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Dwayne Burno: Tradition

George Colligan By

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There was one Columbia Records compilation entitled Jazz Omnibus, which I fell in love with. The cover features a white woman of upper crust, high-brow, dressed in an evening gown with mink stoll, carrying a trombone case in one hand and walking a leashed toy dog in the other, approaching a door which reads "Jam Session Tonite!" The doorman is smiling at her as she sets to enter the club. This compilation has selections from artists that were on the Columbia Records roster in the mid to late 1950's like Louis Armstrong, J.J. Johnson, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington Big Band, Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond, Erroll Garner, Donald Byrd/Gigi Gryce Jazz Lab, and others I can't recall. This was my indoctrination to the sounds of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Philly Joe Jones, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Max Roach, Tommy Flanagan, Paul Gonsalves, Donald Byrd, Gigi Gryce, Julius Watkins, Art Blakey, Spanky De Brest, Sam Dockery, Jackie McLean, Bill Hardman, Erroll Garner, Dave Brubeck, Eugene Wright, Joe Morello, Paul Desmond, Wendell Marshall, Arthur Taylor, Milt Hinton, and Louis Armstrong. These records were familiar to me by age two.

The other thing that helped along my hearing and listening to the music was my eldest brother, Jeffrey. He had the records of the day because he was checking out trumpet players like Miles, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Blue Mitchell, and Eddie Henderson. He would practice and play his vinyl [and] I would quietly just sit and listen. He was cool enough to let me hang out because I was cool enough to not touch anything or bother him and just listen. My brother also held rehearsals in the living room with his friends. This is probably around 1973-75. It was a popular thing in our region to have band battles, especially about 40 miles up the road in Trenton, New Jersey. Trenton- based bands like Kool and the Gang were popular as a result of winning these contests. My brother would assemble a horn sections worth of musicians and a keyboard player and run through covers of current hits. This always impressed me.

The other thing that made the biggest impression on me was seeing sheet music and making the correlation that there was a system to the notation. I was as quiet as a church mouse as a child but when it came to music, my curiosity and fascination led me to ask many questions. My mother attempted to make a sensible explanation of key signature and time signature to me when I asked but I was much too young to completely grasp the theory behind the rules. I did however come to the realization that music can be written for all to understand, and that some day I would compose music as my form of personal musical expression.

GC: When was the moment you knew you would be a professional musician?

DB: I think music decided that I was going to play it rather than there being a conscious decision of mine. Music is a business I entered with no knowledge of how one's life or time in it is supposed to go. One particular experience as teenager in Philadelphia gave me confidence to believe that I must be proceeding in a correct direction. I had a friendship with an older Philadelphia pianist, Raymond King. I knew him trough my teacher at Overbrook High School, Dr. George Allen and avant-garde tenor saxophonist Sabir Mateen. When we convened, our talks would last for a good long while. The talks were either eye-opening revelations about the history of music and musicians from Philadelphia or a discussion of how to help me get where I was trying to go musically.

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