There was a time not long ago when college–level Jazz Studies programs didn’t exist. Aspiring musicians learned by listening to the radio or phonograph records, catching personal appearances by well–known groups, or hauling their instruments to local Jazz spots for on–the–job training. The University of North Texas broke the logjam, and today schools from coast to coast have music programs with a built–in Jazz component. Many, like North Texas, are strong and well–established, while others, such as Shoreline Community College in Seattle, Washington, have barely begun to establish a toehold and can look forward to years of abundant growth and development. I admire and respect teachers such as Shoreline’s Doug Reid who devote their time and energy to helping young people learn the fundamentals of Jazz ensemble playing. At the same time, it would be less than candid were I not to report that, at this stage in its development, the Shoreline program needs a lot of work even to reach college–level proficiency. But for someone in Reid’s position that’s probably where the fun begins. First you crawl, then you walk, and later on you win awards from your peers. Actually, the Jazz ensemble plays respectably well (but without much oomph) on Bill Potts’ “Big Swing Face” and “Neal Hefti’s “Cute,” somewhat less so on “Mexicali Nose” and “A Time for Love” — and there are no decent soloists seeking to make their voices heard. Also represented on this sampler from ’97 are the Jazz Guitar Ensemble, Re–Bop Brass Band, the vocal group Meridian ’97 and Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Reid, who wears a number of hats as director of all of them, does the best he can, but as we said, it’s going to take a concerted effort over a number of years to smooth the rough edges. We wish him and his young students well.
Contact: Doug Reid, director of Jazz Studies, Shoreline Community College, 16101 Greenwood Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98133 (phone 206–546–4759).
Track listing: Mexicali Nose; Open Invitation; D.C. Blues; Big Swing Face; Watch What Happens; Who Took the Happiness Out; Hot Dawg; A Time for Love; I’m Beginning to See the Light; Do It Fluid; Cute (37:42).