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Take Five With Craig Buhler

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Craig Buhler: Charter member of Honk since 1972. We released five LP/CDs on Epic, 20th Century and Restless, toured with the Beach Boys, Loggins and Messina, Poco, Jackson Browne, Santana, Chicago and others.

My jazz group, Storyville, featured Paul Kreibich, John Ferraro, Dan Barrett, Karen Hammack, Brian Atkinson and others. We opened for Dizzy Gillespie ("nice baritone sax sound") and The Crusaders.

I have six of my own jazz albums and have recorded with Ian Matthews, Brian Doerkson, Andy Park, Kevin Prosch, and many others and have toured the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Germany.

Instrument(s): clarinet, alto, tenor, soprano sax, flute, alto flute, piano, vocal.

Teachers and/or influences? Bill Green (L.A. studio musician and member of Oliver Nelson Band) Mitchell Lurie (clarinet virtuoso), Al Green (founder of Westlake School of Jazz), Chris Sereque (Seattle Symphony).

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I first heard Monk; I played my first dance gig and saw folks dancing to our groove; I heard Bill Green's tone in person (playing while riding a unicycle); I understood ""All the Things You Are" after two months of study; So many other moments...

Your sound and approach to music: Breathe; Live inside the sound, let life flow through the sound; There are three rhythms: the kind the metronome makes; the rhythms on the page; the kind your heart resonates to; The music is timeless, yet it changes every moment, like a sunrise.

Your teaching approach: Start where you are—grow from there; What are your goals? What do you resonate with? What is your passion? Some students are born readers—some are "ear" players. We try to meet in the middle and get along with both ends; There are immutable fundamentals that must be mastered, but not at the expense of losing your joy. Each day's practice must contain both the joy of creation, exploration, experience and the challenge of a new difficulty mastered.

Your dream band: Fame and fortune are highly over-rated. My dream is to play with fabulous musicians as often as possible. All the guys on Capistrano Sessions are in my dream roster. Others I have played with include John Ferraro, Karen Hammack and Dan Barrett, and all the guys in Honk.

Do I allow myself other dreams? Playing with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, George Mraz, Pat Martino, Joey DeFrancesco, Pat Metheny, Jim Hall, so many others! Taking a lesson from Sonny Rollins or one of the other masters. Someday... The next dream is to play in acoustically perfect rooms and for audiences who really dig the sounds.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? On Capistrano Sessions I was in reasonably good shape, the tunes and arrangements were solid, the players were amazing, the session went smoothly, and the finished record flows well. I hope to have another amazing opportunity like that.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? A lot of guys have amazing chops, perhaps more now than ever before, at least on a much larger scale. They impress me like crazy. I don't know if I will ever impress anyone, but I sure hope to get the opportunity to inspire someone. You know how you felt when you first heard Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Miles Davis' Miles Smiles, John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things, Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage, Donald Byrd's "Elijah," Stan Getz's Getz Au Go Go, Charles Lloyd's Forest Flower, John Clayton bowing "My Funny Valentine," Bill Evans/Jim Hall's Undercurrent, Benny Goodman's 1938 Concert or "Stardust" or...you name the great ones. There is nothing like those moments.

By Day: I teach improv and ear training as well as sax, clarinet and flute; try to love my wife; and try to walk humbly with Jesus.

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