Larry Monroe Presents 50-Year Career-Spanning "Recuerdo"

By 
Nick Balkin
October 10, 2012
Larry Monroe
by Phil Farnsworth

Student, teacher, methodologist, dean, vice president, global ambassador—Larry Monroe has done it all during his 50 years at Berklee. On October 18, the alto saxophonist celebrates his retirement in a career-spanning concert featuring Berklee students and faculty, New Orleans-based saxophonist Donald Harrison, who is a former student of Monroe's, and Italian bassist Giovanni Tommaso, who helped Monroe create Berklee's 27-year partnership with the Umbria Jazz Festival. 

Larry Monroe's Recuerdo is part of Berklee's Signature Music Series 2012-2013 and takes place October 18, 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center (BPC), 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Tickets are $8, $16 in advance; $12, $22 day of show; reserved seating. Purchase tickets at berkleebpc.com, by calling 617 747-2261, or visit the BPC Box Office. The venue is wheelchair-accessible. 

Larry Monroe, who most recently served as vice president for Academic Affairs/Berklee Valencia, has worn many hats at Berklee, but first and foremost he is an alto saxophonist. He has performed with Lou Rawls, Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Gary Burton, and the Boston Pops Orchestra. As an educator, he influenced Branford Marsalis, Miguel Zenon, Donald Harrison, Anat Cohen, Daniela Schachter, Donny McCaslin, and countless others. 

A native of Randolph, Vermont, Monroe grew up listening to big bands with his father, and taking clarinet and saxophone lessons from professional musicians traveling through town. "All my friends had baseball cards, while I bemoaned the absence of jazz trading cards," says Monroe. His family couldn't afford higher education, so he enlisted into a military band to continue developing his musical craft. While stationed in Madrid, Spain, he had his first important jazz experience sitting in with Don Byas, Tete Montoliu, and other leading expat and European musicians. 

Discharged in 1962, Monroe enrolled at Berklee with support from the GI Bill. During his senior year, he began teaching at Berklee on weekends. Later, he would standardize the college's ear training curriculum, shifting from a classical approach to a song-based methodology. His ear training books became the college's official texts for the next 30 years. After serving as chair of the Performance and Ear Training departments, he became the first dean of Berklee’s Professional Performance Division, where he oversaw 10 departments as well as the college's concert activities. 

In 1985, Umbria Jazz contacted Berklee about improving the educational component of its annual festival in Perugia, Italy, a collaboration that Monroe oversaw for what is now a 27-year partnership. Joining with former Berklee vice president and vibraphonist Gary Burton, Monroe established the Berklee on the Road program to present clinics and performances with Berklee faculty members in Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Greece, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. In 1992 he was appointed vice president for international programs and began establishing the Berklee International Network of schools in 12 countries around the globe. After years of world travel, Monroe was named vice president for Academic Affairs/Berklee Valencia, organizing the curriculum for Berklee's first international campus in Valencia, Spain, which opened in 2012. 

 

Read the concert program.

Listen to a Larry Monroe performance in the Sounds of Berklee podcast