Subscribe now for free! JAZZed. CLICK HERE to signup now!

The Continuing Rich History of Jazz Education

Christian Wissmuller • ArchivesAugust/September 2021Current IssueEditor's Letter • September 16, 2021

I will tell you when I knew jazz education had arrived. It was the early ‘90s. Where I lived at that time was Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. One of the professors at this state university, Pat Dorian, was very active in getting famous jazz musicians to play with the student big band. The only requirement for the musician was a “talk” in the afternoon of the performance. So the great Freddie Hubbard was invited. I could tell he was nervous, but he talked about where he grew up, who his mentors were, et cetera. I went backstage to pay my respects. He asked me how he did and noted that he had never quite spoken in that way – so personally.

Bottom line… if Freddie Hubbard, who was career-wise a generation ahead of me and one of the greatest players of all time, could do a clinic with no playing, this was extraordinary. After all there, were still people who insisted that jazz can’t be taught. And the bebop generation, in general, did not talk about music much. Note, of course, that they played hours at night, but expressing themselves verbally was not the norm. Freddie was gracious and pleasant, taking no prisoners on the stage that night.

JAZZed’s cover story this month is about a legendary teacher and player, George Garzone (GG for short). George, along with Jerry Bergonzi, myself, and others were part of the second wave of jazz educators – made up from the musicians themselves – while the third wave consists of young artists who are graduates from a program. These three waves link up with age groups in most cases: first wave mid-1940s into the ‘60s; the second wave ‘60s till ‘80s, and the third wave into the present. Jazz education has a rich history also.

George has influenced hundreds of students over the decades and you never hear anything derogatory or negative about George. He is a personal friend and compatriot, playing with the Boston based Fringe for 40 years. Saxophonists from a certain period all have a bit of Coltrane as an influence… for George it is the triadic language that he teaches, emanating quite directly from Coltrane on the “Chasin’ the Trane” track recorded in the early ‘60s.

I want to thank JAZZed for giving me freedom to express myself and hope you enjoy the material. Be safe.

– David Liebman

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!