy live jazz in Southern California. Joe has been collecting jazz recordings since 1954. He writes:

It seems to me that the electronic age has caused many of the problems in our society by eliminating much of our daily personal “eyeball to eyeball” communications with other humans. As Clint said, what we have here is a “failure to communicate”

It all started with personal computers in the 1980s when we learned to be “gamers” in our homes (remember Pong) and strap Sony Walkmans on our ears when we left home. That’s when many first started to find the isolation and privacy of electronics more attractive than traditional live entertainment forms with others. Thus began our journey to look inward for our stimulation and interaction.

Next, businesses began to use computers, not just in their internal “data centers”, but on the other end of an 800 number and later all their phones (“Touch 1 for English, Touch 2 for your balance, Touch 3 to pay your bill, etc.). Then, in the 1990s came laptops and cell phones that permitted employees to communicate 24/7 with headquarters. Cells and iPods proliferated our daily lives in planes, autos, restaurants, everywhere! Sales personnel no longer talked to their boss, but a “server” via modems. We almost never got to speak to another human, even when we dialed their personal number... we got their “machine” and left a recording. Then in the 2000s, we “advanced” to smart phones, voice recognition software and computer generated voices, web sites to make purchases (even groceries) using our “user names” and “passwords,” ATMs and home banking even made us forget what our neighborhood bankers looked like. About the only human beings many of us ever saw wore uniforms reading “FedEx” and “UPS”

Is it any wonder that America has lost much of our ability to speak and reason with one another ... to resolve issues, to deal with problems (ours or theirs) in a civil, respectful manner? Sure, our “communications superhighway” was faster and more structured, but did it improve our lives and produce any satisfaction or joy in the process. You tell me!

The news just this month reported one tragedy where a young Alabama youth murdered his entire family of five and another youth in Germany murdered nine or ten classmates. It’s clear that there wasn’t much interpersonal communicating skill on display here.

In my judgment, all these sophisticated communication tools have not improved our personal lives nor our society. We isolate in the day with cells and iPods and rush home to out Nintendos and X Boxes. Many, particularly the young who grew up in our “Personal Digital Device” society, have learned to isolate and avoid dealing with reality by exposing themselves to another “unsafe” human. It has become an addiction to many.... it’s not about a necessary cell call or listening to the latest music, podcast or book on an iPod... it’s a flee from reality into the safe harbor of isolation. A return to the warm companion that is always there for them... that is never in a bad mood nor judgmental... yes, their very best friend... their electronic womb!

It’s clear to me that many of our violent crimes rest upon a foundation of people just not knowing how to talk to one another and peacefully solve issues... everyday we see violence in our schools, on the freeway, and even family members killing one another over matters that amount to practically nothing. 

Remember before the 1990s when almost everyone returned phone calls, because we had no voice mail, email or web sites? Real live humans answered their phones. Then voice mail arrived on the scene and we learned a new game: “Telephone Tag”! Next came email and we were off and running in the electronic age! Around the mid 1990s I noticed that many of my clients no longer returned my phone calls..... just ignored them.... and over a cocktail my competitors said it was happening to them, too, not just me. 

Toll free 800 numbers with computer voices are now the norm... I called my bank last week and got eight different computer messages prompting a like number of keypad entries before I finally got a human being. I get my investment advice from my mutual fund’s web site, bank on the net and Amazon has replaced my neighborhood merchant. 

Yes, all these electronic devices do make our lives easier and more convenient, but they are slowly and insidiously destroying the humanity in our daily lives. How do we rebuild common courtesy in our society when we interface throughout our daily lives with laptops, Smartphones, iPods, voice mails, web sites? I don’t have a clue. My guess is that we’ll continue to use more and more electronics in our lives and just learn to accept the downside. 

It reminds me of the old story about the frog that was placed in cold water on a stove and slowly boiled to death because it never detected any sudden change in the temperature. Are we going to be smart enough to feel the same heat buildup in the computer chip stuck in our ear or resting on our lap? You tell me!

Bruce Collier - is an old friend from days when I was at North Texas and who was involved in the recording industry at that time. He is now involved in communications, but maintains a strong interest in music, particularly Jazz. He writes: 


As incomplete as usual but still motivated to respond, herewith am I:

1. Communication. Absolutely agree with you and there are no boundaries! I like to say, “…tell me yes, no, or maybe, but tell me something!”. BTW you are always good about a response. Is this an age-related disease?

2. Regarding that and other weirdness of today’s world, I like to say – and forgive if I repeat myself – we seem to be in a constant state of dumbing down. How about some “dumbing up” for a change? If we have to dumb, let’s go up.

3. Perhaps there is too little of the good news and hopeful news that does happen all the time and instead myopic focus on negatives. With so much emphasis on sports or other less educated people skills that earn so much misplaced revenue, I believe it is somewhat of a miracle to reach citizens of tomorrow as to the importance of skills that will truly benefit society. Peace Corps? That really sounds stupid.

4. Last but not least, I always hope to put the “age issue”, which is my place in life these days, in perspective. And just when I think I’m winning, just when I think I’ve found a better way to pass on a little experience without sounding like a lecturer someone accuses me of playing that card (I never thought I would play)!

5. Thanks as usual for your discipline in transferring your thoughts to print!

Stay well,

Cadenzas - Edition XXV

Burt Collins - Two Remembrances

Mr. Armstrong and Me

When I Was Your Age . . . .

Speaking Out

[Editor's note: Since most of the respondents to Cadenzas - Edition XXV have referred to more than one of the four articles, I have not listed their responses categorically to each individual article, but have ordered them according when each response was received.]

Jerry Ascione is a graduate of the excellent Youngstown State University program, working under Tony Leonardi, Bill Slocum, and Bob Fleming. His instruments are French horn and piano, although his 30+ year career in the U.S. Navy Band in Washington has led him to focus more on the piano and writing. Jerry was for eleven years leader of the Navy Jazz band, the Commodores, but in the last ten or more years has been working as piano soloist with the Navy Concert Band and with smaller ensembles. He also is first call solo pianist for every major function held by the Secretary of the Navy, the CNO and other of the “higher ups’ in that service. Jerry is an excellent arranger and does a great deal of writing for the Navy Concert Band; he also arranges for me and has contributed three of the most sensitive pieces in my symphonic library. Jerry is "family," a great cook, and shares my love of excellent wines! He writes:

Dear Marvin,

I want to address two articles in “Cadenzas” Edition XXV. First, Mike Metheny’s “When I Was Your Age….” and your article, “Speaking Out.”  Both of these articles have everything to do with being a mentor and the effects thereof. That having been said:

Mr. Metheny speaks eloquently and accurately of doing everything he can to “pass the torch” to keep our beloved art form alive. The moment we say “when I was your age” to our children, students or a young audience, we are “passing the torch”; we’re doing what ever we can to mentor young people. Sometimes it’s tough to get anyone to grab hold of that torch, but we never relent. Marvin, you told me great stories about people like Bernie Glow, Snooky Young, Ernie Royal and many others who took you into their fold to mentor you. Further, I related to you the great experiences of having Snooky Young, Milt Hinton and others as guest artists with the Navy Band Commodores and their words to me about “how things used to be.” They didn’t do that just to make idle conversation. They believed, rightly so, that their experiences and those of others were and will always be vital to the educational process.

In February, 1968, two friends and I (we were about 16 years old) went to hear Duke Ellington’s band in my hometown of New Castle, PA. Although bitterly cold and snowing heavily, he didn’t cancel the gig but played two full sets for those of us who braved the elements. We struck up a conversation with drummer Rufus Jones, who at the end of the first set said, “Come on back after the concert and I’ll introduce you guys to the Duke.” Duke came out of the dressing room looking really tired, but smiling and said “Boys, I have 15 minutes till the bus leaves. Let’s talk.” Not knowing what to say, we asked a few tentative questions and Duke then showered us with stories about what it was like to be on the road, different musicians, how he started on piano and of course the necessity of diligent practice. He could have told Rufus Jones to say to us, “thanks for coming to the concert, good night.” He could have, but he didn’t. The torch was passed.

I stated earlier that both articles were about being a mentor. Do we choose to be a mentor to someone? The answer is no. People choose, us to be their mentors whether as a conscious decision or otherwise. Why? Because they see those characteristics in us they feel will benefit them on a successful journey in life and I’m not speaking solely about vocation. But, even if we aren’t chosen to be a mentor, we’re still a role model and as such, without choice, we purvey our idiosyncratic behavior, beneficial or destructive, to everyone with whom we come in contact. I don’t remember who offered this gem of wisdom to me, but, upon learning that I was to become a father, the comment was, “What you say to your children is important. How you act in front of them is really important.

Marvin, I use the above paragraph to address your concern that many of us don’t express ourselves via your column.  Consider this: We read “Cadenzas” because we enjoy reading about the different musicians with whom you’ve worked, gigs that you play, etc. But more than that, we have a great respect for you. You have certainly been a most positive role model for many of us and indeed a mentor. So what does all of that mean except to sound like I’m offering empty flattery? It means that just like your airport incident, many people have been empowered by your words AND by your actions to speak out in a variety of arenas. Much of change, I believe, starts with a single event and someone addressing it one on one. This means stating concerns over the state of education while we’re doing clinics, convincing parents to challenge the lack of money allocated to the arts in public schools, even when your children have long graduated, writing letters to public officials over increasing crime and a plethora of other incidents that many are reluctant to address. Still, why do we not use your column as a sounding board? The truth is, I can’t give you an answer that is commensurate with your passion for standing up for the rights that we have but don’t exercise; rights that others want and are willing to risk all to have. We, as role models and mentors probably won’t see the fruits of our efforts right away. But, I’m going to tell you to believe that it is happening. I see it, I believe it.

Jerry Ascione

John L. Worley Jr. is a trumpet and flugelhorn artist who has been a member of many of the San Francisco Bay Area's creative music ensembles for last 25 plus years. John is the owner of Dancing Sumo Records and the leader of WorlView, which made its debut in 2004 at the San Jose Jazz Festival and recently played at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2006. John is on the faculty of “Jazz Goes To College,” a summer camp sponsored by the San Jose Jazz Society and, the Stanford Jazz Workshop and is a past faculty member of San Francisco State University. He is also a much sought-after clinician. You can learn more about John at: www.johnworley.com. He writes:

Hi Marvin,

I hope this email finds you in good health and spirits. I have just read your latest Cadenzas and found it moving in many ways. I was never fortunate to meet or hear Burt Collins. The first time I was made aware of him was in the ‘70s when I heard the recording you mentioned of Duke Pearson's with Burt taking that marvelous solo. In fact, it was around the same time I heard you play on a recording of Pat Williams. Both of you played with a fluidity and ease to be admired and striven for. While it has been a joy to have met and gotten to know you, it saddens me that I'll never get that chance with Burt and many others of that generation.

When I give clinics, I ask the students some of the same questions Mike Metheny does and yes, some of those answers might require more than one pitcher of beer, but, like his band director said, “play (or teach) to the one person who gets it.” I find that the ones who are informed have some depth in the knowledge of players, musicality, and desire to learn more. Sadly, the numbers seem to be shrinking year after year. Maybe someone needs to create a type of X-Box game to get it into the hands and minds of a new generation . . . .

Which leads me to speaking out: Most folks don't. Plain and simple. There is much fear of reprisals and/or of the responsibility of carrying the burden(s) that their feelings or possible actions will bring about. We all have to have take responsibility to make our voices heard whether we agree or disagree with what's happening around us. Ignorance is not bliss . . . it's a tool used by many to take away our freedoms for their own personal gains. Thank you, Marvin, for speaking out and bringing this forum for everyone to see and participate in. 

I look forward to seeing and hearing you play in the near future, my friend. Be well and keep the faith.

John Worley

John Daniel has over 20 years experience, teaching college at Abilene Christian University and Penn State University; he began teaching at Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, WI September, 2002. He has played as a sub on Broadway, with dozens of symphony orchestras, and appeared as a soloist in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and at numerous universities. He writes: 


In response to "Speaking Out".

Without necessarily being entirely conscious of the process, we humans are constantly negotiating with one another about reality, truth, morality, and for lack of a better term:   social conscience. As young children, our concept of reality is vague and flexible. Authority figures who are responsible for our very survival begin to shape and define our concepts of reality into something closer to a singular concept of reality, one specifically designed to meet the needs of life on earth, perhaps for a specific time and place. As teenagers, we are virtually obsessed with definitions of reality as defined by our peer group. We know enough to know our parents don't have all the answers, and that leaves us feeling vulnerable. We look to our peers for support and guidance even though (or because) they are in the same boat.

Science has been in a centuries-long pursuit of defining reality as if it is a fixed entity. The results of this pursuit are all around us, so we must assume that reality is observable and predictable. But science, especially subatomic particle theory, has also advanced to the point of understanding reality to be a reflection of the observer. There is a great book, “The Hidden Messages in Water,” by Masuro Emoto which simply shows crystals formed by water under a variety of conditions. These photographs of water crystals seem to indicate that water responds to human emotions, thoughts, and intentions. They certainly respond to music. “The Secret Life of Plants” was another book indicating the same phenomenon.

Reality is constantly being formed as a result of the interplay of our collective thoughts and intentions. We know this to be true, but we do not know to what degree. Politics is the most obvious and verbal aspect of this interplay. Is it the most powerful?   In the short run, so it seems. Many “religious” people throughout the centuries behave as if they believe politics to have more power than religion.   As a musician, I believe music to often be more powerful than either politics or religion. Music can describe a multidimensional universe to most of humanity much better than math or Einstein. I know that most weddings, funerals or ceremonies of any kind lack emotional and spiritual focus without the right musical intentions.

Simply put, as artists we have an opportunity to affect human behavior, if not effect reality directly. I maintain that this happens with or without our conscious participation! I also maintain that much of the “negotiation for social conscience” that I’ve described is nothing more than a reflection of the fear that so many people have in life itself. So much of the robustness of political discourse is nothing more than people trying to insure their own needs get met, even if it is at the expense of others, as if “reality” has no investment in us as individuals. FDR said so much when he said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”.

I think this country is at a crossroads. I think our place in western civilization is being written at this moment. Is this country about freedom?, the pursuit of happiness?, a structure of government (democracy) designed to maximize the potential of every individual? Or is our legacy, as our critics say, simply about money and greed. I don’t necessarily equate capitalism with greed, but history might. I can certainly see that it is often inspired by fear.

Should we speak out? Should we vote? Should we march in rallies? Of course we should. But know that the real battle isn’t for votes, it’s for social conscience, and as musicians we have unique abilities. We can describe any form of love we can imagine with our music. We can bring to mind any aspect of our personal reality that we think could be beneficial to others.

I recently completed my training to be a Reiki Master. When I asked my Reiki teacher about a potential career change she was very clear. Music and teaching are very noble pursuits. Anyone can learn to be a Reiki Master. Don’t give up your uniqueness, nurture it. Make your uniqueness a force of nature but align it with your highest and best intentions.

All the best,

Dr. Robert Kase has a wide background both as a performer and educator. He presently serves as Chair of the Department of Music and Professor of Trumpet at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and is a regular clinician at schools and universities around the world. He is an international trumpet artist who is in constant demand in both jazz and classical ensembles. He has performed solo tours of Sweden, Norway, England, Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland, Canada, and across the USA.   As a recording artist he has performed on more than 200 recording projects, including four solo jazz recordings with his own quintet. His latest CD entitled “Those Paris Nights” for the Altenburgh Jazz recording label.   He appears regularly at International Jazz Festivals and as trumpet soloist with symphony orchestras and concert bands. He writes: 


Bravo! I agree with your point completely. However, you are always one to be assertive in your speaking out. There is a large difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Your scenario is one of assertiveness. State your mind and explain your plight and if the manager really cares about his customers, he will take care of things, as he did for you. I have also seen many times people who want what they want, when they want it, regardless of whether or not anyone can give it to them. They make a fool of themselves and are arrogant and not the least bit understanding when the answer to their query happens to be, “I am sorry, we can't do that.”

The world is full of very rude and aggressive people who ruin it for everyone else who simply want to speak out, but are afraid they will be grouped in with these very obnoxious people. I have seen tantrums, swearing, threats and even worse from people who don't get their way. While I know your article was about speaking up and simply being assertive about what is right, sometimes it isn't worth the hassle, and sometimes it is depending on what is at stake.

Keep up the good work Marv. I love your cadenzas (both kinds).


Kenny Berger - is a marvelous Jazz baritone saxophone player as well as a great doubler on bass clarinet and bassoon. He is one of the in-demand musicians in NYC and plays with so many of the most important names in Jazz. He writes: 

Hi Marvin: 

I just finished reading Cadenzas XXV and found it to be one of the most interesting and thought-provoking issues yet. In fact, I feel as though I am responding to three different articles at once. First, I would like to add my two cents worth in appreciation of Burt Collins. I had the honor of playing alongside Burt in both the Lee Konitz Nonet and the David Matthews big band back in the late 70's, as well as on studio dates and a few hits with Duke Pearson's band. To my mind Burt was the most underrated jazz trumpeter in the business and a   warm, generous man with a great sense of humor.

Mike Matheny's article hit home for me due to a similar experience I had just this past week. For the past few years I have taught a couple days a week at a private school, running three jazz bands. During a recent class devoted exclusively to listening, it dawned on me that not only was I charged with the responsibility of exposing them to the music of the jazz greats, but I first needed to teach them how to listen - period. To this generation of students, the idea of listening to an entire seven-minute long track with just the music happening and nothing to look at is tantamount to asking them to read “War and Peace” in one sitting. As you know Marvin, mincing words is not one of my strong points, so I explained to them that the ability to listen to a piece of music for more than two minutes and without any sort of visual enhancement is just as vital in preventing them from growing up to be idiots as is paying attention in English or math class. I went on to explain how the mass media and a certain political party have very strongly vested interests in making sure that they each grow up with the concentration span of a fruit fly and that engaged listening is one of the prime antidotes to this. Some of them got it and some of them didn't, but at least they heard someone say it.

Your views on speaking out are particularly relevant to today's jazz scene, what with the fear that so many musicians feel due to the scarcity of work combined with the sort of McCarthyism that is rampant in parts of academia and institutions like The House Un-American Jazz Activities Committee at Lincoln Center. I personally choose not to demean myself by being afraid to speak my mind, but, by the same token, I choose not to inflate my own importance by thinking that the powers that be have nothing better to do than to take the time 
to exact revenge on me for disagreeing with them. 

Finally, your story at the airline counter perfectly illustrates an old saying: “The 
squeaking wheel gets the oil.”

Hope I see you soon.

Love, KB

Melvin Gordy, like myself, was a John Haynie student. He was among the first group that John taught upon coming to the University of North Texas. Melvin, from the beginning, has been the Web master and organizer of events that bring John's students together year after year. Melvin has been flying since 1954, and was a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol (USAF-AUX). He now enjoys a career as a building designer and also teaches architectural and engineering drafting   at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Texas. He writes: 


You note in Cadenzas:

"Someone, responding recently to my urging my readers to participate, said that they found Cadenzas sometimes a bit long, taking a good amount of time to get through. I've thought about this and in this edition have tried for a bit more brevity without losing the passion and substance I feel about what I write. It will be interesting to discover your feelings."

My response to the above:

I appreciate your thoughts about articles being a bit long at times and how you've tried to shorten them without losing their passion and substance. My feelings are that you can't shorten some articles without losing something. 

I find if I'm short of time, I just print that article in question and read it later when I have more time. Some things have to be read and re-read to get their full meaning. To just read something thru at fast pace doesn't work for me.

My suggestion to you is don't change anything; you've got a winner in your Cadenzas as written.

Melvin Gordy

Marvin “Doc” Holladay was the baritone saxophonist on the Stan Kenton Orchestra during the two years I was with the band. He currently lives and works with young musicians in Cumbayα, Ecuador. After leaving Kenton’s band, Marv played with a number of great bands, including the Duke Ellington Alumni Band, and those of Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, and Woody Herman. He was the original baritone player with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra (1965-66). Marv did graduate studies at Yale and Wesleyan Universities and taught sixteen years at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, as an Associate Professor of Music, Director of Jazz Studies and resident Ethnomusicologist, and adjunct professor to the International Studies Department. He is now a Professor Emeritus of that Institution. He writes:

Yo! Marv,

This may well come to you as a major surprise, and although you keep posting Cadenzas to me regularly, I have never responded to your request for our collective input.

I’ve decided, after reading your and Garnett’s piece on Burt, that maybe it is time for me to open up a main artery and bleed all over your Web page.

There is a history behind my current residence, outside of the US, in Cumbayα, Ecuador, which I do not need to go into nor would it be appropriate to do so. Suffice it to say, we are living here largely due to many of the reasons that I read in your rants about what is, and has been, going on in the States, besides my old age retirement.

First, let me get the decline of the essence of what jazz has been about and what remains of that essence, as I see it, today

You and I were very fortunate to have come into the business at the very tail end of its greatest days; in fact, you were probably hanging on to the last hair follicle of that tail. We have disagreed many times over our, respective, evaluations of our experiences with Stan and Woody, which I still relish as they were, and probably are, relevant to those personal experiences. I still regret not having recorded, with you, those great charts that Don Sebesky wrote for us. C. T. and I did play them, once, on a gig that we did at the old Village Gate. I just recently played them again, here in Quito, with a former student of mine, Walt Szymanski, who came to visit me and, subsequently, fell in love with this country.

What was the standard by which one’s command of the language was evaluated has changed dramatically and not for the better, I’m sorry to say. The industry has set the criteria by which this is to be done by instituting technical mastery and high energy, and aggressive expression as a substitute for beauty, soulfulness, and elevation of the spirit. Those qualities were the lodestone of jazz musicianship during both my formative years,which I found prevalent during the earlier days of my professional career. In this regard, I have a fond memory of your insistence that the Ray Charles band was the best band out there, when you joined the Kenton band following your graduation from NTS. Actually, I greatly appreciated that observation as those attributes were precisely the qualities that were the hallmark of all the great bands of the history of this music, Duke, Lunceford, Chick, Lucky Millinder and later Dizzy, Q, Gil, D. Pearson, etc., and continues today with orchestras that hardly anybody knows exist because of that infamous criteria, previously mentioned.

As a player, my claim to fame, if such exists, was my sound and the ability to lock into any stylistic interpretation by putting a bottom on any sax section that I was honored to be a part of. I don’t put myself in the category of player/soloist, even though many well-intended folks try to do so [probably because of my age]. However, we were all moved by the irrepressible impact of Ben Webster, Hawk, Roy Eldridge, Bird, and Diz, etc., upon all of us in formulating our eventual expression. This was monumental and came by association and not from a pedagogical formula which seems to prevail at most of the institutional jazz programs around the country. 

It used to be that after a few notes or a couple of bars at most, we could all tell immediately who was playing. Today, the young players, with a few notable exceptions, all sound alike [the cookie-cutter syndrome], and it becomes a guessing game as to who is playing or why. As I mentioned, there are a few exceptions that I know about and probably a lot more that I don’t know about, since I’ve been out the loop for a number of years now. Chris Potter, Joshua Redman and Roy Hargrove stand out as shining examples of the continuation of those qualities previously mentioned. Fortunately for Chris, he was picked up, upon his arrival in the City, by Red Rodney and the rest, as they say, is history so he was never influenced by the pedagogical folks who proliferate the institutions. Joshua had Dewey as his mentor, so how could he lose.

My second point is that there is a great deal of interest here in Ecuador by young musicians to learn about this music and, more importantly, what it takes to make it expressive the way they hear it. My simplistic guidance for them has been “It’s not the notes you play, but the way you play those notes.” I realize that it may be an over-simplification of what its all about, but it does encourage these young, aspiring, players to pay attention to the basic essentials instead of following the guidance they get from the abundance of printed materials explaining what jazz is and how to play it. In addition, I would like to suggest to all who may be asked to travel to other countries, around the world, as exponents of this unique art form associated with the USA, to come prepared to leave as much as you can during your brief visit. So many groups come here, and elsewhere, play a concert, and essentially leave with having left an impression of “see how great we are,” but without leaving any of the “how and the why is it great.” The other shoe of this rant is: So many, when given an opportunity to share with the local folks, present such advanced permutations of the process that it might as well be gibberish. The need is for the basics, with an emphasis on what the music is about, not how to play like John Coltrane, or similar great modern exponent. That might be relevant to a Master Class at a major university in the US but not here. Think about where you are and listen to the performance level of those to whom you will be speaking before formulating a presentation. 

Finally, patterns and all their permutations, will not communicate the essence of who you are and what you feel. Wasn’t it Bird who said, “What comes out the end of your horn is who you really are?” In addition, and equally important, was the statement made to us by Dizzy on the bus extremely early one morning as we were leaving San Sabastian, Spain, on our way to the airport. After asking the question, his answer was, “The difference between a Bebop musician and all other musicians is that they play so that everybody else sounds good.” That we should never forget no matter what our mode of musical expression may be.

Marv, I know that you know what I’m saying and you may be able to better express it than I can, however, I wanted to endorse your efforts to make things clear through your Web page. I will send you an addendum to these comments, which were published here in Quito by the Franz Liszt conservatory as a statement for the edification of their students and faculty alike. If you would like to paraphrase anything from it, feel free to do so.

Keep on Keepin’ on,


Cadenzas - Edition XXIV

An Important Perspective on Teaching

New York Jazz Clubs


In Response To: An Important Perspective on Teaching

Dr. Robert Kase has a wide background both as a performer and educator. He presently serves as Chair of the Department of Music and Professor of Trumpet at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and is a regular clinician at schools and universities around the world. He is an international trumpet artist who is in constant demand in both jazz and classical ensembles. He has performed solo tours of Sweden, Norway, England, Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland, Canada, and across the USA.  As a recording artist he has performed on more than 200 recording projects, including four solo jazz recordings with his own quintet. His latest CD entitled “Those Paris Nights” for the Altenburgh Jazz recording label.  He appears regularly at International Jazz Festivals and as trumpet soloist with symphony orchestras and concert bands. He writes:


Sorry to not have responded earlier to the letter of John Daniels.  With the verbosity of the Cadenzas getting more and more, I have less and less time to read let alone respond.  I can say that one of the problems with some professional trumpet players turning to college level teaching is they make the mistake of believing that all of their students want to become just like them.  The reality is that very few will choose the same path.  While in some higher level conservatories trumpet students will attend a particular school specifically to study with the specialist (orchestral, jazz, baroque etc.), the large majority of college trumpet teaching gigs will be for the wider trumpet studio of a mix of music education majors, performance majors, jazz majors, Bachelor of Arts, music business etc.  Therefore, it is important for a trumpet college teacher to understand that a comprehensive approach to trumpet performance is imperative to undergraduate students.  Both you and I studied with John Haynie, and one of his greatest strengths as a teacher is that he didn't try to turn his students into a clone of himself.  He taught fundamental trumpet skills, a wide (very wide) concept of trumpet literature, and wasn't afraid to encourage his students to perform in a very large array of trumpet concepts knowing that they will play every possible kind of music.

When I was asked what was the most significant thing I learned from John J. Haynie, I responded that I learned how to teach trumpet at the college level.  Sure, I learned how to become a much better player, but the skills most important (as I later found out) had to do with the pedagogical structure of a comprehensive trumpet studio.  I learned the structure of a course of study, pedagogical philosophy, the physics of trumpet performance, study of pedogogical techniques, a huge amount of literature, fundamentals of brass playing etc.  I find too often the pros that want to become trumpet teachers basically teach the way they were taught with little or no understanding or appreciation of other schools of performance.  That is fine if that that is the final goal of the student, but not many will ever reach that end.  The same is true for those "lead players" who are only going to teach students the "secrets" of lead playing.  Teachers who think getting a DMA in trumpet isn't necessary are missing the point.  The DMA may not be necessary to become a great trumpet player, but it is very significant in becoming a good trumpet teacher.  Hopefully, the DMA program will be about more about the study of trumpet pedagogy (which it should).  The days of the specialist are just about over.  Most trumpet players as well as trumpet teachers are expected to do it all.

A truly successful undergraduate trumpet teacher will be one that can teach remedially.  After 30 years of college trumpet teaching, I find most of what we do best is fixing all of the bad habits in the fundamentals of brass playing that have occurred after eight years of playing trumpet in schools bands with poor concepts of air support, articulation, tone, hand positions, and musical styles, etc.  Teaching at the college level is all about understanding not only how to play well, but how to fix the problems and bad habits that students invariably bring with them.  It is very frustrating to a student to have a teacher pick up the horn and say do it like this and just blow through it perfectly.  While modeling is very important, it is just as important to know how to communicate to the student a structured course of study and remedial exercises that helps them to understand how it works.  I can't begin to tell you the number of students that attempt to play trumpet with little air support, and they had all kinds of teachers who told them to use more air.  That just isn't enough!  A successful trumpet teacher must be able to have a large library of pedagogical solutions to finding the way to make that light bulb go on.  That often takes a great deal of teaching experience and pedagogical study with students possessing all kinds of problems.  Students with a beautiful sound that can't count, students who have amazing technique but a small thin sound, chops problems, teeth problems etc.  Many college students who play very well simply come to school never having listened to a classical trumpet recording before. 

I vividly remember once when working on a concerto (I can't remember which one.  It may have been the Giannini) with Haynie, I kept fracking a G# on the top of the staff.  After two weeks of making the same error, Haynie took his pencil and crossed out the G# and wrote an Ab.  I never missed it again.  That kind of pedagogical comprehension takes experience.  Many outstanding players have never gone through any of the pedagogical trials that many trumpet students have had to deal with.  They may never have had an embouchure problem or a tonguing problem, or flexibility issues.  One may teach quite differently if they themselves have had to deal with multiple embouchure problems only to finally discover the issue had nothing to do with the embouchure.

My point is that successful teaching trumpet, just like professional trumpet playing, requires a great deal of comprehensive pedagogical study and experience.  I believe that in teaching...there is no teaching, only learning.  It doesn't matter how well you teach; what matters is how well the student learns.  A successful teacher learns more from the students than the students learn from them about how to teach trumpet well.  Being able to perform well, while vital, isn't enough to become a successful trumpet teacher.  Just like trumpet playing, the world is full of mediocre teachers, but few masters.  True understanding of trumpet pedagogy is really not that old.  Before that time, teachers tended to only teach how they performed, and what they thought was musical.  That is why the baroque performance practices of the 1960's and 70's were based on the European romantic concepts of the day instead of sound historic knowledge and study.  The empirical concept of trumpet teaching still exists in conservatories around the world.  That is fine if you can simply throw out any student who doesn't hack the professional standards that a particular conservatory demands.  In today's undergraduate liberal arts college or university that equation will have a very low success rate and your job will depend on the numbers of successful students as well as the quality in your studio.  Today (and hopefully far into the future) continued dedication to trumpet pedagogy will reinforce the dedicated study of teaching and the pragmatic understanding of how to reach student's understanding of performance practice.

Well, enough for today.  Thanks for the soapbox.


Bob Curnow is a graduate of West Chester State University (PA) and Michigan State University, having completed two Master's degrees and his doctoral studies. As a trombonist, Bob joined the Stan Kenton Orchestra and toured the United States, Great Britain, Scotland, and Wales. In 1973, he became the A & R Director, arranger, composer, record producer and general manager for Kenton's Creative World Records, producing over 30 LPs for Kenton. His arrangements and compositions can be heard on six Stan Kenton albums. Bob has also served as an adjudicator and clinician at jazz festivals in over 40 states and Canada. Bob is a past-president of the International Association of Jazz Education (IAJE) and in January, 1999, was inducted into the IAJE Hall of Fame. Bob lives with his wife Darlene in Liberty Lake, Washington where he runs Sierra Music. Sierra is the exclusive publisher of the Stan Kenton Orchestra Library, along with the music of many other great jazz artists/composers. He writes: 

Hi Marv:

My reason for writing ... I just finished reading John Daniel's remarks about teaching. I was stunned by how parallel our careers have been. Although I haven't been an active educator for almost 20 years now (I now spend all my time on Sierra Music Publications), our early days, our development, our professional experiences, our schooling, our degrees, etc., etc., are all very similar.  I did teach at the university level for 23 years (as you know), and have had a fair amount of success as a professional player (trombonist) and composer/arranger, as has John.  His feelings about teaching, and the desires of others to teach really hit home for me.  There wasn't one thing he said that I disagreed with. There it is, simply stated.  I had the feeling (between the lines) that, perhaps, he has even stronger feelings about the poor teaching that is going on all throughout this great land. Who wouldn't? 

As long as I'm writing, please allow me to address a couple of other things.  The state of our educational system, from kindergarten through the 4th year of college, is seriously disfunctional. Two areas, in particular, come to mind. The first is teacher preparation. It just isn't happening as it should. All three of our children are teachers, and I and my wife were teachers. All of us, I believe, had wonderful preparation for the profession.  However, the horror stories I hear from all three children are very depressing. On one hand, I'm glad not to be a part of it anymore. On the other hand, I wonder if I shouldn't have tried to do more, teach for a longer time. So many teachers are only there for the paycheck and couldn't care less about their students.  Most of this miserable attitude is due to the fact that they don't really want to be there, and they are usually ill prepared for being there.

The second area of deep concern is expectations and discipline issues, particularly on the junior high through high school level (where most of the serious work must be done). The inability of faculty to properly discipline students, due to limitations from "society" or administration, is pathetic.  The results are easy to witness.  We see a growing problem in our society every day. To this end, I believe that the teachers are as much the victims as are the students. In fact, we're all victims. The same with expectations. What is expected from the students in our current system? Nada.

Now, this does not have so much to do with music education, but it obviously has a tremendous impact on it.  I know one of the very few bright spots in education, on all levels, is what is happening in Arts education.  We all know that.  Don't get me wrong.  The best teachers are more often than not in the Arts. And certainly those students who are lucky enough to have had good Arts education seem to do very well in life. No secret there.

So, hurrah to John, and hurrah to you as well for creating Cadenzas.  It's always fun to read the thoughts of others.

Stay well.  See you soon, I hope.

Bob Curnow

Bob Bush is married to a dear friend of mine, Winnie Carson-Bush, with whom I played in our high school band. We have recently become reacquainted after many years – a source of great pleasure for me. Bob and Winnie now live in California. Bob received a BS in English from the University of North Dakota and an MS in Administration from Chapman University. After serving two years in the US Army during the Korean War, he worked for Bank of America, then went back to school, taught high school English for four and one-half years, but then went to work for IBM to support his family. Bob got back into teaching at the four through six grade level, then moved to the middle school area, teaching grades seven and eight English, Drama & Physical Education. Now retired, his teaching career totaled thirty-seven years in the classroom. He writes:

Marvin - Sorry I didn't respond earlier to John Daniel's piece on teaching. I know he was essentially talking about the teaching of music, but the idea of using music in the regular classroom is also of significance. Both Winnie and I used music throughout our careers. Age differences meant we used music for different reasons, but we both feel that, if for no other reason than simply enjoying it, music aided kids in learning. I used lyrics of contemporary songs to teach poetry, while Winnie used it to put on plays, such as the "Three Pigs Opera." This was quite a production and Winnie and the kids always followed the play by serving a meal of "wolf 
Stew" that she and the kids cooked for their parents - and for us, too, of 

Neil Diamond had a great song titled "Done Too Soon." In it he named 20 plus people who died before they had accomplished all they could. I assigned each person named in the song to individual students as research projects. The slowest young man in my class that year, a kid who was truly troubled, and didn't get much support from home, gave a report on Jesus. I kept asking him if he was having any difficulty on his research, and he always said it was going okay.  On report day, his oral presentation consisted of "Jesus Christ was the Son of God." That one didn't come out as well as I had hoped, but the rest of the reports came out fine, except for the young lady to whom I had assigned Russ Colombo. She and both parents hunted for information on him at the Base library and both county libraries and could find nothing.(This was waaayyy before the internet!) I always thought that the family attempt was probably worth more that her actually writing a report. I think John's e-mail to you hit my hot button because he reiterated the base of a philosophy  both of us believed.  He mentioned a teacher he had who treated each student, and cared for each student, individually. Listening to the solos helps hearing the entire symphony


In Response To: New York Jazz Clubs

Mark Morganelli, trumpeter and flugelhornist is Executive Director of Jazz Forum Arts, a 22-year-old not-for-profit arts presenting organization which produces jazz concert series at Tarrytown Music Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Jazz Forum Arts will present fifty free concerts in Westchester County, NY for a seventh consecutive summer. Morganelli owned and operated the Jazz Forum, a musician's loft/club in Greenwich Village from 1979-1983, before becoming Music Coordinator of Birdland from 1988-1993. He has also produced concerts at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, The Beacon Theater, Town Hall, Tilles Center, and NJPAC. He writes:

Thanks, Marv, for another excellent edition of Cadenzas. It was great to see and hear you, and even hang out a bit, at IAJE. As you know, I was in the audience at the Sheraton, and it was pure musical magic. Kudos to you and the other members of the group.

A brief comment on your NYC Jazz Club rant (pardon the expression)...

I totally agree with what you've said, and want to offer my own perspective, having owned and operated the Jazz Forum loft/club from 1979-1983 (almost ancient history at this point I dare say). 

Of course being a musician first put me in an advantaged perch when I decided to invite groups to perform in my space. First off, they had to be groups I wanted to hear. Secondly, they had to be willing to work within my rather limited budget. Thirdly, I had come to add the element of being able to market the music effectively so that both parties enjoy a successful outcome. 

Having said that, I do relish the memories of having our house rhythm section (actually lived there btw) collaborate with great artists such as Dizzy Reece, Clifford Jordan, and Pepper Adams, to name a few from the very start in 1979 at 50 Cooper Square. From there, I began to hire groups that I enjoyed and actually continued presenting through the second incarnation at 648 Broadway. Some of these groups included the Louis Hayes/Frank Strozier Quartet, the Bill 
Hardman/Junior Cook Quintert, featuring Walter Bishop, Jr., the Bob Berg & Tom Harrell Quintet, Kenny Barron (in any format), the Barry Harris Trio, George Coleman, Woody Shaw, Red Rodney, and many others. Many of these groups I mention did not draw well initially, as you alluded to in your piece, but with the investment of time, energy, limited resources, and great word-of-mouth, they wound up developing a strong following, allowing me to rebook them many times over the four years of the Jazz Forum in Greenwich Village.

Anyway, you struck a note with me, and I just wanted to reminisce a bit on the good ol' days.  Thanks again for your keen insight and articulation of what many of us feel but do not say. 

Best always, 


Marty Erickson was for twenty-six years principal tuba with the U. S. Navy Band in Washington, DC. Marty currently teaches the tuba-euphonium studio and directs the tuba-euphonium ensemble and brass choir at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, as well as serving as tubist with Millennium Brass and the Brass Band of Battle Creek. He also teaches the tuba-euphonium studio at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Marty has two current CDs - Smile (upon which I had the pleasure of playing) and My Very Good Friend with pianist John Sheridan. Soon to be released is a new CD in duo with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. You can learn more about Marty Erickson at his Website: www.martytuba.com.

Hi Marvin,

Thanks for the note. I just read Edition XXIV from “cover to cover,” and enjoyed it immensely. Great to hear about your activitites, joys and concerns, and very nice of you to include my dear colleague John Daniel's letter. He is a passionate and caring teacher who brings much to the table with respect to not only artistry and caring pedagogy, but the deeper thinking that many of us rarely engage in with any regularity.

Wonderful to spend the brief time together with the Brass Band of Battle Creek ... terrific performance on your part ... AS USUAL!!! Sorry we didn't have as much time to visit but we always look forward to the next possibilty of hearing you and visiting. 

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this issue of Cadenzas. The club scene in NY has been repeated all over the States, of course. I gigged in Washington D.C. and Baltimore for nearly 30 years and can echo your sentiments. It was so sad recently to drive a friend around D.C., someone who had never visited there. I essentially drove him past places which were great memories for me, The Cellar Door, Charlies Place (Charlie Byrd’s jazz club), Bohemian Caverns (where I saw my first jazz performance in D.C. -- Bill Evans with Eddie Gomez and Shelley Manne -- one of his rare east coast appearances), and others. They are ALL closed or have morphed into comedy clubs, shops, or whatever. One or two bastions of jazz continue -- Blues Alley, of course, and I think that One Step Down is still active, but with the ambient noise you referred to in the letter. Even when my kids and Alison and I came to see you several years ago at the old jazz club The Green Mill in Chicago, there was some of that noise. We were only able to get seats crammed near the back and while the jazz club has great ambience and provides the opportunity to hear folks like you and Ed Soph that night ... it was STILL difficult to simply enjoy the great music making.

Also - regarding Bob Curnow’s post, you should know that I was Bob’s  bass player for two years at Michigan State University: 1965-66, about the time his piece “Passacaglia and Fugue” won some awards. He was a great leader and teacher, and it's so nice to find out where he is now. One thing I can appreciate more now than I did then was that we knew Bob had been with Kenton and done some very significant things, but the band was about the students. He was patient, professional, and all about teaching, helping us find the appreciation, excitement, and importance of jazz education. It certainly left a positive impression with me and helped shape my life, at least in part, for the future. Kudos and warm wishes to Bob.


Harold Zinno is a trumpet player, currently residing in Connecticut. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas in 1978 and went on to play with the bands of Ray Mckinley, Tommy Dorsey, Sonny Constanzo and Lew Anderson. Harold has also done show work with Mitzi Gaynor, Wayne Newton and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. He writes:

Hi Marv:

In reference to your article on New York Clubs:  Well Said!!!

I was invited to a New York Jazz club a few weeks ago by the club's booking agent to see “A Jazz Tribute to Sinatra.” Well, the place was packed on a Thursday Night having taken in a $30.00 music charge and a two-drink minimum per person. The presentation was mediocre at best, and when I approached this subject with my host, his retort was, “The club is making money, and I'm making money.” So, as you said, it is not about the music anymore!!!

Best Wishes,

Harold V. Zinno, Jr.

Cadenzas - Edition XXII

Singers Extraordinaire

A Note from Melvin Gordy


In Response To: Singers Extraordinaire

John Daniel has over 20 years experience, teaching college at Abilene Christian University and Penn State University; he began teaching at Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, WI September, 2002.  He has played as a sub on Broadway, with dozens of symphony orchestras, and appeared as a soloist in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and at numerous universities. He writes: 


In response to your "rant"/"confession" against the vast majority of "jazz" singers, I would like to share a conversation I had with Noah Harmon last week.  Noah is the son of a great jazz pianist, John Harmon, and a very fine jazz pianist himself.  We were on our way to a gig, making small talk, when we were reminded that we were going to have a singer sitting in for the gig.  I mentioned that I didn't listen to much "jazz singing" and Noah started to inquire.  I made the bold statement that one reason I love jazz so much is that it is primarily an instrumental art form.  I asked him to name one singer who influenced jazz in a progressive direction.  I'm talking about the great innovators, (Louis, Dizzy, Coltrane, Miles, Monk) the ones who gave direction to jazz and opened new passages in order to enrich the music.  All of the usual names came up, and quite a few more.  There have been quite a number of great singers in jazz, and quite a few great jazz musicians who sing.  And in many cases, ala Louis, their singing has influenced the art of singing profoundly. But singing is such a universal form of expression, as soon as someone sings a jazz tune, jazz tends to be of secondary importance to what's going on. Of course we all love the great ones who can sing jazz and let the music be more important than the singer. But even at it's best, jazz singing somehow isn't in a position to guide and direct the art form progressively.  Or at least it has yet to do so.  Think about it. It is a difficult concept to articulate, but I really think one's "voice" in jazz is something that is easily obscured by the act of singing.

For example, Bill Evans made the piano a beautiful voice in a way that was unique.  We often say that he made the piano sing.  So I think jazz is primarily an artform for the voice of the piano, trumpet, saxophone, drums etc.

Of course time could prove me wrong, and I may be wrong as it is.  But I think there is enough truth to these words to consider them on some level.

We have a regional favorite in WI named Janet Planet.  She sings in tune, in time, with great feeling, and a very earthy/sensual voice.  She sings in many jazz styles and formats.  She was singing with John Harmon the first time I heard her live, and I noticed that she didn't try to draw attention to herself on stage.  When I mentioned this her eyes lit up.  She said that all she's ever wanted was to be a great "sideman."  And I think she got to the heart of the matter.


Melvin Gordy, like myself, was a John Haynie student. He was among the first group that John taught upon coming to the University of North Texas. Melvin, from the beginning, has been the Web master and organizer of events that bring John's students together year after year. Melvin has been flying since 1954, and was a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol (USAF-AUX). He now enjoys a career as a building designer and also teaches architectural and engineering drafting  at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Texas. He writes:


I've been wanting to write this note for your "In Response" section of Cadenzas to you for years.  My problem is that I have a hard time getting my thoughts down on paper; anyway, here goes.

I first heard your "Risk Taking" comment about four five or more years ago when you were giving a lecture/performance at College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas. That was the one Dale and Diane Olson and I attended. 

I was so impressed by that statement that I have been telling all my students about "Risk Taking" ever since that day. I assume you know I teach architectural and engineering drafting (adjunct faculty) at Brazosport College, Lake Jackson, Texas.

 I want to thank you for all the help and advice you've given to the young student musicians that attend your seminars you give at the various Colleges and Universities around this United States. What impressed me most was your "Risk Taking" statement. Meaning, as I understood it, that if they wanted to succeed, they would have to be willing to step out and take risks (not stupid ones either). Why, because if they just sit and wait and to be discovered, the truth is that they're possibility in for very a long wait. Also, don't give-up if you don't do well in a performance; but, find what went wrong, correct it (practice and improve) and try again, just don't give-up!!! 

Then there is the "I could have done this or that" group. These are the ones that could have but didn't. Why, because they were afraid to take a chance (Risk Taking) and possibly fail; so, they play it SAFE and never do anything. These are the same folks that you hear say, "You know that guy got all the good breaks in life and etc." They spend their entire life feeling sorry for themselves and envious on the ones that do "MAKE IT".

Anyway, this what I read into your "Risk Taking" comment and why I feel that is such an important statement that these students need to pay attention to.

After reading your recent article about Mr. Haynie, I realize what an influence Mr. Haynie had on you and your presentations to these students; because, you too care about young people also,

Thanks, Melvin

Cadenzas - Edition XXI

So - How Do I Really Feel ?


In Response To: So - How Do I Really Feel?

Steve Swanson is a trumpet player who has performed with Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton. Wayne Cochran and the CC Riders, Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Frank Sinatra, and others. He has recorded umerous commercial, TV and radio ads in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York. Steve currently lives in Port Angeles, WA with his wife Linda and three cats. Most recently he played lead for Princess Cruise Line ships, but also teaches and does clinics in the Pacific Northwest. He is a graduate of  Berklee School of Music (1976) and has studied with Jerry Bergonzi, Bobby Shew, Wes Hensel, Roy Stevens, Floyd Standifer, Gary Peacock, Roy Cummings, and Herb Pomeroy. 

Dear Marvin,

I believe the concern is real. I just recently played for a cruise line with many international employees and heard first hand how we (US citizens) are perceived. I knew this many years ago as well, while touring with Buddy Rich in Europe and Asia. Although this time, it is much different. My embarrassment for our current Government goes without saying, as well for the citizens who re-elected King Bush. Just today I saw on CNN John McCain being endorsed by Jerry Falwell! But the beauty of this was that their speeches were delivered at a university where hundreds of young people/graduates held signs in protest to this hypocrisy. I am so glad that this generation can see through the BS that has, for some reason, eluded the “yuppie generation”

Mr. Bush and his cronies have done more to destroy this country in less than 6 years than any administration in history. Maybe President Hoover, but maybe not. We may never recover in our lifetime the damage, in so many arenas. The divide between the “haves and have-nots’ has never been greater. I see it musically as well due to our “dumbing-down” of society perpetuated by the media (Murdock/FOX) in regards to the exposure of quality music and broad-minded journalism. Especially in the rural areas of our country where little, if any, exposure to the arts exists. USA news has got to be the most biased paper in this country. Consolidation of all monopolies seems to be the name of the game. Corporate consolidation in all aspects of business. Transportation, communication, manufacturing, human resources, etc. - all without little regulation, and mostly encouragement in the form of tax exemptions, no taxes or union-busting. All in the name of free enterprise or the open market.

In the movie “Network” Howard Beal said it best. “I want you now to go to your windows, open them up and yell…I’m as mad as hell, I’m not going to take it anymore”.

Steve Swanson 

Ed Annibale has played the trumpet for 37 years, ten of those years in both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army band systems. He has performed in Hollywood with the likes of James Stewart, Milton Berle, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Vikki Carr, Brock Peters, and Christopher Reeve. He also played lead trumpet for Cab Calloway and split-lead for Bill Watrous.  In addition, Ed has performed with members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and in a special brass ensemble directed by Mel Broiles for New York's Metropolitan Opera. Opting for a steady paycheck, excellent benefits package, and retirement plan, he is currently employed as a Correctional Sergeant in a maximum security prison where he has been a "prisoner of the system" since 1995.  At the present time, he is working on organizing a show band and is accepting trumpet students.

Hi Marvin,

I have read your article, "So - How Do I Really Feel?" and have to agree with you on this.  If anyone wants to claim that you are just some liberal spouting off, I can tell you that I am not what most people would consider a liberal. Please allow me to address this from a little different standpoint. As you know from our conversation in Evanston, Illinois, I am a Correctional Sergeant employed at a maximum security prison. In addition, I have served my country for a total of 10 years (7 years in the US Air Force and 3 years in the US Army). I now work for a state government. I have seen from both sides the abuse of authority and the non-accountability from the upper echelons of the government. Those employed by the government and hired or appointed to these higher governmental positions think that their decisions are always right and that they can do as they please without fear of repercussions because they feel they are untouchable. I have seen this many times within the federal and state governments. If the superiors of the powers to be support their every decision and refuse to hold them accountable, it is the lower ranking, working person that gets harassed, disciplined or discharged with no recourse. 

Do I sound bitter? Yes, because I have worked as a professional musician, but accepted a government position in order to feed my family and take care of them. I am, however, not in a position where I can say I am proud to be a Correctional Officer. When I first started working for the state, I was told, "You will be working with some of the dirtiest, filthiest, piece of crap scumbags that you'll ever meet - - - - and some of the inmates are bad too." I have seen firsthand how supervisors will hold a subordinate accountable for some minor infraction, but the supervisors themselves are in violation of policy more than the officers. The problem is that the officers (guards) have no way of having the supervisor disciplined for their unprofessional and unethical behavior, because as the old adage goes, "$#!+ rolls downhill." Our government has increasingly become a type of fascist society. Those up top give the orders and we follow.  If not, well, all I can say is to read the comment from Bobby Lewis. If people don't think the government acts this way, they are living in a dreamland and need to wake up. 

I do love my country, but I love the principles that it was founded on, not what modern-day society and the government is doing to it. I have found that it is not the people who truly care that get appointed to positions of great authority - - it's the people that have a need to feel the power of being in charge. Last election, we had squat to choose from for a President, the person who runs the entire country. I don't agree with what happened on 9/11, but I don't believe getting our soldiers killed in a foreign country is solving the problem. All it is doing is resulting in lost lives and broken families. We have enough broken families in this country without the President helping out. I say we do what Korea did years ago. Close off our borders to everyone. No trading, no exporting or importing. No giving government assistance to other countries. Become a self-sufficient country and worry about cleaning up our own problems here in the United States of America and rebuild our country to be the greatest nation in the world once again. 

Ed Annibale

Jay Leonhart (as described by his resume') "is a bass player and singer/songwriter and constant letter writer to the New York Times, which does not print him most of the Times." But Jay is much more than that. Yes, he is an extraordinary musician - one of our finest bassists - but he is also one of music's great lyricists and satirists. Maybe an apt description of Jay Leonhart would be that he can swing like crazy while telling you "like it is!" Jay, his wife Donna, and their children Michael and Caroline all are wonderful musicians and beautiful human beings. Jay writes: 


I walk around these days feeling like an accomplice to a great international crime. I watched us try to assassinate Saddam Hussein by dropping bombs all over Baghdad-aw shucks, missed again. Murder was a video game. Our government, my government, was trying to murder a country's leader. I know Saddam is a bad guy. He murders and tortures his own people. We murder and torture other country's people. But to attempt to assassinate another country's leader is an international crime. No wonder we don't support the international courts.

When one starts to understand the political conditions that bred Hitler, Stalin, and other such despots, you find that fervent religious nationalism is always at the core. Some form of racial and religious zealotry is always present. And ignorance is always is great supply. These charismatic and sociopathic leaders are always convinced that their race is the one chosen to lead humanity to the its true greatness. But inevitably it is to keep themselves in power and enslave as much of the rest of the world as possible. 

I know these are strong words to apply to that nice man from Texas and his buddies, but through their ignorance and total lack of philosophical insight, we find ourselves trundling down the road to Fascism. But I think Americans may be sensing this, guilty as we all are of benign, criminal neglect.

Jay Leonhart

Jack Cooper is Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Memphis. He served six years in the U. S. Army, then went to school and achieved his doctrate at the University of Texas at Austin. He is not only one of the best teachers I know, but is also a very fine saxophone player and woodwind doubler. Jack is a very fine and special musician. He writes:

We are are living in a very delicate and pivotal time in this country's history. Marvin, what you have said about the present state of things in Washington D.C. and around the world is sad commentary, and I am amazed at how we actually arrived here. I wish we all would be asking more questions in regards to the greater good. My formative years 
being raised were spent watching and understanding the errors of the Vietnam War and the happenings of Watergate; these two events shaped a great deal of my thinking as to how we see ourselves as Americans. I was not alive during WWII or during the Joseph McCarthy years or the Korean War. My perspective might be different than certain of your older writers making commentary on our present circumstances, I do understand about the safety of Americans here and abroad.

I served in the armed forces for six years (by my choice, my parents were not really for this at the time BTW) and you will find no better supporter of that entity; no one is more patriotic than myself. I am deeply saddened and disturbed to the point of tears in my eyes when we get more reports of American service personnel severely injured or 
killed in Iraq. I am turning 43 years old this weekend, and it really makes me think a lot about all this. I am thankful I have been afforded a life of writing, playing, and sharing music with people around the world.  Americans are now numbering in the thousands of casualities in a war that has no end, initiated by a government who is out of touch and down right corrupt in thier actions. Many of those killed in Iraq are half my age or less and were never able to fulfill the many dreams and aspirations they were thinking about. This is blood on the hands of George Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld (et al). Is this all worth it? Are we truly safer? Oil? Judeo-Christian American values? Democracy in the Middle East? We need to question it all and start finding answers fast so no more Americans die without cause. 

Jack Cooper 

David Greene is an old friend from my NYC recording studio days, before taking up residence in Toronto. He is one of the finest recording engineers and producers, a musician with great ears. He has recorded many of the leading Jazz and pop artists in the U. S. and Canada a well as have worked extensively in television and the movies. In 1980, he came down to NYC to work with me and composer/ arranger Jack Cortner to co-produce my CD, Stammpede. His is one of the most respected names in music and audio production. He writes: 

Hi Marvin...

I felt compelled to write you and let you know that, from my point of view, there's no lack of solidarity or passion on this issue. To put it a little more bluntly, the current administration could easily be subtitled "The Manipulation of America for Profit, Fun and Profit."

While I agree with everything you say, my readings indicate that the issue goes far deeper. I would recommend reading "State of War - The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration" by James Risen. He's the Times reporter who broke the NSA domestic spying story. One of the most disturbing things in the book is that the invasion of Iraq was at or near the top of the to-do list from day one, and September 11 was a blip on the Iraq timeline that has been used to maximum advantage ever since.

I would also recommend reading "Terror in the Name of God - Why Religious Militants Kill" by Jessica Stern. Among other notable credits she is a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. I found it a fascinating and at times a surprising read.

A few years ago I worked on a CBS mini-series that chronicled Adolph Hitler's rise to power from the end of WW1 through the point where he assumed supreme power by combining the offices of President and Chancellor. That was a result of the burning of the Reichstag by a Dutch terrorist. The parallels between that era in Germany in 1933 and the corresponding period following September 2001 and disturbing to say the least, and we all know the history that followed 1933.

Rest assured that you're not alone. Unfortunately, the political system that is currently in place has been crafted in such a way that it no longer works the way it was intended to work. It will not be an easy fix. I applaud you for speaking out on the subject. Perhaps if more of us did we could play a part in the beginnings of change. I'll step down from my soap box now and close by saying that I hope you and your family are all well.


Dr. Robert Kase has a wide background both as a performer and educator. He presently serves as Chair of the Department of Music and Professor of Trumpet at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and is a regular clinician at schools and universities around the world. He is an international trumpet artist who is in constant demand in both jazz and classical ensembles. He has performed solo tours of Sweden, Norway, England, Germany, France, Russia, Switzerland, Canada, and across the USA.  As a recording artist he has performed on more than 200 recording projects, including four solo jazz recordings with his own quintet. His latest CD entitled “Those Paris Nights” for the Altenburgh Jazz recording label.  He appears regularly at International Jazz Festivals and as trumpet soloist with symphony orchestras and concert bands. He writes:


I couldn’t agree with you more.  Your points are right on the target and get to the real issue which is one of integrity.  While I have always had my opinions regarding politics, (don’t we all) this is the first time I have actually been worried about the future of this great nation.  I have done quite a bit of international traveling and I have seen first hand the damage this President has done to the integrity of the USA in rest of the world.  I truly hope that history treats Mr. Bush in the manner for which he deserves.  He is an embarrassment.  The world continually asks the question, “Is George W. Bush the best democracy has to offer the USA for leadership?”  Are we not the ones responsible for electing him?  The first term, they would forgive us, but to do this twice is stupidity and the world simply blames the American citizens.  If we are to be the keepers of democracy then WE must accept the responsibility for the leaders we elect.  The world is watching to see if we are stupid enough to do this again.  Isn’t it time for us to take the responsibility for who we elect?

Bob Kase

Bob Bush is married to a dear friend of mine with whom I played in our high school band. We have recently become re-acquainted after many years – a source of great pleasure for me. Bob and his wife now live in California. Bob received a BS in English from the University of North Dakota and an MS in Administration from Chapman University. After serving two years in the US Army during the Korean War, he worked for Bank of America, then went back to school, taught high school English for four and one-half years, but then went to work for IBM to support his family. Bob got back into teaching at the four through six grade level, then moved to the middle school area, teaching grades seven and eight English, Drama & Physical Education Now retired, his teaching career totaled thirty-seven years in the classroom. He writes:


Truly enjoyed the "Cadenzas" pieces, both musical and political. Reflecting on both sets gave me paradigm I'd not thought of before. Bart Marantz talks of you giving him the "time" to discuss his musical dilemma, and Bob Freedman talks of kids seeing themselves "as stars of-literally-tomorrow," meaning time of a different order now. Craig Gibson mentioned the "cry of poverty" in school districts, the implication being that when money gets tight, schools cut back on the arts. Another responder made a comment about “some of the problems in music are "pan-social." Time, poverty, and pan-societal issues in music? Aren't these issues facing our nation, also? We do not have enough money to fund this program, but we do have enough to fund that program. We want "something" done immediately about energy costs, when the problem arose over a period of years. Our needs in North Dakota are more important than your needs in South Dakota. The concepts of red state/blue state, right wing/left wing, neo-con/progressive, fiscally conservative/big-spender all seem to me to be predicated on "I want what is mine, right now!"

I know little of the state of music education in America. I do know that music, in all its forms, is and has always been part of the soul of our nation. People of all backgrounds enjoy the beauty of those sounds, be they opera, Broadway, New Orleans, Monterey or MTV. Though there is a vast diversity in genre, music has a certain unifying effect. What we need is some unifying effect in our nation, and I can see one way of starting that unification.

If both of the major party presidential candidates were to tell all the competing interests in our country to kiss off, tell them they are not going to fill out any questionnaire, not going to take any litmus test, but were simply going to do what is in the best interest of the greatest number of people in our country, and not be beholding to any group other than the populous, we just may stop the bleeding. Then we all might start taking the time to look at the needs of our nation, not our own narrow needs, and take the time to solve problems, and deal with extreme issues in a timely manner, truly improve the security of 
our country, help alleviate the needs of the poor, and bring our society back so some semblance of civility. I know this is incredibly idealistic, but cynicism is what has brought about many of the conditions that need to be fixed!


Bobby Lewis is a long time friend of mine from Chicago, a great trumpet and flugelhorn artist. Bobby is also a long-time recording studio veteran of forty-two years on and was the creator of the trumpet ensemble The Forefront. He has produced nine CD great recordings, including the just released album Instant Groove. You can learn more about Bobby at www.bobbylewis.com. He writes:

Hi Marvin,

In the early 1970's while Nixon was still in office and the war in Viet Nam was going on and on for reasons we have yet to know, I was married and had just purchased our first house in Wilmette (Illinois). My wife, Myrna, wrote a letter to the president assuming she had freedom of expression to offer her criticisms of his Viet Nam war policies and explained that "she would do everything in her power to see that he get impeached". 

Very soon after she sent the letter the IRS knocked at my door wanting to examine my corporate records, to which I replied they would have to contact my accountant for that. I certainly wasn't going to let them in my house. (At the time I was a newly formed sub-chapter S corporation to handle my music dealings). The CIA also visited her parents home in Kankakee (Illinois) and questioned her father about her. A notice was sent that they would be able to confiscate our new house, bank accounts, and all our personal belongings...this was a few weeks before Christmas. My wife was grief-stricken, as was I.

Shortly after that I received a demand for a corporate audit from the IRS. They contacted my accountant and spent two 8 hour days at his office going through every receipt, ledger entry, etc. etc. etc. and informed him that I owed $8000! For what? Parking and gas receipts? What other trivial deductions does a musician have? They scheduled more audits...five over the next year and insisted I owed them more money, which my accountant challenged each time, of course, taking up his time and costing me his fees. After much time and effort and my accountant accusing the IRS of harassment, I did have to pay some money to them. Then after Nixon's impeachment, to our surprise and delight, the audits and the harassment all ceased, and quite obviously, the black star was removed from my file....and I have not been audited since!!!!!!

So you wonder why you haven't received as much response to your epistle,"So - How Do I Feel?" Maybe it has to do with the fact that other people feel as I do that  they could get harassed, as I was. Freedom of speech and the freedom to express your views to your president? Don't count on it!!!!

Stay well, brother,

Morris Repass is an old friend from my days at the University of North Texas. When I was a student at UNT, Morris was the bass trombonist with the Dallas Symphony and first-call for all the recording work in that city. Morris has lived for many years in Los Angeles where he is one of the most sought-after bass trombonists on the L. A. scene. He writes: 

Hi Marv,

It is always nice to get your Web site new issues. I have known you since you were a student at North Texas, and I was in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and worked some gigs with you.  A LONG TIME AGO!

Regarding your article, I think it is great in this wonderful country of ours that we can have differing opinions and RESPECT each others viewpoint. Mine comes from my being in High School when World War II was going. This shapes my viewpoint because I saw the mistakes of that time by our government in Washington and do NOT think we should make the same mistakes. Again--that would be stupid! Just before World War II broke out Adolf Hitler was building a huge war machine and air force to take over THE WORLD! Everyone in Europe, England and France were APPEASERS! England signed a treaty with Hitler, and Chamberlain came back to England waving that piece of paper saying PEACE IN OUR TIME! Then Hitler took over Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, and even tried taking over Russia. SOME TREATY, HUH? 

Our Congressmen and Senators in Washington said DON'T GET INVOLVED!  THERE IS AN ENTIRE OCEAN BETWEEN US, DON'T GET INVOLVED! Meanwhile Hitler went about killing millions of people!!

Then when Japan attacked us on December 7, 1941, we declared war on Japan and Hitler declared war on the United States! Italy was their ally, so they were after us too.!!! We had practically no war machine at that time because our Congressmen and Senators didn't want to fund it! Consequently for the first 2 years of that war the United States was losing!! We got busy and, with American dedication and know-how, we got up to speed and defeated enemies across both oceans. I have many friends who lost their lives making that happen.

Today I hear so many people say DON'T GET INVOLVED in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sound familiar? After 9/11, war was declared upon us by Islamic Muslim Terrorists! Saddam Hussein was sending $25,000 to $30,000 to families of Palistinian families whose terrorist sons had killed themselves and dozens of Israelis. He also had mass graves where he buried thousands of Iraqi people. Sound familiar?

The world is very small now and if we don't learn from history, we are condemned to repeat it, as the saying goes. So-o-o-  THAT'S ALL I HAVE TO SAY.  No more politics from me on this Web site. I love to talk about music. MUSIC IS MY MISTRESS!

Keep up the good work Marv

Morris Repass (not trumpets but trombones, euphonium and tubas).

Dr. Michael Parkinson is a fine musician, an excellent trumpet player, currently serving as Chair of the Department of Music at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Dear Marvin,

Thank you for keeping the faith personally and muscially.  You need not apolgoize for the statements you make.  I join with you and countless other level headed Americans who are worried sick about the direction that our country has taken due to the misguided and self righteous decisions of the man who sits in the White House and those who surround him. I am one of those Americans who refuse to accept Mr. Bush as the lawfully elected President.  To be fair, I would feel the same way had Mr. Gore unfairly been chosen by the "Supremes" (as Brookmeyer calls them) to be President.  It is the PEOPLE who make the choice - or are at least supposed to.  As long as these "other people" are in charge, our country will lean further and further to the right, a myopic ultraconservative Christianity will be entrenched in all areas of government, the environment will suffer, the oil cartel will be rewarded, the poor will get poorer, the sick will have fewer options for health care, our rights will be squandered as the Constitution gets torn into pieces and laws are ignored and/or broken, and we will be viewed by most of the world as the enemy.  Not that I have an opinion about it. And yes, I am a Christian with clay feetl - seeking to live by Psalm 103. Have you read "What's the matter with Kansas?"  - if not, please read it soon.  Be kind to yourself, Marvin, and count me as a supporter.  Yes, you can post my remarks.

Peace (please),

Al Molina is a very fine Jazz musician, a trumpet player, living and working in the San Francisco Bay area. He writes:

I'm concerned about American issues as are most who are aware of the direction, most recently and in the past, in which this country has moved in the international arena . But also what moves they (White House/Congress) have made domestically.  I too, was raised during a time when things were more simple, honest and open.......a time when 
Capitalism was something seen as not good, scary, and breeding greed. It was right up there with Communism, and Fascism.  The temptation was too great for the corporate world and the greed-heads. As the evolution of the USA progressed, the corporate ideology gained power and soon  domestic control - inevitably, reaching Globalization.
Materialism is now the vehicle to the American Dream....... and from where I stand, the father of corruption when it becomes obsessive - now the standard for most corporations. Corporate interests are not the interests of the common man, therefore they cannot be spokesmen for the middle class. Those doing more for corporations than for middle class Americans should be expelled from the White House, Congress and other 
positions at the public podium. They should be replaced this November by civilian intellectuals who are in touch with the common persons who make up the real people with real needs.

The appliance chosen by great empires toward dominance has always included military and war. Consequently, all the great empires with which I am familiar have self-destructed.  It appears that path that the right-wing think tanks, concerning world affairs, have led to a weakening of America, through miscalculation and misjudgment and mismanagement, most likely using corporate ideology as a basis, instead of Humanitarian motifs. One would think that after observing world history, Diplomacy and Philanthropy would finally be realized as the most humane option...... perhaps breeding world peace and health - and eliminating hunger. But, call me an Idealist!

Al Molina

Phil Flanigan is a jazz bassist, living in Syracuse, New York. Phil, originally from Geneva, NY, (hometown to another jazz bassist, Scott LaFaro) moved to NYC in 1976 after a year at New England Conservatory and a year playing regional gigs with Scott Hamilton. Living in New York (1976-19890, Phil played with numerous Jazz artists, among them Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton,  Teddy Wilson, Scott Hamilton, Ruby Braff, John Bunch, Warren Vachι, Maxine Sullivan, Helen Humes, and Rosemary Clooney. He moved to Florida (1989-2000), working with Eddie Higgins, Ira Sullivan, and Allan Vachι. In 2001, Phil returned to Syracuse, but travels frequently to play with various artists such as Allan Vachι, Harry Allen, John Sheridan, Bob Sneider, Bill Dobbins, Warren Vachι and others. In addition to playing and teaching, Phil enjoys studying the gold market and allied subjects and is an advocate for monetary education. He writes:


First- I'm very much looking forward to doing some playing with you and the others at
Ned Corman's “Swing ‘n Jazz.” That'll be a blast, as always. And thank goodness for Ned and his event. Because of it I got a really sweet chance to hang with Keeter one last time. Of course, I didn't know it would be the last time I was to see him. It was a beautiful hang - we discussed things I never thought I would with him that time, and I must say I really appreciate having had the chance to do so. He was a beautiful cat, and is missed by many.

Second- bravo on the "political" article. Thank you for having the integrity to speak up!  I'm encouraged by the fact that as I write, three state legislatures have initiated impeachment actions. But if I may say how I really feel - actually how I feel isn't important in the grand scheme. I wish more had the chutzpah to say that - despite the fact that hordes of psychologists have trained us to say "I feel" instead of "I think" - Lord knows we could use a little more thinking and a little less feeling right now.

My point is that a little-noticed but important aspect of "what's wrong" is just that.....we've become so self-absorbed and compulsively self-involved that we find it hard to empathize with others in the world. In fact, just trying to talk to many Americans about issues beyond their body or possessions or their immediate little world can be an exercise in futility, if the person can go there at all. Many will reflexively label you as a ______ or a _______ just for having the temerity to be curious about a subject. I blame television, or, rather, what issues forth from that neutral piece of technology which could be used for tremendous good. So that means I blame those who control the information coming from the TV, as well as those who are still watching, inviting unethical people by the truckload into their homes, and paying a cable  company for the privilege! 

OK, so the media bosses are a BIG part of the problem. They're selling government propaganda and actively "training" people how to think - which is actually more of a Pavlovian knee-jerk reflexive conditioning which is going on. They're getting us to "feel" and react rather than encouraging us to think things through. It's an obvious, timeless truth that when a government is encouraging folks to feel rather than think, you can bet a little thought applied to the situation would enable you to see through the scams and manipulations.

I'm so happy that people are waking up to the fact that it IS POSSIBLE for their government to be corrupt. Or parts of it. This realization is aided by another - that the "government" is just a bunch of guys - not some monolithic parent-deity. Yet another is that it's always been just a bunch of guys, and that putting too much faith in other people (as in various bunches o' guys) can be dangerous. But in getting there - to that realization, one begins to appreciate what a good job was done by a bunch of guys in 1775-1776 who had their flaws and hypocrisies, yet took the time to fight the urge to "feel" reflexively (some of the founding fathers couldn't stand each other) and instead thought it through and persevered in their amazingly high goal of creating an ideal which could be applied to life and governance to make things more equitable, peaceful, just, and prosperous. Our beautiful Constitution is a product of thought, not of "feeling". I've never read Thomas Jefferson saying: "I felt a little anxious, a little overwhelmed, but really, really angry..."

So what I feel, I contend, is of little importance. It's just not important outside of my own subjective little world, where it IS important. What IS important about bigger issues is what I think. I hold thought up to being King - certainly over emotion. Just look at music, at improvisers. The first tier of players you dig are the ones whose sound and "feel" you like - obviously, it's hard to enjoy a player whose thing doesn't feel good! But the next level up from there are the ones who tickle your soul with the beauty of well crafted ideas ... abrupt ideas … smooth flowing ideas … all the millions of possible ideas!  In fact, I submit that you first must have the idea to "have a good sound" or the idea to "have a good feel". So thought and thinking are good.

This is just exactly what the "powers that be" don't want us to do - think for ourselves, read and understand history (real history), and understand our place in it. If we understood where we are today (instead of where we think we are … ooooh! there's that word again!) and more importantly how we got here, (to this sad state of affairs) they know we'd revolt overnight, so enraged would we be by the truth. It is for that very reason that they have eased us into unthinking.

Suspending who "they" is for the time being, you might ask how is it possible to get control of a nation's thinking. Well, it must be possible, because here we are! Seriously, it IS possible and HAS been done, at first one would think pretty cleverly, but as one looks at it, it actually appears pretty ham-fisted. The difference is if anyone is paying attention - if you're paying attention, it's obvious and sloppy. If you're eye is untrained, chances are you'll never see it. You might sorta "sense" it - you'll kinda "know something isn't quite right," but putting your finger on it will be difficult.

Well, I'm sorry I took up your challenge to respond to your brave article! Ha! I guess because I know I've found the root cause of most of our present societal ills (I don't "believe" it, I know it!), it is exceedingly difficult for me to hold back what I've learned … ask some of my closer friends! They say I sound like a broken record, but I accept that designation with pride, because it means I'm tirelessly repeating my message ... hopefully until the reality of it sinks in.

I came across it by being the friend of a guy who edits a newsletter for a precious metals market insider. Actually it's more like a blog, as it is daily, but it's classy like a high-end newsletter. The site is http://LeMetropoleCafe.com. It discusses in painful detail the manipulation of the gold (and silver and the Precious Metals and other commodities) market by the banks, Fed, COMEX, SEC, various government entities, etc. That's where my investigation started, and once I got broadband, I was off!  LeMetropoleCafe.com is a subscription site.......the ONLY one I've joined!  Anyway, with what's called the GATA perspective, things start to make sense in a hurry. (GATA is the Gold Anti-Trust Action committee - http://gata.org/)  Basically, if you "follow the money" historically, you'll have all your answers, sad and mundane as it is - damn, I was hoping it would be mystical aliens performing magic rituals on our hair-covered heads!  But alas, it ain't guys from Zeta Reticuli - it's Alan Greenspan and, now, Ben Bernanke. But historically, JP Morgan is still having an astounding effect on our lives (and it ain't a good one). I hardly know where to begin, but this is where I usually refer people to get an intro to the subject. http://fame.org/) Of course, that could take you months - even so I encourage reading everything at that site, and GATA.org,

Thankfully, some are grabbing ahold of the subject now. Aaron Russo is the producer of the movie "The Rose" with Bette Midler, among others. He actually was a rock 'n' roll producer way back when. Check out his brand new test-market movie trailer - http://www.freedomtofascism.com/

OK that's enough. See you in about a month in Roch!

Edward Hoffman has enjoyed a 35 year career in symphony orchestras and is presently the asst. principal trumpet of the Baltimore Symphony. Before joining Baltimore in 1981 he was a member of the North Carolina and Phoenix Orchestras. Ed is a graduate of Lawrence University where he majored in theory and composition. He received a MM degree from New England Conservatory.  His major teachers were Renold Schilke, Roger Voisin, Rick Metzger, and James Stamp. Ed also teaches at Peabody Institute and is the trumpet coach for the Asian Youth Orchestra based in Hong Kong. He writes:

In response to your article "How do I Feel", I am glad that you posted such a thought- provoking monologue.  I wish more people would take the time to speak out against corruption, lies, and deceit in our government and society.  As a person who travels overseas often, you must see the contempt with which our country is held throughout the world because of our failure to uphold those principles of human rights that we used to stand for.  Frankly, I think that we're too far along the road to ruin to turn back, and it's pitiful to think that our children and grandchildren will have to pay dearly for our government's lack of fiscal responsibility.

Leon Nedbalek graduated from the University of North Texas in 1957 with a Bachelor of Music in Composition and Master of Music in Theory. He played trumpet in the concert and marching bands, and the symphony and opera
orchestras. Leon entered U.S. Air Force immediately after graduation, flying several types of jet aircraft and completing in 1966 one hundred combat missions over North Vietnam. He flew for local commercial airlines until 1987, then owned and operated a small printing shop in Central Oahu until 2003. He writes:

Hi, Marvin:

I read your article last night and again just now. Your reluctance to put such words into print is apparent, and you seem to be rather concerned about the reactions you may receive from friends and acquaintances. But I believe (hope? trust?) that you will be pleasantly surprised, even by some you might place at the "conservative" end of the
political spectrum.

The pendulum seems about to reverse, much to the credit of responsible conservatives, some of whom have "Senator" or "Representative" in front of their names. It would be destructive to have an extended period of conservative-bashing. The people who have brought us to this state are not true conservatives -- they're something else!

Being conservative is not the same as being incompetent and arrogant, a destructive combination which can afflict liberals as well. But arrogant incompetence is what this administration has shown time and again, at home and abroad. Many conservatives, some thoughtful "hawks," and an unprecedented number of retired generals are expressing dismay at the wasteful dissipation of our nation's economic and military strength to say nothing of our goodwill and former position of moral leadership.

I won't even get started on the religious angle -- mainly wanted to give you the perspective of a friend who spent the first 21 years after North Texas flying for the Air Force, including combat in Vietnam.


Leon "Ned" Nedbalek

Cadenzas - Edition XVIII & XIX

Words of Meaning

All About Jazz Interview

In Response to: Words of Meaning

Harry Smallenburg is a musician (vibes, drums, trombone, arranging/composing) with a PhD in English from UC Berkeley and an MFA in photography.  Over the past 35 years, he has taught at Wayne State University and the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and Pasadena City College and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.  He has been teaching Bible as Literature for at least ten years, and spent at least eight or nine years teaching History of Scientific Ideas. He writes:

"Passion"--thanks for the thoughtful comments.  I totally agree with you--not only musicians, as you point out, but anyone who does something that doesn't bring immediate fulfillment has to be doing it out of a sense of passion, whether it's chess, or practicing, or photography, or, in the ancient world--prophecy--I think all these activities have in common the sense that one is "in the zone"--one of my favorite ways of describing (and seeing described) music at a very high level.  I'm sure you're there all the time--I even think, that if we're going to have entities which can't be proven in any empirical way, the "zone" or the "groove" has got to be one of them.  The groove seems to be something that exists apart, but that musicians enter into and share together during the act of performance.

One of the nice things about your writing is having someone articulate these less tangible aspects of music.  Must contribute to your work as a clinician--you can talk about music in philosophic/aesthetic/existential/emotional terms--not just technique. 

Morris Repass is an old friend from my days at the University of North Texas. When I was a student at UNT, Morris was the bass trombonist with the Dallas Symphony and first-call for all the recording work in that city. Morris has lived for many years in Los Angeles where he is one of the most sought-after bass trombonists on the L. A. scene. He writes: 

Hi Marv, my friend,
I love your web site and look forward to each issue. Just a few of my thoughts, not  necessarily in response to this particular issue but a general one. In my very fortunate years in music business of 10 years in the Dallas Symphony and 39 yrs. and still counting in the studios of Hollywood, I keep running into the same problem with the academia world of music and jazz in particular.

Every month here in Hollywood there are many many musicians who are just out of college and eager to jump into music business. They are wonderful players and I enjoy playing with them in the free rehearsal bands we have at the Musicians Union rehearsal rooms. I am afraid there is a difference in the academia outlook on music business and the reality of the business world of music. When I arrived in Hollywood  in 1966 there were many jobs in the studios: variety TV shows that each had and ORCHESTRA (not synthesizers), there were many filmed TV shows which used ORCHESTRAS (not synthesizers), and many more movies that were scored HERE, not overseas or in NON UNION SEATTLE or in Canada where the money exchange rate gives the producers a great break on the dollar.

I am fortunate enough to be in the orchestra (34 pieces) of The Simpsons TV show--our 17th season!! This is an anomaly however! Therefore I believe the university and college instructors should get off campus now and then and find out what is really happening in the BUSINESS OF MUSIC. I send this not in a message of doom but a message of stating what is REALLY happening in the business of music today in 2005. I love playing and will do so as long as I can sound good on my ax because I love it with a PASSION.

Lynn Seaton has had a stellar career as a jazz bassist. From 1980-1984 he was the house bassist at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati.  He joined Woody Herman in 1984 and the Count Basie Orchestra in 1985. After two years touring with the Basie Band, he did extended tours with Tony Bennett and George Shearing, 1991 and 1992 were spent touring with Monty Alexander. Lynn was a member of the Jeff Hamilton Trio from 1995-1999, but also free-lanced.  with many of the great jazz musicians, including: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Buck Clayton, Al Cohn, Kenny Drew Jr, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Herb Ellis, Frank Foster, Freddy Green, Tim Hagans, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Marian McPartland Mark Murphy, and many others. Lynn lived in New York from 1986-1998, accepting an offer in 1998 to teach at University of North Texas, home to one of the largest jazz programs in the world. In addition to his teaching, he contibnues a busy free-lance career. Lynn has three recordings as a leader, Bassman’s Basement, Solo Flights, Puttin’ on the Ritz, and has performed on over 100 other recordings. He writes:

Hi Marvin,

I just finished reading your essay, "Words of Meaning".  It was fantastic.  You write so eloquently on many topics in Cadenzas, but I was particularly moved by this one.  I relate very strongly to your experience and words.  I too have a collection of art books and have enjoyed museums and am inspired by stories of artists in many fields.  The words you chose to elaborate on in the discourse are indeed important ones not only for artists, but enlightened humans everywhere. You have clearly stated what so many of us feel.   I wish that the parents who ask me about their kid's future in music could read this article.

In Response to: AllAboutJazz Interview

Patrick Hennessey is one of Hawaii's busiest free-lance musicians, performing with many of the most noted organizations and entertainers in the state. After previous tenures in his home town of New Orleans, then Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Patrick settled in Honolulu, where, in addition to his free-lancing, he has directed the jazz ensemble program at the University of Hawaii for the past 22 years. He writes:

Hi Marvin,
I don't know if you remember me (Patrick Hennessey). I direct the jazz ensemble program at the University of Hawaii and we've spoken on several occasions, including Abe Weinstein's jazz festival. The last time we spoke was at Chuck McAlexander's place. I've always enjoyed our conversations tremendously.

After reading your comments in the latest edition of Cadenzas, I have to say that once again you've hit a home run. I have had my differences with IAJE in recent years, even though I continue to maintain my membership. The organization seems more out of touch than ever and seems to base its success on its own ever-expanding girth and promoting the old boy network than working at the grass roots level (the way it started out). After working with IAJE official to find ways that the organization could help my students, I found that they offered no more than I could provide and have already achieved (other than providing a nice magazine for the students to read). I sincerely hope IAJE sheds its own arrogance someday and uses its tremendous resources for greater outreach.

I also found your comments on learning to improvise interesting as well. Since I am running out of time (gotta get to a gig), I'll be brief. I agree and understand the point you are making. However, I have always tried to differentiate between an improvisor and a jazz musician. I think it is possible for us (the teachers) to provide technical information and advice to the student to help him/her  develop their improvisational skills, but it is up to the student musician to develop those skills beyond merely the improvisational level to play anything meaningful, and I believe it is at this stage that you are right on the button again. From this stage practice, listening, hard work, talent, and ears take over.

Thanks again, Marvin, for your insights. I look forward to meeting again sometime soon, even if it is at an IAJE event.


Cadenzas - Edition XVII

Disturbing Thoughts

January Tour With Bill Mays

The Kids Play Great! But That Music ...


In Response to: Disturbing Thoughts

Steve Salerno is an award-winning essayist and author whose work on pop culture, social institutions, entertainment, and media has appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, the Wall Street Journal, and other top publications. He has written three non-fiction books, one of which, Deadly Blessing, became the TV movie "Bed of Lies" (Warner Bros., 1992). His latest publication is his forthcoming book for Crown Publishing,  Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless. Salerno was an honorary professor of journalism at Indiana University, and now teaches writing at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His early years were spent playing lesser clubs and other gigs in the NYC area (various reeds), and he remains an avid follower of jazz, as well as music of all genres. He writes:

I'm writing, now, in reply to your provocative comments under "Thoughts N Things." Though I generally agree with the perspectives you present--and I am willing to acknowledge that in many ways we do live in frightening times--I also think that the reality is more complex and nuanced than you seem to allow for. So I hope you will permit me my devil's advocacy, as follows.

Your basic position is rooted in a common misunderstanding of what the U.S. Constitution does, and does not, prohibit. The Constitution stipulates only that the government may not infringe upon free speech (and even then, there are exclusions, the classic examples being the case of yelling "fire" in a movie theater, or one's expression of a desire to assassinate the U.S. president). In many other cases, however, we-the-people are free to infringe upon each other's speech, especially in an employment or commercial setting. If you were to take a job in the Tonight Show band, and GE (which, of course, is NBC's corporate parent) were to hear that you made an offhand remark to some reporter that was critical of GE's business practices, the network could fire you with impunity, and you would have no recourse at all under "free speech" rights. In fact, employment contracts frequently (if not typically) contain all sorts of provisions limiting a worker's degree of what we popularly call free speech.

Even in the instance you cite--IMAX's decision to cave to perceived pressure by Christian groups--let us not forget that the final choice about whether or not to show the film fell to IMAX, and IMAX alone. To my knowledge, nobody showed up at IMAX's corporate headquarters with a bazooka; in all likelihood, the movie chain simply made a risk-benefit assessment about what financial liability it could afford to bear in presenting controversial material to the American public. (And further, IMAX probably would have made a different decision, had the chain's executives not thought that the majority sentiment was on the other side of the issue.) So perhaps you should be less angry with the "social climate" that produced IMAX's decision to flinch, and more angry with IMAX itself for lacking the cojones to buck the tenor of the times. Finally, let me throw another hypothetical at you: Even if the music itself were sublimely beautiful and worthy of being heard, would you, Marvin, play in a concert that celebrated Nazism? Segregation? Or would you worry about the possible career repercussions that might follow on the heels of your decision to participate in that "free exchange of ideas"?

It's easy to celebrate "art" and "free thought" in the abstract. But when the nature of that art or those ideas hits close to home, things get a bit stickier sometimes.

** Marvin’s response:

While I do not usually respond to commentary on this page, I feel compelled to do so in this case because there were several statements or questions directed to me. 

Regarding Mr. Salerno’s last paragraph, I agree that, to some extent, we do celebrate “art” and “free thought” in the abstract rather than doing so in reality. But why? Why can we not celebrate these things “in reality” as long as we do so honestly, with sensitivity and respect for one another?

Though I am no constitutional scholar and I may not have stated the exact legalities of the Constitutional guarantees, I believe the statements in my article ring true – true enough that I’m sure most everyone knew what I was trying to convey.  And though the Constitution may stipulate only that the government may not infringe upon free speech (except in dangerous situations like those cited above), we are nevertheless guaranteed freedom of speech and expression. 

It is also true that voicing an opinion, expressing how one feels, might subject the speaker to criticism, ostracism, and other forms of strong disagreement. No one can ever be sure that there isn’t a price to be paid for this right, this freedom. But what if people like Tom Paine, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, and so many others hadn’t taken the risk to speak out? Some of us strongly feel that taking that risk, exercising our right of free speech to speak out against those things we feel are an infringement on our American way of life, is a risk worth taking.

It is true, as Mr. Salerno points out, that companies many times infringe on employees’ right of free speech. At the same time, any employee facing possible employer retaliation must decide whether or not the situation justifies voluntarily limiting his right to free speech. The decision to speak up or remain silent, whatever the penalty may be, ultimately lies with the employee.

Similar rationale can also be applied to IMAX’s role in this discussion. I agree with Mr. Salerno that IMAX allowed itself to be intimidated. He is correct that no one showed up with a bazooka, and, of course, that IMAX made this decision based on financial considerations. It is also true that most firms, especially entertainment firms, lack any hint of cojones when it comes to things like this. Though I might not have been clear about my feelings regarding IMAX’s lack of conviction or principle, it DOES piss me off - just as much as does the existing “social climate” to which IMAX is bowing. But can anyone these days believe that showing scientific films about the earth’s development is truly presenting unproven, controversial material to the American public? In light of all that I read and hear, I guess they may!

But do the people intimidating IMAX represent the majority sentiment - or is it just the group that cries the loudest? I believe statistics show that these people represent approximately twenty-five percent of our population. But as many of us who DO speak out know, the vast majority of Americans - either out of apathy or fear of bringing attention to themselves – sadly to say, are silent. 

Regardless, none of this lessens my feelings about the “social climate” and the ideological political powers that either promote or support this “social climate.” What is just as disturbing to me is that I don’t believe the political “powers-that-be” are sincere in their religious fervor. I believe that most of these people are dishonest about their beliefs and are viciously using people’s religious passion for their own personal and political gain.

Finally, regarding the hypothetical situation: 

“Even if the music itself were sublimely beautiful and worthy of being heard, would you, Marvin, play in a concert that celebrated Nazism? Segregation? Or would you worry about the possible career repercussions that might follow on the heels of your decision to participate in that ‘free exchange of ideas’?”

I can answer this by saying that as it is any presenter’s privilege to stage such a concert, it is my right to refuse to perform in such a concert. And though it is my right to refuse, it is not my right to prevent anyone else from doing so, even if I may strongly disagree and try to convince them otherwise. I have always spoken out against racism and the other discriminatory “isms”; the Supreme Court, however, has affirmed the rights of groups like the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, and neo-Nazi groups to espouse their views. That being the case, it is for those of us who oppose them to speak out, hoping that our voices will be heard more strongly and listened to more fervently than those of the KKK and its like. 

Finally, as anyone who knows me can attest, I have never let career considerations silence me. I have always spoken out about things I believe to be wrong, even when it is sometimes to my own detriment. I refuse to be afraid to express aloud or in writing how I feel. And if I am proved to be wrong, I know only too well how to apologize. But right or wrong, I am glad to be counted among those who are willing to speak out.

Harry Smallenburg is a musician (vibes, drums, trombone, arranging/composing) with a PhD in English from UC Berkeley and an MFA in photography.  Over the past 35 years, he has taught at Wayne State University and the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, and Pasadena City College and Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.  He has been teaching Bible as Literature for at least ten years, and spent at least eight or nine years teaching History of Scientific Ideas. He writes:

Thanks for your comments on these issues.  One problem in the country today is that people with more enlightened, educated ideas are not speaking up. They seem to be running in fear of the so-called "religious right."

I've taught Bible as Literature, and I've taught History of Scientific Ideas, so I've had a chance to see these issues from both sides.  It's always amazing to me that, after a course in which we look at scholarly approaches to the Bible which are consistent with an educated scientific perspective, students will insist on taking the Bible literally with respect to creation, the Flood, Adam and Eve, etc.  They will ask where Adam and Eve fall in the history-of-the-universe timelines a scientific perspective offers.

But then it requires some intellectual fortitude and a willingness to read difficult material in order to grasp the scientific perspective.  The religious perspective can be had without much work--in fact, I've seen more than once handbooks that refer to themselves as "handy-dandy evolution confuters."  If they are one's only introduction to the issues and the arguments, education will never happen. They routinely misrepresent the arguments of major scientists, going so far as to take a statement here and there to supposedly "prove" that the scientist in question doesn't really believe in evolution.  I saw one scientist enlisted on the creationist side who I knew for a fact, from reading his material, was an evolutionist, as any serious scientist would have to be.  Another sneaky tactic in arguments against evolution is for the religious writers to prefix the word "Darwinian" to "evolution."  They can then say that current scientists often reject "Darwinian evolution."  The ordinary reader doesn't realize that these same scientists assume the truth of evolution, but have modified the description of its mechanism from the description Darwin himself gave.  So, technically it's true--"Darwinian evolution" has been "rejected," but evolution itself as a concept has not.  There is also the insistence on calling evolution a "theory," as if to imply that it therefore is not a "fact."  Creationists conveniently neglect the variety of kinds of scientific activity that supports evolution, like genetics and microbiology. They depend on people being ignorant and hope to keep them that way.

Your commentary about the intimidation of the religious right touched a nerve.  Thanks again for speaking up publicly.  That takes some courage.  And I try to read your mailings regularly.

Kenny Berger - is a marvelous Jazz baritone saxophone player as well as a great doubler on bass clarinet and bassoon. He is one of the in-demand musicians in NYC and plays with so many of the most important names in Jazz. He writes: 

Hi Marvin: 

I couldn't agree more with your comments on the Religious Right's crusade of intimidation. The amazing thing is how you were able to address this issue and retain your usual levels of compassion and decorum. After thirty seconds on that subject, I usually end up sounding like one of Bob Brookmeyer's virtuoso diatribes, only angrier. One dilemma that many intelligent people are wrestling with these days is whether or not, as open minded, thinking human beings, we are required to show tolerance to pathologically intolerant people. How can you avoid offending people who believe a shitload of things, yet actually know very little and have no interest in learning anything they don't already believe? The answer is, you can't. Does this mean that in the face of such dogma, the rest of us should just fold up our principles like so many cheap suitcases and slink away? Apparently the IMAX owners believe so as does most of the mainstream news media. They allow themselves to be bullied by people who yearn for a return to nineteenth century economics and fourteenth century theology without ever questioning these people's largely unfounded beliefs. Arguing with people such as these is about as useful as trying to convince someone raving in the NYC subways that, no; the world is not going to end next Tuesday.  The Christian Right's current campaign against an independent judiciary is starting to give the old cry of "kill the umpire" frightening new meaning. The right to keep on offending people who find offense in any opinion or lifestyle other than the one that they themselves have always unquestioningly accepted may the most important and, dare I say, sacred right we have left.

Jack Bowers is a retired newspaper writer/editor, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jack now reviews Jazz CDs for Cadence and Jazz Improv magazines and online at www.allaboutjazz.com. He writes:

Hi Marvin

I believe that the root cause of one group's coercion of another to deny the free expression of opinion is the fear that the controlling group's counter-opinion won't stand up under close scrutiny. It's fine to believe in "creationism," but unfortunately for those who do, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence points exactly in the other direction. So rather than presenting facts to bolster one's beliefs, it's much easier simply to make sure that opposing views aren't heard or taken seriously. That is one of the more disturbing trends in our country, and it begins at the top. As you pointed out, Hitler and his fascist allies knew well the power of the "big lie," a power that hasn't been lost on those who would abridge our rights and freedoms to serve their own purpose, whatever that may be. I may not be too bright, but I know when I'm being lied to. It is disheartening to see that millions of my fellow Americans apparently are unable to grasp the difference between truth and falsehood.

Melvin Gordy is a well-known residential building designer, born and raised in Texas. He's also a former trumpet player who was among the first group of students of John Haynie at North Texas State College, now the University of North Texas. Whenever a "Haynie Alumni Event" occurs, it always falls to Mel Gordy to organize the event, bringing us all together again. Without Melvin's efforts, the rest of us might be "wandering in the dark." He writes:


That "New York Times" article disturbs me too. I've always enjoyed and appreciated these shows produced by IMAX. Their programs are well thought-out, presented with great care, and are backed-up with scientific data. To me, the IMAX editors/producers go out of their way to cite all their sources. Remember Dr. Hibbard, music history professor at UNT, always said, "Don't give me a fact without its source." Same is true here. So I agree with you. The "IMAX" group canceling those scientific films really concerns me.

Virginia, my wife, has a PhD. in science (biology) and finds it hard to believe anyone would think these IMAX documentary films are blasphemous. Any group wanting to have IMAX discontinue these scientific films is unacceptable. First, you can't argue with a group of nuts (sorry for the name calling) as it seems they've already closed their minds and simply will not listen. So, we're just wasting time trying to discuss anything with them. Now I find that is really disturbing.

I hope the IMAX Corporation will continue showing scientific films in the future and not cave to these narrow-mined non-thinking groups.

I appreciate your newsletter. 

Ray Vega is a veteran of the bands of Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Mongo Santamaria, Mario Bauza, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, Hector LaVoe, Johnny Pacheco, Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, and Louie Ramirez to name a few. He's also recorded and performed with jazz greats Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton, and Mel Torme. Ray has now established himself as one of the innovators of the New York Jazz trumpet scene. A multi-talented trumpeter, percussionist, composer, and arranger, he presents Jazz from a refreshingly original and contemporary perspective. He writes:


I wanted to commend you on your article concerning the IMAX theaters. It saddens me greatly to see how a few have totally pulled the wool over the eyes of an entire nation. Hopefully the people will eventually wake up from their drunken stupor brought upon by an over dose of ignorance and arrogance.

Greg McLean is a trumpeter, composer and arranger and one of Atlanta's busiest musicians.  As a composer, he has written three pieces for The Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet and recently completed "The Twain Have Met" (Editions-BIM), a concerto for Dennis Najoom and me. This piece is written for two trumpets - Jazz soloist, classical soloist - and symphony orchestra. Greg performs in a variety of musical genres, but prefers the expressive freedom of Jazz.  He co-leads The Greg McLean/Geoff Haydon Jazz Quartet with pianist Geoff Haydon.  Their debut CD, "Cabin Fever," is available on the ACA Digital label.  In addition to a busy performing schedule, McLean is a full-time Instructor of Music at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta.  You can find out more about Greg at his web site: www.gregmclean.net. He writes: 


I enjoyed the latest Cadenzas and was impressed that you traversed the skinny limb of religion and politics.  As the son of a former Methodist minister, I too am appalled by the current political climate.  I find the most distressing part of it is that the current ruling class doesn't care one whit about honest debate of the issues.  They control the entire US government and now seek to take away the "filibuster" from the Senate. Not to mention that their claims of a "culture of life" are a complete scam.  I too fear that the ideologically driven forces are attempting to shut down any question of their motives or actions regardless of how it harms us personally or as a nation.

Anyway, thanks for taking an enlightened and sensible stand.

In Response to: January Tour With Bill Mays

Lew Polsgrove, as a teenager, played saxophone in several big bands around Galveston, Texas, his home town. He also attended the University of North Texas, playing tenor for a couple of years in one of the lab bands. After a 25-year hiatus pursuing a professional career in psychology and an academic career in special education (children's emotional and behavioral disorders), Lew returned to playing.  He began playing with a blues band around Bloomington, Indiana, and also co-founded the Two-Five-One Trio which appears regularly at various Bloomington venues. Lew has also been involved with “Jazz from Bloomington” serving as Treasurer and Chair of the Funding and Development Chair. He writes: 

Nice article, Marvin.  Plus, I enjoyed your musings about what we jazz players feel and think about our music.  Such a soulful analysis is rare and moving. 

I've been intending to write you for several months now about your appearance in Bloomington.  You know, I enjoy hearing players who've mastered their horns and who can play fast and hard and outside and cleverly, and freely-- all that stuff.   But frankly, after listening to and hour or so of such testosterone-laden fare, I'm left emotionally bereft and tuned out.   Too many of today's jazz artists seem to assume paying homage to jazz tradition and expressing the spirituality of the music is secondary  in importance to displaying dazzling technique and "doing one's own thing."    But you guys capture the very soul of jazz, playing so sensitively, tastefully, and intimately that the audience absorbs --not just hears-- every note.  As I'm writing this, I'm hearing in my mind that incredibly pure sound of your flugelhorn, Bill's thoughtful responses, Rufus's and Steve's embellishments.  So your music stays with listeners.  In sum, it's just, well, seminal. 

"Jazz from Bloomington" has hosted a number of concerts over the last five years.  These have been studded with jazz headliners, really amazing players.  But you guys blew our audience completely away, man.  People whom I steered to attend your concert are still remembering it to me as, "The best jazz concert I've ever heard;" "It was just amAZing;" and asking, "When are they coming BACK?"

I hope you come back soon.

In Response to: The Kids Play Great! But That Music …

Norm Wallen is a composer, arranger and teacher who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central Washington University. He studied with Paul Creston, Robert Panerio, John Moawad, and John Rinehart. Norm has been a public school educator since 1976, teaching bands, orchestras, and choirs, grades 4-12, for the Seattle, Yakima, and Tumwater school systems in Washington State. He is a frequent adjudicator for both instrumental and vocal festivals.  Norm directed the award-winning Pierce College Jazz Ensemble for eight years and currently fronts his own jazz big band in Olympia, WA. He was principal trombonist for the Yakima Symphony Orchestra for nine years and has also performed with many national artists. Norm has written more than 1,500 self-published compositions and arrangements spanning the broad spectrum of jazz and classical idioms. His works have been performed at the IAJE Conventions as well as Jazz festivals such as those at Newport, Monterrey, Montreaux, North Sea, and Pori. He writes:


As a music teacher in my 28th year with students, fourth grade through college, and a composer of well over 1,500 compositions and arrangements, this article did indeed strike plenty of raw nerves for me. I was going to send a response directly to Budiansky, but in viewing his website it appears he has already been assailed by some of our best musical and educational minds. I doubt there is much I could add. It is a shame we don’t have access to those emails both pro and con so we could draw our own conclusions on the validity of the claims from both sides of the issue.

It is important to view the follow-up response at his website. I could write volumes on nearly every Budiansky sentence in either article, but for the sake of relative brevity I'll stick to a few main topics and 1600 words.

Budiansky titles that follow-up article in part "what we can do about it," (it being bad music) but nowhere does he describe how we are to accomplish this within the current education climate and constraints. He shows his age, and writes like someone completely out of touch with the realities of modern music education:

"I had never been able to understand why so much mediocre music written specifically for school performance was pushing aside famous works by great composers, and folk music, and genuine contemporary music..."

Leaving aside his personal definitions of "good" and "bad" for the moment, Budiansky seems to believe we have a choice as music teachers. Frequently we don't. Many of the good pieces of music he describes are and have been off limits to educators for quite some time. It is a separation of church and state issue.

For instance, my elementary students know zero Christmas carols like Jingle Bells, and they haven't for many years. We don't perform songs about holidays, or patriotic songs, and absolutely nothing written for the church, especially if it refers to God or Jesus in any language. That pretty much wipes out composers like JS Bach. Budiansky favorites like The Messiah, Nelson Mass, and The Creation are sacred, and there is absolutely no place for music like that in schools today. We can't risk the potential lawsuits. No, that music may not be specifically "banned," but we are strongly encouraged to program music that is secular and entirely non-confrontational.

Many of the things Budiansky seems to hate are REQUIRED these days. 
Everything I teach day in day out MUST align with very specific state and national objectives, and these objectives are cross-curricular and multi-cultural. I don't have the time to go through Mozart operas searching for something that might align with the 5th grade ecology unit, math week, or Kwanzaa, when that piece must also teach directly to the required music benchmarks.

If I did find something in Mozart, there is no mechanism in place for me to have some national "expert" concur the piece I'm using addresses those benchmarks appropriately. I've little choice but to use band and orchestra method books and their correlated and suggested materials where that legwork has already been done. If my clarinets are going "over the break" on the 90th day of the school year in the benchmarks, I darned well better follow a method designed to make that happen on the 90th day or I will lose my job. If somebody would go through all that good music and align it with current educational objectives so I could use it, that would be great! Until somebody does that, and it has been approved at the national level, I simply can't teach that music. I don't have a choice.

Budiansky also seems clueless about modern musicians, composers, and copyright.

"That Piece… is not written by any composer you have ever heard of -- not classical, not jazz… You've never heard it on the radio, not even late at night at the bottom of the dial. It in fact exists nowhere in the known music universe -- except for the twilight zone of school musical performance. That Piece is nearly always written by someone who (a) is alive and collecting royalties, and (b) has a master's degree in music education...

"I wasn't prepared for the extent to which such new and original works of great mediocrity have completely supplanted the real music -- classical, folk, Sousa marches, American popular music, Scott Joplin rags, Broadway show tunes -- that was once a staple of the American school music curriculum."

I challenge Budiansky to name a dozen living composers writing good music, especially music I can use in the classroom. The major symphony
orchestras perform almost exclusively the music of composers who’ve been dead for at least 150 years. Nothing else fills the house, and as that blue-haired audience slowly dies off, so are our major symphony orchestras.

Virtually no composers can make a living writing good music when, due to the economics of business, it is almost impossible to get it performed outside educational circles. Educational circles are just about the only place you can hear any new good music at all.

Most composers must have a day non-composing job to feed their families. It makes perfect sense our educators are the composers of today, as the only viable performance opportunities involve the educational ensembles they direct. That doesn't really represent a change, as all good composers of antiquity studied under older good composers. Today we do it in school instead of under the auspices of some patron or nobleman.

He also seems unaware teachers in most states today are REQUIRED to have a master’s degree within five years of college graduation or lose their teaching certificate. Thank goodness they have that degree and get royalties, although I think you'd be surprised how little money the composers really make.

Exactly where are these media outlets making money broadcasting good music like Sousa marches, Joplin rags, and Broadway show tunes. Get real! I live in the largest radio market in the country, and those stations are nothere. We are lucky to have both a 24/7 jazz station and "classical" station too. Our jazz station broadcasts commercial-free from a university as part of NPR, and our classical station from a self-sustaining private endowment. The market share enjoyed by these good stations is virtually nil compared to the rest of the market. The kind of good music Budiansky describes was never broadcast regularly, even in the golden years of music education. Why should we expect anything different with the good music of today?

As a professional writer, it is hard to believe Budiansky is so naοve regarding copyright. Writing arrangements of Beatles songs is ILLEGAL without permission. (And BTW, that particular permission is controlled by Michael Jackson!) If you can manage to get permission, it is nearly impossible to have your arrangement published by the copyright owners, and copyright owners never allow arrangements not under their direct control to be distributed in any form.

So let’s sum up here….

We can’t distribute arrangements of good music because of copyright issues. We can’t perform patriotic, holiday, or religious music in the public schools. Any music we do perform must be cross-curricular and conform to strict and very specific educational guidelines or benchmarks that take years to establish or change. The only place composers can afford to have new music performed is in the schools. You can’t make a living solely as a composer of good music, and the best alternative is to be some kind of educator so you have an outlet for the performance of your music. Welcome to the 21st century Mr. Budiansky.

So is Budiansky entirely wrong? No, not at all! He's just wrong about the reasons he's not hearing good music in the schools. There is a lot of bad music out there masquerading under the pretense of good. There was a lot of bad music written in Mozart's day too, it simply doesn't survive to the present. All that bad music did and does help to define good music. Much of the bad music he's hearing is not directly the fault of the composers or educators, but the musical climate we live in today. Given the constraints, some of these compositions he hates represent musical miracles.

What Budiansky is hearing is what I call a gigantic "dumbing down" of music education. I judge music contests and festivals a lot, and I can go entire weekends without hearing a decent lead trumpet player operating above the staff, or a good ad-lib solo on any instrument. I rarely hear decent charts either. I hear generic-sounding drivel designed to meet educational benchmarks, and Budiansky is correct. It is killing good music.

I wish it were easy as waving a Budiansky good-music magic wand to change things. It isn't that simple. Educators don't have a lot of choice about what they can program, and composers don't have a lot of choice about what they write if it is to be published and performed. Educational publishers won't publish music teachers aren't allowed to buy.

I've dedicated my entire composing, arranging, and teaching career in attempting to solve this conundrum I first recognized in the late '60s. As I reach the end of my teaching career, I sense we may... just may... have bounced off musical lows and are heading up again. Budiansky's writings and the sentiment of the responses indicate frustrations are reaching the boiling point within education and the general public too. That usually marks the beginnings of change.

It may be too late for my teaching career and Budiansky's listening to school band concerts performed by his kids. I remain confident this can be solved by the next generation.

Stanley Friedman - is a composer of operatic, orchestral and chamber works for brass and other instruments.  He has held principal trumpet positions with several international orchestra.  He frequently performs and conducts his compositions at universities and music festivals.  He may be contacted through his website: www.stanleyfriedman.com. He writes:


Budiinsky's essay is a beaut, and I agree 100%. However, I think he's missing the point to blame the Music Ed folks entirely. What about the "composers" who write this crap? So many of those who call themselves composers these days apparently think that simply calling themselves creative geniuses and having doctorates are qualification enough. The soul-destroying scenes he describes in grade school concerts are repeated ad nauseum in countless university new music festivals and even at most major orchestra and opera company world premieres. The result is that the concert-going public, musicians, and impresarios no longer expect any better. Living composers are expected to be awful, and if there is even a shred of redeeming value in a new work, the piece gets a standing ovation and rave reviews, even though by any reasonable standard the work is pretty mediocre. If a latter-day Beethoven is indeed out there somewhere, he'll have to claw his way through miles and miles of this dismal quagmire in hopes of getting a hearing.

Don Roeder is a retired thoracic surgeon living in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  He is a long time trumpet player, having been involved with many musical ventures over the years. Currently, Don teaches trumpet, performs cornet solos with the Carlisle Town Band, plays "Taps" at military funerals with the Cumberland County Honor Guard [an all volunteer organization], plays at various churches in the Carlisle area, and continues to perform with the Dickinson College Orchestra and Symphonic Band. He writes: 


Thank you again for the new edition of Cadenzas

In regard to the article, "The Kids Play Great! But That Music," there is but one word to say -- and NO font could possibly be too large to express it.  That word is, of course, "AMEN!!"  Thanks for sharing it.

In Response to: Bootlegs

Craig Jolley started listening to jazz when musicians enjoyed the luxury of spending their time playing. He grew up in a musical family and learned about jazz through the typical schools of listening to records and hearing the great New York players on their tours and occasionally in New York. His musical appetite was also encouraged by surprisingly healthy jazz environments in Las Vegas (Raoul Romero, Carl Saunders), the University of Utah (Bill Fowler, Ladd McIntosh), Washington, D.C. (Shirley Horn, Bill Potts, Andrew White, Martin Williams), and currently Los Angeles. He occasionally writes for All About Jazz and for other publications. He believes there is as much excellent music now as ever but feels those who take their cues from Tower Records and from the radio are missing it.


I would like to respond to your Cadenzas about bootleg recordings. First I should say I am not a musician. I see myself as a jazz listener with a strong sense of gratitude for jazz players. Of course, I’m not as aware or as sensitive about the problem as the musicians. 

Your main thrust as I understand it is that with the comparatively small economies involved it is up to us fans to help enforce a ban against bootlegging jazz. I mostly agree with you that surreptitious recording with subsequent commercial release is not healthy. On the other hand I think most serious musicians want their music heard. I speculate that Warne Marsh or Horace Parlan would not opt for silence as a primary component of their legacies. In a way I see it as analogous to drug trafficking. I’m against widespread heroin distribution, but in a limited way I see some benefit in smoking marijuana. 

The problem seems more critical for living musicians since bootlegging can put them into a position of competing with themselves for their livelihoods. A compromise solution might go something like wait a few years after a musician passes before considering the purchase of a bootleg. Beyond that we (the fans) would think about things like whether the bootleg seems a unique musical statement or just a pale knock-off of a legitimate recording. The benefit of the doubt would hopefully go to not purchasing. 

Cadenzas - Edition XVI

Remembering Stan

Jazz Cruise 2004

What We Are Doing and Why (Cadenzas - Edition XIV)

In Response to: Remembering Stan

Rob Fogle has, for seventeen years, hosted his own radio show, "Some Experiences in Jazz" in Toronto, Ontario. Over that time, he has interviewed or talked to many artists. Among them are Stan Getz, Joe Williams, Sheila Jordan, Jim Hall, Phil Woods, George Shearing, Susannah McCorkle, Ernestine Anderson, Ken Peplowski, Joanne Brackeen, Robert Farnon, Sweets Edison, Helen Merrill, Bill Mays, Oscar Peterson, and almost every Canadian jazz artist - over 450 of them. He has been a jazz fan since age ten, beginning with the Benny Goodman 78s, "Rose Room" and "Airmail Special." Erroll Garner is his all time favorite, and he is a major Frank Sinatra collector, with over 400 CDs, much sheet music, original radio shows, LPs, etc. Rob is also an amateur player on vibes and piano and has “sat in” on vibes with Pat LaBarbera, Don Thompson, and others. He writes:

About Stan:

I first saw him not in person, but on TV in a show that I think was called "Kenton '55". I was about 13 or 14 at the time. The dynamic nature of this man when he raised his arms and took control of his band left a lasting impression on me. I saw the band in person several years after that date.

In October 1960 Stan and his band were appearing at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens with his then wife, Ann Richards, on a fantastic double bill with Count Basie and his band and singer Joe Williams. (Joe left the band 3 months later to go out on his own; we later became good friends.

Anyway, a friend of mine and I, two nineteen year olds, decided that we were going to interview Basie and Kenton. We had interviewed Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond a week before, but, other than that, we had no experience. We told a slight fib, saying that we were from the university press and were able to set up a conversation with each bandleader that same evening. I had a small plug-in reel-to-reel tape recorder (this was long before cassettes), and we wrote out some "teenage type questions." We spoke with the Count after his set at half time in the concert and spoke Stan at the conclusion.

Mr. Kenton, as we called him, was so giving to us two young guys and answered everything forced upon him. It was World Series time, and we asked each leader who would win baseball's classic. Basie's answer was, "Yanks, you kidding!" Kenton was more articulate and said that the Yankees had won it too often, and it would be good for baseball if Pittsburgh won. (Bill Masaroski hit the game- winning homer, and the Pirates did win in, I believe, the seventh game.)

 I still have the tape of these classic conversations and transcribed them for a magazine, "Big Band World" a few years ago. I saw the Kenton band many times after that at Massey Hall, the Palais Royal and other local venues. I guess I saw you while you were in the band but honestly don't remember. I remember one time the late Dee Barton was playing trombone and the next time that the band came to town he was the drummer.
Later into the 1970's, even when Stan was ill and Hank Levy and Buddy DeFranco fronted the band, I always enjoyed their presentation. The band was always filled with great enthusiasm. Stan actually died on my mother's birthday, Aug 25th, 1977.

(Ed. Note: I was on the Kenton band at these performances. As a matter of fact, Dee Barton and I were members of the North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band at the same time, and, after joining the Kenton Band, I recommended that Stan bring Dee on the band.)

On another note, Woody's band was even a greater favorite of mine, and I do remember clearly when you were in that band - I believe at the Palais Royale. The late Phil MacKellar, a Toronto DJ and friend of mine, considered Woody his closest buddy and usually MC'd these concerts. Later, in the 1970's, I rode the bus with the Herd, a major thrill of mine.

So that's my little trip down Memory Lane. Since I've been able to do a radio show (for no financial remuneration I might add), I've been able to relive these days through what I play on air.

Tom Stevens is the former principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he held for many years. Tom is also one of the finest trumpet soloists and musicians I have ever encountered and is internationally respected. He writes for various publications - the Brass Bulletin among them - and lectures and teaches at symposiums and conferences worldwide. He writes: 

Hi Marv-

I am sitting here trying to keep busy before cataract surgery, and I thought about writing a personal note to you about your lovely piece on Stan Kenton. I knew Stan as something between an acquaintance and a friend. I met him in1965, which was my first year in the L.A. Philharmonic as 3rd and assistant first trumpet (to Bob DiVall). Stan was dating, and eventually married, my friend and next-door neighbor in the Hollywood Hills, Jo Ann Hill. I socialized with the two of them on a few occasions, both at Jo Ann's and later, after their marriage, at his Palos Verde home.

What an enigmatic character - at the forefront of what he called "modern American music," but he hated modern art and architecture and had Victorian furniture in his home, or his backing George Wallace for President while endorsing, after many years of opposite-type thinking, the growing civil rights movement. Of course, his generation experienced change probably as no other Americans had previously; so, he was probably not that much of an anomaly relative to his age group. And there were, as you know, those among his colleagues who thought he was merely a mini-talented front man whose only real contribution was discovering and nurturing talented young musicians.

My favorite Stan stories include his birthday party (remember he had two birthdays and never was certain which one was the real one) in 1966 where he had some alcohol in his veins and told Dalton Smith that I played in the Philharmonic and made more money than he paid Dalton, and yet I never played above the staff! (Of course, Stan's idea of above-the-staff began after a couple of ledger lines) 

Another one is when I took him and Jo Ann to see the movie, "A Man and a Woman" at a theater in Westwood. He had a little ‘65 Porsche C that would only hold two persons, so I drove us there in my car. At the theater, he insisted upon sitting in the front row. His movie viewing preference was like the band - “in your face and larger than life.” We started seated in the middle, but he couldn't stand it; so, he leapfrogged over row after row to get to the front seats while Jo Ann and I exited the row and walked down the aisle to them. I'll never forget the sight of what, in those days, was considered to be a tall man skipping over the seats to get to the front.

The third story was when he told me of the problems his arrangers/copyists had with the transpositions of the original materials for he Wagner album. I told him those things were simple to do (i.e. They had originally misread “Es” as the key of E rather than Eb and didn't understand things like German bass clarinet notation/transpositions - the clef and the key vs. the sounding pitch - apparently caused some real problems) He challenged me to transpose at sight some music for him, which I did (in the staff). He then had that disgusted look of his and told me if he had met Jo a few years earlier he could have saved a ton of time and money hiring me to do the transpositions. (Thank God he didn't - could you imagine a more daunting/boring task?)

I asked him some trumpet questions once, and I still remember the scene: We were at Jo's house, and he was sprawled across the carpet in the living room. He told me Buddy Childers was the best lead player he ever had and elucidated the reasons why he thought that. And, he also mentioned the usual suspects like Count and Maynard. When I asked him about the then young generation (which is the reason I am writing you), he was not as complimentary except he did mention you. I remember it as if it were yesterday because it was the first time I had ever heard your name: he said, almost verbatim if memory serves, there is this young guy, Marvin Stamm, and if he can manage to keep his head on straight he could develop into one of the most (positively verbatim here) "exciting players ever." (apologies if I told you that one previously) That's your equivalent of Zubin's "when I found Stevens, he knew nothing!" 

The last time I saw Stan was at a restaurant in Brentwood. (ca. Early 70s?). The Creative World project was in its embryonic stage at that time, and he had purchased a house on Beverly Glen in Westwood. Your piece reminded me of a time in my life I really enjoyed, and it was sensitively written without being corny. Bravo!

It's great to see you out there doing so much, so well. The Bill Mays "New
York" CD is a favorite of mine. He is one of my favorite musicians. 

All the best,

In Response to: Jazz Cruise 2004

Jack and Gloria Schaffer are friends of mine from Memphis, Tennessee. Gloria and I were part of a rather large and homogeneous group of teenagers who hung out together during our high school years. Jack and Gloria were on the Jazz Cruise about which I wrote in the current issue of Cadenzas. They write:

Hi Marvin,

We read your Cadenza article on the Jazz Cruise, 2004. It was right on. As fans of Jazz music, Gloria and I were part of the 1,300 true Jazz music loving people on the ship.This was our second year to go on this particular cruise and we booked for 2005 before the ship got back into port, along with a 1000 other fans.

What more could one ask for than to be part of this week long gig in the Caribbean, listening to so many great and diverse Jazz musicians, in Jazz club venues all over the ship. One of the best things about this setting is that everybody was there to focus one thing and that was listening to music and educating themselves about musicians that they had not had the opportunity to hear before. This was truly a willing "captured audience", and I can say that when you and your peers were on stage, you had our undivided attention and respect. 

I had the opportunity of talking to the folks at WUMR-Jazz radio here in Memphis and help spread the word about many musicians that our Jazz listeners don't get to hear. They have gotten that message and have been playing many of their CD's. 

It was especially nice to spend time with a fellow Memphian, listening to your music and taking time out to talk about friends and family. We look forward to seeing you here in Memphis in February during Jazz Week at the University of Memphis.

Best regards,

Jack & Gloria Schaffer

In Response To: “What We are Doing and Why” (Edition XIV)

John Carson is the son of a friend of mine, a gentleman who has been the primary sponsor of the Arts for a number of years, trying to give something very special to his community. John has been involved with his band program for about six years, playing percussion throughout that time. He has also been involved with the school choir program for seven years and has been playing the piano for around twelve years. He writes:

Mr. Stamm,

My name is John Carson and I am from Cushing, Oklahoma. I quite agree with the view points of the other responses that deal with the fact that all many directors do is work their students to the bone on the same piece for many weeks to prepare for a contest. I have to say that in the four years that I have been in the HS band it has been pretty much of the same old routine every year, we spend the first three quarters of the semester working on one marching show, then wee work on a few pieces for a Christmas concert and then three quarters of the next semester is spent getting ready for another round of monotonous contests and then we spend the rest of the year prepping one or two other pieces on top of our already learned contest pieces for a spring concert. I have found that there is little room for musical growth in the classroom, many students get bored with the music after the first two weeks and then they just shut down and coast for the other six to nine weeks that we have left until a performance. 
I have heard the same speech from the director every year how our level of playing is a grade 3 and that we just can't do a higher grade piece because it would be to hard for us and he doesn't want us to get burned out on a
harder piece. I have noticed from my position in the back of the room (I play percussion) that usually the students are actually more excited and in tune when we are playing and sight reading the higher grade pieces than when we read the lower grade pieces that "fit our playing level better." I really think that this is a load of junk because he has never really tried to even find our limits; he just does what suits him best and that's picking a piece that will please the judges.

One piece that I have been trying to convince my director to play for a concert is the "March from 1941" by John Williams. Recently I approached him and asked him if he was going to pull it out and let us read 
it; he said, "If you can show me a band that can play it, I'll pull it out." I had to keep my mouth shut pretty hard after he said that because this year we have a band mostly composed of underclassmen but they are all very good 
at playing and they really have wanted a challenge. I'm appalled by the lack of faith and inspiration that my director has shown toward the band program, he is too comfortable with the same old routine instead of actually trying to help us strive for musical excellence.

Another item I have noticed is many students that are musically talented aren't in the band program or they have dropped out. I have talked to many of them and when asked why they got out or just didn't try to get in, their usual response was, "It's not really fun, it's boring."  I have also noticed the same attitude coming from some of my fellow students, they are very talented, but their talents aren't being used to the fullest extent because there just isn't any room to grow in the program.

The only reason I have stayed with the program for this long is I love music and one day I hope to teach vocal
music after I go to college. I just hope more directors would spend more time inspiring their students to higher levels of musical excellence instead of trying to win another medal for the office wall.

Cadenzas - Edition XV

In Memoriam - James Williams

Ingredients for a Successful Career in Music

Bootlegs” (Edition XIV)

What We are Doing and Why (Edition XIV)

In Response to “In Memoriam - James Williams”

Patrice Sollenberger is in her twenty-sixth year of teaching choral music at a local high school in the Shawnee Mission School district, near Kansas City, KS.  There are 5 high schools in her district. Patrice is married to trumpeter Jay Sollenberger, formerly of the Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, and Buddy Rich Orchestras. He was also a member of Chase, the group led by Bill Chase. Jay has been freelancing in Kansas City since 1979 and has for 20 years been a member of the Univ. of Missouri/KC Faculty Brass Quintet. He is first call lead trumpet for any Broadway theatre company performing in Kansas City and remains active on the K. C. Jazz scene. She writes: 

Thank you, Marvin. Jay did not know of James Williams death.  He worked with James in Memphis back in the 70's so feels a tremendous loss to learn of his passing.  Jay spoke of the jam sessions at James’ home where his mother prepared delicious food for the guys and made them feel so welcome ... especially those players like Jay who were so far away from home.  Jay spoke of his mother’s famous cherry cobbler that was apparently in a famous Jazz musicians cook book.  Very cool. Good memories. 

Jay got to see James here in KC about two years ago when he came through with his group.  They performed at the Folly Theatre, and Jay was able to get to his gig and go back stage to have some time with him.  They had a wonderful visit, and Jay was just reminiscing about their final time together.  It's hard to imagine that James is gone.  He was our age.  It's overwhelming to think of our peers leaving us. 

Thank you again for your efforts to keep us all informed ... AND, I love your articles ... in fact I often copy them and share them with my students.  They are so well written and valid for all areas of our profession.

In Response to “Ingredients for a Successful Career in Music”

Marilyn Harris is a singer, songwriter, pianist and arranger whose talents have graced not only her own recordings, but variety of other artists' work including Jim Brickman, Bette Midler, Lola Falana, Donna McKechnie, as well as jazz vocalists Anne Marie Moss, Jackie Paris, Judi Silvano and Diane Hubka. After studying composition with Hale Smith at the Univ. of Connecticut and film scoring with Ray Wright and Manny Albam at the Eastman School of Music, Marilyn worked extensively with jazz arranger Gil Evans and studied piano with Richard Tee and Rodgers Grant. She has produced music for commercials (Amoco, McDonald's, Kraft, Kellogg's, United Airlines, etc.) and ABC-TV's "General Hospital." Marilyn also provided original music scores for such diverse projects as the Hallmark Hall of Fame, BBC’s radio drama "Milford-Haven, USA" (UK) and "Yogurt Variations" for the New Britain Symphony Orchestra. Marilyn has released a wonderful new recording entitled, “Future Street,” and you can learn more about her by visiting her web site, www.marilynharris.com. She writes: 


In addition to all the terrific points you mentioned in your INGREDIENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN MUSIC, you might add "continued studies" - I've found that music is something I KEEP learning over the years and I've profited immeasurably from taking private lessons with other pianists and songwriters, well past my "school days"!  Not to mention workshops, seminars and conferences - as well as keeping me informed about NEW music and performers, these events have expanded my grasp of music and continued to add new colleagues to my address book!

Thanks for the always lively dialogue on your website!

Dennis Ferry began his musical education in the U.S. with his father, a big-band trumpeter. He graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University and, in 1977, was named principal trumpet of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva, Switzerland, a position that he continues to hold. He previously, occupied the same position in the orchestras of Jerusalem, Dόsseldorf, and Rotterdam. Dennis was also principal trumpet of the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder for thirteen years, from 1983-1996, . A specialist in baroque music, he plays natural trumpet with such major baroque ensembles as “Les Arts Florissants,” “La Chapelle Royale,” and the “Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra.” He writes:

Hi Marvin,

Always nice to read Cadenzas. Hope all is going well for you. I especially enjoyed “Ingredients for a Successful Career in Music.” A lot of that stuff, I had to learn the hard way, some of it I probably haven't learned yet! I wish I had read something like that when I was your typical "angry young man".

Keep up the good work and keep playing GREAT as you have always done.

In Response To “Bootlegs” (Edition XIV)

Morris Repass is an old friend from my days at the University of North Texas. He was the bass trombonist with the Dallas Symphony and first-call for all the recording work in that city. Morris has lived for many years in Los Angeles where he is one of the most sought-after bass trombonists on the L. A. scene. He writes: 

Hi Marv,

I do enjoy your Cadenzas articles and your web site. You and I go back many years!! 

Just a few words to add to the wonderful article about bootleg CDs. Many musicians I meet hear a CD I have and say, "would you burn a copy of that for me?" This is asking me to bootleg one copy of that CD for him. It may even be a new CD of a friend of ours who has put up his own money for the recording. I tell them, "No, but I will tell you where you can buy one!" They don't even realize they are asking me to take money right out of the pockets of musicians! This goes on with musicians all over the world. (I travel a lot.) This amounts to thousands of CDs. If we musicians don't support each other's product, how can we expect support from the public?

Steve Huffsteter, a terrific jazz trumpeter/composer, has a new DVD of his big band with which I play. It is on: http://www.aixrecords.com/. Please don't bootleg it, just buy it online. Keep up the good work on Cadenzas. Musicians around the world are communicating with each other through it.

In Response To “What We are Doing and Why” (Edition XIV)

Doug Carson is a friend who lives in the small town of Cushing, OK. He is quite famous in certain fields of modern technology - really wuite a genius! Doug is also one of the most community-minded people I have met and devotes a great deal of his time and energy toward making Music and the Arts available to the people in Cushing and the state of Oklahoma. He is also extremely active, working in education. He writes:


I have been trying for the past several years to internally understand and then verbalize why I have felt our HS band program had stalled in concert quality, energy and participation both in terms of students and the community.  I fully agree with the Michael Schofield’s analysis and actions, as well as the responses from your readers.

I have also observed the same narrowing of new musical literature learned by our band students as well as the look of drudgery and lack of enthusiasm on their faces and in their performances at concerts, not just their half time shows.  What has also disturbed me is that a significant portion of the music included in the public "concerts" is announced from the podium as contest pieces for this and that contest.  The students are in a constant state of preparation for one contest after another, with no time to simply enjoy playing for the sake of making music. I suspect this is why our son John, who is in the band, spends a good deal of his spare time not working on his band pieces, but instead sits for hours at the piano and plays for the sheer enjoyment of it. 

With the constant focus on nine months of non-stop competitions, I fear these kids are not learning the joy of music; they are being used to create scores and awards that will look good on the directors’ or school systems’ bio. This is a tragic misuse of these students’ talents and gifts as well as music education and appreciation.

Thanks again for all you do in support of quality musical experiences!

Cadenzas - Edition XIV

What We are Doing and Why


In Response to “What We're Doing and Why”

Scott Robinson is one of today's most wide-ranging instrumentalists; there may not be an instrument he doesn’t play! Stylistically, he is also one of the most versatile of musicians, having played tenor sax with Buck Clayton's band, trumpet with Lionel Hampton's quintet, alto clarinet with Paquito D'Rivera's clarinet quartet, and bass sax with the New York City Opera. He has been heard with a cross-section of jazz's greats representing nearly every imaginable style of the music, from Ruby Braff to Anthony  Braxton. Scott has been heard on numerous films, radio and television shows, and his discography includes over 135 recordings. His four releases as a leader have garnered five-star reviews from Leonard Feather, Down Beat Magazine and other sources worldwide. The newest, Melody From the Sky (featuring the seldom-heard C-Melody saxophone), was recently the subject of a Wall Street Journal article by Nat Hentoff. A respected performer in all areas of jazz, from traditional to avant-garde, Scott Robinson has arrived at his own unique musical voice. He writes:


Well... I really loved being in marching band. In fact I think of it as a great untapped art form with lots of possibilities that have never been explored. I'd love to create a piece for that medium.

But I don't think we ever competed when I was in school. We had a very good wind ensemble, which did compete some, and a pretty pathetic jazz band of sorts. And I loved those, too. Marching band was optional, at least for the wind ensemble players, and met after school. We certainly put in more than 2 1/2 hours a week, but we also learned a new show for each home game.

 My stepson recently graduated from the same school (in Va.), and now it's a big marching program that commissions music and competes -- but they only do one show, and one piece of music, for the whole season. That just doesn't seem right to me. [Emphasis added]

We were always learning new shows, and it was a lot of fun. I remember once that a home game fell on Halloween, and we wore all kinds of crazy outfits. I was marching out there with an old gutted TV set over my head, rabbit ears on top, and the glass removed so I could play the sax. My Dad rigged up a couple of straps to make it stay. And my school had an old bass sax, so I used to take that out. We had fun! But of course not everyone was as into it as I was, and not everybody had to do it. And certainly the other bands met all year. Plus we did pit bands for shows. So there were plenty of musical experiences to be had, some at a pretty high level and others not so serious.

I would hope that today's kids could get a whole variety of experiences like that too, and have a lot of fun with it. I have to say, though, that for me that definitely included marching band!

Dr. Jeff Boehm will begin his new position as  Associate Professor of Music at Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio this fall.  He will conduct the Concert Band, brass chamber ensembles, teach trumpet and instrumental music education courses.  Prior to teaching at Bluffton, Dr. Boehm taught at Otterbein College (Ohio), serving as Director of the Cardinal Marching Band, the Big Band,  Conductor of the Concert Band, Coordinator of Chamber Activities, Coordinator of Music Technology, and teaching instrumental music education courses.  He also taught in a similar cpacity at William Penn College (Iowa). Dr. Boehm spent ten years teaching in the public and private school sector in West Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa. His duties have encompassed all facets of band, choir, general music and guitar classes.  Dr. Boehm is active in the Ohio Music Education Association, having served as Government Relations Chair and Mentorship Chair. He is also a member of the Conductor's Guild, and the International Association of Jazz Educator's.   His Ph.D. and M.M. (Trumpet) are from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he holds a B.M.E. from Otterbein College. He writes:

Regarding the Marching Band issue:

A) I applaud the motives and fundamental changes made by Michael and his program.  I quite agree that the emphasis on the trophy and\or rating has taken WAY too much precedence and replaced much of the education in music education.

B) However, I would like to point out that some of the finest marching programs in the United States also have fine concert band programs.  Most of the top Band Of America bands rehearse concert organizations during school beginning in the fall and do the marching band-as-competition thing after school.  In programs where this is an option, many of them still have HUGE marching bands.  The students love the sport.

C) I have no problem with the decision to only do football games.  I DO however have a HUGE problem with the fact that they want to leave after half-time.  The marching band does not exist only to perform at half-time.  This is a ridiculous notion that has been popular among band directors since the 70's, at least.  The marching band is, or should be, and integral part of the atmosphere of a ball game.  At my first game as a high school band director, the referees threatened to penalize the team if we didn't quit playing so loud.  The coach sent a message, "We'll take the penalty, keep it up".  The band went from laughing-stock to town heroes over night.

We need to realize the many roles that music plays in the global community.  We tend to scoff when we do "music to be ignored by" gigs and feel unappreciated as artists.  The fact is we are appreciated, just not always on the level on which we would like to be appreciated.  There is an audience development book called, "Waiting in the Wings" that talks about reaching the audience at their point-of-entry.  This is not a new conept to educators when teaching skills.  However, we as music educators seem to throw that concept out the window when trying to reach students and audiences with the finer points of our art.  I guess you could say that I've learned to subscribe to the "just a spoon full of sugar" concept, meaning that you have to give audiences what they want in order for you to be able to take them to a new level.  They've got to get in the door.  High school marching bands are a part of the way in which we can reach our communities and get the $ support that we need to teach the aesthetics we so hunger to impart.  Not going to competitions isn't going to anger the football parents, but not supporting the team and portraying an image of only being there for ourselves (by leaving early) will not foster good community relations.  Like it or not, that is a part of what we do.  We ARE an integral part of the community and we should embrace that role as we try to embrace those we wish to educate.

Don Roeder is a retired thoracic surgeon living in Carlisle, PA.  He is a long time trumpet player, having the good fortune to have been involved with many musical ventures over the years. Currently, Don teaches trumpet, performs cornet solos with the Carlisle Town Band, plays "Taps" at military funerals with the Cumberland County Honor Guard [an all volunteer organization], plays at various churches in the Carlisle area, and continues to perform with the Dickinson College Orchestra and Symphonic Band. He writes:

Thank you for the June edition of Cadenzas.  I finally have found the right moment to sit down and really read what you have had to say.  The letter from Michael Schofield addresses one of the major problems I have noted in high school music programs.  As a neophyte teacher of trumpet, I find myself frustrated by what kids are taught and by what they are NOT taught in school music programs these days. 

Your response is, as always, insightful, well worded, and extremely thought provoking.  I plan to forward it to several of my friends with whom I have discussed this very subject on several occasions.  I don't know if all of this will bring about necessary changes, but at least it is a start.  It truly is time for a change in the direction of school music programs and to get the kids back to learning the joy of music rather than the drudgery -- and allow them to understand that music is an unsearchable art that is able to lift the soul and buoy the spirit.

Cadenzas - Editions XII and XIII

"Strike Down the Band" and "The Fine Arts"

Phil Woods Interview and Response

"Orchestra Experiences"

In Response to “Strike Down the Band” and “The Fine Arts”

Michael Smith was the first student to graduate under the Professorship of Jimmy Simmons at Lamar University, Beaumont, TX in 1972. He has taught music at the Junior High/Middle School level and in several high school programs. He also served as Director of Music in two Texas school districts before serving five years as Assistant Principal at Lumberton High School, Lumberton, TX. He also served four years at Lumberton Primary School as Principal before returning to Lumberton High School this year as Principal. Mr. Smith is a saxophonist and continues playing professionally. His experience includes symphony work, touring shows, small club, work as well as some large jazz band and Rhythm and Blues bands. He writes:

Your words are so appropriate for not only the university world, but are becoming a real concern for us in the public education world. State and national assessment as well as the associated accountability standards have alarmingly reduced the awareness of Fine Arts being an essential. It appears that we must somehow find a way for "round" kids to fit into "square" holes in our worlds of assessment and generalized standards. Certainly standards and accountability are valuable but only so if it is relevant to that audience to which it is addressed. I have observed an ever-increasing number of students that are progressing, on their own, in a multi facetted technological world, who have great difficulty communicating with teachers. These kids need more exposure to the arts, not less. Experiencing the beauty and calmness of the inner being that the arts bring truly does calm the savage beast. It is true our scores will continue to increase as we strive to meet another "someone’s" arts-devoid standard. Pick up the newspaper, listen or watch the news, listen to the state of their music, their art. Is it better? Are we meeting their needs or are we fulfilling our need to feel we are making a difference? Are we producing a generation of learners that will continue to address life from a perspective that is not inclusive of man, the whole of man? From my perspective, the journey, self-realization of life through music has afforded me the ability to know who I am, what my purpose in life is and an outlook that in the end …all is well. Jimmy, I also owe much of that life changing experience to you and the example you have provided so many. Never give up, never give up. 2+2=4. Art = Life.

Joe Koplin is a lawyer and Jazz trumpeter living and working in Seattle, WA. We have been friends for a number of years; I have even stayed in his home several times. Joe and I have had many discussions about our world today, the world we grew up in and how each relates to the other. We also have spent many hours talking about music and education. He writes:

Reading the two pieces in Cadenzas by Sam Hazo and Jimmy Simmons led me to reflect on my own musical background and training.  It seems to me that the message of Drs. Hazo and Simmons is somewhat abstract and philosophical, i.e., that music education is valuable because it is "civilizing" and "uplifting", and of course that is true, but I have also found that my musical education has paid some very concrete dividends outside the field of music per se.  I never really flirted with the idea of a career in music, and so this is written from the perspective of a pure amateur. 

Growing up in the 1960's in the Philadelphia area, not only did I have the benefit of a well-rounded musical education, but also I was fortunate to be able to study with a fine private trumpet teacher, Ed McCoy, whom you met at the Colin NY Brass Conference back in the mid 90s.  After finishing college in the early 70's, I chose to continue on to law school and to pursue a career as an attorney.  Over the years, my practice has evolved into a specialty representing injured and disabled persons.  I firmly believe that my musical training has made me a more articulate, effective, and compassionate advocate for my clients.  But what does music have to do with the practice of law?

The law, especially litigation, is highly competitive and demanding.  Today I have the luxury of gigging regular with my own jazz quintet in Seattle.  The immense pleasure of expressing myself musically is only one benefit of my musical training; the artistic and emotional outlet is an antidote to the pressures of my work as an attorney, and it keeps me sane and focused. 

Twenty years ago while living in Japan, I was invited to play in an amateur big band in Tokyo, and despite my minimal linguistic ability, the fact that we all spoke the same musical language opened many social and cultural doors, which would otherwise have been closed to me.  These days when I go on vacation, I always take my horn to keep my chops up, and I keep my eyes and ears open for a good jam session to drop in on.  My "alter-ego" as a jazz player has exposed me to a wealth of fascinating and talented people whom I never would have met otherwise.  My passion for music is a great icebreaker, which "humanizes" me in the eyes of my professional colleagues and many of my clients, and it is always a pleasure to perform at Bar-related events, conferences, etc.

While difficult to put into words, the ability to improvise carries over in the ability to conduct oneself in the courtroom, whether speaking to a judge or jury, or conducting a direct or cross examination of a witness.  In fact, gifted trial attorneys who may not be musically inclined nevertheless describe the "zen" of a well-reasoned argument or the adrenaline rush of an inspired cross-examination in terms very similar to a jazz musician who finds himself improvising "in the zone".  Just as a musician must “shed” continually in order to achieve total mastery of his instrument and fluency in the various scales, modes, intervals and "jazz vocabulary" in order to paint a coherent sound picture, the well-prepared attorney has steeped himself in and has so mastered the facts and intricacies of his case that he is prepared to "improvise" in response to unexpected testimony, arguments of opposing counsel, or questions from the Judge.  Just as in music, the law is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration, and without logging the hours you just can't solo in the courtroom.

While I certainly don't ever expect to make my living as a teacher or performer of music, my musical training and experience has unquestionably made my life far richer and more rewarding, personally and professionally.

Phil Woods Interview and Response

Phil Woods need no introduction. He is considered by most to be the greatest living alto saxophonist. He is passionate in his music as well as passionate about life. This passion includes his feelings about his mentors, colleagues and teachers. Phil is a fine teacher himself, the voice of experience, and passes this on to others. What follows is a discourse resulting from Downbeat Magazine’s refusal to include an interview with Phil because they felt his highlighting his teacher mentioned herein instead of someone more visible to the Jazz audience didn’t fit their criteria for the article. I have included Phil’s initial email to me, followed by the interview, and Phil’s note to the interviewer, Ted Panken, holding him blameless for the refusal to include their interview. The speeches of Sam Hazo and Jimmy Simmons prompted Phil’s writing me about this situation as he knows that Cadenzas is directed to musicians. Jazz fans, AND teachers.

Phil’s Letter:

Dear Marv, old buddy,

I love your E-letter! You may be interested in this. Downbeat is running a piece on influences on saxophone players (it may have other instrumentalists-I am not sure). When they called me for interview a few weeks ago I told them that my first teacher, Mr. Harvey Larose, was of profound influence on everything I have accomplished. Under separate cover I am sending you an essay I wrote for Sax Journal about this outstanding teacher and friend.

Ted Panken called yesterday and told me that the editor would not run my interview because nobody ever heard of Mr. Larose. They want me to do another one using a famous sax man, like Rudy Wiedoff or Ozzie Nelson. I told them to stick their tacky mag where the sun don't shine. How dare they!! The unsung heroes of our music are the local teachers who help us discover ourselves through their toil. I would like the IAJE to know about this cavalier approach to jazz education and let Deadbeat know how they feel. Could you pass this on to the members at large and tell them of this woeful neglect by a magazine that profits from the work of teachers like Mr. Harvey Larose? He turned me on to Benny Carter, Johnny Hodges and Charlie Parker, plus taught me the American songbook and gave me advanced improvisation lessons when I was 13 years old! I am really upset about this! Please help spread the news to other jazz educators of this travesty. Thank you.
Phil Woods

The Interview:

(Done 3/12/04)

WOODS:  You want one influence.  My first teacher, Harvey Larose. Harvey turned me on… The first solos he gave me were Benny Carter transcriptions.  He gave me a Duke Ellington piece called “Mood To Be Wooed” one time, and he’d play piano… I mean, I was getting jazz improv lessons at age 12-13 that have never been equalled.  I’ve gone on to many educational situations, but that was the best.  And wouldn’t you know it:  Ellington came to town that week, and Johnny Hodges stepped forward and he played “Mood To Be Wooed.”  I said, “Ah, that’s how it goes.”  My teacher was a very wise man, because when I first went to him I was just faking it.  I received a horn in a will, and I had no interest in playing it.  I went to the first lesson, came home, put the horn in the closet, went back for the second lesson, and I could play it!  And instead of yelling at me, “How dare you, you’re using your ear to play music” (which is only our best friend, of course), Harvey nurtured my retentive ability and my good ear, and by age 14, I was committed to becoming a player of some kind.

TP: What was your hometown?

WOODS:  Springfield, Massachusetts? When I inherited the horn, I stuck it in the closet and went about my business of melting lead… Originally, I was going to melt the saxophone and make toy soldiers out of it.  But I was discouraged from that undertaking.  My Mom said, “You should at least take a lesson; your uncle went to a great deal of trouble to leave you the horn.”  Even at age, I realized that dying could be construed as a great deal of trouble.  That’s why I’m going to save it for last.  So I went to the Yellow Pages, and I looked up the “drum shop, saxophone lessons,” called the teacher, and lo and behold, I got Mr. Larose, and my life changed at that moment.  I remember after arranging the appointment (it was always present in my head what a brilliant natural I was), I said, “Should I bring the saxophone?” I could hear Harvey say, “Oh, what have I got here?” “It would be a good idea to bring the saxophone to your first saxophone lesson.”  And the word “dummy” was implied.

TP:  You were 12.  That would have been 44.

WOODS:  I’m 72 now, so it was sixty years ago.  I was born Nov. 2, 1931.  So that would have been during the war years. Let me give you a little background on Harvey.  He taught guitar, violin, saxophone, clarinet, played piano, played all of those instruments, arranged and composed for big bands.  He was not a jazz improviser per se, but he was a helluva musician. He not only taught all those instruments; he repaired all of those instruments.  And he wasn’t that much older than I, but he had a medical deferment.  Oh God, he was about 20-21 when I was 12.  He had about ten years on me. Once I was smitten, and it didn’t take long under his remarkable tutelage… I was getting four pop songs a week. This was Gershwin, Porter, Arlen, Ellington. In those years, the American Songbook was blossoming.  He turned me into a walking Real Book.  Then he encouraged me to decorate and improvise a little bit, and I didn’t need too much prodding in that direction.  And I was away and running.  He was giving me the chords and the scales. The Benny Carter transcriptions was the first jazz I ever really read and analyzed, then the Ellington stuff and seeing Hodges.  Then hearing Charlie Parker, of course, completed my study with the triumvirate.  But without Harvey, it wouldn’t have happened.

TP:  So unlike a lot of people born when you were, you didn’t come to Bird before having heard and studied Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges.

WOODS:  No.  I was aware of those two cats before I heard… I mean, it all happened within a very brief… I just jumped into the pool and got wet immediately.  But Benny Carter was first.

TP: Do you remember which solos?

WOODS:  I really don’t.  I’ve looked and looked at the used music shops, and I’ve never come across it. I have no idea what it was.

TP: Was he also having you listen to records? 

WOODS:  I was already into that.  I grew up with Hal Serra, who was a piano player with Julie London, and is still a Broadway composer.  He lived up the street from me and had a few years on me. We used to go hear all the bands. He played piano. He was into Teddy Wilson and Benny Goodman. Sal Salvador, the guitar player from Kenton’s band, was there.  Joe Morello, the drummer from Brubeck, was in town. Chuck Andrews, who played bass with Woody Herman when Nat Pierce was on the band.  We all had a kid band together.  We all played bebop together.  We had jam sessions all the time.  That’s all we did.  People say, “Did you practice?”  I said, “I practiced a fair share, but I remember playing a lot.”  We used to jam all the time either up at Sal Salvador’s pad… Sal was the first guy to move to New York, and Hal and I moved to New York shortly thereafter, and we all lived on 93rd Street and Riverside Drive.

TP: But Harvey Larose is the one who put it all together.

WOODS:  Yeah, that’s right.

TP: I was pretty sure you’d talk about Bird, or maybe Benny Carter. 

WOODS:  No, if you want the one guy, Harvey was the guy.  He has twin daughters and I stay in touch with the twin daughters. They both play the saxophone.

TP: So he would have been born in ’22 or ’23.

WOODS:  Something like that. He died 9 years ago.  He was very proud.  He had my posters and records all over.  He was my severest critic right up to the end.  It was a good excuse to go home, because I don’t have much family up there.  Now that he’s gone, I never get up to Springfield any more.  But I would always check out the maestro.  He was a good lead alto man.  He wasn’t a jazzer.  He was just a great musician, one of those unsung heroes you find in towns all over America, that maybe are not going to set the world on fire.  But man, you’ve got to give the educators the praise they deserve, man.  A good teacher is worth his weight in gold, and Harvey was a well-rounded teacher.  He did it all.

TP: What would you say was his greatest impact on you, if you had to distil it?

WOODS:  Well, just being aware of everybody’s fragility. I could always get a good sound.  And I always remember him saying, “Feel the pearl, baby; feel the pearl.”  I remember when I saw Charlie Parker, I couldn’t see his fingers move.  And I like to think that Harvey taught me the same thing.  Stay close. I see young players, and they’re waving like they’re waving goodbye to their wives or something, and their fingers are all over the keyboard.  I stay very, very close.  I can hear Harvey saying, “Feel the pearl,” meaning feel the pearl keys – staying close.

TP: I recently saw a video from a Norman Granz session of Bird with Hawk.  He’s hardly moving his…

WOODS:  Well, he’s hardly playing either.  But I saw Bird a million times, and you couldn’t see his fingers move, man. It was fuckin’ amazing.  Professor Buster Smith, evidently his teacher must have said, “Feel the pearl” too.

TP: I think he had a legitimate clarinet and alto player named Tommy Douglas teach him in high school.

WOODS:  Yup, I do believe. But somebody told him, “Feel the pearl, Bird”!  Obviously.

TP: Sounds like that’s the way saxophones and reeds were taught back then.

WOODS:  I think it was.

Phil’s note regarding Ted Panken:

Hi everybody,

Ted is a good guy and did a great interview and in no way took part in the popularity contest.  He is quite aware of the good work that teachers do to make our music so important worldwide. And he was a groove to talk with so don't blame the messenger!


[*Editor’s note - Since all this has was brought to light, the ensuing uproar in the musical community has caused DownBeat Magazine to rescind its decision. It will now publish Phil’s interview.]

In Response to the Phil Woods Interview

Don Shelton is a great musician, a vocalist and reedman. Many of you may remember him as being a member of the wonderful, award-winning vocal group, the Hi-Lo's! Don has performed with such legendary vocalists as Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli, and Mel Torme and has toured throughout Europe, North America and Japan. He has recorded more than 20 albums and has performed for radio, television, movies, concerts and jazz festivals around the world. Don lives in Los Angeles and plays with most of the top groups there - the Bob Florence Band, Doc Severinsen’s orchestra and others. He writes:

Hi Marv,

Just a terrific one this month. My goodness - I relate so much to the "mentor" thing, i.e. our band directors and private teachers et al. I only wish that I could have had an early teacher who knew chords and their function and all that. But I did have my Dad who played clarinet duets with me for several years and his playing the big bands etc.; and most importantly, getting me in to hear the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, and others when they came through Hobbs, New Mexico on the way to the Hollywood Palladium. It was most exciting for me for sure. 

The guys in the bands were so great, turning their stands so I could see the manuscript going by. Of course, I was not supposed to be there due to alcohol being served, but my Dad stood up to them and insisted I would be monitored and busy with the music. That served me until I reached the U.S. Navy School of Music; then I was off and running with older cats who were mainly from the East coast and experienced players. I learned as fast as I could. What an exhilarating time for me! Anyway, I’m glad DownBeat came around; it shouldn't have come to that of course. Bravo to you for exposing it all to the rest of us.

Bill Cherry is a writer, a native Galveston, TX. He is a former musician and now a weekly columnist for the Galveston County Daily News. He is also the author of the book, “Galveston Memories,” which details some of the rich tapestry of the cultural life in this unique place during the Twentieth Century. He writes:

I would really like to meet Phil Woods.  He may be the greatest alto man alive today, but what's more important than that by leagues and leagues is his respect for the legacy his teacher, Mr. Larose put inside his gut. And Phil understands and appreciates that to such a degree that he is rabid about it.

I think stuff like that is important telling and reading.  I don't know what's happened to Down Beat, but they must not get it any more.  Would be interesting if Leonard Feather were here and were given the assignment to critique that magazine's editorial philosophy as it is today.  And a story about Ozzie Nelson?  Good grief!

Peter Knudsvig was born and raised in Williston, ND and has performed on three continents, North America, Africa and Europe. He is presently co-principal trumpet of the Hof Symphony Orchestra located in Northern Bavaria, Germany. In addition to his orchestral duties, he is also first trumpet and chief arranger for Rekkenze Brass, one of Europe's leading brass quintets. He lives together with his wife, Debbie and daughter, Kaitlyn in Hof, where he enjoys such local German pastimes as hiking, skiing and beer...... but not necessarily in that order. He writes: 


Got your latest cadenzas news letter and read the Phil Woods thing.

Wow! Editors are supposed to PROTECT the truth, not kill it. But even beyond that, I see a couple of village idiots here who, if they were smart would capitalize on the truth which I firmly believe, if they had an ounce of imagination, make the story far richer and more interesting because it starts nowhere and ends up on top.

I do have an observation about the article I wanted to pass on to Phil if you would, please.

In the article  Phil says about Mr. Larose:

"He was just a great musician, one of those unsung heroes you find in towns all over America, that maybe are not going to set the world on fire".

I would argue this point with Phil. Actually, Larose did set the world on fire through the person of Phil Woods who did most of the burning!

In Response to Orchestra Experiences

Bob Freedman - in his words, “is an arranger who is fortunate enough to have had his work played by some of the finest musicians in the world and considers that to be the greatest reward a writer can receive.” Those are Bob’s words… in reality, he is one of the finest arrangers and composers I have known over my career as well as being a person of complete musical integrity. Among those with which he has worked as musical director and arranger are Lena Horne, Harry Belfonte and many others. Many of you will know his recorded work through the Wynton Marsalis CD, "Hot House Flowers." He writes: 

Having swum in the milieu of the symphonic pops orchestra a few times, as both arranger and conductor, I read your recent article on the subject with interest.

Like you, I always try to bring music for them to play which is well written for the instruments and which will tend to show respect for their dedicated musicianship. Therefore I am surprised and disappointed when some of the players subtilely seem to express contempt, or at least disinterest, for/in their parts. 

One appearance I did with an internationally renowned singer entailed four services - two rehearsals and two performances - with a famous west coast orchestra. The 'cello section, without any comment from the orchestra's manager, got smaller with each successive service. At the final performance it was about half its original size. This was not disastrous, however neither did it give us anything in the way of  encouragement.

On the other hand, the Ravinia (Illinois) Festival Orchestra, which was essentially a full-size pickup group, treated our book with the enthusiasm they might have devoted to an evening of Stravinsky. My baton is not by any means a faultless beacon, but those young musicians followed it as though I had been leading them to the Promised Land. 

Another pleasant experience on the same tour was with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. This was the only venue in which I did not conduct. Erich Kunzel, the orchestra's illustrious Music Director, applied himself to the job and asked me to stand next to him during the entire rehearsal process. As it turned out, my presence was pretty much unnecessary because Mr. Kunzel had gained an immediate grasp of each score and conveyed his understanding flawlessly to the orchestra.. (The 'cello section remained at full strength throughout.)

Arrangers have the duty to be continuously aware that the symphonic pops orchestra is not merely a huge studio band. I think that instrumentalists have a similar responsibility to assess and perform their parts with total integrity and pride. The audience and the featured performer deserve our very best.

Cadenzas - Edition VIII

How Lucky Is That?

Ed Soph - A Study In Taste and Adventure

In response to: How Lucky Is That?

Richard McMahan is an old and dear friend who began his teaching career in 1966, earning a Bachelors degree from Newberry College, a Masters degree from East Carolina University and a doctorate from the University of South Carolina. As band director in Lexington, SC, he always tried to bring in top jazz talent to conduct clinics and concerts with his students.  Richard left teaching in 1979 to open his own music production company and recording studio. He sold the studio and busibess in 1991 to enter the financial services business and continues being a teacher, educating clients with his financial expertise. He writes:

How lucky all of us are to have had our lives touched by music and people who "make music".  Many of us developed our love for the arts and teaching because of the influence of people such as you, Clark Terry, Clem DeRosa, Roger Pemberton, Tom Ferguson, Ed Soph and my college band director, Charles "chief" Pruitt.

During my early years as a high school band director, I received a recording from Tom Ferguson featuring you with the Memphis State University jazz band.  The band, your performance and Jack Cortner's arrangements blew me away.

In the late 1960's during a visit to NYC, I decided to contact you.  You spent almost an hour talking to me about music education and invited me to drop by the Village Vanguard on Monday night to hear Thad and Mel’s band.  I found it hard to believe that you would devote so much time with a high school band director from the middle of South Carolina.  I am forever grateful that you did.  My students all benefited from your influence on me.

Last year I received an email from a former student that I have not seen since his graduation in 1972.  He thanked both me and you not only for his life long love of music but for the influence on his life beyond music as well.

Although I have been out the music business for a number of years, many of my fondest memories are of the friends and teachers that taught me more than music.

Thank you for all that you have given.

Mike Metheny is a marvelous trumpet/flugelhorn soloist. A native of Missouri, he holds both a bachelor and masters degree in Music Education. Mike was a member of the U.S. Army Field Band in Washington, D.C., and later a faculty member at Boston's Berklee College of Music. While in Boston, he led his own quartet, appearing in numerous club, concert and festival settings across New England and the U.S. In addition to appearing on numerous jazz recordings as a sideman, Mike has released eight solo albums and is one of the few trumpeters to regularly perform on the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument). Today, Mike is a freelance performer and music journalist in the Kansas City area and the editor of Kansas City's Jazz Ambassador Magazine (JAM), a position he held for nine years. Mike and I have shared the stage several times, always a source of great pleasure to me as we share so many musical values. You may learn more about Mike and check out his musical contributions at http://www.mikemetheny.com/. He writes:

Of your many Cadenzas, this edition I especially enjoyed. Regarding "How Lucky Is That?" in recent years I've had the opportunity to say to my first teacher, Keith House (from 40 years ago), "You can't second guess fate." We were talking on the phone one day about all the different twists and turns one's career can take... from day one. I was also intrigued by this segment of your article:

<< And upon hearing a recording of Clyde McCoy’s “Sugar Blues” from my brother’s record collection, I would choose the trumpet, which would be the life-long source of my self-expression. >>

As you may have read in some of Pat's bio material over the years, it was my record collection brought home from college during summers in the late '60s that contributed to Pat's initial interest in jazz. In those days I was more interested in being the next Maurice Andre, but Pat took full advantage of his older brother's secondary affinity for jazz that included, among many things, Miles, Clark, and Kenton... with a young Marvin Stamm on trumpet.

<< How fortunate that my first band director was an excellent teacher, had an interest in those of us who seemed to “get the message” and would do all he could to encourage that interest. >>

In a recent JAM magazine I was able to salute my first teacher, Mr. House. He was also a very important influence for Pat (who played French horn in the high school band, believe it or not... a great trivia question someday!). If you're interested, the piece is at:

http://www.jazzkc.org/issues/2002-10/newmusicteacher.html  (scroll to the bottom)

<< And that my brother, Gordon, possessing a love for Jazz and dance band music would allow me to listen to and play along with his records from which my first attempts at improvisation would materialize. Gordon would become my first great influence in Jazz. All sheer luck, but creating experiences that would be life-altering. >>

It sounds like Gordon and I would have something in common: being related to renowned jazz musicians!

<< It seems that most of my life has gone that way – how I came to be on the Kenton Band and later the Herman Band; my decision to go to NYC and my meeting and becoming close friends with the great trumpeter Ernie Royal my first day in town; how I subbed on the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis jazz Orchestra one week after arriving in New York, that leading to a seven year association with the band. It was my good fortune that this led to a long career in the studios and my becoming firmly established in NYC. >>

Fortuitous serendipity at first, no doubt... but, as you will surely agree, superior talent must also come into play. Had you not been an excellent player, open doors would have closed rather quickly!

<< So what is the lesson in all this? I’m not sure I know. But I do know how lucky I am to have had these “life experiences,” each unplanned, occurring because I was in the right place at the right time. >>

Not that it matters, but I am very much the agnostic. Yet, when certain things seem to come together in such perfectly orchestrated ways, I do tend to stop in my tracks and ponder "the imponderable." Is it just plain luck? Or the result of "a greater plan"? Hard to say... although I do sometimes lean in the direction of thanking "favorable yet incomprehensible cosmic forces." But then I'm also compelled to wonder why some people with good hearts and great potential get hit by the proverbial Mack truck going the wrong way on the interstate. After all these years, I still have no idea “what it's all about, Alfie...”

Some Thoughts on Our World

Another solid article, Marvin. These are, indeed, very unusual and unprecedented times. Here's another two cents: You and I are part of a generation that remembers all too well the Cold War and the era of Mutually Assured Destruction. The Russians didn't want to die, we didn't want to die, and so nothing major ever happened. But now we're dealing with people who think it's COOL to die. "Paradise" and all that. I've had some spirited debates with friends who think we should at least be trying to "talk" with our new adversaries. I respond with: "How do you sit down and reason with someone who thinks it's a good idea to fly a plane into a building?!" In the last year or so, I've been thinking a lot about Peggy Lee, who used to sing, "If that's all there is, my friend, then let's keep on dancing, and break out the booze, and have a ball." Tonight I will raise a glass to those insightful words.

John Daniel has over 20 years experience, teaching college at Abilene Christian University and Penn State University; he began teaching at Lawrence Conservatory in Appleton, WI September, 2002.  He has played as a sub on Broadway, with dozens of symphony orchestras, and appeared as a soloist in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and at numerous universities. He writes: 

I have so much to say on this subject, I'm not sure how to begin. So let's try being a bit general and philosophical before we turn to more personal matters.

Of course the element of chance, odds, or luck is a part of human experience.  However, our perspective on life has a great deal to do with how large a part of life luck will play, and even more importantly, if we consider our luck to be good or bad.  We all know people who recognize good luck as a blessing and bad luck as a challenge and opportunity to grow( a blessing in disguise).  We watch sports because we want to see how people will respond to the element of chance.  We all can relate to that even if we aren't athletic.  Live music will always have it's place for the same reason.  There is something heroic and mythological about responding to the challenges of human existence ( one of which is 'chance')  in a public forum.  We don't always succeed, it would be pretty boring if we did!  I'm not even sure it would be "art" if we always were successful, but that's another topic.

The point is, if we are philosophical about the "chance" elements of life, we can decide to accept our fate and make the most of it.  Also, there is a certain matter of energy flow, which will certainly have an effect on our luck.  For example,  when we are young and most impressionable we need to be taught to believe in ourselves by teachers and family.  For whatever reasons, many of us don't learn this lesson as children and have to teach ourselves to have "the greatest of of all", as Whitney put it.  In either case,  people tend to believe in those who believe in themselves.  This is a case of energy following the path of least resistance.  Gigs are certainly offered to those who know they can get the job done.

As a teacher of college age students, I purposely try to stay out of my students heads in this regard.  I want to give them the tools to believe in themselves, not fabricate some temporary feeling of self worth based on some exaggerated praise from me.  Accurate self assessment skills are a must in this business!  We are talking about life lessons here, and using the trumpet and music as an opportunity to understand life better.

I'm sure there are a lot of people who grew up in similar circumstances to you, Marvin.  And yet, you recognized your blessings and took responsibility for them.  Most people aren't prepared to do that as well as you've done it and continue to do it.

In regard to the music business, I see a balance of three elements involved:
1.  Where is our passion and how much of it do we have?
2.  Where is our talent and how much of it do we have?
3.  What will the market bear?

In my case, my passion is for making music, my greatest talent is for teaching, and the market will obviously support teaching better than performing.  As a college teacher, I can try to express this balance, accept my fate as a blessing, and watch my life unfold with a sense of awe.  I get better at teaching without really trying or caring so much, yet I have to work 10 times as hard for 1/10 the results as a player. I've come to accept this and actually enjoy it.  What I didn't get in physical talent for trumpet playing I was given in passion and problem-solving intelligence.  All of this has made my life what it is, and given me some philosophical basis for influencing my future.  The big surprise for me has been that just as I've accepted all of this, playing is becoming much easier for me.

So, Marvin, I accept your declaration of the role of luck in your life as a statement of humility.  You are simply accepting the fact that we are all a small part of forces much bigger than ourselves.  Beyond acceptance, we can celebrate our meager role in the forces of life, allowing those forces to play as large a role in our lives as possible. These larger forces not only effect life and death issues, career issues, etc., but musical issues as well.  Accepting what is happening musically and letting those larger forces determine how to respond is what makes music worthwhile.  Every great musician knows they don't "create" musical flow.  We can only create room for it and invite it into the music and wait patiently.  We attach our musical thoughts to the flow, not the other way around.

So "luck" is one facet of the energy of life.  It pays to understand luck as a human perspective on something much more loving and purposeful.

Perhaps a wish for "good luck" is an appropriate ending remark.

Trudy Schwartz is a dear friend living in the Chicago area. She is a person of great talent, a wonderful photographer, lover and supporter of the Arts and has a great ear for music. The “Bobby” that she speaks of is Bobby Lewis, a great trumpeter who has, for many years now, been a mainstay on the Chicago Jazz and studio scene. Bobby and I are dearest of friends who share many interests and viewpoints in regard to music, wine, food and values of life. She writes:

I read your piece "How Lucky is That?" and it sounds a lot like conversations that Bobby and I have had from time to time about his career.  He always says that he's happy to be the age he is because he was a young musician when there were still almost limitless opportunities, and he was "lucky" enough to have experienced many of them.  But as an outside observer, I would like to say that I think you both created a lot of your own luck too.  Yes, the time was right, and yes, you both have the talent - but I do think there is an extra ingredient that you both possess that differentiates you from the musicians who weren't so "lucky".  The "un-lucky" ones, often embittered about their lack of breaks, are the ones that have perpetuated this myth of “luck.”  I substitute the word "fortunate."  Fortunate describes the good parenting, the mentors, and the time in which you lived and worked, where the opportunities abound.  Then there is professionalism - characterized by treating your musical gift, your colleagues and the people who chose to employ you with respect; little things like always being on time, always making that extra effort to meet the need, approaching the work without ego - do you resemble these remarks?  I think so.  And these are only a few of the characteristics that differentiate the successful talents from the grousers.  So, I think "fortunate" is a more apt term.  And success is what you made of your good fortune. See, you're not the only one who owns a soap box!

In response to: Ed Soph - A Study In Taste and Adventure

Jack Wengrosky, an alumnus of the North Texas Lab band program, has been lead trumpet for the US Army Jazz Ambassadors since 1992, touring over 100 days a year. The JAs have been guest artists with five major symphonies, including a recent Carnegie Hall performance with the Cincinnati Pops. The band also features many guest artists like myself, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Houghton, Bill Watrous, Toots Thielmanns and many more. Jack has played lead trumpet for Doc Severinsen, Rich Little, Steve Allen, for numerous recording sessions and has done freelance work in Chicago, Dallas, and D.C. Jack, over the last 10 years, has directed big band and trumpet clinics at over 100 different schools, colleges and universities and hopes to pass on the enjoyment of music to as many students as possible. He writes:

Having attended North Texas as a trumpet player, I considered Ed Soph a big part of that education. I didn't consider myself one of the top tier of students, but I was driven to play and learn how to be a better lead player. I never had a class taught by Ed, nor heard him give a lecture. I did pay attention to what he was saying and what he was playing and learned to really listen to the drums. The two things that I remember the most, don't drag (still working on that!) and provide a good chart to the drummer if you expect the music to be performed well. Things that I leaned from playing with Mr. Soph which were never said: always play with drive, watch the drummer's hands in the periphery to catch hits, stay with the drums and on top of the band, a good drummer will always keep the pulse, listen to way the drums and bass play together. Ten years later, I still try to use what I learned from Ed Soph as a first-class musician and maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to pass on what I learned to other students. Thanks to Ed Soph for being part of my education. P.S. (you too, Marvin)

Cadenzas - Edition VII

Two Articles On Teaching

In Memoriam - Bill Byrne

Classical vs. Jazz

Teaching and General Comments

In response to: Dr. Judith Schlesinger's "Two Articles On Teaching"

Georgie Cooper is Adjunct Professor and College Supervisor at the Dept. of Education and Child Development at Whittier College in Whittier, CA. She writes:

Dr. Schlesinger's article, "Self-esteem is the Enemy of Learning and Civility," brought to mind a comment made several years ago by a former student of mine.  This young man had barely passed 7th grade English with me, because he was mainly a couch potato.  The product of
divorced parents who pawned the kid off on one of the grandmothers, he was left to his own devices after school until his grandmother came home from work.

I frequently drove this boy home, because we became friends.  Some serious scolding on my part resulted in getting this young man to complete enough homework to pass my class with a D.  Now, understand that this kid was anything but stupid.  (Make of it what you like, he finally took up trombone, which he played in the high school jazz ensemble.)

In his eighth grade year, he stopped by to see me one day, during which visit he crowed that he was now an A student. "What in the world happened?" I asked.  "Did you finally get 'religion' about your homework?  As I frequently mentioned to you, follow-up drill may be the key to retention."

"No," he answered.  "Hey, yesterday I was getting an F in there. But Ms. X said that she and Ms. Y had decided that my problem was low self-esteem, so today they called me in and told me that I now have an A, which I can keep up there if I chose.  Of course, I can also let it go down to an F.  The choice is mine."

Knowing X and Y as I did, I should not have been surprised; then I asked, "And what do you think of that, buddy?"

He replied, "Well, I think those teachers are pretty stupid, if you ask me."

It makes me angry that adults talk down to students in the name of theory-of-the-year.  This is surely the case with the student mentioned above, a student who saw right through the dark glass of condescension.  Mind you, I did not verbally agree nor did I disagree with this student's estimate of the situation.  We talked about music from then on. I had a piano in my 7th grade English classroom, and I played a little for the kids. This one picked up on that and joined the band in junior high school.  He went on to become interested in jazz, and he loved the band
director, a tuba player from UC Irvine who started our district's first ever jazz ensemble as a before- and after-school activity.  Do you think this kid's self-esteem will suffer if he's not the world's greatest A+ trombonist?

Peter Knudsvig was born and raised in Williston, ND and has performed on three continents, North America, Africa and Europe. He is presently co-principal trumpet of the Hof Symphony Orchestra located in Northern Bavaria, Germany. In addition to his orchestral duties, he is also first trumpet and chief arranger for Rekkenze Brass, one of Europe's leading brass quintets. He lives together with his wife, Debbie and daughter, Kaitlyn in Hof, where he enjoys such local German pastimes as hiking, skiing and beer...... but not necessarily in that order. He writes: 

Thoughts about Dr. Schlesinger's articles on teaching and self-esteem:

Those who argue that self-esteem is the most important issue in education are about half right and in my experience, being half right is usually a whole lot more dangerous than being all wrong. As Claude Reins said to Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia: (I'm paraphrasing here) 

"Stop showing your false sense of outrage about the (Sikes-Picco) agreement. if you didn't know for a fact about it's existence you at least suspected it and therefore, if I have been guilty of telling lies then you have been guilty of telling half lies and someone who tells lies is merely concealing the truth but someone who tells half lies has forgotten where he put it." 

That self-esteem is important is not a question but "self belief" or believing in one's self is different and I believe far more important than Self-esteem.  For me, self-esteem is almost an oxymoron.  Self-esteem means to esteem one's self and as Irving Thalberg once said:

"Credit you give yourself is not worth having".

And self-esteem to me, is giving credit to your self. Believing in yourself is something all together different. If you in fact believe, deeply believe in yourself then your opinions about who you are not terribly relevant to your existence. 
As author Bob Pirsig has said,

"No one goes around screaming about the fact that the sun is going to come up in the morning". 

And this fact is never more true when raising children. Children build their sense of self belief from the security of knowing that their sun is going to come up the next morning as it does every day and a parent helps a child accomplish this by making sure that their sun does indeed, come up the same each day.  How?  By giving that child lots of love and security; and part of the feeling of that security is discipline and a sense, a consistent and logical sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad. A child who has an abundance of these things usually is full of curiosity about all things in life and is willing to open up their world to the "other world" and embrace it or bring it into their own. 

Trying to teach a college freshman who has not adequately learned these basic building blocks of character which are in essence,  the real basics of learning, is like trying to teach transposition to someone who never learned how to read music. And on at least this single point, I suspect, the teachers on both sides of this "self-esteem" issue would agree. But you can't replace a deficiency in ones self belief by a diet of artificial, injected self-esteem 'steroids' either through a curriculum or in a social environment. It is first of all, far too late and the level of learning has already progressed too far for it to be concurrently taught.

It seems to me, many people have forgotten the difference between feeling good and doing good. Within the context of my small and limited environment, an example of doing good for me is working out my third finger kinks with a lot of hard, wood shedding practice so that my audience is better served by a better performance. The future utility of pleasing my audience does make me feel good about myself  but the practice itself is a pretty mundane and sometimes miserable task. Simply feeling good, on the other hand, is for me, sitting down with a tall glass of Kneitinger beer. You be the judge of which motive is the more pure!

Marion Egge is a musician, a writer/editor/publisher and former teacher, living and working in the Philadelphia area. Marion plays with the Allentown Band, the oldest civilian concert band in the country, with a documented history of continuous existence since July 4, 1828. She also played in the Allentown Symphony for fifty-one years.  What she writes comes not only through years of teaching experience, but also from having had to work her way through school to obtain both a bachelor and masters degree and from her experience working in the “real world.” I have come to know and respect Marion for what she has done in her life because no one "gave" her anything - she "earned" it! She writes:

In your mailing about Cadenzas VII you mentioned your surprise and/or concern that nobody had responded to Judith Schlesinger's articles about grading and "self-esteem." I am so sick and tired of hearing all that self-esteem garbage, I decided to read what she had to say and see if and how it might grab me. 

First and most important, it would be hard not to share Ms. Schlesinger's disgust with a university where grade inflation on demand is not only tolerated, but also seemingly condoned. Good for her! I'd quit too.

One sentence in her essay about hypocrisy in college grading particularly caught my attention. She wrote, "Students' ability to read, write and think is secondary to their feeling good about themselves, which is precisely the philosophy that got us into this pickle in the first place." Just where and when did this feel-good philosophical "pickle" originate?

That's what I wanted to know, so I thought back to my college teaching days of the mid-'70s. As one of the "new" people in the English department, I was required to attend "grading sessions" wherein student-written papers were circulated among the faculty for evaluation and discussion. The goal of this exercise was, supposedly, to help standardize departmental grading.

Incredibly, on more than one occasion, grades for a single paper ranged from "A" to "F." At one end were those pedagogues so strictly laced in the corsets of "rules" for writing that no paper deserved more than a "D" or "F." The "self-esteemers" at the other extreme, in justifying their assigned "A" or “B” grade to the same paper, always cited the "depth of feeling" the student demonstrated. Sentence structure and diction be damned! Students were expected to write how they feel and what they feel; manner of expression didn't seem to matter. Guess which professors were the most popular???

Obviously the "feel-gooders" were firmly entrenched on campus before I stood at the head of a classroom, so the self-esteem philosophy must have originated years earlier. Why not, then, examine the beginning of my own educational experience? At age 71, I'm looking at the public schools of the 1930s and '40s. Let me tell you, I never had a teacher who graded my feelings. Students either learned the material or went through everything again with the same teacher the following year.

Ms. Schlesinger clearly states in her second essay, "Genuine self-esteem comes from meeting challenges, not eliminating them. . . ." I agree. If so, then the classroom experience must have been altered in the '50s and/or '60s. How? I can't exactly pinpoint every change, but one element comes to mind that I believe is significant.

In the early years of my schooling, everybody in the room was part of one homogeneous class. That may sound overly simplistic, but think about it! 

Abilities ranged from stupid to brilliant. It wasn't a matter of the top of the class challenging the bottom. Everybody worked on identical material--some faster than others, allowing them the luxury of digging more deeply into the subject and absorbing additional information. But because everybody was working on the same thing at the same time, each person was challenged by the work at hand and/or by those students who were just a little smarter. In many cases, we helped to teach each other--often merely because our strengths and weaknesses fell into different areas. We were all in it together, unaware of any kind of class structure that made each of us different. The important factor was that we were all on the "same page," so to speak. We each met an individual challenge or did not. It was OK to fail and try again.

I believe that a huge detrimental metamorphosis took place when educators got the bright (?) idea to break each class into smaller study groups. In elementary school reading, or math, or social studies, or whatever, the new groupings were called "bluebirds," "robins," or something similar. It didn't take long for the kids to figure out that these phony tags equated to "bright" and "dumb." Once assigned to the robin's nest, there was no possibility of flying high with the bluebirds.

The tag, though not necessarily attached to a name, followed each student through the grades. The average or not-so-bright student was never challenged beyond the best of his or her own group. Not only that! They were supposed to "feel good" because they were the best of their own class-within-a-class. In the real world, they had to be satisfied being the best of the worst--or not satisfied at all.

Once these kids raised in different birdhouses got to high school, they couldn't be fooled by phony names. Educators got around that by creating "honors" classes to challenge (mostly) college-bound kids. The cream-of-the-crop was challenged only by the cream-of-the-crop, as these "bluebirds" had been categorized for most of their schooling. When a mediocre student planning for college (a "robin's nester" throughout the early years) was placed with the honors students and couldn't face up to the challenge, then parents arrived on the scene--parents begging for inflated grades so their kids could be admitted to their college of choice. Not wanting or willing to admit their mistake of having placed the child in an inappropriate setting, possibly since first grade, the educators caved in.

Thus, I believe that the "hypocrisy" in grading that Ms. Schlesinger deplores in college began much earlier--in the public schools, probably even some prestigious private schools. The "bell curve" doesn't exist anymore, and it probably shouldn't. I can't believe that it is ever fair to assume a perfect "bell," wherein an average "C" should be the middle grade assigned, and above and below which all other grades should fall in equal numbers. But it is also absurd to suppose that everybody within a class is capable of doing either "A": or "B" work. If everybody in the class rates either of those grades, then the teacher is not challenging anyone!

At some point--I'm not sure exactly when--I believe that curriculum consultants realized that their experiment of categorizing and separating students of various abilities was not effective in the positive sense they had anticipated. Rather than admitting their own judgmental error, these same educators dreamed up and imposed their "feel-good philosophy." Classroom teachers would now have to find something to praise about even the worst of students. Each child needed high self-esteem! Feel-good time had arrived! And it didn't matter so much what--or if--a child learned anything else at all, just so long as he or she could engage in self-love. We have no choice but to conclude that this latest pathetic educational approach is as flawed as the former one. We now have generations of supposedly educated people who love themselves--but nobody or nothing else. Egocentricity personified!

Every May and June I get to play with the Allentown Band for three different college commencements. Each year the number of students graduating cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude, increases. Sometimes, in some schools, it seems to be almost half the class! I, for one, don't believe it one bit. Some graduate schools must offer remedial courses--particularly in study skills and writing--for their masters and doctoral candidates. Many business owners will quickly affirm that the honors graduate they hired deserves no greater honor than to return to school to learn what he or she missed the first time around. What next? What do we do about it? How do we instill the desire to learn and the respect for good teaching? I wish I had the answer. Quite honestly, I don't know. All I can say is "How sad!" and "How tragic!" We do, indeed, find ourselves in Ms. Schlesinger's "pickle." Somebody somewhere had better open the jar--soon.

David Barry is a cardiac sonagrapher, now living and working in Colorado Springs, CO. Prior to this, Dave was an excellent drummer who grew up in Houston, TX through the marvelous 50s and 60s.  He became a most versatile musician and worked a number of years playing shows in Reno and Lake Tahoe, later moving to LA where he worked on the Carol Burnett TV Show and in other areas of music. He was also my roommate at North Texas and is one of my dearest friends. He writes: 

Judith Schlesinger's article is truly profound. I was astonished daily when I returned to college to witness how many of my classmates expected to be passed and rewarded for no sincere effort to do the work or understand the value of the instructors commitment to their future success. I was never late, never missed a class, did the work and felt like I validated my instructor’s efforts on my behalf and wound up more qualified to enter into a totally new work environment than I would have ever imagined. 

You too did the work, [still do] and you never forget the dedication of your teachers, John Haynie and Carmine Caruso to you because you represent the fulfillment of their lives as teachers. You too could be a great teacher; I'll never forget watching you captivate that young audience in Flagstaff a few years back.

In response to: In Memoriam - Bill Byrne

Jim Szantor is a former editor of Down Beat who knew Bill Byrne for 37 years. He writes:

I first met Bill Byrne outside the Plugged Nickel on Chicago's Wells Street on his second night on the band.  This was a Monday night in Chicago in August of 1965.  The previous night the band had played one of those classic "dumb gigs"--some sort of extravaganza for which the band was onstage (at Shea Stadium in New York) for about nine hours on a hot day with one short break, backing all manner of strange and sundry acts.  What a baptism!  (That gig had all the earmarks of an Abe Turchen booking, didn't it?) 

Even though I was still a college student at that time (writing a jazz column for the University of Wisconsin paper and gigging around the Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee area), Bill was warm and friendly from the first and introduced me to other guys on the band, several of whom even corresponded with me for a time (lead trombonist Gary Potter was one).  (Baritone saxophonist) Tom Anastas was another.  What a character. He followed my career closely when I joined Down Beat in 1970 because his brother, also named Jim, was a newspaper reporter in Detroit and had told Tom that he liked my work.

Bill was a dinner guest at our home in Chicago many times, and he always brought a little gift (candy or something) for my two daughters.  We shared many a laugh together.  Once, when I was in New York covering the first-ever Newport in New York (Chase was there, on a bill with Bill Evans and Elvin Jones!), he invited me up to his hotel room before we embarked on the night's meanderings. He stood up on the bed, removed one of the acoustic tiles from the ceiling, and promptly stashed the night's receipts up inside.  He said, "Jim, I hope the New York rats aren't too hungry tonight, because if they are, Woody's going to have a new road manager tomorrow."

One time after I had stopped in to hear the band at their closing night at Chicago's famed London House (which, was, incidentally, the club's closing night as well), Bill asked me to stay and help him count the money.  I was amazed at how long it took to count $10,000 in cash, even with two people doing it! 

On another occasion, Bill invited me to his room at the Maryland Hotel in Chicago to show me some photos he had taken in Europe.  The hostelry had been in the news that week because Hugh Hefner's personal secretary had committed suicide by drug overdose in the hotel, which was within walking distance of the Playboy Mansion, where she lived.  I was telling Bill about this in the elevator, so as we got to Bill's room, he said, "So that explains it!"  "It" was the crime-scene coroner's tape that was still sealing the door to the suicide room--right next door to Bill's! 

"I'm always where the action is--or isn't," Bill quipped. 

"That's funny, Bill," I replied.  "But I'll still check on you in the morning."

We both laughed, because we both knew that Bill would be the least likely person to commit suicide.  He always looked on the bright side of things, and if you mentioned some peccadillo or other of a cat on the band (past or present) he would be quick to point out the man's compensatory merits.  He may be the only person I've known who NEVER said a bad word about anybody.  Maybe the only person EVER about whom you could make such a statement. 

Thanks to Bill, I had a small role in Woody's 40th anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall.  One day, about a month before the gig, Bill called me and asked if I had the Cadet LP with "Blues in the Night" on it.  Of course, I did.  Why was he asking?  Because Woody had finally decided on what the band was going to do for the Carnegie gig, and "Blues in the Night," which the band hadn't played in a year or more, was included.  "There's no drum part," Bill lamented, "so could you make a tape of it so Danny (D'Imperio) can learn the chart?"  Of course, I said yes. 

"When do you need it?" I asked.

"Tonight," Bill replied.

This was about 4 p.m.  I was due at the Chicago Tribune at 5 p.m. (I was night slotman on the copy desk then).  Seeing as how I was out of tape, I had to run four blocks to the nearest store, get some tape, tape the tune while I showered and shaved, then drop off the tape at the front desk of the Maryland Hotel after my shift was over.  But, hey, I knew Bill would do anything for me, so I was more than happy to help out, especially for such an august occasion.

But my contributions to the Herd pale in comparison to Bill's.  There was a particularly rough stretch around the summer of 1971 when there were a lot of cancellations, and I don't think Woody ever knew how much Bill contributed financially to keeping the band alive (helping make the bus bill, etc.).  Woody didn't know, for example, that when he decided to add electric piano and bass and the band's own sound system, that Bill paid for it out of his own pocket!  Bill didn't tell me that; Alan Broadbent did, if memory serves.  Later, during one of our late-night conversations, Bill told me that it was true. 

The band was like his own family; no one loved it more than he did.   Woody used to bark at him when things went wrong (such as when Bill sent the bus back to the hotel, not knowing that Woody wanted to change clothes on it), but he took it all in stride and seemed to have a Buddha-like understanding about going with the flow.  Being a road manager can be extremely stressful at times, I'm sure, but who ever saw Bill Byrne looking stressed?  I never did.  And that's amazing because it is a rare day on the road when everything goes smoothly.  It's always something:  The bus driver gets lost, the bus breaks down, the directions are wrong, the sub doesn't show up, somebody gets sick, the piano is bad, fuses blow, or, in the case of one tense night in Texas, something more dramatic.  A clubowner pulled out a gun and refused to pay the band.  Butter (Bobby Burgess) told me about that one and how angry and frustrated Bill Byrne was.  It was touch and go with the gun, Butter related.  (Or, in Jimmy Breslin's great phrase about a different crisis in a different town:  "Danger made the night spin.")

Bill Chase told me how underrated Bill Byrne was as a player and how he had to talk Woody out of firing him in '65.  "He doesn't play that well, does he?" Woody would ask.  Woody wanted to get someone on the chair who could play some jazz or at least play some lead in a pinch. And Chase would say, "He's going to be all right.  Don't worry about it."  Because Chase knew how much being on the band meant to Bill Byrne, what a prince of a guy he was and that he was working on the parts every chance he had.  And hey, how many cats are content to play the fifth book and are a joy to have on the bus? 

Just imagine, if you will, the fate of the Herd, vis a vis the early '70s financial crunch, if Chase had been less persuasive (or if another lead player who was not a confidant of the Old Man had been there) and Bill Byrne had been let go.  Would Woody's matchless mobile conservatory still been in existence in the mid- and late1970s and beyond for the likes of Joe Lovano, Al Vizzutti, Lyle Mays, John Fedchock, Dave Stahl, Gary Smulyan, Pat Coil, Roger Ingram, George Rabbai and many others  to hone their skills in?  Perhaps not.  Woody had many offers to do other, less arduous things, such as working with a sextet in Las Vegas with Red Norvo.  I know, because he told me (and has been reported, I believe, in Bill Clancy's excellent book and perhaps Gene Lees' as well).

A year or so ago, Bill sent me a letter with a photo inside.  It was of Woody in Pittsburgh, taken not long before his last gig.  In the picture, Woody is standing in an alley behind a theater or club, looking relaxed with a great smile on his face.  Photographer:  William Byrne.  It is one of my prized possessions.  But that was Bill: ever thoughtful and giving.

 I'm going to miss Bill a lot.  A truer friend no man could ever ask for.  I trust that he has now been reunited with the three men who meant the most in his life--his father, Bill Chase and Woody Herman.

In response to: Classical vs. Jazz

Kevin Hartman is Asst. Professor of Trumpet at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  His orchestral career has included numerous concerts, recordings and tours with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  He has been principal trumpet with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and the Lancaster Festival Orchestra.  He has also performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra.  He is a founding member of the Asbury Brass Quintet and was a member of the Chicago Brass Quintet.  He also has spent countless hours in the theater pits and recording studios in Chicago, performing with many popular artists, including Celine Dion, Enrique Eglesias, Peter Cetera and David Foster. He writes:

I just read Edition VII of Cadenzas and I want to share my thoughts with you regarding the "Classical vs. Jazz" essay. 

I don't doubt for a moment that some college and university teachers have the "ivory tower" attitude that you write of, but there may be other reasons why you might not see a trumpet professor at one of your performances.  If the teacher is doing his/her job well he/she performs often and may have a job on the night of your performance.  I don't get to half of the concerts on our campus that I'd like to hear because I'm working on those nights!   That teacher may also have encouraged his/her students to attend, but we can't baby-sit.  Most universities have performance calendars that are very full, often with more than one concert per day and while we set minimum attendance requirements, we can't always dictate what our students attend. 
I agree that there are some teachers out there who have insecurities that get in the way of good teaching, but I'm not sure whether that is, as you say, "at the crux of it all." 

I would also note that although you described the problem from your perspective, that is, classical students not attending jazz events, it goes the other way as well.  I've done quite a bit of work on the "college circuit" (mostly with the Asbury Brass Quintet and the Chicago Brass Quintet) and we sometimes didn't see the jazz students- even the brass players!

Thanks for bringing up so many interesting topics!

(Ed. Note: I am in complete agreement with Mr. Hartman’s statements about how busy those teachers who maintain an active performance life are and about their inability to baby-sit students. They should not have to – a serious student of music should be inspired and not need to be baby-sat! But these are the teachers that usually make it their business to stop by and welcome a visiting artist to their campus or, if unable to do that personally, will send a written note or verbal message doing so. It is only those who do not possess the common courtesy to do something so simple that I speak of and their lack of desire to encourage their students to partake of what other artists may have to give. Regarding Jazz students who ignore attending concerts by classical artists, I have as little respect for them as I do those students whose minds are closed to Jazz.

Tom Stevens is the former principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he held for many years. Tom is also one of the finest trumpet soloists and musicians I have encountered and is internationally respected. He writes for various publications - the Brass Bulletin among them - and lectures and teaches at symposiums and conferences worldwide. He writes:

With particular reference to all of those professional musicians who have experienced difficulties in their relations with academe:

During the late 70s through the early 80s, A. T. and T., the telecommunications giant, offered financial assistance to help underwrite some major American symphony orchestras’ U.S. tours.

One of the stipulations attached to the support was that the orchestras would make their principals/solo players available for master classes which would be offered free of charge to any colleges and university music departments in the areas where the orchestras would be performing.

On the L. A. Philharmonic's third such tour, after having been asked to do no such classes, in spite of the fact other orchestra members were indeed doing so, I asked the program's administrator why this was. At the time, I was heavily involved in the promotion of advanced 20th century [classical] repertoire for solo trumpet, and, because of this, I had become accustomed to facing the same wall of resistance to my work as were many of my jazz colleagues: was this the problem?

Not at all, replied the administrator. He told me that for some inexplicable reason, in the case of certain instruments, including the trumpet, regardless of the particular orchestra involved, he couldn't give away our services because of resistance, and, in some cases, outright vetoes, from the schools' resident professors of our instruments.

A few years later, after the A.T. and T. master class program had been discontinued, that same administrator told a group of us he never understood the reasons for the resistance to the program he had encountered from the schools.

Neither did we … and neither do I. And nothing seems to have changed.

Anthony J. Agostinelli is a retired professor, formerly a faculty member of the College of Arts and Sciences of Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, for almost a quarter century.  He taught the social sciences, the evolution of jazz and world religions.  A musician since 1943, he has played accordion, piano, keyboards, and a variety of brass instruments.  He had been a member of the IAJE since 1985, and for a few years served on its Advisory Council.  He has been a radio and TV broadcaster and has published a wide variety of works in the social sciences and jazz histories.  Agostinelli's written works include a guide to establish legal regulation for the social work profession, a book on wines, "The Wrath of Grapes" and a history of the Newport Jazz Festival.  He also has written  various research articles as well as works on Stan Kenton, Don Ellis, Eddie Safranski, "How to Do Jazz Research," Urban Contemporary Jazz", and "All Jazz Is Fusion."  He is the Editor of "The Network," a newsletter for the alumni, friends and fans of Stan Kenton. He and his wife live in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He writes:

Jazz v. Everything Else

I am prompted to react to the Classical v. Jazz......I must say, that many in our jazz community, often feel apologetic about being jazz musicians.....we use "compensation" phrases like, "I play jazz, but I'm classically trained," or displacement phrases like, "that C&W music is shit."

We often express feelings of inferiority about the so-called classical music, and express feelings of disdain, towards rock, C&W, or other music which we believe are lesser music than ours.

It's been my belief, that all music has its place in the lexicon of "music soothes the savage breast."  All music has something to offer to man and woman kind.  I remember when back in the early sxities, when Don Ellis was beginning his ascendancy, he wrote a few articles in the trades about giving up labels for music.  He was particularly concerned that he was being pigeon-holed into particular aspects of music.....he believes then that it was about time that we learned to appreciate all musical forms.  I am of that school.

In my own case, I have an eclectic appreciation for music.....classical, operatic, "Broadway," folk, rock, choral, and the like.....I enjoy and appreciate going to performances of a wide range of music.....I am "on edge" to be there when a new musical happening takes place.....sometimes, it is hard for me to process all of what's going on, but then, that's part of my musical education......to be tested and challenged by the form to which I am listening.

I don't offer this as an anti-snob, or anti-elite commentary.....just the facts.  For example, when "Blast!" was performed on Public Television, I went over the top with it.....when Willie Nelson does his thing, I am there with him......when the "Three Mo' Tenors" display their wares to me, I am all over them.....and, I am looking forward to seeing how "Broadway" handles Puccini's "La Boheme" (now that on- and off-, have provided us with adaptations)!  Puccini's "Turandot" performed on-site in Beijing, covered my life for those few hours.  John Cage touches me......the minimalists touch me simply.....

So, having written all of that.....I guess I'm at the point in my life, that all music, performed well, reaches my soul.....and, even when not performed well (as in the case of students), what they're reaching for, reaches me.  I guess that's why I am an educator......

OK.  Thanks for reading this. Keep on doing what you're doing......you open my vistas!

Marilyn Harris is a singer, songwriter, pianist and arranger whose talents have graced not only her own recordings, but a wide variety of other artists' work including Jim Brickman, Bette Midler, Lola Falana, Donna McKechnie, as well as jazz vocalists Anne Marie Moss, Jackie Paris, Judi Silvano and Diane Hubka.   After studying composition with Hale Smith at UConn and film scoring with Ray Wright and Manny Albam at Eastman School of Music, Marilyn worked extensively with jazz arranger Gil Evans and studied piano with Richard Tee and Rodgers Grant.  She has produced music for commercials (Amoco, McDonald's, Kraft, Kellogg's, United Airlines, etc.), ABC-TV's "General Hospital",  and provided original music scores for such diverse projects as the Hallmark Hall of Fame, BBC’s radio drama "Milford-Haven, U.S.A." (Great Britain), "Yogurt Variations" for the New Britain Symphony Orchestra among other things. She writes:

Well, once again you've given us a lot to chew on!!  Re. Classical vs. Jazz, I recall when David Amram came up to UConn in my undergraduate days, and how FEW folks - students AND teachers!?  - bothered to check out his presentation/master class!  It remains one of my favorite memories from college, as David exuded such joy in his musicianship, and was SO inclusive of everyone and their individual experience - a far cry from the pedagogy in place at the UConn Music Dept. of the early 70s.  It blew my mind then that all these stuffed shirts were sneering at him because of his film score credits and jazz roots (never mind his considerable accomplishments in the classical realm, including being selected the first composer-in-residence at Lincoln Center!?) - and it blows my mind now that apparently this prejudice continues today, 30+ years later!

I think you've nailed it, as far as the so-called "reasoning" that goes behind this behavior - ego and fear of being "bested" on the part of teachers!  I recently joined a community band, to practice ensemble playing on alto sax, which I took up last December.  I was SHOCKED by the attitude of the band leader, who harangues and belittles the musicians and students.  Not only does this fellow have poor rehearsal technique and choose inappropriate and generally mediocre transcriptions that are far beyond the capabilities of these particular players, but he puts them down when the music doesn't come together right away.   This type of negativity does nothing to inspire the creation of music, and I would despair for the group if I didn't remember some of the lousy teachers I survived in college, who went out of their way to rain on my parade!?  Somehow, in the hearts of all who love it, music persists, in spite of all the attempts of commercialism, petty ego trips and neurosis on the part of teachers and conductors to kill it!

Re. What's Wrong/Music and Me, I think the expectations of young musicians have changed - similar to expectations of young talented athletes.    20 - 30 years ago, it was enough to be a member of a professional team - or a working musician.  Now the cult of celebrity engulfs and overwhelms most aspiring musicians and athletes - everyone wants their photo on the cover of PEOPLE magazine.  Without the "validation" of popularity, wealth and fame, how do you know who you are?  Any intrinsic value of creativity, excellence and the process of getting there is dismissed and trivialized in the light of commercial success and celebrity.

Fortunately, there are leaders and teachers like you, who keep the emphasis where it belongs.  What you're doing as a clinician is invaluable and will continue to have a ripple effect on every student you encounter, Marvin!  They can't help ultimately but respond to your professionalism, musicianship and integrity.  I know it isn't even close to Thanksgiving, but....Don't let the turkeys get you down!!

In response to: Teaching and General Comments

Chase Sanborn is an excellent jazz trumpet player based in Toronto. He also is a fine teacher and clinician and is the author of Brass Tactics and Jazz Tactics. He is a Yamaha Performing Artist, and his web site is: http://www.chasesanborn.com. He writes:

I figure the primary role of the teacher is to inspire a quest for knowledge. A great teacher must be an avid student. When you are thrilled by the process of learning, you are thrilled by the process of teaching. Once you cease to be thrilled, so will your students. Unfortunately, unmotivated teachers often turn out unmotivated students. It's frustrating to try and teach somebody who doesn't want to learn. All you want to do is get the hell out and go to the bar!

A student said something last week that I thought showed real insight. She realized her progress was being inhibited by the fact that "I constantly beat myself up for not knowing what I am trying to learn." She was using the idea that 'I should know this already' as an excuse not to learn it. At least recognizing the problem is a first step towards buckling down and learning what she doesn't know!

Barbara Brown – Barbara’s background is in Speech Pathology and Audiology.  She holds a B.S. and M.S. in speech pathology from Ithaca College as well as a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in educational administration from SUNY Cortland.  She has worked in the Ithaca City Schools for 27 years in a variety of administrative positions, among which are Associate Principal of a middle school (DeWitt) and summer school principal for 3 years of the Title 1 Summer School. She currently is a Support Teacher at an elementary school in Ithaca and a consultant for the Reconstruction Home Nursing facility as the speech pathologist.  Barbara and her husband, Steve (Dir. Of Jazz Studies at Ithaca College,) are old and dear friends of mine. She writes:

Steve and I have been reading your writing throughout the summer.  Both of us were impressed with your Education pieces.  We think what you are doing is wonderful and glad we are part of your "group."  When all is said and done (not really done), this must be published for historical reasons.  I am sure you have thought of it already.

Here is something to ponder:  Our son Miles is a 2nd year grad student at Mannes School of Music in NYC and has been teaching at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem two mornings a week - Jazz band and strings.  It is funded somehow and he is paid as a substitute.  He also works for the Midori Foundation doing lessons for inner city kids, and he has been playing up a storm - classical bass tour in Russia last summer with the American/Russian Young Artists Orchestra and jazz with Adam Niewood - Gerry's son.

There are no instrumental music lessons for public school kids in Manhattan!  Upstate New York and Long Island have state mandated standards that include music education.  "All-State", come to find out, does not include NYC kids unless they are taught privately.  Where is that at?  The greatest musical city in the world and the kids in the local PS whatever can't get a proper musical education. And, they have less success meeting that state imposed standard.

Last year I worked as one of four assistant principals at Ithaca High School.  The music program in our school district is excellent.  Students begin in small group lessons on strings in the 3rd grade and all other instruments in the 4th grade.  We capture them at an early age and engage them in a variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles from vocal jazz chorus to gospel choir.

The students who perform well academically in our district are often those engaged in music or sports.  I found it interesting that the students who were often suspended had not linked themselves to music or sports or publications or community service. Nothing. Yet, they all would tell me how much they loved music like rap and hard rock. 

I was responsible for 800 students.  Each time I had a disciplinary action to administer, like InSchool Suspension, not the paddle in New York State, I would ask the student to explain to me why some forms of music (rap and hard rock), were so attractive, and, if the student was so cool, why he/she didn't  listen to jazz.  Most of the responses were typical about not liking "that old kind of music," or it "takes too much work to listen to."  (I would come home and tell Steve my results of my informal surveys and it would not thrill him).

Many of the students had never heard much jazz.  Some knew about Louis Armstrong from music education, but, of the students I surveyed, not one could name a living jazz musician.  (Miles Davis does not count, as he IS dead, even if he is still featured on jazz magazines covers at least once a year).

When I would probe the students further, I realized that the jazz musicians themselves are not doing as good a job as they could promoting themselves to the younger market like the other forms of music.  When has "Teen People" magazine featured a cute, young jazz musician? Why can't I buy a Diana Krall lunchbox?

So, part of the responsibility falls on the jazz society to promote its wares on the unsuspecting, malleable, young music consumers.  We can make anything "Hip" in this country.  Even jazz. 

This is what I learned about young musical tastes in the average American High school students last year.

Bobby Francavillo is a composer/orchestrator with over 15 years as head of one of Chicago’s leading music production houses - Intuition Music. He has written music for leading advertising firms and clients, including McDonalds, Reebock, Nike, Pepsi, 7-up, Pillsbury, and more. In 1995 Bobby started an independent record label - Imi Records - having several hits, and quickly rediscovering the joy of listening to music again, something the fast paced jingle world did not allow. Learning all he could about the record and publishing industry, he, in 1997, sold his portion of the jingle company in which he was involved and has since worked closely with the major record companies to find and market new, emerging talent. Recently returning to New York, Bobby opened a new management firm, Intuition Artist Management, being committed to supporting great music, regardless of category. He writes:

Just want you to know I do look forward to receiving, and "actually" reading, your monthly installments of Cadenzas. I use the term "actually", as I guess I represent the contingent of marketing operatives that seeks to meet the bottom lines and follow the "hits". (I long ago disbanded the notion that the sacrifice to create outweighs the need to be heard). 

I say this not to be smug. I say it to reassure. Why? Because what floats my boat as a businessman will never rob my ability to love music for exactly what it is. My passion is to be as close to any kind of music that I can. It's my air. It's my water. No matter what form I get it in, I absorb it all in, and piss out what disdains me. 

The unfortunate dilemma for anything good to survive, is that it has to compete in a world of instant consumption and gratification. (No new news here)

I feel the passion with which you and your respondents discuss various issues that threaten our precious art forms. This group of comrades is smart in that they too have obviously spent hours contemplating the reality that what moves most (people) is in steep contrast to those who have (taste). All I can offer is that I see this painful exchange as a promising, if not necessary element within the art itself because, as with the anything in life, things change and evolve. We can fight to preserve, or we can choose to move on and create something better. (Which is what your small group appears to be dedicated to; I wish you heartfelt success in your musical adventures)

So for now, I'll keep tuning into your forum, and look forward to the day when the bitter contrast is not a topic of discussion, but more an actual exchange of musical ideas from these talented and passionate individuals moving forward and exploring new ways to reach new audiences. I'll be listening.


Two Thoughts; Young People

Time To End The Bitterness, Time To Heal The Wounds

In response to: Teachers

Jerry Ascione – is a graduate of the excellent Youngstown State Univ. program, working under Tony Leonardi, Bill Slocum and others. His instruments are French horn and piano although his 20+ year career in the U.S. Navy Band in Washington has led him to focus more on the piano and writing. Jerry was for eleven years leader of the Navy Jazz band, the Commodores, but in the last six years has been working as soloist with the Navy Concert Band and with smaller ensembles. He also is first call solo pianist for every major function held by the Secretary of the Navy, the CNO and other of the “higher ups’ in the Navy. Jerry is an excellent arranger and does a great deal of writing for the Navy Concert Band; he also arranges for me and has contributed three of the most sensitive pieces in my symphonic library. He is a great cook and shares my love of excellent wines! He writes:


In response to your article regarding teachers: Although my response is rather late, it is nonetheless heartfelt.

I know that education as well as performing is a great passion of yours.  I know this first hand as we have worked together on many wonderful occasions.  Also, I was fortunate as you were, to grow up in an environment where my band directors and private teachers were not only great musicians, but DEMANDED results from you and didn’t think twice about strongly rebuking you if you weren’t doing as well as you could.  AND … their passion for the instrument inspired those of us who desired a future in music.  My musical mentors were Victor Giovanelli, Mike Ferraro, Tony Leonardi, Bill Slocum, and Bob Fleming, etc.

I’ve read and pondered your thoughts and feelings regarding the teaching issues.  You paint a very bleak picture not only of our system of musical education but of education in general.  I’m afraid, that your image is uncomfortably accurate.   Is it not, after all, the mission of ANY teacher to inspire and motivate students to want to learn more AND … to realize its relevant application to life?  I will not accept that the lost child who sits in some U.S. History class in “Where Ever” U.S.A., listening to an utterly lackluster instructor intent only on counting the days till retirement, does not deserve the same motivated mentor as the child sitting 3rd stand, 2nd clarinet who clearly does not understand why that part is important.  Both require relevance - but a dispassionate instructor “ain’t gonna cut it”.

In case you’re wondering, I agree with you, but think that your philosophy is relevant to the entire educational system as well.  Granted, there are those students who - like many instructors - are only counting the days until they can leave the inglorious, sterile cubicles of education and frankly couldn’t give a rat’s behind about an inspirational teacher.  As in the former paragraph where you and I were fortunate to have the mentors that we did, I am fortunate and so are you, to have seen our own children motivated not only to find interest in what some might call “mundane academia” but also to find cause to argue vociferously the philosophies and applications of history, chemistry, calculus etc.  That, in my humble estimation, is - or at least should be - the aim of education in general.  How long has it taken for our educational system to fall into disarray?  It sure wasn’t overnight.  Thus, it’s going to be a long road to recovery.  Music included.

What I see from my vantage - and this is something that has been argued with fervent emotion - is that standards are being lowered.  WHY are perspective music students who do not show a passion for playing the instrument allowed into music schools? And why in the name of all that is argumentative are they being allowed to graduate?  I deal in auditions on a regular basis, and I, along with others in my peer group, can tell you that we have people with the proverbial “sheep skin” from hallowed institutions of musical learning come down to audition for the military bands, and they cannot, quite frankly, read to save their derriθre; nor can they interpret music with even a modicum of musicality.  Don’t blame them!  Who told them they could play in the first place?  Then those of us concerned only with quality have cast upon us the stigma of being elitists or even worse.  Is it any wonder that far too many acquiesce and join the burgeoning alliance of mediocrity?

Just one more issue before I finish.  Was there more parental involvement years ago?  Truthfully Marvin, I think this at least has not changed and has maybe even gotten better.  I look back on my “blue collar” upbringing in the Pittsburgh area, and, if I or any of my friends got a “D” in school or got into trouble, we received severe corporal punishment for sure. (This is a euphemistic way of saying that our fathers took us to task.)  Does that mean that our parents were more involved with our studies? I don’t think so.Today, even in my transient world, I see, in spite of financial issues requiring both parents to work, an involvement in their children’s educational process on far more intimate a scale than when I was young.

Marvin, this is my view of the ongoing discussion on education, both as a parent and a member of an excellent musical organization. I feel that education and teaching are among the most important issues with which we must deal today.

Bill Kirchner - is a composer-arranger, saxophonist, bandleader, record andradio producer, jazz historian, and educator. His latest recordings are Trance Dance with his Nonet and Some Enchanted Evening (duets with pianists Michael Abene, Marc Copland, and Harold Danko), both on A-Records. Since 1980, his Nonet has appeared in major festivals, concerts, and nightclubs throughout the United States.
Bill has been extensively involved with jazz recordings as a producer and liner-notes annotator and has received both Grammy and NAIRD Indie awards. He also is the editor of A Miles Davis Reader and The Oxford Companion to Jazz.  (The latter was named "Best Book" in 2001 by the Jazz Journalists' Association.)  He teaches jazz composition and jazz history at The New School University in New York City.  For National Public Radio, he has produced and written several one-hour "Jazz Profiles." He writes:


I've been following all of the comments - including several from friends and colleagues of mine - with interest.  A couple of comments of my own:

A decade or so ago, a friend of yours and mine, saxophonist Patience Higgins, made to me a very astute observation:  one of the reasons for the popularity of hip-hop is that it enables young people who have no access to musical instruments to do something musical.  So whatever any of us thinks of rap, it's serving a definite need; as always, nature abhors a vacuum.

I think that Kenny Berger made some penetrating observations about the "Ph.D syndrome". The situation is nothing if not inconsistent.  On one hand, a friend of ours who is a great jazz player and teacher was recently hired full-time by a major conservatory and given instant tenure—even though he has "only" a bachelor's degree.  On the other hand, I recently was rejected for a similar position at a state university, even though several people thought I was a hands-down favorite and the jazz faculty there all wanted me.  Reason: I have "only" a bachelor's.  (I've also been on the jazz faculty at the New School University as an adjunct for eleven years and counting.)

I think it's more likely that private schools will be flexible on this issue than state ones--the private schools have less "red tape" to answer to.

Barbara Robinson – lives in Austin, Texas and is married to a musician and music teacher for 50 years. Her husband, La Falco (Corkey) Robinson taught at Austin High School as director of the band, orchestra and jazz band for most of his teaching career and has won many honors for both the school and himself. In her words, “He is a born teacher. We recently went to a 1972 Class Reunion, and he was almost literally mobbed by former students, five of whom came to Austin early in order to take him to lunch for a private reunion. He has some 50-70 students who took up music as a career as teachers and/or performers. Theoretically retired for some years, he continues to teach music in two private schools, composes and leads his own dance band. She writes:

I agree that this is the age of the amateur and not just in music alone. However, there is one thing that I believe has contributed to the sad state of school music...radio. As a one-time music director for a station back in the dear dead days when every form of music was played sometime during the broadcast week, I watched the change take place. It 
happened when those strait-jackets, the Top 40 lists became mandatory at most stations.  This began happening in the 1950's. I couldn't take it and transferred into the News Department.

From the mid-50s until today, most young people have never been exposed to anything but rock and country music. Young people do not get exposed to any music past elementary school unless they CHOOSE to take choir, band or orchestra.  People generally do not like what they do not know...ergo such names as Ellington, and Basie, not to mention Gershwin, Porter and Rodgers are strange unknown territory. As for classical music, many of our young are so woefully unfamiliar with anything they don't hear on radio, that Ellington and Gershwin ARE classical as far as they are concerned.  Stravinsky?  What's that!

The people who wrote that music and civilization have been “dumbed down” are correct but expecting anything else as far as music is concerned is rather like expecting a cave man to understand and appreciate nuclear physics.

Tito Vallese – is a great music fan; he teaches accounting and works as a CPA in Argentina. He writes:


I have read you appreciations about music "Teachers," and I agree with you concerning the compromise and involvement that a true teacher must have. Unfortunately I couldn’t develop my musical side (this is not the place to examine the reasons) but when I was very young I discovered that I have a special condition for teaching, so in my early twenties, I took up teaching my professional subject – accounting; so up to the present time I have been teaching that subject in different high schools. I am not an accounting professor. I am a CPA graduated in Buenos Aires University with an active professional life, and this position enables me to teach accounting; so I have 34 years of experience.  The main point of coincidence with you is a concept you wrote while commenting your recent experiences ... you have to be an active professional in order to be apt to teach your subject. In my case, the difference between a CPA and just a high school professor is experience and involvement in the subject.

Chuck Israels - is a composer/arranger/bassist who has worked with Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, J.J. Johnson, John Coltrane, and many others. He is best known for his work with the Bill Evans Trio from 1961 through 1966 and for his pioneering accomplishments in Jazz Repertory as Director of the National Jazz Ensemble from 1973 to 1981.  He is now the Director of Jazz Studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham. Chuck also is a guest composer/director with various European jazz ensembles and orchestras as well as a frequent performer with the Barry Harris Trio. He has just had a recording released of his compositions and arrangements performed by the Hannover Philharmonic Orchestra under his direction.  He writes:


There are some thoughtful things to be found in the many responses you have published (I read, with interest, responses from old friends like Bob Freedman and Kenny Berger), but there is one thing I cannot let pass without comment. Steve Salerno uses Nat Cole and Tony Bennett as examples of singers with faulty technique. He could not be much more wrong about that. There are many "classically" trained singers to whom the vocal production of these two singers represents a goal to which they aspire.

Steve Salerno - who contributed an earlier commentary which appears farther down responds again to the commentary of others. As I wrote earlier, this is an "open forum" and as long as people take issue with the "issues" and respectfully state their differing and opposing views, I feel it gives us all food for thought regardless of whether it changes our present opinions. It is important to be aware of differing points of view on any issue. Steve Salerno was an honorary professor of journalism at Indiana University, and now teaches writing at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. His early years were spent playing lesser clubs and other gigs in the NYC area (various reeds), and he remains an avid follower of jazz, as well as music of all genres. He writes:


I am somewhat stupefied by the visceral tenor of the reactions to my comments, made originally some weeks back. And though I’m responding in part in the spirit of self-defense, I don’t want the larger point of this discussion board—which presumes to tackle the philosophical aspects of teaching--to get lost in a peevish, personalized he said/she said. My basic point is this: Our foremost goal as educators and mentors should be to attempt to equip our students with an objective, technical literacy (whether the realm be music, writing, or baseball) as free as possible of our own private feelings on the matter. And, we should encourage our students to question, and feel free to reject, whatever has come before. It is not my place, as a journalism professor, to argue that Hunter Thompson “ruined” the genre through his gonzo style, just as I believe it is not Bob Freedman’s place—should he be wearing a teacher’s hat—to contend that today’s rap artists are somehow ruining music or the appreciation thereof. First of all, there’s the old eye-of-the-beholder (or as Dewey Redman puts it, ear-of-the-behearer) consideration: What you call trash, I may call innovation. To argue that rap constitutes a “degradation” of music is not very different from arguing that Jackson Pollock’s work constitutes a “degradation” of art. (We can make those distinctions when we’re acting as critics. But we should not make them, I believe, as educators.) And let me repeat again, here, the criticism that not a few people lodged against Coltrane and his disciples when they burst on the scene: “But it’s not music!”

Further, it has been credibly argued by observers far more schooled and astute than myself that by attracting the masses to the genre and exposing them to at least some elements of jazz, today’s rap and heavy-metal artists are helping promulgate the so-called higher forms of music, in much the same way that artists like Andy Warhol and Peter Maxx kindled increased interest in art by leaching it of its esoteric pretense and making it more accessible to the average Joe and Jane. We see this same phenomenon today with Andrea Bocelli, whose popular recordings (with Celine Dion and others) have greatly sparked interest in “more serious” operatic music.

But to return to the subject of teaching: Having made the attempt to impart literacy, it seems to me we must simply stand back and let the chips fall where they may insofar as (a) whether that technical education “takes,” and/or (b) what our students DO what their formal education. In other words, we merely try to give them the tools, and then stand back and watch what they create. Music in particular is a transcendant realm, by which I mean to say its output, or its effect on the listener, is almost completely divorced from the technical input provided by the musician. Chuck Israels’ defense of him notwithstanding, Nat Cole was not a virtuoso technician: his voice was scratchy, and he missed notes left and right. (Listen to some of his recordings, even the famous ones, without the background music; you’ll see what I mean.) Still—by some ineffable means—he was a marvelous, stirring vocalist. Diana Krall’s considerable contemporary following apparently doesn’t care that Ms. Krall ends up flat on many of her high notes, or that her phrasing is pedestrian. For that matter, Monk was—quite frankly—a lousy piano player. But he was, of course, a wonderful musician, capable of producing jaw-dropping harmonic twists as well as profound emotions in his audience. So then, how are we to judge our students? By their sheer technical mastery? Or by their simple ability to move and/or delight their audiences? If the former, then some of history’s greatest innovators wouldn’t make the cut (whereas Phineas Newborn Jr. would be regarded as a more important musician than Monk, which, I think most jazz scholars would agree, is not the case). If the latter, then where does one draw qualitative lines? And whose criteria do we employ in drawing them? Questions worth pondering.

Frank G. Campos - is professor of trumpet at Ithaca College. He acquired his Doctorate and M.M. at the University of North Texas and his B.A. at California State University, Fresno. Frank Campos studied trumpet with John Haynie, Leonard Candelaria, Don Jacoby, W. Ritchie Clendenin, Carole Klein and James Stamp. He was former principal trumpet with the Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Texas Baroque Ensemble, Dallas Brass and Madera Symphony. He is presently principal trumpet of the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra, Cornell Festival Orchestra, Ensemble X; member, Ithaca Brass. He also has performances with the Syracuse Symphony, Skaneateles Summer Music Festival, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Fresno Philharmonic, Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Hope, Natalie Cole, Johnny Mathis and others. Frank is on the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild and is associate editor and contributor to the International Trumpet Guild Journal. He writes:


I am glad that you sent out a second email--I took the time to read two of your excellent articles this evening. I have heard you touch upon some of these ideas in your clinics, but there is no substitute for the Internet when attempting to convey ideas to as many people as possible. With respect to changing the staus quo, it certainly helps that an individual of your stature has picked up the sword, but there is no guarantee that anything will change. But this is where it starts, right?

I wanted to contribute one idea.  As a teacher of teachers for many years, I have found that among the most dedicated and passionate professional teachers to pass through my studio were some of the poorest players. Most of these individuals had physical problems on the horn that prohibited them from fully expressing themselves in performance.

It is true that the quality of a music program is dependent upon the quality of the teacher, but it is a mistake to make the assumption that a bad player equals a bad teacher, as some of the commentary has perhaps suggested. One young man I knew, for example, remained in the lower sections of our second band all four of the years he attended college, but his love of music consumed him, and nothing was so important in his life.  He was committed to return to the inner city where he grew up and give back to his community.  Today he is a very successful music teacher, and he is in the trenches by choice. We need more people like him, whether they can play or not.

Thanks, Marvin, for writing about these issues. I will direct my students to your web page.

Nancy Marano – is a marvelous singer and teacher of note who comes from a family of musicians. Her father, a professional pianist, and her mother, a fine singer, introduced her to recordings of vocalists who became major influences. Nancy’s sister is an opera coach in New York City. At a young age, she studied piano with classical teacher from Juilliard while honing her vocal skills singing along with the recordings of all the greats vocalists – Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Nat Cole and others. Nancy attended Manhattan School of Music as a classical piano major. After conservatory, she worked as a background and jingle singer in NYC. Nancy joined the faculty of Manhattan School of Music in 1988, where she teaches jazz voice and coaches vocal/jazz ensembles and also teaches advanced jazz sight-singing and ear training; she continues to teach privately as well. Also in 1988, she began a 15-year piano/vocal solo engagement at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and recorded her first CD as a Jazz soloist, teaming up with jazz accordionist Eddie Monteiro. Her career has blossomed and has included concerts, festivals, a profile in THE NEW YORKER by Whitney Balliett and an appearance with Billy Taylor’s on CBS SUNDAY MORNING. Feel free to visit her web site at www.nancymarano.com. She writes:


I have enjoyed reading your thoughts and the responses of all the articulate musicians who have responded to your subject on teachers. I offer these thoughts and comments.

Although I earn my living primarily as a performing jazz vocalist, pianist, and teacher, my early training was from my Father, a fine pianist, and wonderful teacher, who was comfortable in all styles of music. His incredible love for music inspired both my sister and I (June is now an opera coach at the Manhattan School of Music). I am a teacher of Jazz Voice, Ensembles, and Advanced Ear Training and Sight-Singing at MSM (15 years) and an also an adjunct professor at William Paterson University (6 years). 

My early training was as a Classical Pianist, which was my major instrument at Manhattan School of Music. There were no jazz programs at that time and I spent a very happy 4 years there, inspired by my fellow classmates and the accomplished, caring, and demanding teachers that I worked with. I clearly remember that all my friends were excited about learning our craft and eager to become fine musicians one day. We were humble, and in awe of greatness. We could define it, recognize it and periodically we secretly wondered whether we would ever achieve it. We worked so hard - and loved that process. Of course there was competition, but there was a healthy spirit and much encouragement of each other’s growth. I remember taking a fugue-writing class with the incredible Ludmila Ulehla one terribly hot summer in a class of 6 people, with no air-conditioning on 105th Street and Second Ave. I wouldn’t have missed working with that woman for anything and still have those memories and the fugues!

Now that I teach at this same conservatory and others, I have over the years become more and more saddened at the attitude of too a high percentage of young music students in general. Perhaps student is not the correct word to use to describe their mind-set when they pursue a conservatory education. A more apt description would be consumers. A high price is paid for tuition, housing, etc. and for that, many feel that they are really purchasing a degree. If a "C" is given, the teacher knows he/she is in for a battle, and can only hope that the dept. head and administration will back up their faculty. There is so much protesting, administration involvement, threats of law suits, and in many cases, teachers changing grades. There are infinite meetings and time-consuming explanations, which are demanded by the students. The student will argue that his/her grade point average has been compromised, but it never seems to occur to him/her that the "average" work is the cause of the average grade. 

Respect: When I was a conservatory student, I had to audition for my teacher. The teacher evaluated my performance and then decided if I was welcome in his studio. Today, we are chosen by students who may not even know who we are. We are adjuncts, and therefore paid by the hour. This puts teachers at a psychological disadvantage from the very beginning. 

In my private teaching sessions and classes in my studio, the scenario is totally different. A student comes to a lesson, I give an honest evaluation and lay out the plan for study, we have an experience, the fee is paid and that student leaves me feeling that his money was either well-spent, or not. When he/she comes for the second lesson, he/she comes ready to work.

Changing Teachers: I have found over the years that if I address certain issues that require a student to work harder - like demanding good pitch, time, or sound - often the student will change teachers - of course to someone less demanding. It has actually been suggested to me by other adjunct faculty members that I would be better off simply giving everyone an "A," because that is the path to a "full studio," and, of course a larger pay-check. 

Taking criticism too personally seems to be a real problem as well. Discussing a student's improvisational chorus and offering suggestions is not a commentary on his personality dating back to the womb. There definitely seems to be an over-abundance of sensitivity. Also, it seems that many students are much too concerned with CDs they have no business recording. They waste valuable time comparing themselves to the latest exploited young "star" instead of exploring and practicing the music, and figuring out how to learn everything the faculty knows. Show-Business parents greatly contribute to this nonsense as well. One mother called me last week and directed me to her 16-year-old daughter’s website! 

Major Music Associations: I regret to say that major music organizations claiming to be representative of Jazz Education are "producing" annual conventions that ignore so many music teachers and active performers of great integrity and ability who don’t happen to be in the Jazz Top Ten of CD sales. These organizations have essentially joined the ranks of the politics of the major record labels in these "productions" of marketing and corporate sponsorship. If an artist cannot afford transportation, hotel and fees for his band, he is not even considered for the event. This is a very sad state of affairs, and is certainly a bad example to our young music students – who are watching! And why aren’t the jazz educators in the loop speaking out about this?

Scholarship money: Unfortunately, good conservatories are forced to turn away some real "natural" talents because of the lack of available scholarship money. The students who can affordto come are the ones who enroll, and in many cases, these are not the most gifted, or appreciative. 

Having said all this, I think it is pretty amazing the amount of good work that many caring and gifted musicians are still providing every day in our Conservatories. In spite of all the problems in today’s out-of-balance society there will always be the "special students" who fight their way through everything, for the right reasons, find the right teachers and manage to find a good life in music.

I think the good life in music is the one in which music is a metaphor for life. I have been so lucky to have been close to some wonderful musicians who have lived these lives, and whose advice continues to inspire me. We have lost Manny Albam, Henry Schumann, Remo Palmier, Ray Brown and others this past year. I live in the hope that we will remember and share their dedication and life’s philosophy so that we are able to continue to motivate our students - and each other.

Albert Lilly – is a trumpeter, arranger and teacher in Martinsville, IN. Albert is currently teaching 40 private students from the Indianapolis area while finishing a DMA in trumpet from Indiana University. He has taught at Butler University and Indiana University as an Associate Instructor and spends significant amounts of time serving as an adjudicator and clinician for solo, jazz, concert and marching band events. He has a BM from DePauw University and an MM from Butler University.  He has studied trumpet with Charles Gorham, Robert Grocock, William Adam, Stephen Burns, Bernard Adelstein, Dominic Spera, Charles Schlueter, Delbert Dale and Marvin Perry II. Albert has played extra with many different orchestras and is currently a member of the Bloomington (IN) Symphony Orchestra; he also is a founding member of the Centennial Brass Quartet.  He is Calendar Editor of the International Trumpet Guild and is on the Artist/Faculty for the National Trumpet Competition. He writes:


 I think the biggest problems in education today may be a product of the teacher who is hired based on performance credentials, and not on ability to teach. In performance, it is easy to hear a player and know if they are fine players, or if their playing is lacking. 
However, in education, the ability to teach, to relate to students, to interact and to mentor [through word and deed] as well as to open the mind of one's students and inspire them to improve and to strive for excellence, is difficult to quantify.  Because of this, great players with absolutely no ability to teach are being offered jobs when great teachers and players are being kept from jobs, solely for performance credentials and recording lists.

The great teachers of the second half of the 20th century were many times great players, but had a greater reputation as pedagogues. At Indiana University, both Bill Adam and Charles Gorham were incredible teachers with studios of students who have made many positive differences in the real world of playing and teaching. Both were great players, but even better teachers. Their resumes of performances were probably less distinguished than others that applied for the openings when they were originally hired.  They 
didn't hold the principal chair in major orchestras, or tour with world renowned big bands. They did play with great groups, but were not the Glantz, Vacchiano or Herseth of the day.  However, they were great teachers. They taught their students to be great players, to love the trumpet and making music with it, and to be respectful and diligent with the instrument and their study.

Today, our collegiate education process is such that universities hire names, not teachers.  There are numerous examples in our collegiate system where great players with no or very limited teaching experience are hired for university jobs based solely on the 
name recognition factor.  There is little or no concern for their abilities to teach, to nurture students in the musical studies, and to develop a proven studio of successful players.  The name recognition factor is [seemingly] the only criteria by which professors are hired. We have sold our potential student body on the idea that these superior players are equally superior pedagogues in the musical world, when often times nothing could be farther from the truth.

Great teachers will be great trumpeters, but may have never held the job as principal trumpet in orchestra X, or toured for years with high note jazz players Y, or recorded twenty CDs with ensemble Z. These players may be fine teachers and fine players, but to hire them over an individual with a proven record of pedagogical success (be it instruction of high school students, an excellent record as an adjunct professor at a small or local college, or pedagogical methodologies that have proven successful and are well respected by many) is folly, and results in the trend you are seeing.

Great teachers are often those who spend more time working with students than worrying about their solo careers, or subbing with the local orchestra, taking auditions to become the next principal trumpet of orchestra X, or flying off to concert dates from coast to 
coast with ensemble Z.  They put the students ahead of their own personal performing career, maintain a weekly lesson and master class schedule that rarely varies, and develop a methodology for teaching that encompasses all the parts of education for the future musician. They dedicate themselves to teaching the art of music making, and put the goals of the students ahead of their own personal goals .They attend their student's recital, concerts and appearances, offering support for those students as they develop as players and people. They offer advice and support based on hearing the student in concert rather than third hand reports at the next lesson, having missed the performance because they were too busy off playing on the weekend to hear their students play.  I am not saying a great teacher gives up their own career as a performer.  However, that career as a performer must come second to the career as a teacher.  Too few of our colleges, universities, and conservatories hire teachers based on that kind of commitment, and because of that, they find teachers with marginal performing students, students who receive inconsistent or incomplete lessons, and find teachers whose main goal from education is to collect a steady paycheck when the real goal should be teaching.

It isn't the monetary aspect of teaching that is making the profession weaker.  Rather, it is the criteria that current heads of schools of music and those who hire faculty for schools of music apply in the selection process.  Our students are suffering as a result of this "me first" generation of teachers.  The greatest teachers of the prior generation created a clear example where teaching was first and performing second.  Many of our current generation of teachers seem more concerned with their performing careers than with their students’ growth and success.  This is wrong, and what you are seeing (the level of mediocrity) is a result of that attitude.

Until administrators of colleges, universities and conservatories hire people looking to make a commitment to the students, looking for a place to set roots, build a studio, teach and recruit with students and their musical growth as the first goal, and not a performance 
resume, the situation will not change.

Look at the schools that are most revered for their prowess in the music world and the teachers at those schools who are making or have made this commitment.  They may have been great performers, but the students have and always will come first with them.  Those are the places to model.  Unfortunately, some of those great teachers have limited name recognition.  Fortunately, they aren't looking to build it, but rather to build their studios through superior teaching.

Greg McLean – is a trumpeter, composer and arranger and one of Atlanta's busiest musicians.  As a composer, he has written three pieces for The Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet and recently completed "The Twain Have Met" (Editions-BIM), a concerto for Dennis Najoom and myself, written for two trumpets - Jazz soloist, classical soloist - and symphony orchestra. Greg performs in a variety of musical genres, but prefers the expressive freedom of Jazz.  He co-leads The Greg McLean/Geoff Haydon Jazz Quartet with pianist Geoff Haydon.  Their debut CD, Cabin Fever, is available on the ACA Digital label.  In addition to a busy performing schedule, McLean is a full-time Instructor of Music at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta.  You can find out more about Greg at his web site: www.gregmclean.net. He writes:

I just now had a chance to read the latest "Cadenzas" article and responses.  As so many others have, I would like to thank you for making the effort to address the issue of “music education" and education in general. I'm not sure if I can add any more to the proposed “solutions,” but I would like to react to some of the responses. 

I do think you and some of the respondents made substantial claims as to the real "problem."  Keith Winkling had me on the floor by saying "the U.S. was founded by people who flunked out of Europe." However, the U.S., only one hundred years ago, had a tradition of "town bands." Cornet soloists like Herbert L. Clark were heroes. Music was important. In this country as well as Europe, music was an important leisure activity and only those who were "competent" musicians were considered literate.  So, what happened? Well, I think our advances in technology, the fact that we created a desire for a society based on convenience, has had a role in creating our current crisis in education and in other aspects of our life. 

In the 1950's we started to develop a throw away culture, disposable everything. Artificial plants to artificial breasts. Pop music began to speak to a lower common denominator. Record producers, not to mention advertisers, began to seek the attention of this lowest common denominator. I think this may be when we really started to "dumb down" society, a fact that
Bob Freedman eloquently spoke to.

I agree with you that an accomplished player/musician is more likely to have an impact on a student.  My inspiration came from such a person, my high school band director, Jack Foos.  Unfortunately, I don't know where Jack is now, because I'd love the opportunity to thank him.  Not only was he a great trumpet player, he was an incredible teacher. He motivated all of us, even those who never intended to pursue a career in music. Jack was the one who inspired me to choose a life of music. Of course, I thought I would be a band director; I didn't think I had enough skill to play professionally. But thanks to another great motivator, my college trumpet teacher, Larry Black, I have spent the last 27 years playing professionally. Larry has just retired from the Atlanta Symphony. I also had a couple of teachers that were incredible players, but actually did me harm as a player. For obvious reasons, I won't mention their names.

Steve Salerno poses the question "what is art?" Most of us would agree that a valid definition
of art would include words like aesthetic or beauty. I think one only has to consider the old adage "will it stand the test of time." That's why we still perform the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky (serial and otherwise), Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, even the Beatles. And the list goes on. In fifty to one hundred years, though, my guess is that NO ONE will be performing and recording the music of Ozzy Osborne or any rap artists. And, as others have said, I don't begrudge anyone a living, but it's frustrating when you spend a lifetime studying and continually seeking to improve yourself only to have some teenagers who can't read music, or even spell Stravinsky, sell millions of records. But, I'll remind you, it's the 12-20 year old age bracket that decides what is popular. We must find a way to raise the lowest common denominator. Imagine, if a teenager knew something about Bach, Beethoven, Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington, they at least would be making an educated decision to listen to what they "like." Anyway, that's what I try to do with my music appreciation classes. I feel like I have an opportunity to inspire my students to look at popular music through educated eyes. 

I think the real issue here is what our culture and society have become in general. If we can solve that problem we might have a chance at education. Or, maybe through education we can solve some of society's problems. But, somehow we must reclaim education from the bureaucrats and administrators who only seek to maintain their positions of power by catering to the non- educators. I teach at a very good two year college, but we have to deal with a state board of regents that is devoid of anyone who has ever set foot into a classroom of any kind, public or private. Same with the state legislature that holds the purse strings. I'm sure most of the respondents to CADENZAS have common horror stories to tell.

My feeling is that we "can" save education and in particular, "music education," but it will take more discourse like this. And, it will take the will power of all of us to keep trying to be the best musicians, trumpet players AND educators that we know how to be.

Granted, there are plenty of lame music educators, who for whatever reasons don't care that their lack of enthusiasm can poorly affect a student. But we have heads of major corporations who are robbing their underlings blind. Personally, I think it's this kind of greed that has us in this pickle.  Let's face it, none of us went into music for the money. We play, write and teach music because it's in our blood, and yes, if it's not in your blood you should find another career. Music is a difficult enough life even if you have talent, desire and motivational instructors along the way.

Anyway, thanks for the chance to put in my two cents.

Bart Marantz - has been teaching jazz studies at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts for 20 years. During this period the music program has won 129 "Down Beat Student Music Awards." Bart is a 1986 Fulbright Scholar. He founded the "Arts Jazz Festival" raising a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships and was the recipient of the "Down Beat Jazz Education Achievement Award" in 1993. Bart is a Selmer Clinician and co-author of "Jazz Figure Reading Studies" and a contributing author of "Selected Trumpet Master Classes" and IAJE/MENC's curriculum guide "Teaching Jazz: A Course of Study." He has been a "Jazz Educators Journal" (IAJE) staff music reviewer since 1989.  He has studied with jazz educators, Jerry Coker, Dan Haerle, David Baker, Jamey Aebersold, Jaki Byard, Phil Wilson and George Russell at The University of Miami, Indiana University and the New England Conservatory of Music. Bart just recently formed the "Sammons Jazz Youth Orchestra." This organization of outstanding high school jazz talent in the Dallas/Fort Worth area performs throughout the Dallas  Metroplex and in it's first year of existence the group has been accepted to the Toronto IAJE conference.  He writes:


I have enjoyed reading your web version of “Cadenzas" for some time now and although I very rarely respond to these calls for opinions and suggestions, I decided to send this response to you anyway. I have known you since I was 20 years old and have always had an immediate learning experience just listening to your masterful trumpet work. You have always been a mentor and a friend, and I thought I might be able to share an idea or two that will add to the positive side of our most important profession, teaching music.

I also want to add that I have known, worked with, learned from and admired Bob Morgan for the past 20 years. I had heard of his work even before I came to Texas and met him. Bob has recently retired from his position as a full-time director of jazz studies at one of North America's most respected and productive performing arts high school jazz programs, HSPVA in Houston. He and his students have proven that with both sides working for the good of the art the end is positive every time. Even though the teaching profession does have its frustrations and negatives, I would like to thank all those who have served as my mentors and teachers over the years for hanging in there with and for me. Let me share just one story with you about how the teacher - student relationship should be at its best.

In 1970 a young aspiring trumpet player, who at the time was in school at Indiana University, wanted to quit his studies again and go back out on the road. School was confining, and teaching was just not what he wanted to do. Heck, he was a jazz performance major trying to get enough information together to just get his chops in line and continue the joy of playing every night and every day.

He was studying with trumpet teacher, William Adam, who to this very day continues to be a mentor, and with Jamey Aebersold, who was about to release his first vinyl play-along "How To Play Jazz and Improvise - Volume #1." He had to drive an hour and forty five minutes each way for his weekly lesson with Jamey, but it was worth it.

One day in a lesson during this period, the trumpet student told Jamey he had had it with school and was quitting the University thing! Jamey, who to me is still one of the heroes of our industry and will do anything for jazz and jazz education, said, "Why don't you stop by the Village Vanguard while you are working in New York next week and speak to a friend of mine named Marvin Stamm. Jamey went on to talk about the fact that as a trumpet player and aspiring jazz musician the young man could hear first hand one of the gems of big band jazz playing and writing, the Thad Jones - Mel Lewis, Orchestra and take in audibly what his quest was as a musician. Jamey said that his friend, Marvin, was a trumpet player in that band and that he would advise and direct this young musician just for the asking!

The trumpet player took Jamey's advice and went to the Vanguard on a Monday night in 1970, and as he was walking down the stairs to the club he heard some of the most powerful and creative jazz he had heard since experiencing Duke Ellington and his band in high school. The music was almost too overwhelming, but on the break the young man went to the kitchen where all the musicians were hanging out to find Marvin and ask him a few questions that would help him decide what step to take next.

After he introduced himself to Marvin as a student of Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, Jerry Coker and Bill Adam, Marvin asked him to wait around until the band finished the last set, and said he would be happy to sit down and try to answer any questions concerning the young man's future in this business of music. Marvin and the twenty-year- old hooked up about 1 a.m. and talked until 5 a.m. in the morning! Marvin did not know this person, had never met him before, and had nothing to gain by spending these long hours with him trying to guide him through some very important decisions in his life. But the music and the student of the music were so important to him that he was willing to take time to try to direct this young musician toward a successful outcome in his career.

I think the final result was a positive one. The young trumpet player went back to school, finished his degree and subsequently played on a number of different bands. After years of active road time he became a teacher in the field of jazz music and has tried to continue the "hands on" tradition he experienced with Marvin way back in 1970.

Yes, this student and very confused young man was me!  I am currently Director of Jazz Studies at BTWHSPVA in Dallas, Texas. Marvin, you never hesitated for a moment in giving of your time and knowledge to someone you had never met before this encounter! I try to incorporate this spirit into my classroom as I reach out to each student and try to positively affect his/her life and be available on a "one to one" basis when the need arises. We will never know how this kind of interaction will eventually affect their futures, as well as, the music we love. Today the jazz program at Booker T. Washington HSPVA has at least three young musicians who I feel will someday make a statement in the music we call jazz. They are all special voices for their respective instruments. The joy I receive from them musically is something that is hard to describe. But, the fact that I can learn from them every day when I'm around them is also a very exciting and rewarding part of my job.

Yes, there have been a number of times when I have wanted to simply pack it up and try playing again for a living. There have been some negative moments that would discourage many from teaching, but I know the Lord has blessed me with a vocation, in a place he has set aside for me, and there is a certain joy in knowing you belong where you are.

I hope I have been able to convey my message. We never know who we are working with and how we may affect each student. There is a tremendous responsibility tied to this vocation and the art form it represents. Unfortunately, sometimes administrations, parents, and even a student or two, can distract us from our goal of keeping the music alive and well. To those who are discouraged, remember, there are people like Marvin Stamm and the above mentioned mentors who show us all that being receptive to and caring about each student will bring out the essence of what we are to do as instructors. This kind of attitude only raises the level of our profession and will sustain the music we teach. Care about one another and the music will carry on.

(Marvin’s note: I thank Mr. Marantz for his most complimentary remarks regarding any positive role I may have played in his excellent career. Usually I would not publish something as this so as to avoid the appearance of being self-serving, but in the spirit of an “open forum,” I cannot encourage people to freely express their thoughts and then dictate what they may or may not say - whether pro or con. Recently, someone to whom “Teachers” was forwarded emailed me, taking me to task for something that occurred at the Kenton Clinics in, I believe, 1962. He felt I had insulted him in a class, and he had been carrying this within himself since then. I responded that if the event happened as he recalled, I apologized and asked him to credit it to the inexperience and attitude of a young man who thought he knew more than he actually did. Over several emails, we resolved the issue, and I believe I asked him if he wanted me to post his original email but believe he declined. (*If this is not true and that person reads this and wants that email posted, he should get in touch with me.) The point is that, as long as a “response” is relevant to the subjects and is appropriate in its expression and is respectful, not personally attacking anyone, I will not dictate what one can or cannot write. If anyone feels that my printing Mr. Marantz’ article is self-serving, I cannot apologize as I did not write it, but I am sorry if anyone supposes this to be the case; it is not meant to be so.)

Dan Shilstat - is a retired professional engineer with Master's Degrees from Rensselaer Institute and Vanderbilt University; he also attended Cornell University. He has worked for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft, Avco Corporation, and Vanderbilt University. Dan learned trumpet in public school in Memphis, TN, but stopped for 20 years after his time at Cornell University. He resumed playing again with the Nashville Community Concert Band, but has since put the horn away though he continues to serve this voluntary group as music procurer, librarian, and manager. The ages of this top community group range from 25 to 90; they play Level 6 music, and give 14 performances a year. He writes:


Thanks for including me. Here is something I'll say to you and you decide how to use it. This discussion started with a conversation about gifted jazz musicians and a high school for them. I'm not gifted, but I enjoyed playing and now that I cannot, I am helping an "open community concert band” of 65 members stay alive. The group has excellent conductors, and I try very hard to keep identifying a range of music which is satisfying for our members and the audiences for which we play. Over thirty years of the Nashville Community Band's existence, we have given over 400 performances and have had over 400 people of all ages as members--no tryouts.

The point is that music helps keep us human and humane - as a local minister has reminded me. Music should be for a lifetime - most of us can never hope to achieve what you have, but you also played in a public high school - what a shame if all who were exposed to you never knew you because they were pulled into magnet or schools for the gifted and the rest were given general music not instrumental music.

Its happening in the Nashville Public Schools - they are chasing off the string teachers, marching band is becoming an extra curricular activity and the concert band programs will die except for the magnet programs and schools for the gifted. It saddens me greatly. Nashville has a school director from L.A. name of Pedro Garcia who is killing everything to do with music and drama in order to improve reading and testing levels at the elementary levels. He would gladly cut the school system to one magnet. The string and brass and woodwind and percussion teachers are being fired or are fleeing to places where they still hold some dignity.

I agree that great talent should be developed - just don't separate them from the rest of us so we can have that experience for a lifetime-- don't forget where the audience bases come from!!!!

I'll stop now-- God Save Us from the Bean Counters!

Gordon Mathie - has taught at all levels of public schools and was, for a number of summers, the trumpet instructor at the Interlochen National Music Camp. He taught for many years at the Crane School of Music, Potsdam NY where he was, among other things, Chair of Performance; Gordon remained at the Crane School until he retired a few years ago as Professor Emeritus. Gordon has been a member of the Detroit and Vermont Symphony Orchestras and for seven summers was cornet soloist with the Leonard B. Smith Concert Band. He was one of the founding members of the International Trumpet Guild and in retirement is a big band lead trumpet player and member of the Columbus Brass Band. He also is the author of "The Trumpet Teacher’s Guide" and "Drudgeries," a practice book for advanced wind players. He writes:


I have just read through your article on teaching in Cadenzas VI.  There are so many important issues involved that I don’t know where to begin. As a music educator for most of my adult life I am afraid that I share Bob Morgan’s pessimism about the future of music education.  One example: after I retired I was asked to teach a course on the music of World War II to college non-music majors.  I was appalled at the lack of questions, the lack of interest in going past simply the music of the period and most important, the lack of love for learning for its own sake. Not “what does that mean” but “will that be on the test?” 

I do not want to “preach to the choir” and you have had some very articulate responses, so I won’t repeat the comments about lazy teachers, but here are some things (mostly attitude) that worked for me when I was teaching in the public schools.

We must teach music, not pieces.  I have always considered myself a music teacher who happened to work mostly with trumpet players.  I tried to avoid playing a piece without any discussion and thoughts about style, form, tonality, etc.  If a trumpet player (or a performing group) plays a piece by Mozart, for example, the teachings about style, dynamics, etc., should carry over into other pieces from the same period. Teach the group (yes, by rote) scales and arpeggios in the common keys so that they are comfortable in those keys.  Teach these common factors so that playing a new piece doesn’t involve “reinventing the wheel.” But again, the ultimate goal is to teach music.

Take your instrument to lessons and rehearsals.  With young players, teaching musical subtleties can happen much faster through demonstration than through verbalization.  Of course this means staying on top of one’s instrument, but isn’t that what we expect of students?  A teacher who says he/she is too busy to practice would probably not practice, no matter the level of busyness. All of this assumes lots of planning, practice, thinking ahead, etc. 

I could go on for days, but let me respond to one other item in your article: “. . . is it really more important to rehearse four or five pieces all year in order to try winning a competition.” Don’t “learn” 2 or 3 pieces for “contest”, to the exclusion of everything else.  It is easy to talk about the good old days when I was teaching, but I really believe this phobia about “note perfection” is a fallacy.  I think I can illustrate my point with one example.  When I was teaching at Crane, the high school had had some very bad band directors.  Having two sons in the band, this concerned me, so I told the superintendent that instead of just hiring “a body”, if they didn’t find someone really good for the job I would do the band for a year while they continued to look.  They didn’t, so I took the band for a year. 

When I first met with the band I asked what they wanted to do in addition to the regular concerts of the year.  They wanted to participate in the NYSSMA contest.  I made a bargain with them: if they would become a “reading band” (the music was changed every day), come contest time we would participate at the difficulty level of our reading at that time and I would guarantee them an A rating.  Come May we were comfortably sight reading at Level V and, naturally, we got an A because that was the level at which they were musically literate. The following year, they did find and hire an excellent full-time conductor and teacher.

I think this business of perfection for contests is something that music teachers have built up to protect their own egos.  We all should strive for perfection but our primary goal should be the pursuit of real musical learning. And - if you want to work from 9 to 5, stay away from teaching music. End of sermon. 

Bob Freedman writes in response to the comments of Steve Salerno regarding Bob’s response to “Teachers.”  While I do not respond to anyone's comments in order to remain neutral and to encourage my readers to express their views, I do welcome others responding to those comments.  In the spirit of open discussion, I post Bob Freedman’s comments in response to Steve Salerno’s remarks six commentaries below this. He writes:


A few words about what Mr. Steve Salerno had to say regarding remarks I made in my previous contribution to your current discussion, "Teachers". This is not meant to be argument, merely - let us hope - clarification.

S.S. writes: I read Bob Freedman's comments about Rap, in particular, and I think: It wasn't that long ago that self-appointed jazz "purists" were saying similar things about Coltrane, and Coleman, and Dolphy.

Response: One ought to be ready and able to recognize the difference between innovation (positive accumulation of progress) and degradation (decay) without necessarily personally liking or disliking all or any examples of same. The fact that one form of expression follows another in time does not automatically make it an improvement or even a valid representation of an existing form. However, it must be recognized that no would-be movement from jazz to rap can rationally be judged as musical or cultural progress. 

S.S. writes: I am also reminded of the fact that Stravinsky - who was shunned himself as a young innovator, and thus should have known better - adamantly denounced the electronic symphonic music that began moving toward center stage in his later years. This is a sadly common phenomenon in all art forms: An innovator innovates, then gets stuck in his own innovations and refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new vanguard that replaces him.

Response: Igor Stravinsky . . . How do I, a mere mortal, begin to defend that genius? I don't. I might as well decide to defend 212 degrees Fahrenheit as being the temperature at which water boils at sea level. However I do feel it's o.k. to defend I.S.'s right to dislike much of the composing that went on after he had done so much to shock and culturally enrich the world. Keep in mind that serial composition was another target of his wrath, but that he later decided to take a good whack or two at it, himself. 

S.S. writes: I would also add that before Freedman et al are quick to paint all of Rap with the same brush, they should spend a few evenings listening to some of the jazz-inspired stuff that's out there. Like GangStar. Or Organized Konfusion. Or some of Redman's better work. 

Response: Rest assured that I am a very slow painter and that I always carry my own brush. I am much quicker to be a listener. I have been subjected to the things to which Steve Salerno refers. The facts that rappers have appropriated a few jazz licks and/or used actual lifts from recordings made by real musicians do not support the idea that rap is not a horribly distorted misrepresentation of music. {I apologize for that festival of compound double negatives.} 

When a mugger steals the wallet of a gentleman, the robber's cultural level does not get raised as a consequence. But the victim suffers all the same.

Jeff Stevens – is a trumpet player, a graduate of the Hartt School of Music who also holds a Masters degree from California State University. He has taught music in both public and private schools since 1979, being  awarded the Performing Arts Educator of the Year Award in 1986 by the Massachusetts Alliance for the Arts. He is currently Director of Music for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District in Massachusetts and has taught at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Empire Brass Seminar. A versatile musician who studied with Allen Dean, Jeff has performed with the Berkshire Opera, Empire Brass, John Williams, Chris Brubeck, Arlo Guthrie, Natalie Cole, Lew Soloff, Roger Voison and Rolf Smedvig among others. He is a member of the Berkshire Brass Quintet and Amherst Jazz Orchestra. He writes:


I was very interested in your comments on teaching music, and I agree with you. I don't have the experience of seeing many other programs, so I don't have your information, but it is a concern. I have taught for 23 years in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. And I am a player. In fact we met after I played a wedding ceremony which you attended. I don't think I could teach if I didn't play. I strive to get better every time I pick up that

I don't have the resume of many who have written but I have carved out a scene that is very busy, doing classical, jazz, R&B, quintet. You name it. I play trumpet and adapt to the situation.

But it is not easy to balance a playing career with full time teaching. I struggle to be on top of my teaching 8am Monday morning after 4 or 5 gigs and travel the previous weekend. My wife asks why I keep playing all these gigs. Because I Love It! So I disagree with the writer who says it is an easy gig. I have no help with marching band and I see about 150 kids a day in four different bands. But we are making music and the creativity of our young people is amazing.

My students will have an understanding and love for music only gained through playing it. I am not worried about them. What about the rest of the kids who don't play in a group. They get nothing. How do we reach them?

Anyway - I wanted to respond and say thank you for your concern, keep up the good work, and stay in touch.

Keith Winking - is professor of trumpet at Southwest Texas State University where he also directs the SWT Jazz Orchestra. Dr. Winking received a B.M.E. from Quincy University, an M.M. in Trumpet Performance from SWTU, and a D.M.A. in Trumpet Performance from the Univ. of Texas at Austin. His teachers include Raymond Crisara, Vince Cichowicz, Leon Rapier and Don Jacoby. He serves as visiting lecturer to scores of universities and conservatories including the Crane School of Music and the St. Petersburg and Moscow Conservatories and performs at solo and ensemble concerts/clinics throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has presented papers at the ITG and NY Brass Conferences and published articles in the ITG and IAJE Journals. Dr. Winking is a clinician for the Selmer Company.
He writes: 

A rather cynical friend of mine proclaims that "America was founded by people who flunked out of Europe," and our society's disregard/indifference to the arts (especially arts education), would appear to confirm this statement.

I am originally from Quincy, Illinois, a town of 40,000 in the western part of the state, which had a really fine music program. Classmates from my  high school music programs are now current members of the Kronos Quartet, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Marine Band to name a few, and others went on to have successful careers as music
educators. Quincy as a whole does not appreciate/recognize the accomplishments of these and other fine musicians from the area, but instead chooses to promote the fact that the high school basketball team has on several occasions been state champions. Through the years the community has failed to support any tax increases to maintain a high level of arts education and, as usual, the arts education program has been cut, hurting the kids.  The "award winning" basketball program on the other hand has suffered no cutbacks.

I agree that teachers are underpaid (I am a full professor making in the mid 40's) and realize that many fine teachers decide to leave the teaching professions due to low salaries.  I feel though, that higher pay will not insure good teaching any more than a degree in education does. 

I have a saying that I use with my students to get them to strive to keep on learning and hopefully become more productive at whatever it is they decide to pursue in their life: "Oftentimes, we don't know enough to know that we don't know." I see more and more kids from really weak programs who were "inspired" to become teachers by some really awful teaching. I think the education system has always been infected with bad teaching, but recently it seems to be approaching epidemic proportions. I have used bad teachers from my past as models as to what not to do/become, but I learned more about good teaching after having studied with and observing great teachers. Many kids today "don't know enough to know" what an effective teacher is and unfortunately are not getting the opportunity to study with good teachers to recognize the difference.

There are, of course, as you mentioned many fine and dedicated teachers who have high standards for their students and programs. It seems though that more and more ineffective and incompetent people choose music education as their profession and are getting placed in the public school system.

As mentioned in your article, some students who are music education majors think that because they are going to become band directors, it is not important for them to practice as hard as a performance major.  Why would someone like this who does not find joy in playing music want to teach others?  I did not enjoy science in school so it never entered my mind to major in biology in college. How can these potential band directors motivate junior and senior high school kids to practice when they were not motivated themselves to practice as music majors. Students with this attitude have no business "teaching" others yet they are able to go through programs, obtain a degree in education and get hired. I teach in an "admission by audition" program where I have some freedom regarding who I accept as a student. At auditions I do my best to weed out those who do not have a passion for music. 

I know a very fine band director from Boston who moved to Texas a few years ago to take over a large high school program and he was told by the administration at his interview that if he did not get "straight ones at contest within two years that he would be out of a job." The teacher he replaced was winning contests but teaching by rote and basically performing popular tunes. When the band director tried to explain to the administration how it would take time to implement a quality music program which exposed kids to good music, inspiring them and which actually taught them to read, the administration seemed disinterested and stressed again that winning contests is what was expected. What is really frightening is that this is not an isolated example. There are a number of administrators, parents, and worse yet, BAND DIRECTORS, who only measure the quality of their music programs by the number of trophies displayed in the band room. Look at the number of people today who quit playing their instruments after high school. The students who do quit tend to only talk about the contests their bands won, not about the joys of playing an instrument and making music. 

There is a Chinese saying which goes "don't argue, they will see later." Marvin, I am grateful that you have been such a strong advocate for quality education, because if nobody argues now, by the time "they will see." it will be too late.

Craig Gibson – is a Middle School Band Instructor, a trumpeter in the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Portland Opera Orchestra, Oregon Ballet Theatre Orchestra, founder of the Columbia Brass, and President of the Portland Brass Society. He writes:

In his excellently written & thoughtful commentary about Teachers, Marv stated:

"In contrast, let me state that there are those young teachers today who have been under the guidance of teachers who care deeply for and love teaching. These teachers have provided inspiration to their disciples and illuminated their paths, and their students who have embarked on this same journey carry on this great and most important mission. Unfortunately, they are outnumbered by those lacking their dedication and inspiration."

This isn't the case where I work.  Virtually all of my teaching colleagues (I teach Middle School band) spend countless hours of personal time researching, studying, and yes, PRACTICING their art in order better to lead their students.  Additionally, they spend their own money on classroom supplies, sheet music, & the like.  In my urban school district, the average teacher spends $500 of personal money on classroom supplies. The larger school districts cry 'poverty' and spend less on necessary supplies (to support salaries & benefits to middle-level bureaucrats I presume, but that's another issue.....or is it?) in order to balance budgets.  Meanwhile, it is the classroom teacher who makes up the difference in personal time and expense.  If it were true that many were the type of cynical, burned out union shop employees you fear are more present in schools than not, the above examples of dedication and generosity would be rare indeed.  Instead, they are the norm.

My fellow elementary, middle, and high school teachers love teaching, are dedicated to constant personal and professional improvement, and sacrifice time with family and personal expense to try to keep their programs growing and to influence young lives for the better.  If this isn't also the case nationally, I'd be shocked.  Perhaps visiting with those other than at the University/College level or 'high powered high school' music program might confirm this anecdotal evidence.  After all, that's where the vast majority of teachers are employed, and where the vast majority of kids go to school. 

(Marvin’s note: I must say that I have the utmost respect for Craig Gibson. He is an excellent musician and teacher, one who motivates his students and inspires his colleagues. He also works diligently to promote music in the Portland, OR area and is quite successful in doing so. I find his words truly uplifting and quite encouraging. I am also very aware that the person who has the most difficult job - who does the most to promote music - is the person “in the trenches,” the teacher who is there every day, trying to inspire young people to a higher level. While it is true that most of my work in education is on the “University/College level or 'high powered high school' music program" level, I do have the opportunity to speak with many experienced older teachers around the country who teach on the elementary, middle school, and high school level, and they are appalled at the level of educator that today is being certified to teach. Without re-hashing it all here, I refer back to my article. But my own experiences, working with many college level educators over the last ten years or so mirror the thoughts of Kenny Berger, whose commentary appears below - that is the PhD syndrome. I do realize that there are those areas across the country where excellent teachers and great teaching practices exist; I applaud this and am in full support. But there needs to be a real revitalization in the teaching field overall in this country or the "dumbing down" of America will persist. If I am mistaken in my views -and I truly wish I was - no one would be happier to see me proven wrong than me.) 

Kenny Berger – is a marvelous Jazz baritone saxophone player as well as a great doubler on bass clarinet and bassoon. He is one of the most-in-demand musicians in NYC and plays with so many of the most important names in Jazz. He also is a very fine teacher. He writes:

I found your article and the responses to it to be both truthful and thought provoking. I just hope dialogues like this can be read by the people who REALLY need to hear these views. As much as I appreciate the intelligence and passion of all the respondents, I hope we're not all just preaching to the choir. The two issues I want to address are the paper chase and the teamwork aspect of playing music. I have been a full-time player for nearly 40 years and have been doing adjunct teaching at several colleges while pursuing a full time college position. This past year I began teaching jazz at a private school for grades 6 through12. I am having a ball and have been able to completely sever my ties with the more toxic elements of the music business, having discovered that I would much rather teach good music to kids than play bad music with alleged grownups. After about a dozen years of striking out in my pursuit of a college gig, I wound up getting a masters degree a couple of years ago at the age of 52, figuring that the sheepskin combined with 30+ years of top level experience in the real world would increase my chances - NOT!

   It seems that as more musicians with real world experience began entering the field of education, the educators who lack that experience circled the wagons and increased the paper requirements for teaching to the point where college positions in places that don't even show up in satellite surveillance photos require a doctorate. At the other extreme, many schools in the New York area list in their catalogs some of the biggest names in jazz, most of whom never show up. I have heard countless tales of students receiving no more than 2 or 3 of the dozen or so lessons that they paid for from these superstars and of classes being taught by my fellow jazz foot soldiers after the names in the catalog have lured the students to the school and then gone south. In addition, many of these leading lights are totally lacking in teaching skills and motivation but the jazz world's obsession with "names" makes this a non-issue for the schools. My point is that the seemingly total lack of a middle ground in this area leaves someone like myself, with both the desire and the qualifications, in the weakest possible position.

One thing I was surprised not to see mentioned in other responses is the communal aspect of playing music. One point I always stress to my ensembles and jazz history classes is that, with the possible exception of Art Tatum, every great jazz player is a product of great groups. The feeling of cooperation and teamwork inherent in music making is the element of music that can be most helpfully transferred by students to all other aspects of their lives, in and out of school. It's hard to remain an existentialist when you're sitting in a happening sax section.

Bob Freedman - in his words, “is an arranger who is fortunate enough to have had his work played by some of the finest musicians in the world. He considers that to be the greatest reward a writer can receive.” Those are Bob’s words… in reality, he is one of the finest arrangers and composers I have known over my career as well as being a person of complete musical integrity. Among those he has worked with as musical director and arranger are Lena Horne, Harry Belfonte and many others. Many of you will know his recorded work through the Wynton Marsalis CD, "Hot House Flowers." He writes:

I found nothing with which I would disagree in the comments reproduced in edition VI. I spent ten years at a famous music "college" as instructor and department chairman, so I racked up a whole lot of first-hand experience dealing with the contemporary state of music education. The thing is, this particular problem is just one of myriad lesions currently eating away at the skin of humanity.

I don't know what the underlying disease is, but it has caused mankind to lose nearly all concepts of value. It's as though the masses have gone morally and culturally blind and deaf. Rappers are treated (by people who should know better) as though they had something other than detritus to contribute to the world. What's-his-name Osbourne and his family life are revered, seriously, as entertaining members of society. (Didn't he earn lots of fame by chewing on amphibians onstage?) A television series which glorifies, or at least apologizes for, life in organized crime is recognized for excellence. (Though if the word "fuck" and its derivatives were removed from the script it would disappear into ratings Hell overnight.) The cable channel VH1 supports some sort of program to 'save' music while nearly all of its airtime is devoted to quasi-music videos. 

This epidemic is powerful and apparently continues to strengthen. And as with all disasters, there are many people thriving on and benefiting from the situation.

The rappers and the Britneys themselves are not to be blamed. They are victims as much as we are. These exploited innocents actually believe that they are doing something credible and millions of youngsters dream of attaining the same stature as their misconceived idols. I feel very sorry for those 'pop stars' when the lights come back on and they are forced to see themselves for what they were not.

When we were kids we'd go stand in front of bandstands, listening in awe to Basie, Herman, Ellington, Kenton, Dorsey, et al, wondering if we'd ever be able to practice enough to be sufficiently skilled musicians so as to become members of such organizations. Now, our deluded kids see themselves as stars of - literally - tomorrow if they can ever learn a few chords on guitar (assuming that they have any concept of what a chord is), find a few other like-minded kids, "get into the studio" to record their CD, put together choreography which resembles the throes of some violent nervous disorder and get DISCOVERED.

I used to be angry about all this. Now I'm resigned. It does no good to scream at a hurricane. Meanwhile, one does as much good music as the atmosphere allows.

Steve Salerno – is an award-winning essayist and author whose work on pop culture, social institutions, entertainment, and media has appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, the Wall Street Journal, and other top publications. He has written three nonfiction books, one of which, Deadly Blessing, became the TV movie Bed of Lies (Warner Bros. 1992). Salerno was an honorary professor of journalism at Indiana University, and now teaches writing at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. His early years were spent playing lesser clubs and other gigs in the NYC area (various reeds), and he remains an avid follower of jazz, as well as music of all genres. He writes:

There's much to commend in these observations on pop culture, teaching, etc. I too am a teacher - journalism, these days - though once upon a time, I was deeply immersed in jazz (as a featured clarinet soloist in the Brooklyn College Jazz Orchestra, led for a time by bassist Chuck Israels). I was halfway decent, played the occasional gig in lesser-known clubs in the Village, and so by my senior year, I had a choice to make. I chose writing, and I'm not sorry. I've done well for myself. But the love of music - and culture as a whole - remains. 

The problem I see in these remarks is a philosophical one, and it goes to the heart, really, of what we're all about: What is art? Who decides what's "good"? I read Bob Freedman's comments about Rap in particular, and I think: It wasn't that long ago that self-appointed jazz "purists" were saying similar things about Coltrane, and Coleman, and Dolphy. (I am also reminded of the fact that Stravinsky - who was shunned himself as a young innovator, and thus should have known better - adamantly denounced the electronic symphonic music that began moving toward center stage in his later years. This is a sadly common phenomenon in all art forms: An innovator innovates, then gets stuck in his own innovations and refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new vanguard that replaces him.) I would also add that before Freedman et al are quick to paint all of Rap with the same brush, they should spend a few evenings listening to some of the jazz-inspired stuff that's out there. Like GangStar. Or Organized Konfusion. Or some of Redman's better work. And inasmuch as Freedman chose to invoke Ozzy Osbourne, let me add that today's heavy-metal scene (particularly the substrata known as New Age and/or Alternative) is WONDERFULLY diverse and inventive, incorporating (or at least paying homage to) some of the finest riffs and harmonies from jazz, blues, modern classical, etc. I dare say that artists like Trent Reznor and Rob Zombie - at their best - even manage to expand music itself as an art form.

The overriding point here is that it's a serious mistake, I believe, for people to take the position (as seems to be implied here) that a teacher's role is to help students discern the wheat from the chaff in pop culture. First of all, such a task exposes the teaching process (and thus the students) to a dangerous form of subjectivity. More to the point, I believe that true instruction should strive to be as inclusionary as possible; to broaden the horizons, not circumscribe them. Having said all that ... yes, I am as appalled as anyone at the obscene sums that some of today's alleged stars can take home, for a single CD, without exhibiting any discernible (a) talent or (b) knowledge of music. One would think that any aspiring artist should be able to read music, and know the difference between an arpeggio and an armadillo. Still, technical literacy isn't everything. Most music historians seem to agree that technically, Nat King Cole was far from a great vocalist. Ditto Tony Bennett. And yet somehow, both managed to achieve something transcendent once they opened their mouths to sing.

Georgie Cooper - began a life-long study of piano at age five and at twelve had her first "professional" job playing the Austin pipe organ at a local church. In her words, “I heard my first music when I was a toddler - in our front yard - from the Washington County Jail situated directly across the street from our house - the blues. I don't doubt that at one time or another Robert Johnson was a short-term inmate there.”

Georgie continued piano studies at Mississippi State College for Women, All Saints Episcopal College and the Univ. of No. Carolina, where her piano professor was musicologist Dr. William S. Newman who wrote the definitive work on the sonata form.

After marrying, Georgie moved to California, returning to school for a degree in English at Cal State Fullerton.  She then launched a twenty-five year career as teacher of choral music, guitar, and English in the Brea Olinda Unified School District, all the while continuing to play chamber music, performing duo-piano with her long-time partner, and accompanying vocal people. She retired in 1996 to become a part-time student teacher supervisor for Whittier College, but continues to do sub work in local churches and to play weekly for victims of Alzheimer's disease, both  activities she finds highly satisfying. She writes:

The one element missing from the replies to you is any reference to school administrators.  Of course, your friend whose piece also appeared in "Cadenzas" is an administrator, a fact that suggests to me a vested interest. I believe you to the effect that your friend is a good teacher and probably a fine administrator.  However, I can say with certainty that of the five principals under whom I worked only one of those individuals was worth the powder it would have taken to blow him away. 

There is an enormous disparity between what the classroom teacher earns and what the administrator makes.  Please understand that I do not begrudge anyone in education a living wage or better, if the gods will it. Meanwhile, a principal is saddled with the job of hiring personnel and with evaluating the work of same.

You and I know full well that a jazz musician of considerable merit may, in fact, earn less, far less, than he/she is worth.  How well I recall a weekend several years ago when I made more for four hours sub work at a church than my friend, bassist Andy Simpkins, made over a three day period.  Many of these players are college trained and hold single subject degrees.  Why, I ask you, don't school district personnel administrators go after such people?  I have answers, of course. Two of them - ignorance and apathy.

To illustrate the foregoing, I have a story for you.  Before the 1982-83 school year began I was given two weeks' notice to move to the high school where I was to conduct the entire choral music program and to teach a couple of English classes.  A third grade elementary teacher (nice lady who couldn't read music) was sent to the junior high to take over my job--a full musical staged each year and an eighty-voice choir I had built from scratch.  The reason I was shipped off to the high school was that I had the credentials to fill a job left by a teacher who had suddenly dropped out.

My son Jack recalls that year all too well.  I was required to do a musical at the high school also.  Because I was already acquainted with the high school vocal music kids, I decided on PAJAMA GAME, because I knew we had the voices and DANCERS who could do that thing.  I had to bring over my own kid to play in the band, and I found it necessary to call in all favors owed to me by others. Just for the pit orchestra! (Not a very easy score - tough key signatures, etc.)

By spring semester, I had worked myself silly. One of the principals (there were two of them) came to my English class with the excuse that "music is outside my field of expertise." She came to my junior English class with that damned yellow legal pad--wrote and wrote. Then I received a memo from her requesting that I write an evaluation of myself. That really did it, Marvin.  I recall my reply verbatim: “I have neither the time nor the inclination to evaluate myself. That's what you get the big money for!” I fear this particular woman was more the norm than the exception. Outside her field of expertise indeed!!!!!!!
                                                                                  … Georgie

P. S.  You're doing a fine job, kid. What you are printing needs to be said!

John Daniel - has over 20 years experience, teaching college at Abilene Christian University and Penn State University; he will begin teaching at Lawrence Conservatory in September, 2002.  He has played as a sub on Broadway, with dozens of symphony orchestras, and appeared as a soloist in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and at numerous universities. He writes:

Marvin, to quote you, “Many of these teachers will say that they gave it up because didn’t play well enough to be a professional musician. The reality probably is that while they may not have possessed the ingredients to become a professional, they also did not have the desire, the passion and/or dedication and work ethic to be as good a player as they might. Music is not really in their soul. So I ask – why are they teaching music?”

When I grew up, it seems like it was understood that the more you put into an endeavor, the more you get out of it.  Increasingly, I find myself having to introduce students to this concept in college. Perhaps it is our culture of technological convenience and instant gratification.  Nonetheless, I know that people feel the most alive and the most at peace with themselves when they pursue something with all their passion, particularly if it is a
collaboration of equally passionate participants.

As Kenny Werner says in his wonderful book, "Effortless Mastery," many people keep doing what they are doing because they are too lazy or dysfunctional to make a change.  Of course, this can be true of relationships, work, hobbies, eating habits etc.  Unfortunately, all too often music education has provided a safe haven for people who are too lazy or dysfunctional to get out of music. As a matter of fact, the same observation applies to the whole field of education. Many times, the least effective and passionate teachers look to become administrators. This type of administrator is naturally skeptical and intimidated by passionate teaching.

I am thrilled to see someone of your experience address this subject. There is a whole breed of educators, however, who aren't going to take your arguments seriously. They rationalize that you actually are lacking in experience! And this breed knows how to play politics. They have taken control of education, because they have time to do it, they don't have to worry with substance. It's like everything else that is broken in this country, the kind of time and energy and commitment that it's going to take to turn it around is daunting to consider.

As you can see by my signature, I am leaving Penn State for a new job. I am enthusiastic about working with passionate people in a setting where passion is rewarded. The sermon you are preaching is exactly the sermon I've been preaching for 30 years.  As many clinics and school concerts as you've done, I really admire you for calling it like it is instead of kissing  ***!

Jack Wengrosky - out of the North Texas Lab band program, has been lead trumpet for the US Army Jazz Ambassadors since 1992, touring over 100 days a year. The JAs have been guest artists with five major symphonies, including a recent Carnegie Hall performance with the Cincinnati Pops. The band also features many guest artists like myself, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Houghton, Bill Watrous, Toots Thielmanns and many more. Jack has played lead trumpet for Doc Severinsen, Rich Little, Steve Allen, for numerous recording sessions and has done freelance work in Chicago, Dallas, and D.C. Jack, over the last 10 years, has directed big band and trumpet clinics at over 100 different schools, colleges and universities and hopes to pass on the enjoyment of music to as many students as possible. He writes:

I agree with many of the things you've said about the state of music education, although you haven't touched on a complaint I hear from many public school teachers. I perform many free clinics all over the country, and the prevailing complaint from teachers in the weaker programs is that if they ask too much of their students, they will just quit. While not an excuse, I think it is an issue. When I hear a teacher say that, the problem within them isn't a musical one, it's motivational.

Our teachers need to learn motivational skills. Even great players may not be good teachers if they cannot motivate a student. We all know that a good program can motivate students who want to be a part of the group and compete against each other to get better. Some teachers simply don't know how to instill that kind of want and pride. Music schools could replace outdated psych classes with a motivational tools class. Sound silly? Maybe not if you consider the fact that ED majors spend more time learning music from the Middle Ages than actually how to set up a music program and keep one going. Colleges now require so many extra classes that ED majors have to take a 5th year to get their student teaching requirement. They need to know how to make kids want to learn, not just how to grade papers.

I am sadly surprised when I go to high schools and colleges and find out they don't know the basics like scales, basic band literature, marking parts, etc. When a teacher doesn't want to ask "too much" of their students, all that students learn is that their music never sounds good and isn't very much fun.  FUN! That's why I stayed in music throughout school. Yes, it was competitive and hard sometimes, but we could make good music and that was fun. We wanted to learn more and get better so that we could have even more fun! Kids want to be part of a good band, but a band director HAS to do the hard part of making students learn scales, regular practice, sectionals, etc. Why isn't that part of the MUS ED curriculum?

Karl Sievers - studied with Bill Adam at Indiana University.  He is Principal Trumpet of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Professor of Trumpet at the School of Music at the University of Oklahoma and a Bach Artist/Clinician.  He also is the moderator of "Trumpet Corner" at the popular Selmer.com web site.  Karl is active in all styles of music – recording sessions, shows, chamber, solo, and orchestral playing and was recently named to the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild.

I read your article on teaching.  You have to stick to your guns... I am a "player" in a teaching environment, and all of my students are taught that it all revolves around pursuing excellence in the art (in our case, excellent musicianship via the trumpet), and that is what we must take to the classroom, stage, studio, wherever, regardless of degree name. BUT the PhD Mus Ed people seem to have a very strong defensiveness against the performance people, as if they must overcompensate in an effort to carve out their niche or their territory. It's a tough sell sometimes. Of course we continue to try to win them over by showing them respect up front.  Next week I deliver a spiel on this very subject to a captive audience of educators. We'll see! 

I am glad you are willing to speak out.

Roy Anthony - is the Director of Instrumental Music at Valhalla High School in El Cajon, California. Among the honors he has been accorded over a long teaching career are: 1995 - California Teacher of the Year; 1996 - National Educator Award from Milken Foundation; 1987 Distinguished Teacher Award presented by Pres. Reagan. He is a member of the California State Curriculum and Instructional Resources Commission and serves as Chair of the Curriculum Framework Criteria Committee. He also is the father of talented trumpeter Ryan Anthony, a member of the Canadian Brass. He writes

I agree with your comments about music teachers today. I am very disappointed with what is happening in my area, southern California.  You made the statement about the position just being a job.  I see that way too often.  Put in the hours and collect the paycheck. GET A DIFFERENT JOB!  Our area also puts to much emphasis on competition, both during marching season and festival season.  I refuse to be a part of this group and so my voice is not heard often with our organization. 

Another problem is funding.  I feel many good potential teachers are not coming to our area because nearly 50% of my time must be spent raising money to keep my program going.  I do this for the sake of the students, but it is burning me up.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) next year will be my last as I am retiring.  I have talked to many individuals as I want the best replacement possible, but many will not even think of the job because of the fund raising hours.  My budget from the school is depleted by October; then I raise money for the rest of the year.  I love my job and I love my students, but there definitely is burn out.  I feel I have the best job given to man, shaping the lives of individuals and exposing them to this music experience.  I am thrilled by the many students of mine that go on in the field of music or continue with music as a hobby.  That is my reward along with the Jason Hannas that I have worked with.  (Thank you Marvin for your contribution to his life, he is doing well.)

Anthony J. Agostinelli - is a retired professor, formerly a faculty member of the College of Arts and Sciences of Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, for almost a quarter century.  He taught the social sciences, the evolution of jazz and world religions.  A musician since 1943, he has played accordion, piano, keyboards, and a variety of brass instruments.  He had been a member of the IAJE since 1985, and for a few years served on its Advisory Council.  He has been a radio and TV broadcaster and has published a wide variety of works in the social sciences and jazz histories.  Agostinelli's written works include a guide to establish legal regulation for the social work profession, a book on wines, "The Wrath of Grapes" and a history of the Newport Jazz Festival.  He also has written  various research articles as well as works on Stan Kenton, Don Ellis, Eddie Safranski, "How to Do Jazz Research," Urban Contemporary Jazz", and "All Jazz Is Fusion."  He is the Editor of "The Network," a newsletter for the alumni, friends and fans of Stan Kenton. He and his wife live in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He writes:

I read through your article in Cadenzas - Edition VI and concur with you on these following issues which I have culled from your article … though these are listed as they appear in your article, they are not listed in order of importance, I've only organized these issues so I can understand them better … I wholeheartedly support your positions on these following matters.

In supporting your positions, I have organized a listing of....

Marvin Stamm's Principles for Teaching and Teachers

Teachers need to:

-- receive a salary that will attract quality people to the profession
-- provide guidance and inspiration to their students and to their community
-- show students the joy and fulfillment of taking on tasks they are unable to perform, then working to master them
-- encourage students every step of the way and never let their diligence flag in helping students accomplish their dreams
-- provide students with such a wonderful learning experience, they create in them an insatiable hunger that ensures they never lose sight of why they want to play accomplish their goals
-- know the purpose of their teaching
-- to inspire and enlighten young minds, and, in the case of the Arts, to teach them “things of the heart”
-- to expose our youth to things of great quality that will add much to their lives
-- to graduate people who have a real desire to learn more than what is necessary to get through the course work beyond acquiring their certification to teach
-- to let his or her students know that he/she expects them to work to the level of their potential and that he/she will accept nothing less

Music education's mission involves the following:

-- music education motivates students to play music because.....music is something one experiences, something one tangibly feels; and every experience helps garner more knowledge, making one a better teacher
-- when one ceases playing, a measure of growth and acquisition of knowledge is diminished
-- if one no longer feels the excitement of creating and performing – he/she will not become a teacher who provides the inspiration that will motivate others to work toward excellence, seek knowledge, and pursue their dreams
-- playing and being involved in music is not just for the professional. but for everyone to enjoy on whatever level they are able or wish to be
    1.    It keeps the individual involved and working to improve their playing 
    2.    It contributes to the cultural life of their communities 
    3.    It helps to keep the music vital and alive by exposing the next generations to this most important entity called The Arts.
-- music education permits students to continue to be involved in the Arts in some manner all of their lives, either as participants on some level or as fans and patrons
-- the reality of any “musician” is that they continually seek improvement in everything they do
-- to continue to learn and grow in music, as in life, these experiences must be repeated many times in order to reinforce what one has previously learned while also revealing new paths

Dr. Robert Morgan's Counterpoint

A teacher must.....

-- impart a subject for which he/she has passion, skills, and a knack to communicate
-- expect to have better salaries (perhaps double what they are now )
-- be highly regarded in the community
-- teach in schools that are safe, hallowed, quiet, reverential temples to learning, wisdom, etc.

Professor (Retired) Anthony J. Agostinelli's Ramblings

Teaching is a vocation - a vocation in the sense that it consumes one's life - the center of her/his being.  As Ellington mused, "Music is my mistress."  One's vocation must be:  "Teaching is my mistress/master."  It is fixed in the soul of one's being.  Having just retired from a quarter century of teaching in higher education, my interests have always been to involve the student in the process of life-long learning, and loving it.  One often has to ask them to suspend their disbelief, in order to introduce students to other beliefs … beliefs that have stood the test of time, and beliefs which test the beliefs of time.  In order for students to do that, they must open themselves up to becoming learned … scholars, if you will.

Institutions of learning have been created to perpetuate themselves.  This need to self-perpetuate often operates in such a way that faculty development is not enhanced, that student learning becomes secondary to keeping students happy as social beings, and that core curriculum becomes the creature of political correctness, rather than academic content!  The learning university on the other hand is mindful that student learning, faculty development, and a state of the art technology is dedicated to its mission -- to educate, yes to educate students to a life of learning.

Since the arts add to the beauty of life, an arts curriculum is an essential part of one's higher education.  To relegate the arts to a lesser position is to deny students the opportunity to creatively soar, whilst learning one's profession.

If a university's mission is to provide educational opportunities for a diverse community, then that diversity must also carry over to its academic content.

The university faculty is the jewel in the crown of higher education.....pay her/him adequately, enhance her/his own learning, provide incentive for inspiring her/his students to life-long learning and a dedication to excellence.

Marilyn Harris - is a singer, songwriter, pianist and arranger whose talents have graced not only her own recordings, but a wide variety of other artists' work including Jim Brickman, Bette Midler, Lola Falana, Donna McKechnie, as well as jazz vocalists Anne Marie Moss, Jackie Paris, Judi Silvano and Diane Hubka.   After studying composition with Hale Smith at UConn and film scoring with Ray Wright and Manny Albam at Eastman School of Music, Marilyn worked extensively with jazz arranger Gil Evans and studied piano with Richard Tee and Rodgers Grant.  She has produced music for commercials (Amoco, McDonald's, Kraft, Kellogg's, United Airlines, etc.), ABC-TV's "General Hospital",  and provided original music scores for such diverse projects as the Hallmark Hall of Fame, BBC’s radio drama "Milford-Haven, U.S.A." (Great Britain), "Yogurt Variations" for the New Britain Symphony Orchestra among other things. She writes: 

I read with interest your article on TEACHERS and Bob Morgan's response.  You do a fine job enumerating the problems inherent in the education field today, especially pointing out the potential HARM of training and hiring an uninspired teacher.  This certainly confirms my early choice NOT to teach - I knew I didn't have the "fire" nor patience to share my own enthusiasm for music with students - I never heard "the calling" to teach - certainly not "officially" as within an educational institution.  If individuals wanted to know about my career, experience, musical choices and influences, I would certainly share THAT - (and at length!!) - but there have been few people who really wanted to know what made me tick musically.

It occurs to me that perhaps the reason you're not receiving more response to the articles you've written and posted online in CADENZAS from your website visitors is that THEY ALL AGREE with your point of view, and you've already said everything that needs to be said!?  And how redundant does it feel to email a colleague to just say "Amen!"??  (Granted it's incredibly affirming to be on the receiving end and HEAR that "Amen"!!)

Dr. David Clements - is a jazz drummer, video producer, and Doctor of Chiropractic, actively performs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. He served as road manager and sound engineer for the 1999 and 2001 tours of Mike Vax’s Big Band which featured alumni of the Stan Kenton Orchestra He also recorded the band’s live CD, which will be released shortly. “My association with Marvin Stamm dates back to 1970, when I was a drummer for a band at a summer jazz clinic at the University of Oklahoma. Marvin was my director, and somehow we have been crossing paths ever since.” 
He writes:

Very thoughtful and thought-provoking issue. Thanks for all the work in putting it on the Web. When we were out last year with the Vax band last spring ('01), I was once again struck by the apathy we encountered sometimes, but we focused on those few we were able to reach. It really isn't the kids' fault, but that of the system. I remember that at a clinic in Bayonne, there was one drummer that showed up for the clinic....the other one in the school's band thought baseball practice was more important than such a once in a lifetime opportunity. So Gary Hobbs and John Akal (Latin perc) proceeded to give that one kid a clinic that will probably keep him on a good path for years. When we played in Philadelphia (Plymouth-Whitemarsh), it was as the closer to a high school jazz festival. The band was cookin', and took a break. During the break, awards were handed out to the winning bands for the day. You guessed it...the band came out to a nearly empty hall---maybe 25 students were left, out of several hundred. They got their cheesy trophies and split, leaving the opportunity to hear one of the greatest bands on the planet. High school programs all seem to be about trophies and providing halftime entertainment (the real reason band programs are tolerated, in my opinion). When I was that age, I remember cutting classes to hear the Kenton band doing a clinic at a school across town, and I would have crawled over there on my knees if I had to. NOTHING would have stopped me! What has happened?

I heard someone on television the other day (wish I could remember who it was) say that maybe we should be teaching Rap in schools, because putting any art form in a college seems like the surest way to kill it. I agree up to a point, but maybe we just have to take our victories where we can for now. What I have seen in high school music departments is pretty pathetic, but for now it is what we have to work with. There is a LOT more I could say, but much would just be an echo of your excellent article.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi, and sound off a bit, and now I have a gig to get to, so take good care of yourself, and keep that flame burning, because we may need it more than ever now.

Tim Bowen - is former split-lead and jazz trumpet on the USAF Airmen of Note, 1967 thru 1968, and again 1977 to 1979.  He was one of the first call trumpet players for both lead and jazz in the Washington, DC area for 15 years between 1975 thru 1984. Tim has worked with Louis Bellson, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Steve and Edye, and many other celebrities at the Kennedy Center.  He also was a guest soloist with the U.S. Navy Commodores.  Upon retirement from the Air Force, he moved to California and retired from the rigors of the music business. He writes:

It's good to read your article and I agree whole-heartedly.  I feel the need to toss in a comment.  If you knew me, you wouldn't find that need a rarity on my part at all. 

Many of the problems with non-dedicated teachers are created by the schooling bureaucracy that permeates the educational systems today.  A teacher "with the calling" can easily be discouraged by the apathy of the school system itself.  Unfortunately, this has been going on for so many years, that our new teachers are being taught by the older discouraged ones. This has been passed down for as many generations as I can remember. 

When I graduated high school in 1962, even then, the football players had all of their equipment paid for, while the band parents had to man coffee and cookie and cake booths at those same games to raise money for band equipment.  However, the band was expected to support all the sport functions.

Now - and I really do believe this is due to lack of fundamental music education in the schools - what we hear on pop radio is really not music at all.  It's just noise.  I'm not speaking to musical style, as I have no prejudice as to rap, rock, R&B, or whatever.  Of course I do have my preferences.  However, I do have a built in bigotry on anything done badly, including those musical forms.  Pop music has been reduced to "formula," with very little creativity based in fundamental musical knowledge.  It's a shame, because the music business panders to the lowest common denominator of listener.  Unfortunately, this is the only exposure most children get from the time in kindergarten to senior year in high school.  Many fine educators are left feeling as though they are spitting in the wind.

On the other hand, having been a professional musician for over 30 years, I have also witnessed the ignorance of the so called "trained" musicians who have become teachers.   Far too many are of the "my mind is made up, don't confuse me with any facts" syndrome.  Since they are not usually performers, they get caught up in theory, instead of the practical when it comes to recommending things like, how to practice, what mouthpiece to use, what kind of horn to play, what kind of music is good or bad, etc.  In college, I knew a professor with a Doctorate, who had brass musicians putting braces on
their teeth if the students’ dental formation was not conducive to the particular instrument they were playing, according to his opinion.  He turned a trumpet player, into an unwilling trombone player with his idiotic ideas.

Luckily, we still have the professionals like you, Marvin, who can still really have an influence on these open-minded students. 

Kenny Hillman - is an old friend – an excellent trumpeter, pianist and arranger. Whenin  LAHe worked with the bands of Les Elgart, Les Brown, Claude Gordon, Russ Morgan, Tex Beneke, Al Porcino and Art DePew. He moved to Reno, NV, working in the show bands there and at lake Tahoe, playing, conducting and writing for stars such as Sammy Davis, Jr., Roger, Miller, Jimmy Durante, Sarah Vaughn, Petula Clark and more. He also worked with American-Hawaii Cruises as Musical Coordinator, conducting for the showroom acts and organizing the "Special Events." A person of many talents, he has also acted in motion picturesand TV - eleven movies, and four TV serials, including Kenny Rogers' 4-part series, "The Gambler". Kenny recently moved to Clayton, GA where he continues to be active playing piano and teaching the "Louis Maggio System for Brass", upright and electric bass, and basic piano. He writes: 

I read somewhere that if you loved what you did, you'd never work a day in your life! Personally, if the road bands were still out there, I'd be on one of them!  I'm turning 69 on the 25th of this month.

Well, I must tell you that working with some great lead players gave me the tools to fill my musical bag of tricks.  But it was by trying to sleep on the bus or in the back seat of a '59 Ford station wagon, or in the truck, and reaching the location late, donning a dirty white shirt, not shaving, being tired, that I gained my musical Character! 

Do the young, bright, talented youth of today have such opportunity, as did we, in our prime?  And do the teachers have in their history the experience necessary to impart such wonderful moments as those of ours? 

I dare say no!  For only when one has known those episodes that fill Mind, Heart, and Soul so completely, as do my recollections of each road trip and the pleasantries which accompanied them, will they be able to - through understanding - direct the very lives of our future, and the future of music, in general. 

Therefore, the entire spectrum is left to academia!  And at best, it is ill-bunkered to attempt such a voyage.  For, as the song goes: "Time Waits for No One"!

Your article broaches a near-fatal answer to the question of the future and music, in the realm of "Playing", as you put it! "It, As All Things, Shall Pass!” Enjoyed your writing, Marvin.  Please keep it up!  We must all take part by doing what each of us can to preserve that which has played such a grand part in our lives.

In response to: Two Thoughts - Young People

Doug Meeuwsen - is a full time high school band director in the Orange County, CA area. An excellent musician and lead trumpet player, he is conversant in all styles of music. He performs in a brass quintet, in chamber orchestras, freelances playing in Jazz, Funk and Salsa bands and does studio work in the San Diego area. For many years, he taught privately, as many as 50 private trumpet students a week, but upon becoming a full time band director, stopped taking private students. In his words, “I absolutely love being a trumpet player.” He writes:

I feel like I may have something to add to your thoughts about the state of education. You might recall that I teach High School in Mission Viejo, CA and also play a lot of gigs on the side. As a player I'm good enough to stay about as busy as I want to be (3 to 6 gigs a week let's say) but I’m not good enough to make a decent living playing the trumpet in San Diego. So a few years ago, I decided to use the credentials that I got way back in 1982 from Western Michigan University. At my school I work with another full-time Band Director, and we have an outstanding program of 3 Bands, 2 Jazz Ensembles, 2 orchestras, and I teach a very cool composition class.

 Since I am in the thick of the public school and music scene and hang with lots of kids finishing up their degrees in music, I see education from a lot of angles. I agree that there are problems with the state of music in schools, and all of the things that people point to as reasons are probably valid. However, there are good programs all over the country, and in all kinds of neighborhoods, and in all kinds of schools. All these good programs have essentially one thing in common: a really good music teacher. Because the teacher is musically effective, the program is supported and becomes successful, and things get on a roll. I think it all comes down to how strong the teacher is musically. There are tons of examples of teachers with weak organizational skills that have good music programs in schools. The fact is that there are all kinds of people willing to help out with non-musical problems, if the students are doing good things musically. 

Now that leads us to wonder why there are so many bad programs out there. Hmmm ... I’m going to be bold and go out on a limb. I really think that a huge part of the problem is that the teachers in most places are musically weak. When the teacher is musically ineffective, there really is not much reason for a kid to sign up, no reason for parental or administrative support, financial support, etc. When you hear a teacher complaining of this, it is a sign of one of two problems: either that teacher has proven to be weak or the teachers before them were proven to be weak. I see good teachers turn programs around all the time. And it does not really take that long. I see bad teachers do the same thing in reverse also, and it seems like it takes about the same amount of time to ruin it as it does to build it. About 4 years or so, enough for all the previous kids to graduate.

So now we really should be asking ourselves, "Why are there not more great music teachers".... Right? Well Marvin, I know the answer: 

Too many people get scared out of teaching after hearing how it's jungle out there, or they hear people moaning about no support, bad administration, worthless kids with no motivation, Marching Band, ridiculous hours, etc. etc.... I see great players and great people who would make awesome teachers graduate from college and then just switch gears because they think teaching is not for them. And then, the really weak musicians that happen to graduate go out and get jobs; and because they are weak musicians, their programs suck, and they DESERVE no support. The kids know it sucks so they quit or mope around, marching band is a nightmare, and it's a total drag. Then they tell the next crop of great playing, dynamic, vibrant, funny, charismatic, just-getting-ready-to-graduate, music majors, "Teaching sucks; don't do it." And then the “great teacher-to-be” gets scared and decides to be get an MBA, or work in a bank or something else.

When was the last time you saw somebody telling somebody how cool it is teaching high school music? OK... here you go...

First off, I make 67,000 bucks a year in my 8th year teaching. Every day I work from 7:00 am till about 4:30, but I am off from 10:00am till 2:00pm everyday. One class is “before” school, and two are “after” school, giving me plenty of time to do whatever I want. Now that is a better workday than most people have - three hours of work in the morning, two at the end of the day. Cake.

Secondly, the kids we teach are highly motivated and they can PLAY. We do killer concert band and wind ensemble literature that is a true challenge to OUR musical abilities as well as the kids. And all we have to do is show up ready to go with a plan that they KNOW is going to make them better THAT DAY. Which is a piece of cake because we learned how do it when were practicing endless hours, when we wanted to set the world on fire and play in Thad's band, and get to record a solo like yours on "Ahunk Ahunk"...so it takes no time whatsoever to prepare for a rehearsal. I go to the coffee shop every day and get paid for it as if I'm grading papers! I read the whole L.A times when the other teachers are "prepping", then I go back and teach my composition class which is loaded with geniuses. I get to produce a CD of their original stuff. I engineer it, call the players, help rehearse it if they want, mix it, master it in pro-tools.... It’s a blast and comes out great for all eternity. Then I go to the gym and get ready for jazz ensemble after school. We play only tunes straight out of the professional libraries of name bands...Basie, Florence, Holman, Thad, Woody, Kubis etc..... What’s a drag?

Thirdly, Marching Band is easy. We have the best marching band in southern California. We have a killer staff of people who live and breathe drum corp and marching band. We give them our full confidence and let them do their thing. There are thousands of these poor chaps walking around with an empty pit in their stomach where Drum Crops International used to be before they "aged out" at age 22. All they want to do is work for cheap with a marching band somewhere. I turn on the lights, open the bathrooms, drink my Starbucks, mosey on down to the field and be cool and funny with the kids who are working their butts off to make a "winner". Rehearse the music really hard for a while, hang out drink some Starbucks... It’s pretty cool actually.

Then when the middle of June comes around, I get 2 months of PAID VACATION ...and I do all the gigs I can, but ONLY cool ones that are great music, and keep my abilities up... Oh, by the way, I still have a whole hour in the school day devoted to nothing but MY Practice. So that I can keep getting better and better, (or at least not worse and worse!)

So, my simplistic points in a nutshell are: 
 1. The quality of a school music program is directly related to the musical abilities of the teacher. If a school program has been cursed with an ineffective music teacher, it takes about 4 years to turn it around. 
 2. The amount of support a teacher gets is directly related to the musical result of the teaching. 
 3. Too many people hear negative things about teaching. Most of these negative things are from either non-teachers, or musicians who have been ineffective as music teachers.
 4. Teaching is fun, easy, rewarding, and musical, and it always will be. Let’s see if anyone else would like to add to my short list of wonderful reasons to be a music teacher in a school. 

OK... I'm done now, I guess... take care Marvin...It was awesome meeting you in Hawaii

Doug Meeuwsen, San Diego, CA

Phil Sutherland - is a Junior High School Band Director and trumpet player. Feeling involved on a "hands on" level, he writes:

I just read your thoughts  "Young People" and I unfortunately have to agree with your observations.  As a band director at the junior high level, I have also struggled with the lack of motivation for success and a lack of pride in students' work.  Enough to get by seems to be the level at which kids achieve unless motivated by tangible rewards (i.e. parties, pizza, candy, cokes, etc.).  I've found that a good way to begin working students out of this self centered thinking is to begin with a tangible reward when something is done correctly and to verbally enhance their success, even if it's just getting to the rehearsal on time.  Over the course of the year as students learn that success is rewarded, I lessen the tangible reward but increase the praise.  I have seen students begin to take personal pride in accomplishments and work toward a common goal of overall success for the group, and even encourage, praise or criticize others for certain behavior.  I remember one student who even chastised a friend for being late to a football game by saying, "You don't still need a treat to get here on time, do you?" 

We recently finished up a very successful year, and the reward for me was watching them sit up with real pride as they were listening to the tape knowing they did their best and advanced to the next level for competition. 

 I think you can still motivate students to success and personal pride; it just takes some retraining and time. There is however no substitute for good parenting.  If parents instill this in their children from the beginning, we would not have to. Parents I have found often times lack the same motivation that we seek to instill in their children.

  Have the students watch  "Remember the Titans", and "Pearl Harbor";  these films help to teach these personal aspects I've discussed as well as teamwork and goal oriented thinking.  I sometimes have discussions in my band hall about films that show examples of positive behavior; it seems to be something they relate to.

It's not the world we grew up in, that's for sure; and it is harder to instill success in students, but we need to just keep plugging away.

Thanks for the forum,
Phil Sutherland

In response to: Time To End The Bitterness; Time To Heal The Wounds!

Steve Salerno – is an award-winning essayist and author whose work on pop culture, social institutions, entertainment, and media has appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, the Wall Street Journal, and other top publications. He has written three nonfiction books, one of which, Deadly Blessing, became the TV movie Bed of Lies (Warner Bros. 1992). Salerno was an honorary professor of journalism at Indiana University, and now teaches writing at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. His early years were spent playing lesser clubs and other gigs in the NYC area (various reeds), and he remains an avid follower of jazz, as well as music of all genres. He writes:


I read your article "time to heal the wounds." And though it may not make you feel any better, I think much of the phenomenon you so poignantly describe is not confined to music, but rather is pan-social, in that it reflects--more than anything else--the culture of youth worship that seems to have taken hold ubiquitously in today's America. I see much the same thing in my own realm of journalism. The magazines want to fill their pages with the writings of OUR supposed "young lions," such that their bylines crowd out those of us who--like me--have logged 20-plus years of working at the highest levels of the industry. (They all have that same, smart-ass, hipster voice, and they all seem to write in such a manner that suggests they're more important than the event or trend they're (allegedly) covering.) Only those elder statesmen/-women with the already famous names (Wolfe, Vidal, Talese, Didion, Ephron, a relative handful of others) are immune. There's even a joke afoot in the industry that says that if you expect to have your photo run on the contributor's page of most of today's better magazines, you'd damn well better airbrush out the wrinkles, because their art editor, who's probably all of 19 (I exaggerate, but not much), wouldn't want any such ravages of aging offending his delicate visual sensisbilities as he puts together his precious page. Indeed, I don't know if you get to watch much morning TV, but next time you happen upon the Today Show and they're featuring a consumer-finance segment, take note of the person they chose as their resident "expert": It's a young woman from Money Magazine, Jean Chatksy, who was picked for the slot ahead of a dozen veteran financial journalists Today could've had, presumably because Jean is (a) very young, and (b) very cute. I guess they figured she'd connect better with their target audience than an old crusty sort like Lou Dobbs...

I don't know what's to be done about all of this, Marvin. Certainly much of it is advertiser-driven--with, of course, the American consumer landscape being in the perpetual thrall of that coveted 18-34 demographic. This much I do know: It is quite sad, and much of it is also probably quite illegal, though we work in such slippery, subjective realms that it's hard to make a case stick in the absence of the sort of smoking-gun evidence you cite with regard to Lincoln Center.

Keep the faith. 

Kenny Berger - is a marvelous Jazz baritone saxophone player as well as a great doubler on bass clarinet and bassoon. He is one of the most-in-demand musicians in NYC and plays with so many of the most important names in Jazz. He writes:

Your mind and heart are,as usual, in the right place on the issues of racism and ageism in today's jazz world. I would like to point out some ironies I have noticed in the way these factors have taken shape in recent years. When Wynton first appeared on the scene, he attended the University of Art Blakey and his first solo recordings were derivative of the mid-60's Miles Davis Quintet and it seemed he might go on to build on the foundation laid down by Miles and Wayne Shorter at that time. Even before he adopted the arch conservative stance which he is (in) famous for, he strongly advocated respect for our musical elders and encouraged young players to cultivate stylistic depth by absorbing
the music of the masters. Then we blinked and all of a sudden no jazz musician over 30 could get arrested.

It's not uncommon for outsiders to misinterpret what jazz is all about. Witness the Beatniks in the 50's who identified with jazz based on the mistaken assumption that all we do is "play what we feel" with no forethought or group dynamic involved. The Madison Avenue and dotcom outsiders, similarly believed that the young pussycats were the first young jazz musicians to make some noise and that the music had previously been the province of old men. So even though Booker Little and Clifford Brown left behind more original music than WM will if he lives to be 500, and even though Louis, Hawk and Bird were all in their twenties when they revolutionized the music, the circus was now in town and there are still no signs that it plans to pull up stakes. Even some so-called insiders jumped on the band wagon, with Downbeat doing a feature issue a year or so ago highlighting exiting new artists " all under the age of 40."

My point is; in the past, when outsiders misconstrued the meaning and practices of jazz, it did no great harm because none of these groups ever had the wherewithal to gain power over how the music was produced and disseminated and jazz wasn't considered commercial enough to be worth the effort. Now, with a new generation cute enough to sell Armani and DKNY rather than Conn and Selmer, the stakes are high enough to bring the vultures around. Our only consolation lies in the fact that what these folks will never understand is that the thing that still matters most is the only thing they can't take away from us old farts, and that's the music. Externally motivated people can never understand why some people do what they do in spite of market conditions. All I know is that when most of the young lions are 50- year-old computer programmers, I plan to be an 80-year-old musician. Keep 'em coming.

Eric Nemeyer - is the Publisher of Jazz Improv Magazine (a 240 page quarterly featuring interviews, book excerpts, reviews, solo transcriptions, songs, analyses, “How-to” and motivational articles along with a companion CD; website: http://www.jazzimprov.com/). Eric is an instrumental performer on vibraphone and marimba (sometimes doubles on piano or drums), and composer-arranger, and has performed or recorded with Sonny Stitt, Hank Mobley, Joey DeFrancesco, Zoot Sims, Mickey Roker, Tyrone Brown, Sid Simmons, Sam Dockery, Curtis Weaver and others. He earned a Masters of Music Degree in Jazz Studies from the Eastman School of Music. Eric is completing a new album on vibraphone for release in 2001. He writes:

I read your article "Time For Bitterness to End: Time To Heal The Wounds." I think it is all quite apropos and well-put.

You referred to jazz musicians who have been dubbed "young lions" as making recordings with others who share the same level of musical experience: "How much can they learn from others just as inexperienced, compared to the opportunity of being in the musical company of those who have spent years finding their voices and refining their art?" The logic and common sense inherent in your perspective cannot be overstated.

It is certainly not uncommon for many teenagers, students in college, and college graduates (recent or otherwise), or for that matter people of any age, to posture themselves and share their perspectives about what an "expert" they are. Probably all of us go through that for a while (hopefully, it's only awhile). We believe we know sooooo much when in that mindset. I love the sign I recently saw on someone's refrigerator that said: "Attention, teenagers: Leave home now while you still know everything!"

Needless to say, as we grow older, if we have any open-mindedness at all, we are able to recognize just how little we know - not just about music, but about EVERYTHING. For one thing, biology, chemistry and physics as we currently understand them - and a zillion other things in this universe - may not be what we think they are or should be here on earth. And, like each of our own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual conditions, everything is dynamic and constantly changing.

And those of us who are involved in the creative process - as players, composers, arrangers - are constantly searching. We're looking to create new songs, new arrangements, new solos, new approaches to these and many other things that may be part of our creative universe. Wouldn't it therefore make sense that the attitude that says "I have all the experience and expertise I need....I'm really happening" would constantly (and in a negative way), serve to undermine that ongoing search, potential growth and change? This is the attitude of "experts." Afterall, since "experts" may have attained a consummate level of knowledge, proficiency or ability, there is little left for them to know or learn. This, of course, runs contrary to the perspective of the artist.

Bertrand Russell said: "The trouble with this world is that the stupid are cock-sure, and the intelligent are full of doubt." I present this perspective not to suggest which category I or any of the readers may fall into, but rather as food for thought, that may encourage the healthy self-questioning about what each of us want, do and think.

Certainly, there may be more mature players (or people in any field) who have not been aware enough over many years to have learned from their mistakes or gained sufficient quality experience to share. But, those aside, more experienced players bring with them a certain depth and richness that, at the very least, is simply a function of their longer life experience. That life experience is the ongoing accumulation of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual experiences that we all gain, which contribute to our daily activities and understanding. The life experience of older players can encompass so much more, simply by virtue of the chronologically longer period it has taken to accumulate that experience (as compared to players in their 20s, regardless of how technically perfect and sanitized their playing may be).

Further, jazz musicians tend to be intuitive, sensitive, aware, curious, searching, etc. as a function of and in connection with their creativity. More experienced players are likely to have been exercising that intuition, sensitivity and so forth in many more situations, and therefore had the opportunity to have gained significantly more (again by virtue of the simple passage of a greater period of time) from their mistakes, failures, successes, challenges and so on.

We know that practicing your instrument can provide specific technical and musical proficiencies over time. If you practice dutifully, and "correctly" for ten hours a day, vs. one hour a day, more proficiency may result. It is more difficult to quantify how life experience may impact one's musical being. But certainly it has an important part to do with how we each feel the music and many other things, express the music (and everything else) and develop our own unique voice or musical fingerprint.

I think if we were all motivated by logic, reason, fairness and the kind of thinking, spirit and spirituality that your views (with which I thoroughly agree) address, the kind of resolution to the undertone of bitterness and related issues would inspire a less-then-complicated solution, and would occur quickly. Disappointingly, it probably won't.

For one thing, we're dealing with the complexity of human emotions and desires - and a lot of selfishness. Everyone has their own agenda. 

One of the problems is that there is a lot of fear among industry participants. And fear really prevents any of us from being generous or loving, I think. There is the fear that "someone is going to take my job," or the fear that someone - everyone - is going to find out that I'm not as competent or wonderful as the press or the "buzz" has communicated, or the fear that if I say something - even if it is logical or truthful - someone won't like me or invite me to a party, or worse, won't hire me.....and on and on and on.

The business is loaded with this paranoia.

And, we as humans have a curious way, in the privacy of our own minds, of enhancing these imaginings to create wonderful (or not so wonderful) stories, fictions, presumptions, prejudices about people - sometimes real, and often imagined.

There is also the issue of power. Some of the artist members of our very own jazz community, people you identified in your article, are guilty of that. They want to lord over what occurs in the jazz world, over what is accepted or rejected. They want to be the be-all, end-all, and have the final word. And, while some of us may believe that everyone is entitled to his or her opinions, apparently some expect compliance to the way they think the jazz world, if not the universe, SHOULD be - and how things need to conform to their pre-understood expectations.

I believe when we publish a review, article or letter to the Editor in Jazz Improv Magazine, that your view, the next person's view, my view, is as important or unimportant as that of the "expert."

And, of course, power can be a dangerous thing. I think people who have power (someone who is perceived by some as the self-anointed spokesperson for the jazz world comes to mind) also have a responsibility to employ it for other than selfish purposes. I'd like to be able to say that I have observed significant evidence of that selflessness. Expectedly, though (and the described case is no exception), when most people attain such authority at a young age, they are perhaps misled to believe that they ARE more special than many other equally competent and special  people. Afterall, as the "self anointed" or "important and all powerful OZ" would lead him or herself to believe: "Who but the most special and competent individual would be able to gain such notoriety, power, fame....etc.? If I have this notoriety and power, and people tell me I'm great, I must be."

That brings to mind concepts like "the Emperor's wearing no clothes (or maybe some clothes) and the quote: "The moment a man thinks he is important, he no longer is."

You pointed out that "labels [are] dropping the young artists if they don't produce "hits," if they don't become the next 'Wynton.' When this happens, many of these new young artists are devastated because they don't understand the realities of a recording industry now patterned after the 'pop' music business."

I believe these artists are disappointed (I hope they are not devastated) because they have the great expectations that come with embracing that entitlement attitude. They have been improperly told (perhaps by teachers, friends, other artists and too many people) or informed (an illusion tied to the dollar figure on their contracts) that they REALLY are something great - and they believe it. (I like to think that compliments, like perfume, need to be inhaled, not swallowed - and that a compliment needs to obligate us to become even better.) Worse, many truly believe the overstatements regarding their own importance. That belief in itself runs contrary to the understanding that we are all seeking our voices as artists, that the life of an artist is a lifelong process of growth and learning, and that we travel "the path" of mastery always, as seekers in-process.

I think I am only touching the surface here. The problems are more, and deeper than that, too. The corresponding life experience, the reverence that comes with that life experience, and the true reasons for creating music and documenting one's creations (as you described) - all produce the kind of grounding for which more mature artists may be constantly striving.

Challenges and adversity play a big part in sparking growth and change. Perhaps it is that adversity of being dropped by a record label, and so forth, that may produce positive changes in those "artist-victims", thereby creating more of the people that can contribute to the end of the bitterness, and call for the healing of wounds that you identify so well.

With respect to fear, there is a palpable desperation among artists that I sense everyday in my communications with them - by phone, e-mail, etc. The fear I hear expressed centers around and is a function of finance and attitude. The finance involves many things, including that there are fewer places to play jazz and earn a reasonable amount of compensation today; the feeling by artists that there is improper compensation by certain labels controlling their works....

There is an all too prevalent entitlement attitude among many. It is the attitude that "my music is really important," "I deserve more gigs," "I deserve fame," I deserve more money...I deserve....I deserve....I deserve."

That underlying foundational understanding is coupled with the hollow-sounding statement by many artists that they are making records to "give something back." If "giving back" were the real focus, wouldn't these artists give away as many of the CDs as they made to bring joy to the world, or at least to their jazz fans? (Obviously, I hardly expect an artist to give away his or her wares. I wouldn't.)

Let's remember that jazz garners about 3% of all industry record sales. We may want other people to embrace it. We can't expect them to do so - we reasonably can expect the opportunity to expose people to the music and make their own choices. That all points to the fact that there are other important issues in this world. There are many selfless people giving of themselves, for example, in the fields of medicine, education, law, social work and so forth. To put it in perspective, it is difficult to equate the "taking" (as opposed to giving) attitude that is so much a part of jazz --- the self-importance placed by artists on releasing their CDs, preoccupied with how high on the airplay charts they reach, and whether the album may be nominated for an award, how many positive reviews they get, and how many gigs that generates, etc, etc. etc. - versus, for example, the selfless giving of (1) the local Emergency Medical Team, or work (at very low pay initially), or (2) by Erin Brockovich to expose the environmental poisoning created and covered up by PG&E which resulted in proper compensation to some 600 innocent victims who contracted cancer, blood disorders and other diseases, or (3) the DNA and gene mapping projects that on the good side may enable us to discover more about life, and grow and help.

All in all, there are fewer and fewer income-producing situations enabling artists to earn a reasonable living compared to what existed twenty or more years ago. There are simply fewer opportunities. Many musicians are desperately wanting a place in the shrinking spotlight. I think the unfortunate aspects of unfair and undeserved, behind-the-back-criticism by one musician against another, and the increasing competitiveness are likely to continue. It's human nature - albeit, the less appealing part. Big egos will always be there - so someone will always want to lead or take credit for the good results for which you are making a plea (and with which, again, I agree). Of course, if someone tries to step forward and take credit, that undermines and corrupts the purity of purpose --- and could serve to be less-than-helpful in the efforts to unite the industry participants.

If I could snap my fingers and make your - indeed, our - wishes happen, I would. Meanwhile, I support your premise and will do what I can to help.

Stanley Friedman - is a composer of operatic, orchestral and chamber works for brass and other instruments.  He has held principal trumpet positions with several international orchestras and currently teaches at the Interlochen Arts Academy.  He frequently performs and conducts his compositions at universities and music festivals.  He may be contacted through his website: www.stanleyfriedman.com   He writes:

In response to your latest article on racism/ageism in the recording biz:

What an eloquent essay! Miss Metz would have given you an A+! What a pity, though, that your intellect and creativity and, obviously, so much of your precious time and energy had to be invested to address such deplorable practices. Your words should be read and re-read by everyone connected with or even interested in jazz (and in Classical music as well; as I've written before in this forum, things aren't much different in Classical music). 

I'd much rather just hear you play your horn, which you do with even more perfect eloquence. But you always speak truth, whether with notes or words. Keep doing what you have to do!

Bruce Collier - is an old friend from days when I was at North Texas and who was involved in the recording industry at that time. He is now involved in communications, but maintains a strong interest in  music, particularly Jazz. He writes:

Marvin...yes, you have exposed a common "burr", "thorn" or whatever about the state of a lot more than the jazz music business. And after reading it, I wonder how the demographic affirmation curve would look regarding your position.  Perhaps it restates the life experience element so necessary to see something that might not be apparent to (generalizing) the "dot com" generation.

Media...no, make that "mindless media"...reaffirms a basic missing link to establishing "taking a position".  Lack of experience and individuality are more and more problem areas. The "marketing people" reflect what's easy and depthless - and jazz, always a "boutique, intelligent art form" becomes even more of an underground effort. How can this be? 

I look at Ken Burns' recent series and while admiring the work that goes into such an endeavor, see much of what you wonder about...and hope to see change. There is way too much marketing pandering regarding stereotypical current views for me. But isn't it interesting that the amount of publicity and interest regarding the subject matter has been nothing short of

My personal feeling (and you've heard this from me before) is that this limited, intelligent, creative venue, jazz,  is in many ways it's own worst enemy. Wynton's educational efforts to the masses I've always admired. Any professional jazz picker that has an opportunity to not only play well, but to enlist and recruit and inform, is not doing the basics regarding your concerns. Spread the word, accept talent, and investigate the message at any level (age, race, etc) is positive jazz marketing.

Commitment and talent will seemingly always win out for the limited few -except -perhaps now more than ever- experience should be shared...

Don Freeman - is a great supporter of  various music groups, having sponsored many concers in his home for various groups of friends and music lovers. He writes:

What an insightful and sad essay.  For someone with your talent and commitment to have to write it today is truly sad .  I am not a member of your Jazz community, however I am awed by the talent, past and present.  I am truly sorry that you are so filled with anger and anxiety. Perhaps it will change, but I don't think it will because the trouble is rooted in greed .

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