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Joe Manis: Killin'!

George Colligan By

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JM: I have a Bachelors and a Masters in Jazz Studies. I teach rock history, world music, jazz history, and lessons at a community college. I enjoy teaching and have learned a lot doing it. Teaching is a part of a many professional musicians' lives: teaching privately, at camps, doing clinics, etc. College jobs are the most coveted, but it seems even adjunct jobs are hard to get these days.

Being a musician is fun, but pretty hard professionally. I think college is too expensive in relationship to what your actual job prospects will be upon graduation: as a musician specifically, but really as anyone with any type of bachelor's degree. I think there should be more music business courses in jazz programs: sometimes jazz programs put too much emphasis on being creative and not enough on being a successful gigging musician.

Or, sometimes you'll be talking to someone with a jazz degree and you'll mention a player or a certain album, and you can tell that the person is only pretending to know what you're talking about: it's clear that they're not listening to classic albums or familiarizing themselves with important players. Not to that say that jazz musicians have to be neo-classicists, but it's good to know how this music developed. Plus, a lot of that older stuff is really good. It sometimes seems like a lot of people with jazz degrees don't actually want to play jazz, but jazz was their best degree option in order to play in a band. I wish that there was more music education in public schools so that there would be hope for more music appreciators, if nothing else.

GC: What's your next project?

JM: I'm always transcribing tunes to see if I like playing them. I try to look for tunes that aren't overplayed and/or have interesting forms. I like to arrange standards and try them out in performance: some of them stick and develop over time. I'd like to write some new original material, too. Once I compile a set of tunes that I think would make a good album, I'd like to make another recording: I'm already about halfway there.

GC: Any upcoming recordings or performances we should know about?

JM: I have a series of album release gigs with you on organ and Todd Strait or Randy Rollofson on drums. Randy plays on the Salem gig, and Todd plays on the rest.

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Joe Manis

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