- Career Highlights
- Tenor and alto saxophonist, clarinetist, flutist, bassoonist
- Performance tours with Bob Chester, Benny Goodman, Urbie Green, Dizzy Gillespie, and others
- Recordings include Tiberian Mode, featuring George Garzone, Joe Lovano, and Andy Laverne; 4 Brothers 7, featuring John Nugent, Mike Brignola, Larry McKenna, Lynn Seaton, Mat Wilson, and Dave Berkman
- Extensive recording credits with the Woody Herman Orchestra, as lead and jazz tenor chair since 1969, featuring artists such as Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, and Slide Hampton, among others
- Became leader of the Woody Herman Thundering Herd Jazz Band in 1987
In Their Own Words
"I take a little more contemporary approach to my music. I use what I usually refer to as 'deceptive inserts,' chords that precede the prescribed chord. Pianists also do it—they might do a few chords before a chord is prescribed. I'm doing it in a voice leading line—sort of a serpentine line. It's quite different than any other teacher, actually. Everyone has their own concept, and this is one I learned from many of the tapes that I recorded of John Coltrane in 1960."
"In my teaching, I select tunes that are favorable for teaching this concept. I burn CDs of those tunes and play along with them with my students; we all do a lot of soloing. I think this really puts students in the position of playing with a more experienced teacher. There are a lot of CDs available that are play-alongs, but the thing is they're all up to the tempo of the tune. If it's very, very fast, I burn it at a very slow speed. And then I might burn it again a little faster. I have this continuity going right up to the full speed. I have maybe 100 tunes that I've prepared—different types to which I can apply my concept."
"I take a very technical approach. You must know your notes and tonalities, and not play by ear. One thing that I really emphasize is to be able to use restraint, texture, and balance in your approach, in your 'deceptive inserts' and other things which require a lot of technical knowledge. A lot of students can come in and just move their fingers around, but when they play a ballad, where does it come from? Where's the restraint? Of course you're not going to be playing a ton of technical things in a beautiful ballad that should be really heard soulfully."
"It's also important to me that my students are able to read, perform, and really understand how to produce improvisations. What's appealing is to get students who have never played jazz, and after even just one semester some of them are really accomplishing and improvising. I find that gratifying. I see other students coming in all confident, but improvising with no intensity or excitement. Then they start progressing to another level, which is great."