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Take Five With Cheryl Pyle

Cheryl Pyle By

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Meet Cheryl Pyle:

The versatile flutist Cheryl Pyle received her BA in Music from the University of California at Berkeley in 1976, having received her Associates Degree from Mesa College in 1974. Her teachers included Merrill Jordan, Janet Maestre, Francis Watson, and Jayn Rosenfeld. She took Master classes with Jean-Pierre Rampal, Julius Baker, and James Newton. She possesses an extensive classical solo repertoire and was a member of the school's orchestra whilst at Berkeley.

From 1975 to 1976 she served as musical director of the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, and she has performed in orchestras for over half a dozen musical theater productions. From 1977 to 1980 she was on the faculty at Berkeley as a flute teacher in the jazz department and taught at the Manchester Music Festival in Vermont from 1993 to 1996. While at Berkeley, Ms. Pyle was the principal flutist in the University Jazz Ensemble. This group appeared at the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival where they played with major artists like Sonny Rollins, George Duke, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, and Joe Henderson. They also performed at the 1976 Concord Jazz Festival.

After graduation, she performed extensively in the San Francisco area, where she was a performing member of the Loft Jazz Association. She played with many notable Bay area musicians, including Bishop Norman Williams, Susan Muscarella, Bruce Forman, and Jessica Williams.

Since moving to New York in the fall of 1980, Ms. Pyle has been heard in a variety of settings. She has appeared at jazz clubs such as the Blue Note, Jazz Forum, Seventh Avenue South, Angry Squire, Kave Haz, The Garage, Cornelia Street Cafe, CBGB's Art Gallery, St. Peter's Church, Amazonas, Fat Baby's, Bar on A, Abc no Rio, Brecht Forum, Sycamore, Zirzamin, Frost Gallery, and Birdland. She was also heard at the Annual Women's Jazz Festival as well as the Mount Vernon Jazz Festival in New York. She is a member of the World Flute Orchestra and NY Jazz Flutet. Her jazz composition, "Dalle Alle," was awarded in 1989 by the Billboard Song Contest, and her lyrics have received numerous poetry awards like the Gold Poet Award in 1989 and 1990. Singers like Janis Siegel, Roseanna Vitro, Jeri Brown, Judi Silvano, Gloria Cooper, and Sheila Jordan have all recorded her lyrics. Her lyrics have been recorded on Atlantic, Justin Time, Muse, and Concord records. She has performed her solo flute compositions at Kitty Brazelton's Real Music Festival in 1993 and continues to compose works for jazz flute. In 1996, she performed in the opera premier of The Other Wiseman by Stephanie de Kennessey with the Golden Fleece Opera Company in New York. Her first classical recording was the Frostiana song cycle with composer, Randall Thompson conducting and Pyle as flute soloist.

Pyle has performed and played with such fine musicians as Joe Lovano, Andy LaVerne, Fred Hersch, Tom Harrell, Mark Soskin, Billy Bang, Danilo Pérez, Mike Holober, Nick Gianni, David Phelps, Chuck Loeb, Mark Cohen, Steve LaSpina, Michael Cochrane, Ron McClure, Billy Hart, Ben Monder, Sergio Brandao, Max Ridgway, Randall Colbourne, Adam Nussbaum, Duduka Da Fonseca, Charlie Haden, Arthur Kell, Lucy Galliher, Bele Beledo, Premik Russell Tubbs, Frank Burrows, Neil Alexander, Danny Gottlieb, James Williams, John Abercrombie, Paul Motian, Peter Washington, Joop Wolters, Stephan Crump, Rez Abassi, Stomu Takeshi, Newman Taylor Baker,Nick Gianni, Daniel Carter, Gerry Gibbs, Max Johnson, Atma Anur, and others

She has recorded on Contemporary and Chesky Records with Tom Harrell, Joe Lovano, Danilo Perez, Charlie Haden, and Paul Motian.

Instrument(s):

Flute.

Teachers and/or influences?

Every kind of great music that moves and reaches the heart.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I heard Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970), Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay (Epic, 1970), Wayne Shorter's Schizophrenia (Blue Note, 1967), and Charlie Parker's Charlie Parker With Strings (1950, Mercury).

Your sound and approach to music:

Freedom within a structure—kind of incorporating all elements and knowledge then forgetting about it to improvise and play music.

Your teaching approach:

Built on fundamentals. Practice everyday, play music that moves your heart, learn from musicians that you like, listen a lot, stay open, and work hard.

Your dream band:

I have put together some of my dream bands and I feel very luck to play music with so many amazing musicians. My first New York gig was with Fred Hersch, Ron McClure and Billy Hart. I played on a sextet that included Tom Harrell, Carmen Cuesta, Andy Laverne, Steve LaSpina, and Danny Gottlieb. I've also played in a wonderful flute trio with pianist Robert Piket and percussionist Newman Taylor Baker.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

Once at Cornelia Street, my flute B-flat key froze and died. So I went to the kitchen for olive oil and fixed it to play the rest of my gig.

Favorite venue:

My favorite place to play when I first moved to New York was this club called Jazz Forum on Broadway and Detour on 13th Street. There were lots of musicians listening and a really great vibe in both clubs. Recently, the long running ABC NO RIO free-jazz Sunday gigs have had some wonderful free music and many of my birthday gigs are spent playing on the Lower East Side.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

Surreal (11th Street, 2010) is a favorite for me. It was ecorded right before the skin cancer surgery to my lip in June 2010. Inside Dialogue (11th Street, 2011), recorded right after my surgery—with stitches in my lip—is a definite highlight for me and I feel so grateful to still be able to play flute. It's hard to choose, but the international CDs, Wonderful Times (Dewey, 2012) and Flow (Intrinsic, 2012) were amazing for me to record with so many great musicians from all over the world.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Herbie Hancock, The Prisoner (Blue Note, 1969) or Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959)—I can't remember.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Freedom, melody, more flute compositions, and building on the flute legacy from Eric Dolphy, Sam Most, Joe Farrell, Hubert Laws, and other great flutists in jazz.

Did you know...

I started playing flute when I was 19.

CDs you are listening to now:

Everyday its different, but mostly Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Eric Dolphy, Chick Corea, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bill Evans.

Desert Island picks:

Weather Report, Heavy Weather (Columbia, 1977)

Wayne Shorter, Speak no Evil (Blue Note, 1965)

Horace Silver, Cape Verdean Blues (Blue Note, 1965)

Ornette Coleman, Change of the Century (Altantic, 1960)
Miles Davis, Jack Johnson (Columbia, 1971).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Music is in our hearts. I try to play and compose as much music as I can. There are many great musicians who are trying to do the same.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

Play, compose, jam, think, feel, wonder, appreciate, collaborate, include, introduce, peace, love, and music.

What is in the near future?

A new record from Dewey Records called Post Fiction and several other CD projects.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?

No fear. Just play music.

By Day:

Anything part time to keep playing music and pay bills; some more paying gigs would certainly help us all.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Poet and writer.

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