Meet Marvin Stamm
The Stamm/Soph ProjectLive at Birdland
CDs as a leader
Tours combining concerts and Jazz education
IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education)
Role of lead trumpet in big bands
Soloing with symphony orchestras
Soloist, bandleader, lead trumpeter, cultural activist, educator, website maintainer, and southern gentleman Marvin Stamm functions on the highest plane in all his capacities. Like most musicians who succeed these days he communicates with his audience and brings them into his music. A sensitive yet extroverted player Stamm has a new CD by his working quartet with guest artist John Abercrombie.
The Stamm/Soph ProjectLive at Birdland
My present quartetBill Mays, piano, Ed Soph, drums, and Rufus Reid, basshas been together for eight or nine years. Five years ago, Ed Soph and I decided to team up to do a CD with the quartet that we entitled The Stamm/Soph Project. Tenor and soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman was a guest artist on three tracks. The CD enjoyed nice reviews and was well received. Since that time, Ed and I talked quite a bit about doing a live album. In the studio, you can be very well prepared and probably produce a more perfect CD, but it is difficult to capture that magic that happens in front of a live audience.
In September 2003, the group was booked for a private concert in Connecticut, the COTA Festival in the Delaware Water Gap, and a four-day stint in Birdlandall within eight days. This seemed like the perfect time to do a live album because we would be playing together a lot during that period, and Birdland is one of the really nice clubs to play in New York City. Birdland provides an excellent listening environment for the customer and also has excellent recording equipment installed.
I asked engineer Jim Anderson to record these Birdland sets because he is one of the best at live recording. Jim has engineered projects for so many people, and I have known and worked with him for many years. He has also recorded many live concerts for NPR including Jazz at the Kennedy Center with Billy Taylor and others. Jim has great ears, knows how to record acoustic instruments, and is a pleasure to work with.
We invited guitarist John Abercrombie to do the Birdland gig with us. John is a very sensitive musician with whom we have worked in concert before, and he fits right into what we do. John guests on four tunes and sounds wonderful as always. We recorded two of the four nights in Birdland and came out with a lot of material. Ed and I, of course, narrowed it down to the eight tracksabout sixty-five minutesthat we felt really reflect how this group works.
About the music, it just so happened that all eight tracks we selected are originals. There are two tunes each by Bill, Rufus, and me, and one each by saxophonist Ted Nash and Swedish pianist Lars Jansson. To my ear, most Jazz composers' originals seem to come out naturally sounding like "Jazz lines. But when I was listening to these tunes closely during the "mixing sessions with Jim Anderson, I was struck by how melodic all of them arehow much like "standards they sounded to me.
What can I say? I love this group! The quartet musically operates almost of its own accord. I generally choose the tunes for each set, but any one of us is free to offer his input. Depending upon the piece we may have just finished, the selections can change at will, on the spur of the moment. This can come from any one of us who feels that the music should go in a different direction. The group plays, and the music just flows freely, the only constraints being an innate sensitivity and musical respect for one another and for the music. Beyond that, anything goes. We seldom discuss any of this; it is just implicit in our understanding of the way Ior rather wewant this group to function, and it does so beautifully. While I may be the protagonist of the group in a certain sense, we contribute musically as equals. This might not work so well in other group situations because egos many times come into play. None of this takes place in this quartet. We are all old and dear friends, and our personal rapport is as strong as our musical one. We come together because we love being together and making music together. It's as simple as that. It seems that wherever we perform, people are able to sense this rapport and grasp how special this is on many levels, feeling included in the music and in the process.
This new CDThe Stamm/Soph Project Live at Birdlandhas just been released this month on the Jazzed Media label, and we're very happy with it. So far the critics have liked it very much, and we've gotten only good comment from the people who have bought it. Phil Woods, Carl Saunders, Phil Urso, and several other artists are also with Jazzed Media. Graham Carter, the guy who owns it, is a terrific guy to work with.
CDs as a leader
Besides The Stamm/Soph Project Live at Birdland, I have four other CDs available as a leader. The previous Stamm/Soph Project was the first CD Ed and I did together. I also have the duo CDBy Ourselveswith Bill Mays, done around the same time as that first Stamm/Soph Project. I love duo playing, and for me, Bill is the best!
Another quartet CDElegancerecorded in 2001 features pianist Stefan Karlsson, Los Angeles bassist Tom Warrington, and drummer Eliot Zigmund, who played with the Bill Evans Trio for a number of years.
I also recorded two other CDs in the '90s that featured saxophonist Bob Mintzer and drummer Terry ClarkeMystery Man and Bop Boy. Mystery Man is no longer available unless MusicMasters' parent label, the Musical Heritage Society, still has copies.
But all the other five CDs are available directly from me on my website.
The Stamm/Soph Project Live at Birdland is also available from the usual internet sites and in the stores, but the others are available only from me.
Bill Mays and I started playing together in a couple of groups around New York about ten or eleven years ago. We were kind of thrown together. We seemed to have an immediate rapport and decided we really did want to do some things together. I started using Bill in my quartet, and sometime after recording the first Stamm-Soph Project, Bill and I were talking, "Let's just go into the studio and see what happens. We went into Nola Studios in New York City with Jimmy Czak, an excellent acoustic engineer. He just turned on the machine, and we played. I'm extremely proud of the CD, By Ourselves. I believe it shows a lot of what we do.
Since the making of By Ourselves, Bill and I have played and toured together quite a bit as a duo. We recently completed a two-week tour this past January. Spending two solid weeks playing with Bill is just a fantastic experience! On both the musical and personal level, it is sheer fun and joy! Besides the duo performances on the tour, we played two of the concerts as a quartet. In each of these concerts, one of the regular members of my quartet happened to be in that locale and participated.
In our concert at the University of Texas at Dallas, Ed Soph and local bassist John Adams played. John is an excellent bassist and has played with us many times when we performed in Dallas and Houston. The second instance occurred performing an afternoon master class at Indiana University (IU) and again later that evening in a concert for "Jazz from Bloomington," a not-for-profit community organization based in Bloomington, Indiana. Rufus Reid just happened to be doing a residency that week at IU, so he joined us along with drummer Steve Houghton who is on the faculty there. Both concerts were special and received with great enthusiasm. That's what playing is all about for mebeing able to express myself freely while also reaching the people for whom I am performing.
Bill Mays is A-MAYS-ING! I feel that he, more than anyone, is the major catalyst in the duo AND the quartet. I doubt Ed or Rufus would disagree with that statement. Bill and I have an uncanny magic going between us. It's almost as if we can read each other's thoughts. At the last concert on the tour, a duo concert at Lawrence University, we reached a new level of communication. We were presented with an archival recording of the concert, and if the sound quality was of a professional level, I would release it in a "New York minute. It really is extraordinary. As Dick Hyman said at one of the two concerts we performed in duo for him at New York City's well-known 92nd Street Y concert venue, "Bill and Marvin's duo is more like chamber music than two guys just playing together. Bill is the most creative musician I've ever worked with, always creative, always sensitive on the most consistent basis.
Tours combining concerts and Jazz education
The four members of the quartet are all experienced in performing clinics, master classes, and workshops. We really enjoy working with young people. Today all music of valuesymphonic music, chamber music, and Jazzis in jeopardy. Symphony orchestras are in financial trouble, and the places in which to play Jazz are diminishing. Our audiences for great music are ageing or aged, and if we don't create new audiences from among our young people, if we don't inspire the young players of today, then all good music may go by the wayside.
All we have to do is look at what's going on in the political arena to see how little they value things of culture. This has been going on not just with this current administration (which in my opinion has no culture values), but ever since Newt Gingrich raised such a big stink about pornography with the Mapplethorpe Exhibition in Washington ten or twelve years ago they used the Mapplethorpe Exhibition as an excuse to cut the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) budget from something like 163 million dollars a year to 93 million dollars.
The NEA is just a small item compared to all these other programs our legislators fund that are filled with fat and pork. The NEA was generating revenues of about 1.2 billion dollars a year on an output of 163 million. How many investments pay back eight or nine times what is put into it? How many of any of the things these legislators fund pay back anythingexcept in benefit to themselves? It's a shamand a shame!
The only way we can affect anything is to go into the communities and encourage young people to be involved in the arts. We try to inspire young musicians to go on with their playing careers even if they decide to go into teaching. But many times students go into teaching because they think they can't make it as players. That's all right if they truly make teaching their priority and treat it with the same importance they would a career in performance. Teaching is one of the most important jobs anyone can perform, and I feel it takes even more dedication to be a great teacher than it does to be a fine player. You seeif people don't like the way I play, they don't lose anything except maybe a few dollars for one ticket. But over a thirty-year career, a bad teacher can destroy the love of culture in hundreds of students. A great teacher can affect the opposite. When we go to these schools, we place the students first, always keeping in mind what we might do to inspire these young people to be more culturally aware, trying to get them to be really involved in the Arts and education.
My philosophy of teaching comes down to this: the student is the important factor! It should all be about the student, not the teacher. Many times, this is not the case. For example, many instrumental applied music teachers make putting their stamp on the student the most important issue in their teaching that is making the student over in their own image. That may work for the self-image of the teacher, but I don't think it serves the student well. Every student is an individual with his own individual problems and must be approached in that way. There is no single, same solution to any problem for every person because we are all different. I learned this approach from some of the greatest teachers with whom I have come in contact: Carmine Caruso in New York, Jimmy Stamp in Los Angeles, John Haynie at the University of North Texas, Ray Crisara, professor of trumpet and head of the brass department at the University of Texas with whom I worked for years in the New York studios, and other fine teachers. The great ones always put the student first.
IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education)
IAJE has become an extremely large organization that has tried with some success to institutionalize Jazz and teaching people how to play this music. I believe this serves some people well to a degree; but I also think what IAJE has become and the way it now operates has changed greatly from its original purpose.
For one, I believe the organization today stands more to serve itselfmuch like most corporate organizations in this country. The membership really doesn't have much of an active role in the direction the organization might take. The way the bylaws and organization of IAJE have been restructured over the years makes it extremely difficult for the membership to participate to any degree and/or to influence changes from within. Also many members join for whatever they perceive are the benefits; they don't really care to have any responsibility for or input into guiding the direction of the organizationmuch like the citizenry of this country desires to have it today. When this occurs, everything regarding the organization rests in the hands of only a few.
Secondly, IAJE and academia have led people to believe that one can teach another to play Jazz. I believe that to be completely erroneous. People aren't taught to become improvisersthey must learn through their own efforts, not the efforts of others. As with playing an instrument, the teacher can give instructions, but without the student physically putting those instructions into effect, that is training his or her own body to put them to use, it is impossible to learn to do so. In effect, one teaches oneself. Though classroom teaching can be of great benefit to those already caught up by this music, I believe trying to "teach" typical students to do something for which they have no passion is wasted effortand misleading. Not everyone can do this; one has to really want to do this. Improvisingplaying Jazzis a lifelong pursuit, not just a skill one acquires like learning 2 + 2 = 4.
An oversimplified explanation of learning to improvise is this: People who develop into Jazz musicians do so because, as they develop their musical skills, they at some point in that development hear something in the music that touches them deeply, making them hungry to play this music. They get CDs and records or listen to the radio, trying to copy what they hear. Through imitation and developing their "ear and a vocabulary, they over time acquire the musical linguistic skills to become a Jazz improviser.
This is a lot like learning to talk. You can't teach a person how to talk; he must learn how to talk "by ear, by listening to the sounds emitted by the people surrounding him and imitating them. One cannot learn the grammar of language and how language works if he can't talk in the first place. Only after developing his ear and acquiring a vocabulary, learning how to talk, can he be taught about language. Learning to improvise is exactly the same. I know of no one who learned how to play this music first by learning theory (the grammar of music). Initially, the player must develop a musical vocabulary and learn to "talk before he can be "taught grammatically what he is doing. Only by listening to this music and getting it inside of you, acquiring a vocabulary and the ability to speak the language, and developing the ear can you become an improviser. After you're able to do this, then you can get into the theory.
The point is this: IAJEand many in the Jazz Education communityhas in a well-meaning way unwittingly institutionalized the education side of this music. They have helped lead people to believe that you can teach scales, licks, arpeggios, chord symbols and how to play on them, and students will know how to improvise. That's like saying that a child who knows the ABC's and a few words and phrases but who has no real vocabulary or linguistic skills can still put forth thoughts and ideas. That's not possible in my view. You cannot "shortcut the process. The teaching only works AFTER you have ability to speak or play.
I've been involved with this music almost from the time I picked up the horn. My older brother Gordon had a nice Jazz record collection, and I got taken by this music, listening and learning from so many over the years. I have many heroes, not only trumpet players, but on all the instruments. Like every other Jazz musician, I'm a product of all of the things I've listened to and ingested. There are things I heard from many players that have been absorbed into my own playing, and there are things that don't apply that I have put aside. Eventuallyover timeI came to develop my own voice.
At this point in my playing, I listen for the music. My ability to play the instrument and my technique are not things I really think about when I perform. But I continue to practice one to two hours every day depending on my schedule. I focus on much of the same type of things I've done since my early yearsa lot of fundamental materials to help me continue to develop and grow; it is a never-ending process. I practice as I learnedin the classical manner. I still work out of the Arban book, Herbert L. Clarke Technical Studies, many of the studies from my years with Carmine Caruso and John Haynie, my teacher at North Texas. (I see John once or twice a year when in Texas and still take lessons from him) There are things that I still work on that Perry Wilson, my trumpet teacher in Memphis, gave me. I still play etudes by Charlier, Bozza, and others that I was playing during my years at North Texas. I'm a great lover of classical music, particularly orchestral music. I listen to as much orchestral music as Jazz these daysprobably more. This also influences me greatly as it pertains to sound and personal expression.
In my Jazz playing, I am the sum of all my parts. I do not approach the instrument as a technical tool to demonstrate how flashy I can be. Ratheron stage playing with my compatriotsI try to feel everything in the environment that they're giving to me and become part of it all. When I play I let the music dictate where I go. Depending on the piece we play, the tempo and style, it can vary from an approach of bravado to something that's very soft and sensitive. I use vibrato where I feel it, and I use a lot of dynamics in my playingI learned this from listening to Dizzy who had a tremendous sense of tension and release. Today you hear a lot of trumpet players who are technically wonderfulthey do things I can't door at least I don't think I can do them. But everything is the same volume, basically loud. They use little or no dynamic variance. Many of them also don't pay any attention to the quality of sound, and their playing stays on the same emotional level all the time. When you hear them play a ballad, there's no feeling of warmth, that they are playing a love song. When people speak of my music, I hope some of the things said are that I am musical, I swing, and I play with taste and a lot of sensitivity. Saying these things is a compliment of the highest order.
My lead playing began to develop somewhat during my years in Memphis and later at North Texas and in between the stints with Stan and Woody, doing shows in Reno Nevada. But this area really developed after I came to New York. Working closely for many years with Bernie Glow, Ernie Royal, and Snooky Young was like learning at the feet of the masters. I was always taught to be a good section player, and to do this, one must become an astute listener. So as I played next to these great players and worked and listened to them day after day, my own lead playing developed.
I played lead trumpet for several years with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra after Snooky Young left to move to California. I also played lead in the American Jazz Orchestra led by John Lewis, and for about 13 years, I played lead with the Bob Mintzer Band. During my many years in the studios, all of us played lead and section. Everyone was a versatile player and could wear many hats. Since leaving the studios around 1990, I've concentrated on being a Jazz soloist. Now I only play lead for George Gruntz when he puts together his Concert Jazz Band for recordings and tours in Europe and abroad.
Other than George's band, I no longer play with many big bands because this isn't where my interest lies. The exception is the Westchester Jazz Orchestra (WJO) based in the area I live, Westchester County, New Yorkjust north of NYC. The band is made up of some of the finest Jazz musicians in the area, and most are also members of the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Vanguard Orchestra, the Bob Mintzer Band, and others. It is an excellent group, and we all enjoy playing together. The WJO is led by saxophonist Joey Berkley and includes trumpets: Tony Kadleck, Craig Johnson, Jim Rotundi and myself; trombones: Keith O'Quinn, Larry Farrell, George Flynn; saxophones: Jay Brandford, David Brandom, Ralph Lalama, Eddie Xiques, and Berkley; pianist Ted Rosenthal; bassist Harvey S; and drummer Tony Jefferson.
There is great mutual respect throughout the band. Jim Rotundi and I split the Jazz trumpet solos on the band, Tony Kadleck plays lead, and Craig Johnson plays split lead. These are young guys in their early 40s. I've been there and done that, and I'm happy to let them have it. If there's something I want to play I'll lean over and ask Tony, "Hey, do you mind if I play that? But I'm not very interested in playing lead anymore; I prefer playing a lower part and being in the role of soloist.
Role of lead trumpet in big bands
To me, the bassist is the heart and soul of any band, the time keeper. His sound and pitch have a lot to do with how a group sounds. With all his drums and cymbals, a fine drummer is like a painter. His job is the coloration, adding to and augmenting the sound of the various horn sections. Of course, the drummer also has a great deal to do with the intensity of the group.
The lead trumpet player is the interpreter of the music. While the lead trombone player and lead alto player lead their sections, the tradition has been that they take their cues in interpretation and articulation from the lead trumpet player. That's the traditional approach to the music and the role of the lead trumpet. This was beautifully exemplified by the great lead trumpet players with whom I worked in NYCBernie Glow and Ernie Royal, who did all the Miles DavisGil Evans recordings among othersand Snooky Young with the Basie band who also became part of the New York studio scene for years before moving to California. Of course, their mentors were from the earlier bands, those of Jimmy Lunceford, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and others.
For me, the happiest moments playing in the studios were when we were recording a lot of Jazz records, and the trumpet section was Bernie Glow, Ernie Royal, Snooky Young, and me. What a lesson it was to learn from three of the greatest musicians whoever picked up a trumpet! To them, the lead trumpet player was like the concert master or the concert mistress of a symphony orchestra. They led the orchestra, but not through sheer force. Their natural musicality, their sound, and rhythmic feeling made the rest of the orchestra naturally focus upon them and follow their lead. But as they led the orchestra, they also blended into it. As Snooky expressed it, "It should sound like an organ from top to bottom. When you hear the recordings he made with the Basie Band of the late '50s and early '60s, you can hear exactly what he was talking about. The same can be heard on all the recordings on which Bernie and Ernie play. It is not about playing the highest, loudest notes. It has much more to do with sound, feel, interpretation, and natural musicality.
Regarding how a band sounds the secret comes down to one word: listen. If everybody in the band is listening to everything that's going on and knows where they fit in, musically that band is going to sound very good. The problem with a lot of players is they're too busy focusing on themselves; they're not listening to anyone else. When they are not playing, they are many times talking to the guys next to them or fooling around. They aren't listening to whatever else may be going on around them in the music. I see this even in small groups. Guys go up to the microphone and play their solo, and they play well. The next guy comes up to play, and the person who just finished playing walks over to the side and starts talking to somebody. If you don't respect the people you're on the bandstand with enough to want to hear what they play and to learn from them, why bother playing with them at all! When I'm on the bandstand, I give everyone my rapt attention. Otherwise, I don't want to be there.
All along the way I've had people who have been inspirational and of tremendous help to me: my junior high school band director in Memphis, Jack Foster; my high school band director, A. E. McLain, one of the great high school band directors in the country; my trumpet teacher in Memphis, Perry Wilson; my four years at North Texas, studying with John Haynie and working with lab band directors Gene Hall and Leon Breeden. My six plus years studying with Carmine Caruso were so very special also.
There were players in Memphis and in the Dallas and Ft. Worth areas that were very good to this young kid they perceived had talent. They gave freely of their advice and let me sit next to them and play with them, which is where I learned many great lessons. This has continued through my life in the professional world: certainly Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, and all the players in those bands. Of course, players such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Clifford Brown influenced my trumpet playing.
Playing in the Thad JonesMel Lewis Orchestra. Thad Jones stands up to anyone who has ever picked up a musical instrument. He was a creative genius. To be in that band at that time, filled with people like Snooky Young, Jimmy Nottingham, Richard Williams, Bob Brookmeyer, Garnett Brown, Richard Davis, Mel Lewis, that wonderful saxophone section of Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion, Eddie Daniels, Pepper Adams and Joe Farrellit was an amazing experience, and I learned so much from everyone. But when Thad picked up that horn, everyone listened to him with complete attention and in rapt admiration. He blew all of us awayevery time!
There have been so many other people over my lifetime and in my career: Duke Pearson and all the guys in that band; Charlie Mariano and the times we spent teaching together and playing in the summers. Bill Mays and Rufus Reid continue to be great teachers to me. Ed Soph's drumming is so different, so unique. Then againthere are many people of whom you and others might never have heard of that have made just as big a difference in my musical life and personal development as these more well-known people I have mentioned.
Soloing with symphony orchestras
I have a library written for trumpet soloist, rhythm section and symphony orchestra, not big band and strings, but orchestra instrumentation. There are no saxophonesit's all woodwinds. The arrangements utilize a typical orchestral brass sectionthree trumpets, three trombones, and four horns. I enjoy playing with orchestras very much. When it comes to standing in the middle of a large group as this and hearing what a real orchestra sounds like, it's absolutely magnificent, particularly when the musicians are interested in what you do and want to be a part of it.
The music these orchestras are typically required to play when they're performing music other than classical music (I hate to say "pops concerts ) is usually junk. They hate it unless they are playing for someone like Maureen McGovern, who has really fine arrangements. My arrangements have been written for me by Jack Cortner, Bill Mays, Jerry Ascione, Jack Cooper, and several others, and they know how to write for the orchestra, keeping it all in perspective. They don't ask them to do things they are unable to do, like swing. They also know how to integrate the Jazz quartet into the orchestral setting. These orchestrations are excellent.
That being said, once in a while at the beginning of a rehearsal, the typical attitude toward a "pops concert carries over. I have had to stop an orchestra a couple of times and say to them, "I am as serious about my music as Yo-Yo Ma is about his music. The music you're playing is beautifully orchestrated, and if you just put yourself into it, you'll probably find that you enjoy it very much. That stops that attitude right there, appealing to the orchestra members' pride, and as they open up to the music, they warm to it and accept it. Then they start having fun! This is so nice to see!
Also, the guys who travel with meRufus, Ed, and Billare such open people and marvelous players that it doesn't take long for all of us to establish a rapport with the orchestra members. When Rufus Reid walks on stage and sets up with the quartet, all the other bass players know him because they're all members of the International Bass Society. Every summer they have their conferences, and all these players mix. On breaks, the orchestra bassists are all around Rufus. When Bill Mays sits down at the piano and starts to warm up, he plays Czerny, Hanon, and Chopin from memory. The violinists are looking at him like "Who the heck is this guy? When Ed plays, he doesn't try to overpower the orchestra, but rather helps them with time and feeling of each piece. They begin to hear how we integrate with them when we play together. The four of us show a lot of appreciation for what they do. The respect becomes mutual, and we build on that.
I've never walked away from a concert where the people in the orchestra didn't express how much they enjoyed having us with themviolinists, bassoonists, percussionists, whoever. We've also never played a concert where we didn't receive standing ovations at the end. If the people who program symphony concertsexecutive directors and musical directorswould think more creatively about Jazz, more "outside of the box, trying to integrate programs like this into their "pops series instead of some of the junk they put out there, they might find their audiences would be building instead of diminishing. Too many of these people are still trying to carry on with programming the same way they were forty-five years ago, and you know what? It doesn't work any more. I go to symphony concerts. I'm sixty-five, and I'm among the youngest group of listeners. That's also many times true at Jazz concerts. A lot of criticism could be leveled at the venues in the Jazz area as well. If we want our music to survive, we had better start doing something to build our audiences.
Over the years, I designed trumpets for three companies. There were a lot of innovative things going on at that time, and I enjoyed being a part of it. The company I've worked with longest is the French Besson Company owned by The Music Group. Ten years ago, I designed some trumpets for them, one of which remains their main B-Flat trumpet model. I'm no longer as involved as I was at that time, but it is nice to occasionally get e-mails from players who say, "I just bought one of the trumpets you designed, and I'm really enjoying playing it.
My website grew out of the printed version of my newsletter, Cadenzas, which I did for about five years. I was encouraged to do this by a friend and neighbor, Bret Primack, who also happened to be a very busy Jazz writer. As it was becoming more expensive to do a printed version of the newsletter and Bret was into the Internet and designing web sites early on, he suggested his building a web site for me, encouraging me to get into this new area. Nowrather than a printed version of Cadenzasa new issue appears quarterly on my web site. I just let my e-mail list know it has been posted, and they are able to access and read it at their convenience.
Bret also taught me how to edit the web site myself, and I continually update and edit itadding things, deleting other things, and learning more about it all the time. Recently, for example, as a result of the release of our new CDThe Stamm/Soph Project Live at BirdlandI realized that people needed to be able to buy the CDs by credit card directly from the website. Some people no longer care to purchase anything by check or money order. I opened a Pay Pal account, and now anyone who wants to purchase a CD can do so directly from the web site with their credit card. I receive the order immediately, and the CD is usually in the mail to them by the next day.
Bret Primack is a very creative guy and is usually in the forefront of new developmental things with Jazz on the Internet. When he designed and built my website, one of the things he wanted to do was make sure it was easy to navigate. I believe he achieved his goal because, even though there is a lot of information on my site, many people remark about the ease of navigating it.
Since you (Craig Jolleythe interviewer) have been on the site, I've put the areas for my CDs, my Discography, the CD reviews, and my performance reviews all on separate pages with separate links to each. Once I did that, I had to edit every page because I wanted links from each page to every other page. That way, you can easily get from any page on the site to any other page. You remarked that you thought it was one of the best websites you'd been to. I think that is quite a high compliment. Other people tell me it's one of the easiest to navigate, also a high compliment.
As I said, I now have my online newsletter on the website. Rather than send people the newsletter (I have about 1,200 people on my e-mail list), I instead send them a notice that the new edition of the newsletter has been posted. I inform them of the featured articles, give them links, and hope they'll go there to read it. I write a lot of articles about Jazz and culture, about all areas of music and music education and what I see going on today pertaining to these things. I'm preparing to write the next one as we speak. One of the articles will be about the January tour I did with Bill Mays, the concerts we performed, some of the musicians we met, and so on. I'm also interested in having guest writers. For example, in this next issue, there is an article by Steve Budiansky, a writer of books dealing with national security, which was originally in the Washington Post. He played music as a kid, and now his children are in school. He wrote a most interesting article about what he observes going on in music education. This article evoked tremendous response from musicians, educators, and parents nationwide, and he has given me permission to reprint this article with a link to the follow-up article on his web site.
There is also an "In Response page where anyone who reads an article I've written is welcome to express their own thoughts and opinionspro or con. If it's intelligently written, I will format it and post it on this page for my other readers to see. In every notice that the new issue of Cadenzas has been posted, I encourage people to respond to my articles. If people disagree with me, that is fine because the idea is not just to put my thoughts up there, but rather to create a dialog among people. I would like the site to be interactive with the people who visit the website. The funny thing is that you rarely know who or how many read something you write. The payoff is when you run into somebody in Oshkosh, Wisconsin or Ludlow, Missouri who says, "You know, so-and-so sent me the link to your newsletter, and I went to your website and read it. I really think you have something to say.
Most of my work is on the road, but it seems that this year I am doing a lot of playing around the New York area. I'm going to be playing a couple of concerts and club gigs in New York with Virginia Mayhew, a wonderful tenor saxophonist. I'm doing several things with Bill Mays, with his trio and with my quartet. The group will be playing this July at One Station Plaza in Peekskill, NYa club where a lot of people like Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, and others are playing. I'm doing a couple of recordingsa new CD with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band and also a guest soloist spot on a new CD of trombonist Scott Whitfield in tribute to his mentor and friend, Nat Adderley. I'll be doing some concerts and workshops at various schools and also teaching at a summer camp for a few days. I'll be playing at a couple festivals and most likely doing a Jazz cruise in December with Mike Vax's Kenton Alumni Band. I may also be going to Europe later in the year. And through it all, I will be performing with the Westchester Jazz Orchestra. Like a lot of the musicians who are able to work and make a living playing Jazz, I'm doing a lot of different things.