By President Roger H. Brown
I first met Linda, now my wife, when we were in graduate school together. She was fresh out of classical piano studies at the Conservatoire Rachmaninoff in Paris, and I wasn't sure if my musical tastes would be compatible with hers. I remember the delightful surprise of discovering Pat Metheny's Bright Size Life in her record collection. I thought to myself, "Her taste in music is very promising." We have since seen Pat perform at least a half dozen times and have become ardent supporters.
I admire his music of course, but I also admire his artistic vision. When you hear Pat, you know it's him and you also know who he is. That is a goal of Berklee: to help every student discover his or her unique voice and clearly convey it in all its facets to the world. Technique and knowledge are critical; but so are passion, feel, originality, and voice.
At the recent concert for Song's Nothing Conservatory About It series, which featured Pat Metheny and Gary Burton, the the opening act was a student quintet. Throughout the semester the quartet had rehearsed with Burton in preparation to record a CD, which was produced by Pat during his weeklong residency at Berklee. What an honor for these students and what a fine example of passing the torch, much as Gary did when Pat was an eager teenager hoping to sit in on Gary's gig. In time, Pat joined Gary's band, and when Pat made his own first solo record, the previously mentioned Bright Size Life, Gary paid him the tribute of producing it and writing the liner notes.
Above all, what impressed me most about the student quintet was the students' willingness to listen to one another and leave ample space in their compositions, and in their playing. It's tempting for young musicians to want to say as much as they possibly can in one song or one solo. But these students had the maturity to say just what was called for at just the right time. That made each statement distinctive.
At Berklee, our goal is to give young musicians a place to grow and learn from our talented faculty and students, but ultimately to know themselves and their work well enough to say, "This is what I bring to the table. This is my gift that I offer to you."
I have a mental image of Socrates speaking to our students, asking them probing questions about what they hope to achieve as musicians and why. As he listens to the performance of a piece dedicated to him called "Know Thyself," you can see the old philosopher tapping his foot, trying hard to suppress a smile.
Music Industry Bright Lights Visit Berklee
by Mark Small
|Quincy Jones '51 and President Lee Eliot Berk|
During the spring semester, three giants of the music industry with ties to Berklee - Quincy Jones '51, Arif Mardin '61, and Pat Metheny H'96 came to the college to share their experiences, and, in the case of Metheny, to work with the students.
The first visitor was Quincy Jones, superstar composer/arranger, record producer, and label executive who came by to visit to his longtime friend Lee Berk as the president's last year at Berklee drew to a close. During the February 18 visit, Jones also took the opportunity to address a capacity crowd in the David Friend Recital Hall and shared some of his observations about the music industry over the past six decades.
|Arif Mardin '61 shared reminiscences of his early years in America and career highlights during a February visit to the college.|
Record producer and Manhattan Records Co-Vice President Arif Mardin accepted the invitation to come to Berklee on February 20 as the speaker for this year's James G. Zafris Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series for Music Business/Management. Mardin opened his remarks by reminiscing about his arrival at Berklee in January 1958 from his native Istanbul, Turkey, and shared humorous anecdotes about his Berklee experiences. He described the hospitality of Lawrence and Alma Berk and how he felt like a family member living and working among the students, faculty members, and administrators of the Berklee community. Fielding questions from Don Gorder, chair of the Music Business/Management Department, as well as the audience, Mardin spoke about the current climate of the music industry. "Although the nature of the music has changed, it is still the image of the artist and the power of the song that connects with the audience," Mardin said.
Pat Metheny spent the week of April 26-30 at Berklee as a Herb Alpert Visiting Professor. During his visit, Metheny's main focus was producing a recording of a student jazz quintet that included trumpeter Christian Scott, saxophonist Michael Tucker, pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, bassist Esperanza Spalding, and drummer James Williams. Most of the group members contributed original pieces for the project and had rehearsed for several weeks with Gary Burton prior to Metheny's arrival. The ensemble recorded with Metheny and Burton behind the console at Soundtrack Studios in Boston. Burton will mix the album later this summer and the hope is that a CD will be ready for release in the fall.
|Guitarist Pat Metheny and vibist Gary Burton played Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight" to end their April 30 concert.|
During his stay, Metheny gave two concerts: one in a duo setting with fellow guitarist Mick Goodrick and the second on April 30 as the closing concert of Song's Nothing Conservatory about It Concert series in the Berklee Performance Center. For the latter, Metheny teamed up with Burton and a student rhythm section featuring Evan Gregor (bass) and Jordan Perlson (drums) for a set that included old and recent Pat Metheny originals as well as standards and other material from the repertoire Metheny played as a member of Burton's group in the 1970s. The enthusiastic crowd at the Berklee Performance Center reluctantly let Burton and Metheny leave after an unusual encore rendering of "'Round Midnight" played with just acoustic guitar and vibes.