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Alan Pasqua: Lifetime's Aglow, A (non) Antisocial Interaction

By Published: February 18, 2008
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Alan Pasqua: Educator

AAJ: Tell us about the teaching you do.

AP: The teaching thing came out of nowhere. I was called by a buddy of mine that teaches over at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles] to sub for him, for one day, in his jazz improvisation class. I asked, "Do you want me to do anything special?" He said, "Just do whatever you want." So I went in and I think I gave them a lecture on Coltrane, something I was listening to and really interested in at that moment in time. At the end of class a bunch of students came up to me and said things like, "Man, that was the greatest class we've had in a really long time." They gave me so much positive feedback that it just kind of made me think that I was having a really good time, too.

I enjoyed it so much that I was encouraged to contact the guy over here at USC here in LA; his name is Shelly Berg, and he's the head of the jazz Department. I told him I might be interested in teaching some piano lessons if there was any interest. They gave me four students and it went very well. The next semester they brought me back and asked me to run one of the ensembles. The following year he said to me, "Look, I want to bring you on board on the faculty and have you teach jazz improvisation here." The cool thing was that it was two days out of my week and was still able to travel and tour and do other things.

He basically gave me no guidelines as far as the curriculum was concerned and told me to put it together and to "Teach how you think it should be taught." They gave me a lot of creative freedom to get it together and now it's seven years later. Now I'm upper level faculty and hopefully about to get tenure this year. It's been a really rewarding experience—it's made me a better player and improviser and it's made me more thorough as a musician because I've had to explain myself over and over and make sure people understand it.

Alan Pasqua AAJ: Well, it sure sounds like you're taking all the positives out of it.

AP: I'm lucky, too, because the students that come in are very gifted and I get to work with very talented people. Otherwise I couldn't do it. It would take too much out of me.

So now, if I'm out on the road, like with Holdsworth, I'll do a master class. In Scandinavia, I went to three different universities over there and did a week's teaching in Copenhagen. It's kind of really made me more global.

AAJ: Speaking of which, let's end with what's coming for you in the next year or so and anything else you want to add.

AP: As for this year, it's interesting. I'm just kind of staying put, hunkering down, not traveling. I'll be doing some work at school and composing and maybe in the fall something will get put together with Allan and myself. I think actually, everybody in that band wants to do a record—it's just that everybody lives in different places, but I think we'll record relatively soon.

As for anything else, thanks for doing this and let's make sure the discussion about the new record straightens out all these people that think I ripped off Miles. In fact, I'd like to refer them to a little something about that very subject over at the Crypto blog.

Selected Discography

Peter Erskine/Alan Pasqua/David Carpenter, Standards (Fuzzy Music, 2007)
Alan Pasqua, The Antisocial Club (Cryptogramophone, 2007)
Alan Pasqua, My New Old Friend (Cryptogramophone, 2005)
Alan Holdsworth, Against the Clock: The Best of Alan Holdsworth (Alternity, 2005)
Peter Erskine//Alan Pasqua/Dave Carpenter, Badlands (Fuzzy Music, 2002)
Peter Erskine//Alan Pasqua/Dave Carpenter, Live at Rocco (Fuzzy Music, 2000)
Tom Scott & the L.A. Express, Smokin' Section (Windham Hill, 1999)
Alan Pasqua, Dedications (Postcards, 1995)
Lee Ritenour, Alive in L.A. (GRP, 1997)
Alan Pasqua, Milagro (Postcards, 1993)
Claus Ogerman, Claus Ogerman Featuring Michael Brecker (GRP, 1988)
Stanley Clarke, Hideaway (Epic, 1986)
Carlos Santana, Havana Moon (Columbia, 1983)
Santana, Zebop! (Columbia, 1981)
Bob Dylan, Street Legal (Columbia, 1978)
The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Believe It (Columbia, 1975)

Photo Credits
Bottom Photo: Willem Klopper, courtesy of Alan Pasqua
All Other Photos: Courtesy of Alan Pasqua

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