This article is copyright 2001 by Antonio J. García and originally was published in the International Association of Jazz Educators Jazz Educators Journal, Vol. 34, No. 3, November 2001. It is used by permission of the author and, as needed, the publication. Some text variations may occur between the print version and that below. All international rights remain reserved; it is not for further reproduction without written consent.
Dave Brubeck: His Music Keeps Us Here
by Antonio J. García
Dave Brubeck has gained wide recognition as both a jazz pianist and as a composer of orchestral works, oratorios, cantata, ballets, and chamber music. He enrolled in California at the College (now University) of the Pacific and at Mills College, where he studied with one of his greatest influences, the French classical composer Darius Milhaud. While he was performing in jazz clubs and on college campuses in the 1950s, he was also pioneering the combination of jazz with symphony orchestras.
His first album of experimentations in time signatures unusual in jazz (such as 5/4, 9/8, and 11/4) produced “Time Out,” which included the million-selling tune Take Five (in 5/4 meter) by alto saxophonist and then-quartet-member Paul Desmond. In 1954 Brubeck’s picture graced the cover of Time magazine as its “Man of the Year.” His popularity continued over the years, and he won numerous readers' polls in such magazines as Down Beat and Metronome.
In 1996 Brubeck received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. He has received numerous honors from musical organizations and universities, including multiple honorary doctorate degrees. President Clinton awarded him the National Medal of the Arts in 1994, and in 1996 he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1999 the National Endowment for the Arts named him an American Jazz Master, the award presented at the IAJE Conference. Perhaps his newest role is as Chairman of the Brubeck Institute at University of the Pacific, a place where Dave and Iola’s lifelong devotion to music, education, and humanity can nourish players and listeners for generations to come.
World tours, including several for the U.S. State Department, have made Brubeck one of America’s foremost goodwill ambassadors. True to form, he was on tour as I spoke to him in October: he keeps a schedule that defies the almost 81 years he has been on the planet.
Jazz Goes to College
GARCÍA: I understand that in the 1950s your wife, Iola, had come up with the idea for you to tour college campuses as a means for you to introduce new audiences to jazz.
BRUBECK: Very true. Five of us in my octet were studying with Darius Milhaud, who suggested that we play for the Mills College assembly. That was very successful; so Iola started writing to all the west-coast colleges and universities she thought might be interested and said we’d play for whatever they could afford, even for nothing. One of the early performances was for the University of California–Berkeley, then for the University of Oregon; and we proceeded up and down the west coast. After that, we branched out to some of the junior colleges in the Los Angeles area, plus Oberlin and a few other institutions; and pretty soon we were wanted across the country! There were periods when we’d play 90 colleges during a four-month tour. We called the resulting albums “Jazz Goes to College” and “Jazz Goes to Junior College.”
GARCÍA: Were your campus appearances strictly performances, or did they also include educational workshops?
BRUBECK: They were usually only performances, though we’d often have fans or members of a jazz club who would meet and talk with us, as well as sometimes sponsor us. Often the conservatories we were visiting included teachers who were very interested, but there were controversies at the institutions as to whether we should be allowed to play. Sometimes I’d be led to an old, beat-up piano for the performance when there’d also be a great grand piano backstage that they wouldn’t let me go near!
GARCÍA: You weren’t allowed to touch the good one, eh?
BRUBECK: No, sometimes not, even if there were two or three good ones in the hall. Listen to the piano on the “Jazz at Oberlin” album: I remember that instrument was really an old wreck!
GARCÍA: Things have certainly changed in many ways over the past 50 years. What’s your impression of the current direction of jazz education?
BRUBECK: We still play at quite a few universities, and I see tremendous strides. For instance, John Salmon at the University of North Carolina–Greensboro is leading a performance of my Elementals composition for jazz orchestra, featuring two of my sons: Chris on trombone and bass and Danny on drums; and in the last year several orchestras have programmed that piece.
GARCÍA: How about jazz piano education specifically: what’s your reaction to what you’re hearing as you travel?
BRUBECK: I’m amazed at how well the young people play. Taylor Eigsti is a 17 year-old jazz pianist and so wonderful, from Redwood City, California. I’ve played with him on at least three occasions, including the recent Chicago Jazz Festival; and I did a three-piano performance with him and David Benoit. And Eldar Djangirov, from Kyrgyzstan (in the former Soviet Union), who’s now 14 and on scholarship at Interlochen: he’s phenomenal.
GARCÍA: How were you introduced to him?
BRUBECK: A very wealthy businessman had heard Eldar at a jazz festival in Russia and had sponsored him to go to Interlochen, but then this businessman was suddenly killed in an accident, leaving Eldar and his family financially stranded in the United States. People who knew of the situation, such as the promoter George Wein, tried to assist as best they could. His parents wrote me because Eldar was scheduled to be deported back to Siberia; they wanted him to continue studying here in the U.S. So Marian McPartland—who had the young pianist guest on her Piano Jazz radio show—and I wrote his congressional representatives. He got to stay in the U.S. to study, and his parents remain here as well.
I also heard a 9 year-old kid play for me after my concert in Boston, and I couldn’t believe how good he was. So I know there are many fine young players out there; it seems that an advanced crop is coming along.
GARCÍA: You studied with Darius Milhaud as well as in a formal institution. As a jazz pianist and composer, do you encourage up-and-coming jazz pianists to study composition and/or classical piano? Or do you feel that studying jazz piano alone can get them where they need to go?
BRUBECK: Any way you get there is the right way. Some of my favorite pianists couldn’t read, couldn’t read well, or never studied formally: Erroll Garner, Dave McKenna, John Bunch, and Duke Ellington come to mind as not being great readers.
When I toured behind the Iron Curtain in 1958, I met so many fine jazz musicians who’d learned only from hearing jazz on Willis Conover’s Voice of America broadcasts. We visited Poland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey.... At the same time, some of the great jazz pianists there were also classically trained. So I’d never push just one direction as the route to learning jazz. Taylor Eigsti’s teachers are now exposing him to more classical music. I heard him play some the other day; and I believe he’s going to “make it” in that style, too.
In the ’50s I met a young man from India named Dizzy Sal (formally Edward Saldanha) who was a fantastic pianist; I got him a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music and Lenox School. So any way you get to jazz is the right route.
Secular & Sacred
GARCÍA: Tell me about your newest CD, “The Crossing.”
BRUBECK: I had traveled on a jazz cruise on the Queen Elizabeth II with about 100 jazz musicians and a lot of jazz fans; and I wanted to capture the feel, the power of the QE II moving out of the Hudson River and into the Atlantic Ocean. And because of the many different musicians aboard, the CD includes a lot of different styles: the entire album embraces this concept.
GARCÍA: What’s the instrumentation on the CD?
BRUBECK: It includes Bobby Militello on sax and flute, Alec Dankworth on bass, and Randy Jones on drums. Right now I’m touring with Bobby and Randy; but since Alec didn’t really want to continue “the crossing” of the Atlantic from England for one-nighters in the U.S., Michael Moore has joined us on bass.
GARCÍA: I’ve read that relaxing is not a thing you do well.
GARCÍA: Is that your secret for maintaining such a busy and international touring schedule?
BRUBECK: It looks exhausting to people who see the concert dates, but they’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. I’m doing all kinds of things on what looks like a travel day or a day off on the itinerary: I keep writing or studying. I’m always involved in something.
GARCÍA: Do you enjoy it all?
BRUBECK: If it comes out well, I love it! Yesterday I heard our new album with the London Symphony. For my 80th birthday they had invited Darius, Chris, Danny, and Matthew (my youngest son, who is a cellist); and we performed together for it.
GARCÍA: And you like the result?
BRUBECK: Yeah! And we’re going to go back next year to play a concert and make another recording. They had invited me for my 70th birthday, 75th, and the recent 80th, flying my sons in from wherever they were so as to reunite us in concert and recording; and now I’m hired for my 85th birthday concert there, if I’m around.
GARCÍA: I imagine they’re counting on you!
BRUBECK: I’d like to be there.
GARCÍA: Are there final thoughts that you’d like to share with our readers about anything at all?
BRUBECK: Well, in September I performed in San Francisco for the 50th anniversary of the peace treaty between Japan and the United States and then headed for a series of dates leading to Stockton, California, where the quartet was to play a concert at the University of the Pacific. Then the tragic events of September 11 occurred, leading me to realize how important music is.
I was slated to do three concerts in a row with the quartet at the smaller auditorium next to the Orange County Arts Center; but due to all airline flights being canceled, my band could not join me. So I canceled the concerts: I didn’t have a band! But the Orange County representatives said, “Please don’t cancel: people are calling to say they need to have a concert.” After much discussion, I pointed out I didn’t even have a band; and they suggested, “Play solo piano. You’ve got to play: the community needs music in order to carry on.” So I thought I’d try to get together a group.
I called Darlene Chan, who usually runs the Hollywood Bowl activities, and asked her to recommend a bassist; and she immediately mentioned Bob Hurst, who was available, having left the Tonight Show Band after many years there. My son, Danny, was available to play drums if he could drive all night from San Francisco; and I asked him if there was a saxophonist around that he really liked. He recommended Andy Suzuki, a saxophonist who played with David Benoit. So with a two-hour rehearsal, that was my group for those three concerts!
The next day we performed at Pepperdine College in Los Angeles: that concert had been sold out for two months; and the residents there didn’t want to cancel, either. Then we went up to a nightclub in Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was emcee and Taylor Eigsti played to open the show with Danny and Chris, because the three of them like to play together. So I made all my dates!
After a few more dates, my son Christopher had driven from Connecticut to California to join us at the University of the Pacific, where I was to play with many of my sons. And all along the way, no audiences wanted to cancel.
I recently wrote a piece based on a two works by a southern poet, Wendell Barry: The Circle and The Wheel. One includes the words “Only Music Keeps Us Here.” This keeps ringing in my ears: music keeps us here when words can no longer sustain us. We turn to music, and it keeps us here.
GARCÍA: Well said!
BRUBECK: About a year ago I set 19 works of Langston Hughes to music. It includes a chorale so full of hope: I dream a world where man no other man will scorn. It’s been published, and a lot of schools are singing it at graduations and other occasions. But the full set has not often been performed. Hughes’ 100th birthday is coming up, and his hometown will be performing my settings of his work as part of the celebration.
GARCÍA: Your sacred music seems to be presented increasingly more in recent years.
BRUBECK: On the Sunday after the attacks, the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago performed my All my Hope is in You, O Lord as the conclusion of the service; and the benediction music was my composition as well.
We’ve just performed my mass in Munich, Vienna, and Berlin. And this morning I listened to a work that I’d written for the Hartford Symphony, Joy in the Morning. We’ll probably record that with the London Symphony Orchestra. Tomorrow at the American University in Washington we’re performing my Pange Lingua, which means “Speak, O My Tongue.”
On December 2nd we’re performing our Mexican Christmas Cantata, La Fiesta de la Posada, our fourteenth presentation of it at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. On March 31st, Easter Sunday, we’re doing my Easter Cantata in the same cathedral in Vienna where Mozart presented so much of his great work; so that’s a great honor.
When the Pope was in New York City’s Central Park some time ago, I had observed many posters that read “Do not be afraid. The power of the Holy Spirit is with you.” So I set that as a chorale and fugue. Carnegie Hall will present Musica Sacra, a night of my music, next April.
Those are only a few of the things going on. It does seem as though lots of music of mine is being played.
GARCÍA: It keeps us here!
BRUBECK: It keeps us here!
Columbia Legacy/Sony Music
The Real Ambassadors—CK57663, cassette 57663 (with Joe Morello, Eugene Wright, Louis Armstrong and His All Stars, Trummy Young, Carmen McRae; Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross; 1962)
Brubeck & Rushing—CK 65727 (with Jimmy Rushing, Paul Desmond, Joe Morello, and Eugene Wright; this CD re-release of the original LP includes one additional, previously unreleased cut: “Shine On Harvest Moon”; 1960)
Time Out—CK 65122 (with Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello; a 20-bit remastering of the original recording from 1960)
Gone With The Wind—CK40627 (with Paul Desmond, Joe Morello, and Eugene Wright; 1959)
Jazz Impressions of Eurasia—CK48531, cassette CT 48531 (with Paul Desmond, Joe Benjamin, and Joe Morello; 1958)
Jazz Goes To Junior College—Columbia CL 1034, also Fontana TFL 5002 in the U.K. (with Paul Desmond, Norm Bates, and Joe Morello; recorded at Fullerton College and Long Beach Junior College, Los Angeles, CA; 1957)
Jazz Goes To College—Columbia CS 8631; Sony/CBS 465682 as U.K. reissue, 1989; Sony/CBS Legacy CK 45149 as U.S. CD reissue (with Paul Desmond, Bob Bates, and Joe Dodge: recorded at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; the University of Cincinnati, OH; and Oberlin College, OH; 1954)
The Crossing—CD-83520 (with Bobby Militello, Randy Jones, and Alec Dankworth; 2001)
Double Live from the U.S.A. & U.K.—2CD-83400 (with Bobby Militello, Randy Jones, Alec Dankworth, and Jack Six; 2001)
One Alone—CD83510 (solo piano, 2000)
The 40th Anniversary Tour of the U.K.—CD-83440 (with Bobby Militello, Randy Jones, and Alec Dankworth; 1999)
So What’s New?—CD83434 (with Randy Jones, Jack Six, and Bobby Militello; 1998)
In Their Own Sweet Way—CD 83355 (with Darius Brubeck, Chris Brubeck, Dan Brubeck, and Matthew Brubeck; 1997)
A Dave Brubeck Christmas—CD83410 (solo piano, 1996)
To Hope! A Celebration—CD80430 (with Russell Gloyd conducting the Cathedral Choral Society Chorus & Orchestra, Bobby Militello, Jack Six, and Randy Jones at the National Cathedral, Washington, D. C.; 1996)
Nightshift—CD 83351, cassette CS 33351 (with Jack Six, Randy Jones, Bobby Militello, Bill Smith, and Chris Brubeck; 1995)
Young Lions & Old Tigers—CD-83349, cassette CS-33349 (with guest artists Michael Brecker, Ronnie Buttacavoli, Roy Hargrove, Jon Hendricks, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride, James Moody, Gerry Mulligan, Joshua Redman, and George Shearing; 1995)
Just You, Just Me—CD 83363, cassette CS 33363 (solo piano, 1994)
Late Night Brubeck—CD-83345, cassette CS-33345 (with Bobby Militello, Jack Six, and Randy Jones; 1994)
Selected Upcoming Appearances
December 2 Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, NY: La Fiesta de la Posada
December 15 Gregg Smith and Li Chorale: La Fiesta de la Posada
December 16 Record with Gregg Smith
January 9-12 IAJE Conference, Long Beach, CA: Dave Brubeck Quartet
March 2 American Choral Directors Association Conference with Andre Thomas (Brubeck Solo)
March 31 Vienna: Beloved Son, plus excerpts from The Light in the Wilderness (Brubeck Quartet)
April 25 Carnegie Hall: Musica Sacra: Mass, Pange Lingua, Langston Hughes’ Hold Fast To Dreams (Brubeck Quartet)
May 9 Grand Rapids, MI (Brubeck Quartet)
May 10 Kalamazoo, MI (Brubeck Quartet)
May 14-15 Record with Philip Rice (Brubeck Solo)
May 16 Chattanooga, TN (Brubeck Quartet)
May 17 Memphis, TN (Brubeck Quartet)
May 18 Atlanta, GA (Brubeck Quartet)
May 22-23 London, England: London Symphony Orchestra
May 24-26 Record with London Symphony Orchestra
Eldar Djangirov <http://www.capjazz.org/2000/artists/eldar_djangirov.html>
Taylor Eigsti <http://www.tayjazz.com/>
IAJE is grateful to Iola Brubeck for her assistance with the formation of this article.
Rediscovering Dave Brubeck
On Sunday, December 16, 2001 at 10 p.m. Eastern Time, PBS TV stations in the U.S. will begin airing “Rediscovering Dave Brubeck,” an intimate portrait of the world-renowned and still-controversial jazz legend. (Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.) Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Hedrick Smith takes viewers from Brubeck’s boyhood on a California ranch to the peak of his popularity in the 1950s and ’60s and on to the present, with Brubeck at 80 still going strong, creating new music, and touring the U.S. and Europe.
Major funding for the documentary was provided by Hedrick Smith Productions, The Adele and Mortimer Lebowitz Fund, The Evelyn Stefansson Nef Foundation, ETV Endowment of South Carolina, Newman’s Own, University of the Pacific, and The National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding provided by The Harman Family Fund, The Robert H. Malott Insurance Trust, Allan F. Maulsby, and James A. Baker III.
The following material from “Rediscovering Dave Brubeck” is excerpted and adapted with permission.
I remember when Dave Brubeck first came to Storyville in Boston. Nobody knew who he was: he was totally unknown. There were a few articles in Down Beat; and because of those we paid him, I think, $900 a week. The first night a few people were there. And by the end of the week, the club was packed; and you knew that this man was going to make an impression on the world of jazz. It was a classic example of a musician communicating immediately.
—George Wein, Founder, Newport Jazz Festival
Brubeck comments on his personal relationship with Paul Desmond. After the two parted on ill terms, Brubeck had vowed never to see Desmond again. But in 1951 Brubeck nearly broke his neck in a swimming accident and then changed his mind about Desmond.
BRUBECK: I wrote to Paul from the hospital, in traction: “Paul, I think it’s time to start the Quartet. Hire me ‘so and so’ for bass and drums.”
SMITH: I thought you weren’t going to see Paul Desmond again for the rest of your life?
BRUBECK: I did too, but [laughs] Iola let him in the house against my wishes.
SMITH: But there’s something, something about you and Paul that drew you to each other, wasn’t there?
BRUBECK: Yeah: in spite of us being very different, musically we were very much the same.
SMITH: What’s the chemistry between you and Paul?
BRUBECK: Paul called it ESP. I didn’t but Paul did. We just would think together.
SMITH: What made it work? After all, he treated you pretty badly. So there must have been some instinct you had that made you make music well together. What was it?
BRUBECK: Well, Paul always felt he played better when he played with me. He’s played with a lot of other people, but he always felt that when he played with me he felt the best.
SMITH: And what about you lying there? What caused you to write Paul?
BRUBECK: Because I knew I played better with him. It was mutual.
Brubeck explains how Take Five, the signature tune of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, was composed.
BRUBECK: Well, I was doing an album called “Time Out” where I was going to do different kinds of time signatures. And Joe Morello was playing like [claps out a tune] that and then improvising off of that beat backstage; and Paul would pick up his horn and start playing against it. And I said, “There’s a tune I want to get into this album because it’s in five-four time.
So Paul came to rehearsal and the first thing he said was, “I can’t write a tune in 5/4 time.” I said, “Well, did you put anything down?” And he said, “Yeah, I put a couple things down. So he played one of them, then the other. And I said, “Look: if you repeat this one, then use that second theme as a bridge, and then go back, you have the typical jazz thirty-two bar form.”
SMITH: Now you didn’t take a solo?
BRUBECK: Yeah. Joe said, “Don’t ever stop playing that vamp because that I’m playing off of it.” But by the time we had played that for a few months, we were free in 5/4 just like we were in 4/4.
Brubeck comments on when he feels most creative and daring, and what he is striving for as a performer.
SMITH: What to you is the most relaxing about what you do?
DAVE BRUBECK: Hmmm... Relaxing is not a thing I do well.
IOLA BRUBECK: But put the question in this way: where do you lose yourself the most? I would say it’s playing.
DAVE BRUBECK: Yeah, when everything is going absolutely well.... You see, there are all kinds of ways of playing. There’s a way of playing safe. There’s a way of using tricks. And there’s the way I like to play, which is dangerously —where you’re going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven’t created before. There is a time where you can be beyond yourself. You can be better than your technique. You can be better than most of your usual ideas. And this is a whole other category that you can get into.
SMITH: What do you feel when you’re there? Are you gliding, floating? Are you full of energy?
DAVE BRUBECK: This doesn’t happen all the time. It happens rarely. One time a lady asked Louis Armstrong, “What are you thinking about when you’re playing?” And he said, “Lady, if I told you, your mind would explode.” You can call it God, or faith, or almost anything; but it’s beyond yourself.
SMITH: Do you go for that every night?
DAVE BRUBECK: Yeah, and it doesn’t happen very often. But that’s what you’re going for.
SMITH: Going for the beyond?
DAVE BRUBECK: Yeah, right. And I’ve had it happen where no way could I ever do that again. It’s beyond. It’s beyond me; it’s probably beyond anybody else. It’s just almost technically impossible. What happened in that flash, you don’t know—and you can’t rehearse for it.
SMITH: Did you ever feel the pressure to go with the crowd?
BRUBECK: It was more important for me to play the way I wanted to play. Often it got me fired.
SMITH: So you weren’t going along with the crowds?
BRUBECK: Don’t ever, you know, unless the crowd is a great crowd [laughs].
SMITH: I know that you when you were in college, you were almost kicked out of the conservatory when the Dean discovered you couldn’t read music. So what’s the key to your music, if you couldn’t read for that long? Is it a fantastic ear?
BRUBECK: I could write.
SMITH: You could write?
BRUBECK: I could write, but I couldn’t read. It must have been the mental block of all time that was haunting me.
© 2001 Hedrick Smith Productions, Inc.
The Brubeck Institute
by J.B. Dyas, Executive Director, the Brubeck Institute
Located on the campus of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, the Brubeck Institute is a living archive where jazz and contemporary music are studied, performed, composed, improvised, and brought to the world. Although for everyone, the Institute focuses on young people, developing artists and audiences for the future, enriching lives in the process. University of the Pacific alumni Dave and wife of 59 years Iola Brubeck (class of 1942) established the Institute in conjunction with the University in 2000 so as to preserve, promote, and pass on jazz’s rich legacy to future generations.
The mission of the Institute is to build upon Dave Brubeck’s legacy—quintessentially American in origin, international in scope, and unique in its breadth. Its philosophy regarding musical styles is one of inclusivity, reflecting the exploratory spirit and social values of the Institute’s namesake, involving jazz, contemporary classical music, and interdisciplinary education in a variety of subject areas such as ethnic studies, philosophy, and sociology. At the heart of it all is a leaven of the humanities, civil rights, and social justice, values for which Dave Brubeck, now 80, has dedicated his life.
The Institute is also home to the Dave Brubeck Collection, one of the largest personal jazz collections (over 300 linear feet) in the world. Held in the Holt-Atherton Special Collections Department at the University of the Pacific Library, it contains hundreds of published and unpublished compositions, original manuscripts, recordings, photos, writings, press clippings, and memorabilia. This unique treasure is accessed daily by students, scholars, and aficionados and serves as the key component for research in partnership with the Institute.
The Brubeck Institute celebrated its inauguration last February and is just getting underway, with the following components planned for implementation within the next few years:
The Staff & Conservatory
Dave Brubeck serves as Chairman of the Institute, overseeing the Institute’s mission and philosophical objectives. Bassist and Artistic Director Christian McBride will be on campus one week per month beginning next September, directing the Brubeck Institute Ensemble, giving individualized instruction, and presenting master classes and is principally responsible for guiding the students in the direction of their own voice
Two other key figures include Iola Brubeck and Honorary Chairman Clint Eastwood. Iola has always worked in total partnership with Dave and is invaluable to the Institute on a multitude of levels. Clint Eastwood, who lives in nearby Carmel, has been passionate about jazz his entire life. From playing jazz piano to serving on the Monterey Jazz Festival Board, from producing the Thelonious Monk documentary Straight No Chaser to directing and producing the motion picture Bird, Clint has served his passion well and advises the Institute on a variety of matters and appears at special events.
The Pacific Conservatory is a charter member of the National Association of Schools of Music and was the first accredited professional school of music in the western United States. It offers nationally prominent programs in performance, music education, music therapy, and music management.
For further information, contact the Brubeck Institute, University of the Pacific, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95211 USA; phone (209) 946-3970; fax (209) 946-3972; e-mail <email@example.com>; web <www.uop.edu/brubeck>.
J.B. Dyas was formerly Director of Education and Curriculum Development at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California. He has presented numerous jazz education events throughout the country with such artists as Regina Carter, Herbie Hancock, Jackie McLean, T.S. Monk, and Bobby Watson, has directed large and small ensembles, implemented new jazz curricula, and taught a wide variety of jazz courses to students from ages seven to seventy, beginner to professional, learning-challenged to prodigy. He oversaw the development of Jazz in America—the National Online Jazz Curriculum (<www.jazzinamerica.org>) and has authored for several national jazz publications. A graduate of the University of Miami and doctoral candidate at Indiana University, a recipient of the Down Beat Jazz Education Achievement Award, co-founder of the IAJE Sisters in Jazz International Collegiate Competition, and member of the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Task Force for Jazz Education, Dyas is a professional bassist and Yamaha and SWR Artist who has appeared with such artists as Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, Jerry Bergonzi, Ellis Marsalis, Red Rodney, Ira Sullivan, and Bobby Watson.
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Antonio J. García is a Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he directs the Jazz Orchestra I; instructs Applied Jazz Trombone, Small Jazz Ensemble, Music Industry, and various jazz courses; founded a B.A. Music Business Emphasis (for which he initially served as Coordinator); and directs the Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band. An alumnus of the Eastman School of Music and of Loyola University of the South, he has received commissions for jazz, symphonic, chamber, film, and solo works—instrumental and vocal—including grants from Meet The Composer, The Commission Project, The Thelonious Monk Institute, and regional arts councils. His music has aired internationally and has been performed by such artists as Sheila Jordan, Arturo Sandoval, Jim Pugh, Denis DiBlasio, James Moody, and Nick Brignola. Composition/arrangement honors include IAJE (jazz band), ASCAP (orchestral), and Billboard Magazine (pop songwriting). His works have been published by Kjos Music, Hal Leonard, Kendor Music, Doug Beach Music, ejazzlines, Walrus, UNC Jazz Press, Three-Two Music Publications, and his own garciamusic.com, with five recorded on CDs by Rob Parton’s JazzTech Big Band (Sea Breeze and ROPA JAZZ). His scores for independent films have screened across the U.S. and in Italy, Macedonia, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, India, Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong, Mexico, Israel, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
A Bach/Selmer trombone clinician, Mr. García serves as the jazz clinician for The Conn-Selmer Institute. He has freelanced as trombonist, bass trombonist, or pianist with over 70 nationally renowned artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, George Shearing, Mel Tormé, Doc Severinsen, Louie Bellson, Dave Brubeck, and Phil Collins—and has performed at the Montreux, Nice, North Sea, Pori (Finland), New Orleans, and Chicago Jazz Festivals. He has produced recordings or broadcasts of such artists as Wynton Marsalis, Jim Pugh, Dave Taylor, Susannah McCorkle, Sir Roland Hanna, and the JazzTech Big Band and is the bass trombonist on Phil Collins’ CD “A Hot Night in Paris” (Atlantic) and DVD “Phil Collins: Finally...The First Farewell Tour” (Warner Music). An avid scat-singer, he has performed vocally with jazz bands, jazz choirs, and computer-generated sounds. He is also a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). A New Orleans native, he also performed there with such local artists as Pete Fountain, Ronnie Kole, Irma Thomas, and Al Hirt.
Mr. García is a Research Faculty member at The University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa) and the Associate Jazz Editor of the International Trombone Association Journal. He serves as a Network Expert (for Improvisation Materials) for the Jazz Education Network and has served as President’s Advisory Council member and Editorial Advisory Board member. His newest book, Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading (Meredith Music), explores avenues for creating structures that correspond to course objectives. His book Cutting the Changes: Jazz Improvisation via Key Centers (Kjos Music) offers musicians of all ages the opportunity to improvise over standard tunes using just their major scales. He is Co-Editor and Contributing Author of Teaching Jazz: A Course of Study (published by NAfME) and authored a chapter within The Jazzer’s Cookbook (published by Meredith Music). Within the International Association for Jazz Education he served as Editor of the Jazz Education Journal, President of IAJE-IL, International Co-Chair for Curriculum and for Vocal/Instrumental Integration, and Chicago Host Coordinator for the 1997 Conference. He served on the Illinois Coalition for Music Education coordinating committee, worked with the Illinois and Chicago Public Schools to develop standards for multi-cultural music education, and received a curricular grant from the Council for Basic Education. He has also served as Director of IMEA’s All-State Jazz Choir and Combo and of similar ensembles outside of Illinois. He is the recipient of the Illinois Music Educators Association’s 2001 Distinguished Service Award.
Regarding Jazz Improvisation: Practical Approaches to Grading, Darius Brubeck says, "How one grades turns out to be a contentious philosophical problem with a surprisingly wide spectrum of responses. García has produced a lucidly written, probing, analytical, and ultimately practical resource for professional jazz educators, replete with valuable ideas, advice, and copious references." Jamey Aebersold offers, "This book should be mandatory reading for all graduating music ed students." Janis Stockhouse states, "Groundbreaking. The comprehensive amount of material García has gathered from leaders in jazz education is impressive in itself. Plus, the veteran educator then presents his own synthesis of the material into a method of teaching and evaluating jazz improvisation that is fresh, practical, and inspiring!" And Dr. Ron McCurdy suggests, "This method will aid in the quality of teaching and learning of jazz improvisation worldwide."
About Cutting the Changes, saxophonist David Liebman states, “This book is perfect for the beginning to intermediate improviser who may be daunted by the multitude of chord changes found in most standard material. Here is a path through the technical chord-change jungle.” Says vocalist Sunny Wilkinson, “The concept is simple, the explanation detailed, the rewards immediate. It’s very singer-friendly.” Adds jazz-education legend Jamey Aebersold, “Tony’s wealth of jazz knowledge allows you to understand and apply his concepts without having to know a lot of theory and harmony. Cutting the Changes allows music educators to present jazz improvisation to many students who would normally be scared of trying.”
Of his jazz curricular work, Standard of Excellence states: “Antonio García has developed a series of Scope and Sequence of Instruction charts to provide a structure that will ensure academic integrity in jazz education.” Wynton Marsalis emphasizes: “Eight key categories meet the challenge of teaching what is historically an oral and aural tradition. All are important ingredients in the recipe.” The Chicago Tribune has highlighted García’s “splendid solos...virtuosity and musicianship...ingenious scoring...shrewd arrangements...exotic orchestral colors, witty riffs, and gloriously uninhibited splashes of dissonance...translucent textures and elegant voicing” and cited him as “a nationally noted jazz artist/educator...one of the most prominent young music educators in the country.” Down Beat has recognized his “knowing solo work on trombone” and “first-class writing of special interest.” The Jazz Report has written about the “talented trombonist,” and Cadence noted his “hauntingly lovely” composing as well as CD production “recommended without any qualifications whatsoever.” Phil Collins has said simply, “He can be in my band whenever he wants.” García is also the subject of an extensive interview within Bonanza: Insights and Wisdom from Professional Jazz Trombonists (Advance Music), profiled along with such artists as Bill Watrous, Mike Davis, Bill Reichenbach, Wayne Andre, John Fedchock, Conrad Herwig, Steve Turre, Jim Pugh, and Ed Neumeister.
The Secretary of the Board of The Midwest Clinic, Mr. García has adjudicated festivals and presented clinics in Canada, Europe, Australia, The Middle East, and South Africa, including creativity workshops for Motorola, Inc.’s international management executives. The partnership he created between VCU Jazz and the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal merited the 2013 VCU Community Engagement Award for Research. He has served as adjudicator for the International Trombone Association’s Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana, and Rath Jazz Trombone Scholarship competitions and the Kai Winding Jazz Trombone Ensemble competition and has been asked to serve on Arts Midwest’s “Midwest Jazz Masters” panel and the Virginia Commission for the Arts “Artist Fellowship in Music Composition” panel. He has been repeatedly published in Down Beat; JAZZed; Jazz Improv; Music, Inc.; The International Musician; The Instrumentalist; and the journals of NAfME, IAJE, ITA, American Orff-Schulwerk Association, Percussive Arts Society, Arts Midwest, Illinois Music Educators Association, and Illinois Association of School Boards. Previous to VCU, he served as Associate Professor and Coordinator of Combos at Northwestern University, where he taught jazz and integrated arts, was Jazz Coordinator for the National High School Music Institute, and for four years directed the Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Formerly the Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, he was selected by students and faculty there as the recipient of a 1992 “Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” award and nominated as its candidate for 1992 CASE “U.S. Professor of the Year” (one of 434 nationwide). He was recipient of the VCU School of the Arts’ 2015 Faculty Award of Excellence for his teaching, research, and service. Visit his web site at <www.garciamusic.com>.
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