Larry Ridley: Them's That Teach Can Do
And it's there and they do a fantastic job at keeping the facility in; you know, everything is done very well and they don't let people come in and just beat up the place. Sometimes I've had some people say that they're kind of stuffy sometimes, but hey, you've got to do that if you're going to keep something so that it's nice and attractive and you know, it's a gem that has to be kept polished. And a lot of people use itthe resources thereand, like you, it's one of my favorite places to do research. Also, all the years I was at Rutgers, being involved with the Rutgers Institute for Jazz Studies, these are two very important repositories containing information that should be utilized even more.
You know, we've got this whole thing as far as curricula development and I think that more of the teachers and the teaching boards of various public schools and private elementary, middle and secondary schools should be utilizing these facilities more to incorporate this wealth of material that exists in both of these repositories. I'm also involved with something that's a historic first at a historically black college and university. We've been approved by the state of North Carolina at North Carolina Central University to develop a jazz research institute there, which is really just going to be great.
AAJ: And that's part of your work as the chairis that your titleat the African American Jazz Caucus of the IAJE?
LR: I'm the executive director of the African American Jazz Caucus. I helped start the caucus back in 1977 when I was attending the then NAJENational Association of Jazz Educatorsand they have since become international with the International Association for Jazz Education, because they've also brought in more of the industry as a particular component of what the organization is all about. I wear several hats there. I'm also the Northeast region coordinator for IAJE that covers several states in the Northeast region, which is a new position I took on, but I'm trying to keep all of this balanced because my first and foremost thing is being a jazz musician because I love the music, and I've just had such fantastic mentorship from so many of the greats through the yearsthe Ellingtons, the Thelonious Monks and Dizzy Gillespies and Horace Silvers and on and on and on. All of this stuff is on my website which iswww.larryridley.com.
AAJ: Well you're resume is quite impressive for anybody.
LR: For a young guy, right [laughs].
AAJ: And then, on top of it though, you were one of the first real playersjazz musicians, active African American musicianswho got into the jazz education field. You were one of the founding members of the Rutgers jazz faculty, I believe.
LR: I'm the one that brought in Ted Dunbar, Kenny Barron; we had Don Friedman at one point, Jimmy Giuffre, Freddie Waits, Michael Carvin, Frank Foster, just a number of people who I brought in. Because I kind of had this idea back in the fifties when, in 1955, I won a violin scholarship to Indiana University School of Music and David Baker and all of us were there and a lot of fine musicians. That was before jazz was really into the university system; about the only thing that had been set up on sort of like a university type level was the Berklee College of Music, which was started in 1947.
But the think was, when I got there to Indiana Universityand it was such a great institutionthere was such a great wealth of opportunities to perform in the symphony orchestra that they had there, as well as performing in the opera orchestra, so I got a well-rounded experience, but we used to get together and play jazz in the rehearsal halls there at Indiana University and I saw all of these great players from the European classical tradition, the Berkshire Quartet, Sidney Foster, on and on and on, the people that were there on the faculty. And they'd go in and out and travel all over the world, performing with the Met or with various orchestras and they'd come back and teach.