My introduction to live jazz big band playing was hearing the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra at the Village Vanguard in 1971. The experience hearing that band with its magnificent saxophone section in the Vanguard was life changing. Sitting in front of Jerry Dodgion, Ed Xiques, Eddie Daniels, Billy Harper, and Pepper Adams with Thad leading the band and Mel playing drums was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in music. I continued to follow the band throughout the years and observed how things changed… Continue reading
Joffe Woodwinds Podcast 25 (JWP25) features the audio portion of the video interview entitled The Art of the Saxophone Section.
The saxophone section of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra speak candidly about their love of playing big band music, their admiration for Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, and the importance of playing in this type of large ensemble for aspiring professional musicians. They also play a few of the more famous Thad Jones solis.
I first heard of Jeffrey when we were both students at The Juilliard School. While I was a saxophone major at that time, I was also studying flute very seriously with Tom Nyfenger and becoming more enamored of the flute repertoire, pedagogy, recordings, and great performers on the instrument. The flute class at Juilliard was particularly inspiring during those years with Julius Baker and Sam Baron serving as the flute instructors. I frequently attended flute recitals and asked questions of the flute majors to learn more. The practice rooms at Juilliard were particularly hard to get into since the pianists & violinists seemed to live in them 24/7. While typically waiting for a room to open, Continue reading
The musical theater is the major employer of woodwind doublers in today’s music industry. As a result, I feel that doublers and all woodwind players need to know as much as possible about the musical environment that surrounds any show. This led me to consider an interview with the musical team involved with Anastasia, the show with which I’m currently playing. During my career, I have been involved in many Broadway productions and been witness to the ups and downs of a steady Broadway gig. Often, egos and industry politics can dominate the environment and make coming to work anything but a musical experience. However, during the run of Anastasia, I have experienced first-hand how positive an experience a show can be Continue reading
I first heard Steve “live” while he was subbing on the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and subsequently started listening to him. It was clear that he was the real deal—an improviser who had studied the music and his instrument with great thoroughness. Steve has his own voice on saxophone while reflecting the influences of many of the great masters. In this interview, Steve talks about his musical beginnings and the influences of saxophonists Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker, David Sanborn, Eddie Harris, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Phil Woods, Johnny Hodges, etc. as well as drummers on his musical evolution. He also reflects on his development as a multi-instrumentalist, sideman, bandleader, and jazz educator. Finally, Steve provides an inside look at his approach to practicing and mastering a tune when he dissects Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma.” I hope you have as much fun with this video interview as I had interacting with Steve.
Growing up in New York and having lived in the city my entire life, I had a chance to see and hear Stanley Drucker play hundreds of times. He was our hometown kid who made good and always seemed to succeed regardless of any musical challenges he faced. His musical commitment, confidence, passion, personality and energy were ever present and you could always count on him to deliver an inspired performance. His love for the clarinet and music is still apparent, nine years after retiring from his job with the Philharmonic. Stanley continues to practice and perform throughout the world and be involved with his instrument on a daily basis. He goes to concerts and stays abreast of clarinet happenings by attending Continue reading
I first heard about Bobby from my first clarinet/saxophone teacher, Joseph Porcelli, who was Bobby’s father. Mr. Porcelli was a first-class gentleman who played the woodwinds beautifully and always conveyed his love of playing them in our weekly lessons. He was never one to ever boast about his abilities or accomplishments and was egoless. One day when my mother asked him how Bobby was doing and if he was good enough to survive in the music industry, he replied: “He’s REALLY good.” As I learned years later when I was able to study with Bobby and play with him, that was a huge understatement. That same sense of unassuming, quiet elegance that Mr. Porcelli manifested is present in Bobby. Continue reading
I first heard of Eddie Daniels when I began my woodwind studies with Joe Allard in 1971. Joe recommended that I go to hear Eddie play with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra at the Village Vanguard on a Monday night when he realized my desire to play jazz on clarinet. Hearing that band up close and listening to Eddie play jazz clarinet were life-changing experiences. Subsequently, I heard him featured on tenor sax nightly with the Dick Cavett Show big band on ABC and decided that I wanted to follow that career path-that of a studio musician. When I began studying with him, I soon realized the very high level of musicianship that was required to succeed as a multiple woodwind specialist. It was also clear that Eddie not only possessed a huge talent but also was the most dedicated instrument-practicer I had ever met, obsessed with improving and mastering his instruments. He was very clear and honest as a teacher and had the ability to immediately recognize and solve whatever musical or instrumental problems I was experiencing. The levels of excellence that he performed with on saxophone/clarinet/flute raised the bar for all doublers. Continue reading
I first met Paul when I was an undergraduate at Queens College, CUNY. I was a saxophone/clarinet player who had recently become interested in learning the flute and had been impressed by the performances of Paul as well as his students. I had about one year’s worth of experience playing the flute when he agreed to accept me. It changed my life. He introduced me to the Maquarre Studies, Telemann Methodical Sonatas, Anderson etudes, etc. as well as making me aware of Rampal, Baker, Galway, Kincaid, Larrieu, Nicolet, etc. He spent a Saturday morning at a Manhattan music store picking out a new flute for me and wouldn’t accept any payment for his time. Continue reading
I have always been a fan of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, attending their performances in New York, Boston and at Tanglewood as well as owning many of their recordings. As a woodwind player, I was particularly attracted to the sophisticated elegance of the woodwind sections in that orchestra throughout my adult life and in particular, clarinetist Harold Wright. When Harold passed away in 1993, it was hard to imagine who would be able to fill those shoes. It was to my delight that William Hudgins has emerged as his worthy successor. As you will hear in this interview, he exudes a sense of humility and respect for those players that came before him and a deep desire to keep alive the French concept of resonance in the tone. His continuing search for color in the sound along with greater expressivity is expressed throughout our interview and serves as a model Continue reading
I first listened intently to Ron Odrich when I purchased a Music Minus One recording, “Wood on Wood,” in the 1970s that had copies of his solos transcribed by Buddy DeFranco. Already infatuated by DeFranco, Goodman, Shaw & Eddie Daniels’ jazz clarinet playing, I quickly became acquainted with the good doctor’s performances and have remained a fan for the past 40 years. He has become a personal friend and neighbor as well over the past decade and I treasure his knowledge and input on musical and worldly issues–even when we disagree! His commitment to seek improvement in his music making continues to inspire all who know him. His deep understanding of the physiological forces that influence air and tone production that he shares with us in this interview are sure to provide many with a new perspective for playing wind instruments. Continue reading
I have known Ted for many years and always regarded him as one of the finest musical talents of my generation. His ability to use various disciplines to inspire his music (art, literary contexts, speeches, etc.) reflects his continuing interest in the world and our society. I have had the opportunity to play with him in commercial situations and always respected his humble, positive attitude and prodigious talent. I have also seen Ted in music education scenarios and he is equally committed to helping young players develop and carry on the tradition of superlative music making that he and his family have given us through the years. Quite simply, Ted is a musician’s musician. Please check out more information about this unique artist on his website at tednash.com. Continue reading
I first heard Lew Tabackin play on an album called “Introducing Duke Pearson’s Big Band,” released in 1967. Lew took an extended tenor solo on New Girl that remains to this day one of my favorite sax solos within the context of a big band. Since that experience, I have purchased many albums with Lew as a sideman and as a leader and have never been disappointed. Lew is a virtuoso saxophonist and flutist who continues to probe the possibilities of varied expressions on both instruments. He is also deeply committed to preserving the musical identities of some of the greatest tenor players in history—Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Don Byas, Al Cohn, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. He has absorbed elements of their playing into his own unique voice and style. On the flute, he displays the same type of reverence for many of the classical giants he Continue reading
In this video interview, clarinet mouthpiece maker Brad Behn discusses his innovative mouthpiece designs along with his new barrels and bells. I first met Brad a little over 10 years ago when a former teacher of mine, Ron Reuben of the Philadelphia Orchestra, introduced me to his work. Brad’s desire to create a mouthpiece using the best technology available (Computer Numeric Control) along with top-of-the-line proprietary rod rubber material that so many of the great mouthpieces of past generations contained has led him down his current path. While finding vintage mouthpieces in excellent condition by clarinet mouthpiece makers such as Chedeville, Lelandais, Bettoney, Leroy, Kaspar, Robert, etc., would be akin to winning the lottery, Behn mouthpieces come the closest in my opinion to being able to replicate the sound and response characteristics of those vintage mouthpieces. Brad has spent a great deal of money and time searching for the correct Continue reading
I had heard about Joe Soldo from my saxophone/clarinet teacher, Joe Allard, some 40 years ago. Soldo was Allard’s dear friend and favorite pupil—a term Mr. Allard liked to use. When I finally met Joe Soldo 12 years ago, I understood why Joe Allard liked him so much. It wasn’t just that Joe Soldo played magnificent lead alto; or played flute with a beautiful “classical” approach; or that he was simply the best musical contractor one could ever hope to work for. It was that Joe Soldo lives for music, is still passionate about music at 91 years of age, and is as honest as they come. Ask Joe a question about anything that he has knowledge of and he will give you a straight answer with no holds barred! You’ll hear that in this video. I’ve had the good fortune of getting to know Joe and he reaffirms why Continue reading