All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Catching Up With

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Charles McPherson: The Man and His Muse

Joan Gannij By

Sign in to view read count
To this day I think of myself as a work in progress. It's all about a journey into consciousness, through humanness. To be expressed via music as opposed to painting or architecture.
Acclaimed alto saxophone wizard Charles McPherson has a new muse: his 25-year-old daughter Camille, a premier dancer with the San Diego Ballet, where he also serves as composer-in-residence these days. McPherson was a young father in his twenties, with three children from a first marriage. Thirty years up the road, after marrying the lovely Lynn, a classical piano teacher in San Diego, he became the father of a daughter once again. "Thirty years, that's a big difference," he says, with a chuckle. "Back then when I was reading my kids fairy tales, I never thought about changing the heroes from boys to girls." But with Camille, he found himself doing that. "I want my daughter to feel empowered and that has manifested itself in a lot of things I related to her. I'm very much aware and have enough concern about her feelings of equality and self-worth"

He laughs as he reflects on his second go-round as a father. "I was a complete fool. Part of the day I was taking her swinging at the park. I'd bring along little stuffed rabbits and create characters and voices." Camille interjects, "he would sing to me. It was like having my own Mr. Rogers." But McPherson doesn't remember singing so much. "I just wanted to make her childhood bright and delightful. She started going to a ballet classes at three. I took her to class because her mother was teaching piano all day." Like her step-brother, Charles McPherson Jr (Chuck), who is a drummer, Camille is also very musical. "She played piano for a while, and then harp, but it was dance that really resonated," boasts the ever-proud papa. "As she got older, she did dance intensives all over the states—from Taos to Boston, and spent some years in Pittsburgh as a trainee until she had an injury. She decided to stay in San Diego and is now in her sixth year with the San Diego Ballet."

He says his post as composer-in-residence "came about in a very organic way. I was looking to get a grant and to satisfy that you had to partner with someone who does something different than you. I'm in music, and my daughter Camille was in the San Diego Ballet company. The Artistic Director Javier Velasco and I got together, and he knows his way around applying for grants. We worked on the grant to satisfy all the stipulations, and it came through. I write at least one commissioned piece of work a year for the company. I'm there. She's there." He describes the concept of combining music and dance as "symbiotic and quite natural. It's the straight-ahead bebop, which I favor, mixed with Jazz and Afro-Latin rhythms, and then mixing it with classical dance, ballet. Javier added some nuances of modern dance to his choreography, with all the hybrid nuances put together for the collaboration." Trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos is another resident composer and in a recent interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Velasco confirmed that he has encouraged both musicians (who often accompany the dancers with live performances) "to write what they love. I want them to write the best work they can, and when they feel excited about it, I'll listen and get as much information as I can. Sometimes, a piece will start with movement first, but not with these particular collaborations. Concept comes before movement, and usually I'm close to what they are thinking."


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Taz Modi: Submotion Orchestra is a unique blend Catching Up With
Taz Modi: Submotion Orchestra is a unique blend
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 14, 2018
Read Adam Nussbaum: Back To Basics Catching Up With
Adam Nussbaum: Back To Basics
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: April 5, 2018
Read Helen Sung: Celebrating Monk Catching Up With
Helen Sung: Celebrating Monk
by Jim Trageser
Published: April 3, 2018
Read Ben Allison: Between Groove and Melody Catching Up With
Ben Allison: Between Groove and Melody
by Angelo Leonardi
Published: March 20, 2018
Read Charles McPherson: The Man and His Muse Catching Up With
Charles McPherson: The Man and His Muse
by Joan Gannij
Published: March 15, 2018
Read Gilad Hekselman: New music on the Horizon Catching Up With
Gilad Hekselman: New music on the Horizon
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: March 6, 2018
Read "Michael Blicher: Groove is in the Heart" Catching Up With Michael Blicher: Groove is in the Heart
by Mark Youll
Published: February 27, 2018
Read "Dave Douglas: From Revolution to Revelation" Catching Up With Dave Douglas: From Revolution to Revelation
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Gilad Hekselman: New music on the Horizon" Catching Up With Gilad Hekselman: New music on the Horizon
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: March 6, 2018
Read "Sebastian Schunke: Latin Jazz With a German Accent" Catching Up With Sebastian Schunke: Latin Jazz With a German Accent
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 8, 2017
Read "Jan Zehrfeld: Heavy Jazz" Catching Up With Jan Zehrfeld: Heavy Jazz
by Phillip Woolever
Published: August 27, 2017
Read "Louis Hayes: Still Moving Straight Ahead" Catching Up With Louis Hayes: Still Moving Straight Ahead
by Joan Gannij
Published: May 23, 2017