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Interviews

Dwayne Burno: Tradition

By Published: November 20, 2013
More things helped. My first day/night in Boston after moving into 98 Hemenway—the all- male dorm off Berklee's campus—I met my roommate, tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake
Seamus Blake
Seamus Blake
b.1970
sax, tenor
. There was an impromptu jam gathering in the basement of the dorm that afternoon. I played with Geoffrey Keezer
Geoffrey Keezer
Geoffrey Keezer
b.1970
keyboard
, Seamus Blake, Chris Cheek
Chris Cheek
Chris Cheek
b.1968
saxophone
, Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove
b.1969
trumpet
, and one of the baddest left-handed drummers with purest beats—from Baltimore, MD area—you'll likely never know about, Alphonso Giles. That was inspiring and gave me the nerve to go out to Wally's that night to the jam session. I was so green back then that I didn't know that bass players shouldn't and don't as a matter of etiquette, bring their own instrument to a jam unless they are on the gig. So, here Seamus and I go walking down Massachusetts Avenue to Wally's before 9pm. We go in and wouldn't fate have it that the bassist scheduled to play didn't show up for the gig! So I lucked into a gig my first night in town. That ended up causing some local bass players angst. From that first night, I went back to sit in on all of the jazz nights the club used to have which was essentially Wednesday through Sunday and every bandleader fired their regular guy and hired me. Need less to say, I found myself a not well-liked guy in town very quickly, but just by bass players. The gig was five hours long—9pm to 2am—and caused me to develop a routine. When I could manage to sleep or wake up to make scheduled classes like 9am English or any of the early day academic courses, I would attend school. Otherwise, my focus was on my participation in ensembles and after class jamming. I was sought out for the higher-level ensembles. At Berklee, you had a ratings audition during the first or second week of school which helped decide where you would be placed to participate and fulfill your ensemble participation and receive course credit. The rating scale went from 1-9. All whom are familiar with this know that the rating system means absolutely nothing. Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
b.1960
saxophone
had a rating of 2's while he was at Berklee but we all know when new listen to him that those numbers mean nothing. The ratings are a four-category judgment/assessment of your level, according to faculty professors. Anything on any given day could be reflected in your score. You could feel nervous or ill, have a bad day sight reading, be subjected to unwarranted personal judgments, biases or feelings of a professor like jealousy or their feeling threatened by a student's talent versus their own mediocrity; many factors and variables. I scored a mix of 2's and 3's, which is low and you're regular reduced to participating in low-level ensembles.


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