At that time (fall of 1970) Bill Fowler offered me a job on the strength of having heard me with the Ohio State band. Bill is a brilliant man. Every day I'd see him he'd have something new to talk about. He'd started a program for jazz majors at the University of Utah with seven students. The next year when I showed up there were 33, and the following year there were 101. That was the year you heard us at the Kennedy Center with the amplified string quartet, three or four guitars, two keyboards, and a couple of extra percussionists added to the band. The jazz majors came from all over the country. They saw the value of playing everything (not just jazz), and they really improved the classical wind ensemble and the orchestra. Within three years one third of the music majors were in the jazz program, and we only had a small part of the budget. I think the other faculty were afraid we were going to take over. Bill ruffled a lot of feathers, and there was a big political fight in the department. The department head called me in and said in so many words if I would side with him against Bill I could stay. Of course I could not be a party to that. They took the program away from Bill and fired me (claimed they had only hired me on a temporary basis). It was a big deal. Hundreds of people signed petitions to keep me, and it was in the newspapers and on local TV. Bill walked into the office of the president of Westminister College [also in Salt Lake City] and said, "How'd you like to get relevant in jazz education in a hurry?" They hired me as Director of Jazz Studies. I ran the jazz program with Bill in an advisory capacity (on sabbatical from the U.) for one semester. 42 jazz majors transferred from Utah to Westminister. At the jazz festival that year my Westminister band won.
New CD's: Temptation and Ride the Night Beast ( Review )
People can order them through cdbaby.com or amazon.comthey're not in stores yet. My recording sessions are with eighteen musicians playing as you hear it without overdubs. The CD's are very gratifying. For a long time I've wanted to do an all-standards CD because they're such great tunes. I also had a number of originals I wanted to record. Esther [McIntosh, wife and business manager] got it off the ground. She said this is your legacythese things need to be recorded. It's not that common to do two at once, and I still don't know whether it's a good idea. They're getting played on various radio stations across the countrysome favor one or the other, some are playing both. BBC in England is playing Temptation. When my dear friend Grant Wolf died a couple of years ago we had a memorial concert for him, and I wrote "The Last Suite Mesa" to pay tribute. All this stuff came together, and I said, "Why don't we record enough for two CD's." We went into the studio for three days and did two sessions each dayI almost killed the guys (their chops), but they said they'd love to come back and do more. They don't get to play music like that very often-most of what they do is tedious. Esther was there to take care of the business end of things, call all the guys, bake great cookies, call the breaks, and write the checks.
I've always liked that stuff. Kenton's Cuban Fire album. I just let the rhythm section do what they want to do. Latin music gives the CD's more variety. I think of it as three areas: ballads, swing tunes, Latin. With swing you can go extremereally fast, medium tempo, or slow it way down and have a really slow, grinding groove.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.