From:                              CaliforniaAllianceforJazz []

Sent:                               Monday, March 31, 2014 8:24 PM

To:                                   Rita Zigas-Brown

Subject:                          CAJ Spring 2014 Newsletter


Chris Stevens


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Vice President Matt Harris




Past President Chuck Tumlinson




President Elect Lisa Butts


Craig Bryant





Treasurer/Membership Barb Catlin


ACDA Rep Christine Guter




Vocal Rep Christine Tavares


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Jazz Events in Fresno! 


Mike Galisatus



Jeff Tower



Higher Ed Rep
Jeff Jarvis


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High School Rep  Curtis Gaesser



Middle School Rep Justin Padilla


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Jazz Educator's Network

JEN Website!


Elementary Rep Coralie Prince


Industry Rep
Matt Johnson


Ed Wolfe


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Newsletter Editor Rita Zigas-Brown


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Hayward LaHonda Music Camp 2014


July 26 - August 2

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California Alliance for Jazz

Spring 2014 



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CAJ President's Letter 

by Chris Stevens



For me, and I'm sure most of you, Jazz is a year-round passion. It doesn't have a season, but it is undeniable that springtime is "jazz season" in the schools. I have so enjoyed being out performing with my Poly bands in addition to adjudicating, and having the opportunity to hear so many fantastic young players and ensembles from California schools up and down our state. The number and quality of student musicians, directors, judges, clinicians, featured artists, hosts, and all of the support staff are very inspiring and energizing for our art form and its future. I have tremendous respect for the accomplishments of the established programs (too many to list here), as well as the new or younger directors, while they might not have as much personal experience with jazz, are willing to bring their groups out to festival for the experience and feedback. These directors and programs deserve all the help and assistance we can possibly provide!


Our very own CAJ State Jazz Championships are coming right up (please see the article below for application and due dates)! If you are a director, you are highly encouraged to enter your ensemble; please help spread the word. A large turnout of participants is important for the legitimacy of this endeavor, as we are committed to keeping this going for the long term. I highly value the virtual aspect of this "festival" which eliminates the travel considerations; it also allows the judges to stop the recording at any time and make more thoughtful and considered comments without talking over music they are missing as they make their point.


It is hard to believe that a month has already passed since our 2014 CASMEC conference in Fresno. This was a wonderful gathering. All three of our All-State Honor groups were outstanding, thanks to the tremendous talent of the members and our awesome conductors. Our Educator's Hall of Fame reception was very special, with three of our four inductees in attendance. Look below for a call for performers and clinicians at next year's 2015 conference; this will be the last conference in Fresno before it moves to San Jose in 2016.


The CAJ board is continually working to enhance the quality and quantity of communication with our membership. We are very grateful for the contribution of articles and content herein by Mike Vaccaro, Francisco Torres, and all. No sooner was Ed Wolfe inducted into our Hall of Fame that he stepped up to take the lead in revamping our website to make it more accessible, user-friendly, and functional. Look for these improvements in the coming weeks, and a huge thanks to Ed for taking on this important work!


This is my last newsletter writing as president, as my term expires at the end of June; at that time, the amazing Lisa Butts will take on this role. It has been my high personal honor and privilege to serve initially on the last days of the IAJE California board as secretary and through the transition to our independent CAJ. I look forward to continuing on the board as past-president. 


This organization has not only survived that massive make over, but is currently on track for a strong and bright future, thanks to the work of so many. I would in particular like to mention and recognize Jill DeWeese, who just recently retired from her position at Fullerton Union High School. Jill was the treasurer for several years on the previous CA IAJE board. When the decision was made to convert our group to an independent 501c(3) organization, Jill was the one who did the bulk of the homework and paperwork to see this through, making our current existence possible. CAJ is eternally grateful to Jill for this and all she has done for jazz and music education.


Please be on the look out for information about our upcoming elections for the positions of Secretary and President-Elect. Thanks to all!


Chris Stevens

CAJ President 

Polytechnic High School


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Call for Performers


Are you blessed with a wonderful and talented group of students?  If so, apply to have YOUR groups perform at the 2015 CASMEC Conference in Fresno February 19-22, 2015.  We need submissions for choral or instrumental groups who would like to perform for all of the educators in our great state!


Call for Clinicians


Do you have something exciting to share?  Can your knowledge or experience benefit others?  If so, apply to host a clinic at the 2015 CASMEC Conference in Fresno February 19-22, 2015.


We need educators and players to share what they know with us so that everyone can improve their teaching skills.   


To apply, go to and click on DOCUMENTS: from there download the necessary forms and return them before May 15, 2014 to be considered to perform or host a clinic.  



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The Third Annual 

CAJ State Championships!

by Lisa Butts


The Third annual CAJ State Jazz Championships will be held in May, 2014, and will showcase many of the state's best jazz ensembles, combos, and choirs.


Your group will be evaluated by two of the state's finest jazz educators and receive both written and recorded comments on their performance. This festival is unique because it involves no travel or expenses that go along with traveling, and each group participating will be able to view all bands and choirs competing in their categories. This would never happen at a live jazz festival and is unique to our State Jazz Championships.

Winners get a cool plaque! 

Categories will be available for Jazz Choir, Jazz Combo, and Big Band. Levels will be Jr. High/Middle School, High School, two and four year Colleges as well as community ensembles. All ensembles except for colleges will be grouped by school size.


Please consider entering your group in this amazing festival. Application deadline is April 15th, 2014. Video uploads must take place by April 30th. The fee for each participating group is only $195 for CAJ members and $245 for non-members.


CAJ looks forward to having your groups participate in this unique event. For more information visit our website at: or email us at:


Click here for an application: 

CAJ State Championship Application and poster.


Check out these videos of the 1st Place winners from last year! 



Long Beach Poly H.S.

Long Beach Poly HS
 "Under My Thumb"
AAAA HS Division 

Folsom High School :

Folsom High School "Jigsaw"
AAA HS Division 


Irvine HS

Irvine HS
"I've Been Working..."
AA HS Division 

Hanford West HS

Hanford West HS
 "Into the Light"
A HS Division 

Folsom HS Jazz Choir

Folsom HS Jazz Choir
"My Foolish Heart"
AAA HS Division 


Walnut Creek Intermediate

Walnut Creek Interm.
"Groove Blues"
AAA JHS Division

Admiral Akers M.S. -

Admiral Akers M.S.
"Groovin' High"
AA JHS Division



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Meet the 2014 

Hall Of Fame Inductees


Tom Kubis 





Tom was recognized in the middle 60's as an outstanding saxophone and flute player. He performed on saxophone with such jazz greats as Frank Rosolino, Bill Watrous, Arturo Sandoval, Jack Sheldon, Pete Christlieb and Louis Bellson.


After studying 20th century composition at Long Beach State, Tom's interests turned towards jazz composition and arranging. In addition to motion picture and television assignments, the sought after composer/arranger has worked with many outstanding jazz artists and celebrities including long time commissions with Steve Allen (seven years) and Helen Reddy (five years). Among his television credits are arranging and conducting the CBS Jackie Gleason 30 year Reunion Special and The Bob Newhart 20 Year Anniversary Show.


Tom's musical arrangements and those of Bob Florence, Roger Newman and Alan Broadbent were featured at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in Portraits of Jazz. This presentation was penned by famed composer Cy Coleman and Academy Award winners Alan and Marilyn Bergman, with whom Tom has worked for many years. In 1993, Tom conducted his arrangements with Jack Sheldon at Carnegie Hall in New York; his Big Band also performed his arrangements for two nights at the Orange County Performing Arts Center with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra.


Tom Kubis's musical arrangements define the contemporary big band sound and have been performed at virtually every major jazz festival in the world, including the Playboy Jazz Festival, the Montreaux Jazz Festival and the Berkeley Jazz Festival, to name a few. His charts have been played in just about any place or city that has a big band. There are literally hundreds of CDs available where Tom's arrangements can be heard from college to professional bands.


Tom's playing, arranging and sequencing skills have taken him all over the world for concerts and clinics. As the Los Angeles Times puts it, "His charts are crisp and swinging, are finely crafted with superbly linked written passages that flow with tremendous urgency and drive".




  • Silverware: Dimitri Pagalidis (Mark 56 Records, deleted
  • Another Place Setting: Dimitri Pagalidis (Mark 56 Records, deleted)
  •  Slightly Off The Ground: Tom Kubis Big Band (Seabreeze CDSB 109-2)
  •  At Last: Tom Kubis Big Band (Cexton CR21251)
  • You Just Can't Have Enough Christmas: Tom Kubis Big Band (Cexton CR21444)
  • Reunion: Charles Rutherford Big Band (CD5B2044)
  • Space Available: Bill Watrous Big Band (Double-Time Records DTRCD 124)
  • Fast Cars,Fascinating Women: Tom Kubis Big Band (Seabreeze SB2079)
  • Keep Swingin':Tom Kubis Big Band (Seabreeze SB 2090)
  • With A Lot Of Help From My Friends: George Graham Big Band (Seabreeze 2089)
  • A Perfect Match: Bohuslan Big Band (Norway) Real Records RT 103-2  



 Bob MacDonald



Bob started the band at L.A. City College in the late 1940's; that band became it's first official college dance band. The Band in 1951/52 won the Metronome Magazine's Contest for The Best Band and was rewarded by being recorded with Capital Records. Bob was a master teacher and considered Louie Armstrong his mentor. One of his writing credits was for Buddy Berigan.  


Bob was mild mannered and very respected among his students and all the L.A. local professional musicians .


"With the establishment of its Commercial Music curriculum in 1946, LA City College became the first college in the nation to offer a degree in jazz. 


Numerous important and talented musicians have studied at Los Angeles City College, including: 


  • David Alpert, musician/co-owner of A&M Records
  • Roy Ayers, jazz musician
  • Chet Baker, jazz musician
  • Robert Bradley, blues musician
  • Irving Bush, jazz musician
  • Eric Dolphy, jazz musician
  • Jean Fenn, Metropolitan Opera Company
  • Bob Florence, jazz musician/composer
  • Don Friedman, jazz pianist
  • Herb Geller, jazz musician
  • Jerry Goldsmith, composer, Academy Award® recipient
  • Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriters
  • M.C. Hammer, R&B musician, Grammy® recipient
  • Howard Leese, rock musician and producer
  • George London, opera star/ Director of the Kennedy Center
  • Lebo M, composer
  • Les McCann, jazz pianist/singer
  • Charlie Mingus, jazz musician
  • Lennie Niehaus, jazz musician
  • Odetta, folk singer
  • Tommy Oliver, jazz musician
  • Hal Owen, jazz musician
  • Dianne Reeves, jazz singer, Grammy® recipient
  • Robin Russell, drummer - member of New Birth/Nite-Liters
  • Jack Sheldon, jazz musician
  • Julius Wechter, musician and composer
  • Leonard Slatkin, conductor
  • Ed Thigpen, jazz musician
  • Russ Titelman, music producer, Grammy® recipient, songwriter
  • John Williams, Academy Award®-winning composer
  • La Monte Young, composer


Quote from former student and noted jazz composer, Bob Florence: "I had been heading toward becoming a concert pianist," he said the other day. "I had been playing piano since I was 4, and had been performing concerts since age 7 or 8, though I also listened to jazz and pop music."


Florence enrolled at LA City College in need of additional units and serendipitously enrolled in a class in orchestration and arranging taught by Bob MacDonald, a noted Southern California music instructor who later directed the jazz program at Valley College in Van Nuys. It was through this experience that Florence discovered that he had an affinity for jazz-based composition.


"I discovered that writing was really fun," Florence recalled. "There was a band at L. A. C. C., and I could hear my music played, and it was really rewarding. Later, I was able to learn by trial and error, hearing a band play my charts at the musicians union. So I just kept going."




Rory Snyder  



Rory is a Professor Emeritus from Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, where he just retired as the Director of Jazz Studies. 


Rory was the Director of Bands at Homestead High School and Jazz Director at Santa Clara University for 16 years.

He earned a B.A. from UCLA and an M.M. from the University of Northern Colorado, and is in demand as an adjudicator, clinician, honor band director, and guest artist throughout the west. Rory recorded his first CD as a leader titled "New York Sessions" featuring Michael Wolff - piano, Wallace Roney - trumpet, John Patitucci - basses, and Victor Jones - drums.


Rory has been active in holding the following leadership positions during his career:  NorCal President of the CA Unit of IAJE for almost 10 years, CMEA State Jazz Representative, NorCal Vice President of MACCC, CMEA Bay Section Area V Representative, NorCal Representative of CAJ, and Music Department Chair at Homestead HS and Diablo Valley College. He is currently the Western States Representative of the Jazz Education Network.


He founded the Jazz Program at Homestead HS in Cupertino, and built it up to be one of the top programs in CA.  The Jazz Ensemble earned many Unanimous Superior ratings at CMEA Festivals, won many competitive festivals, and was selected six times as one of the top 10 Ensembles to compete at the Monterey Jazz Festival HS Festival.  Most importantly, many of his former students are now music teachers, professional musicians, and most continue playing music.


While at Diablo Valley College Rory also built the Jazz Studies Program to be one of the best in California. All of his performing groups played concerts, festivals, and achieved top notch reputations. The Night Jazz Band has won the Reno and Pacific Coast Jazz Festival, toured China, and recorded 3 CD's. The first one featured Phil Woods, and the second was Toshiko Akiyoshi. The latest release is entitled DVC Jazz Live at Yoshi's and DVC featuring Bob Mintzer


Rory has led DVC and HHS Music tours to China, Paris, London, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Disneyland and Disneyworld. He has presented many major jazz figures as guest artists at all 3 schools he has taught. This list includes: Joe Henderson, Clark Terry, Louie Bellson, Bruce Forman, Bill Watrous, Michael Wolff, Ed Shaughnessy, Wayne Bergeron, The Count Basie Orchestra, Richie Cole, Don Menza, Gordon Goodwin, Bobby Hutcherson and more.


Rory performs professionally on saxophones, flutes and clarinet, and leads various groups including Rory Snyder's Night Jazz Band. Appearances include the west coast's premeire jazz club Yoshi's, Jupiter, the Monterey, San Jose & Vallejo Jazz Festivals, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, UCLA, Cal State Stanislaus, and San Jose State University.  


Rory has recorded five CD's with Dave Eshelman's Jazz Garden Big Band, and two with the Mike Vax Jazz Orchestra. He has played countless gigs and shows, and has appeared as a sideman with Johnny Mathis, Bob Hope, George Burns, Jack Jones, Eddie Fisher, Frankie Valli, Rosemary Clooney, The Temptations and many others.


In retirement he is enjoying his favorite jobs; as a sub DJ on KCSM 91.1 FM, the Bay Area's Jazz Station, and director of his Night Jazz Band. Rory continues to play his favorite sports (basketball and golf) hobbies, adjudicate, give clinics, direct honor bands, and travel with his wife Linda, of 34 years.  He is honored and humbled to be inducted to the CAJ Hall of Fame with such a stellar group of great jazz educators.




Ed Wolfe



Ed was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1946 and  

attended the Albuquerque Public Schools (graduated Highland HS, 1964) and the University of New Mexico (B.M.E.1968 and M.M. 1973). His musical background began on piano (age 5) and continued as a trumpet student (age 9). He was featured as a church soloist throughout Junior High and High School on trumpet and also sang in the church choir. At UNM, he began to learn other musical instruments (Horn, Trombone, Bass, Euphonium, Synthesizer) while working on his music education degree.


Performance opportunities in APS included Band, Orchestra, Dance Band, Brass Ensemble and Piano. At UNM he performed with Band, Orchestra, University Chorus, Brass Quintet, Brass Choir, Jazz Ensemble and his own jazz groups and other jazz ensembles (Ed Wolfe trio, Kingsman, Moonlighters, Al Baca Quartet, Bill Paynter Jazz Quartet). 


After graduation in 1968, Ed began his music education career in Albuquerque while also continuing to perform on trumpet and bass. During this time in addition to his duties with APS, he founded and directed the Albuquerque Brass Quintet and the Albuquerque Heights Rehearsal Jazz Band. He also did occasional performances with the
Albuquerque Symphony Orchestra. It was during this eight years that he was elected NAJE historian for the state of New Mexico as well as NMMEA District 7 (Albuquerque) vice-president for music festivals. He also served on the ACLOA (Light Opera) board and was musical
director on several shows, playing in the pit on others. 


Ed founded the Hummingbird Music Camp Jazz Week in 1975 with guest soloists and clinicians from APS as well as Bobby Shew and Robert Miller (ASU) as head clinicians.
In 1977, Ed moved to California and began his 32 year tenure with the Bonita Unified School District teaching at 9 of the 13 public schools in the district. He became clinician for Jazz Ensembles and Concert Bands throughout Southern California and his ensembles traveled allover the US attending festivals and concert tours.

Literally hundreds of performances during those 30 plus years earned high awards at SCSBOA festivals, Command Performances, Heritage Festivals and Festival of the States in San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Colorado
Springs, Tempe, Washington DC and Boston.


Ed's Jazz Ensembles have had a wide variety of fine guest soloists over his 40 year teaching career including Clark Terry, Bobby Shew, Bob Miller, Arlen Asher, Bob Brown, Bob Farley, Fenton Katz, Ray Pizzi, Jim Linahon, Matt Catingub, Roger Burn and Shapes, Matt Politano, Tony Lujan, Dino Soldo, Milton Nelson, Todd Kreutzer and 

2AZZ1 (Craig and Mary Durst).  


Ed most recently founded and continues to directs the San Dimas Brass Ensembles (in which he plays trumpet, horn and euphonium books) and the San Dimas Jazz Workshop Reading Band (playing keyboard) featuring local and regional professional players as well as many former jazz students who now play professionally. 


Some of Ed's professional former students include Tony Lujan, Milton Nelson, Roger Burn (deceased), Dino Soldo, Matt Politano, Mark Tschinkel, Peter Adam, and many more. There are also a large number of former students who have become educators in a variety of fields.  

Among the many awards and citations Ed has received in the last forty five years are:

  • "Most Outstanding Teacher" - 1973-1974, 2005-2006
  • "MENC Nationally Registered Music Educator" - 1991
  • "MENC Nationally Certified Music Educator" - 1991
  • "Who's Who in the West" - 1989-1990, 1992-1993
  • "Who's Who in Entertainment" - 1992-1993
  • "Who's Who in American Education" - 1992-1993, 1994-1995, 1996-1997 
  • "Who's Who in America" - 1997
  • "Who's Who Among America's Teachers" - 1996, 1998, 2000 
  • "BRAVO Award" semi-finalist - 1994-1995
  • SCSBOA "Certificate of Appreciation" for presentation of "Developing and Sustaining Elementary and Middle School Jazz Programs" - 9/9/1995
  • San Dimas Juvenile Justice Commission "Youth Service Award" - 1984, 1993, 2001 
  • BUSD "Teacher Hall of Fame" - 2006
  • BTSA "Award of Merit" - 2006
  • Heritage Festival Director's Club - 2007
  • San Dimas Community Hero - 2007 SCSBOA 
  • "Veteran Teacher Award" - 2008 San Dimas 
  • "Volunteer of the Year" - 2010

Ed is now retired from public music education, but is still a clinician, arranger, composer, director and performer of jazz and classical literature. He is also the Chairman of the San Dimas Senior Citizen Commission and volunteers his musical ensembles to perform for senior and city functions.


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Justin Padilla 

Teacher Of The Year! 




Justin Padilla, instrumental music teacher at Oak Middle School,has been selected as the Teacher of the Year for the Los Alamitos Unified School District. This highly prestigious honor is given to only one Los Alamitos Unified School District teacher each year, and it gives us great pleasure to give this recognition to Mr. Justin Padilla. Justin has been teaching at Oak for nine years, and in that time has built the instrumental music program from one fledgling band to a comprehensive full-time program that includes multiple levels of jazz bands, concert bands, and orchestras. Currently more than 200 students are active participants in the award-winning ensembles at Oak.


Under Justin's leadership and guidance, the jazz band was recently selected to be one of six middle school bands in the country to participate in the Next Generation Jazz Festival, the education branch of the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival. This is the third consecutive year that Oak's jazz band was selected based on a blind audition and selection process by some of the leading jazz artists and educators. Additionally, Oak's concert bands and orchestras consistently receive superior ratings at music festivals every spring.


Justin is visible throughout the District by having his bands perform at school and community events, serving on several committees, coordinating the district-wide band and orchestra festivals, and working with the Los Alamitos Education Foundation (LAEF) fundraising efforts to support all students in the district.


In addition to being a teacher-leader at Oak, Justin accepts numerous requests for student teachers and for music students from California State University Long Beach to observe his classes. He is also asked to teach master classes in conducting and jazz studies. He serves as the Middle School Representative for the California Alliance for Jazz and as the Vice President of Jazz Education for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA), the premiere music education association in California.


"Mr. Padilla serves as an excellent role model for students and is an advocate for all young people. He is an extraordinary teacher, and we are fortunate to have someone of his caliber working in Los Alamitos Unified," commented Superintendent, Dr. Sherry Kropp.





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by Mike Vaccaro

Submited by Coralie Prince


Dear CAJ Members:


In this hectic world we live in I would like to give you just a couple of thoughts that might improve your playing. Let's talk about SILENCE.

It has been said that "music is a picture painted on a canvas of silence." That is not always true these days, but is desirable for those going to a concert hall, or a chamber music setting, or at a jazz concert whether in a club or on the concert stage.

As a musician, silence is really important too. I once asked a trumpet player on a recording session why he never warmed up. He said, " I do it at home so as not to bother anyone else, and if I need to play a few notes just to make sure everything is working, I use a mute." You can imagine, and I am sure you have experienced, 16-80 musicians "warming up" at full volume so you can't even hear yourself.

The professional motto has pretty much always been "be plenty early, sit down, and shut up." While sounding very nasty, the general idea in any money-making situation, is that there are other people around who need to be considered; the sound person, the stage crew, other musicians, a featured act or any other position you can think of. Each has a job to do and constant blowing by musicians just before a job is insensitive and unnecessary. It is best to keep the ego at home and save your best playing for the performance, and not the warm up.


The same goes for practicing. To take the instrument out of the case and start playing your fastest and best licks helps no one, especially you. It is best to start practicing with a minute or two of silence after the instrument is put together, just to get all the thoughts of the day out of your head. Then you really have a chance of listening to the first note you play. As you warm up or start to practice, try starting from that silence (mental as well as physical). Good times for using this silence are when practicing is not going so well, or if you need to think how you want to play a phrase, or even if you are a little too tired from practicing, and need a rest. 

The bottom line is that we just don't leave enough time for silence in music and in our lives. So what happens? We storm through life, never really looking closely at anything, because we are trained to stay active. Only the act of little or no action gives us a chance to really observe. In other words, when we turn off our internal dialog and let our unconscious mind do its work unimpeded, we have a better chance of success. 


This is especially true with jazz improvisation when you need the ability to listen while playing; this is paramount in keeping a cohesive, relevant solo going to its end by relating to the sounds around you. It is very difficult to talk and listen at the same time. If we can avoid doing this, we learn more about the other person as well as ourselves.

Take a moment to think how silence can help you in your life. If you would like to sign on to my mailing list you can receive these types of messages on a rather haphazard schedule. Just go to the sax and clarinet mouthpiece website below to sign on.


Good luck to all of you in your journey with and through the jazz idiom and through the all the other music that is available to you. Listen !!


Mike Vaccaro









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by David Liebman

Submitted by Ed Wolfe

After all is said and done I have always felt that when teaching an art form, you are accomplishing much more than the obvious transmission of skills and expertise. There should be a rationale and purpose for teaching that goes beyond the art form

itself. The reality of the real world situation is obvious: supply and demand are way out of balance for artists of all types and always has been. We have many more good musicians than needed and as far as truly gifted artists are concerned though they may berare, they are also in abundance compared to the opportunities

for them to display their skills. So what benefits derive for a young person who immerses themselves in the study of jazz but may not find an outlet to use it?


There are the by now well documented benefits for the brain through the learning of music and the accompanying positive attributes (Mozart effect, etc.) To me the most important lesson learned in jazz playing is how to cooperate and work within

a group situation while maintaining and exploring individuality. The members of a jazz group have to work together to achieve musical results but each musician eventually gets a chance to assert their own will at one time or another with all the others insupportive roles. This constant changing of position (more on

some instruments than others) is very dynamic and is a wonderful lesson in group interaction, something that all people have to deal with in life.


Freedom of expression is a cliché but on an individual level jazz reinforces the notion that what an individual has to say is valid and meaningful, that (s)he has worked on the subject and is ready to deliver it. The sense of validation an aspiring musician gets when he hears back a solo and is acknowledged by his peers or elders is something very special. The relaxed atmosphere in the jazz community and surrounding environment means that though praise may be verbally muted or referred to using slang, it is deeply felt. Any person gets a real boost from this approval and knows he has honestly earned it. Music does not lie.


Speaking about the casual and relaxed feeling of the jazz world also translates to modesty and understatement in general. Being popular, wealthy or whatever values are bandied about in our culture have little place in the jazz world. This is a rich

tradition built by real people from recent history of whom legendary stories are still spoken. This reality factor and lack of pretense gives the participants in jazz a real grounding based on true human values. A dry sense of humor pervades the jazz worldand understatement abounds. 


Musicians involved in jazz are generally private people whose only desire is to play this very deep music knowing that material rewards are few and far between. To me this wonderful and rare trait of humility is widely common among jazz musicians by and large. Playing jazz combines several qualities: instinct, honesty, confidence, experience, trust, imagination and a positive attitude. No matter what walk of life one enters in the future these are qualities that will serve any human being well. 


The saying that "the pen is mightier than the sword" is applicable to how I feel about teaching. To my mind, though this may appear to be an extreme and categorical judgment, unless an individual is an innovator who changes the history of an art form, one's influence as a teacher, be it formal or not is more powerful than the playing of the music itself. It is important and noble work.





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Professional Corner

featuring trombonist / arranger, Francisco Torres


What Do I Play If The Chart Says "Latin"? 




submitted by Rita Zigas-Brown




We've all been there before; you take out one of those brand new charts you've just bought and the style marking says "Latin" or even worse "light Latin".  You glance over at the drummer and he or she informs you they have nothing but slashes, so you naturally assume a bossa nova or a samba.  You start the chart and you notice there's a lot of syncopation going on and a lot of the figures don't sound like Stan Getz's version of "Girl From Ipanema".  So you ask yourself, "are we playing the wrong rhythm?" Sadly, you probably are.


Over the years, the "Latin" style has been assumed to be some type of Brazilian rhythm, in part because of the bossa nova craze Mr. Getz brought to the U.S.  However, just as there are many Latin countries, there are many Latin rhythms.  Let's take for example, Cuba.  This country has brought us (in no particular order): mambo, cha cha, son, guaracha, songo, bolero, mozambique, afro, afrocuban, and many other smaller variations that are so rare there is no way we would know how to play them.  But, thanks to several famous Latinos such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, etc. we have heard and listened to mambos and cha chas many times, even though we couldn't tell who played what.  It is with this in mind that I believe a little bit of education goes a long way to better prepare students in music, as the real world is not just classical and jazz; there is rock, funk, pop, rap, etc. and of course, Latin music.


Let's start by asking yourself how many of these Latin rhythms do you really know? Is the bass line on the score a "tumbao" or a bossa nova rhythm?  Most composers or arrangers will write a particular tumbao, or bass line that they feel best fits the chart.  Unfortunately, not all of these writers are familiar with what the bass player has to play in a mambo or a cha cha cha, so they tend to take a wild guess. Look at the part; is it anticipating the chord in the next bar?  If it is, it's a pretty good bet it's a mambo or even a cha cha. A samba or bossa bass line almost always plays on the beginning of the chord.  Next, the piano part; is there a specific "guajeo" or "montuno" written?  A safe bet is if you see the "Oye Como Va" riff written in the piano part that it tends to signal a cha cha.  When a piano part has a lot of written chord voicings, most likely you're dealing with a Brazilian chart, as they tend to be more harmonic in nature.  


If you'd like to listen to more tumbaos or guajeos, pick up some records. Tito Puente is always great, as well as Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz, Poncho Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri, etc.  You can also check out some older styles; Tito Rodriguez and Machito are awesome.  


Now, for the drums and percussion: as simple as this may sound, learning the difference between a mambo (fast) and a cha cha (slow) already has you ahead of the game.  Knowing the particular instrumentation that goes along with these rhythms is even better;  for example, the mambo would include timbales, congas, bongo, cowbell and the cha cha would include timbales, congas, guiro, and cha cha bell.  Another dead giveaway is if there is a percussion part with the words "campana" (cowbell), "cascara" (on the shell: the timbales player will play the sides of the drums) or of course "claves".  If you see "pandeiro" or "tamborim" that's a dead giveaway it's a Brazilian tune.  Now, It doesn't mean you have to go out and buy timbales, congas, pandeiros, etc, but just as you took the clarinet and trumpet classes in college, learning a little bit of these instruments goes a long way. To even be better prepared, you can pick up a pair of sticks and try beating a few syncopations on the timbales! This can be rather therapeutic after a long rehearsal week!


To be clear, the mambo, cha cha, bossa and samba are not the only Latin rhythms, but they are the most popular.  What other rhythms are popular? The Dominican Republic has the merengue, Colombia has the cumbia, Puerto Rico has the bomba and the plena, Spain has flamenco, and so on and so forth.  Many of these could be applied to many charts and tunes, and they would all sound wonderful, but it all comes down to be a matter of taste.  


So, how would you pick a rhythm for a tune?  You should first look at the melody; a lot of times the melody itself will dictate where it wants to go.  Take for instance, Miles Davis's tune "Four".  All of the syncopations and accents on the and of 2 and 4 want to lean towards a mambo.  Bop tunes really lend themselves well to mambos because of their accents and upbeats, which is very much in the mambo vein.  A tune like Shiny Stockings can be a little more difficult, because it is a mellow tune and at the same time it has some really cool accents.  This is where a matter of taste is important: some people will like a cha cha rhythm which is closer to the medium swing tempo Shiny Stockings was recorded in, or some people will like a mambo because of the accents and syncopations of the tune.  Your choice!


The question is now, how do you get your students to learn these styles? For starters, YouTube is an excellent tool; again, videos of Puente, Palmieri, and Sanchez, are great.  Rebecca Mauleon also has some excellent books dealing with more of the rhythms of Cuba and Puerto Rico, like mambo, cha cha cha and "salsa" ( which is actually a term coined in New York in the 70's to define the pool of so many cultures being mixed in the music being made).  "The Salsa Guidebook", "101 Montunos" and "The Latin Real Book" have enormous amounts of information.  As far as the more authentic Brazilian rhythms, records by Brazilians Joao Gilberto, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimiento, Caetano Veloso are a great start.  


Soloists?  Listen to Chocolate Armenteros (trumpet), Chombo Silva and Justo Almario (sax), Barry Rogers and Jose Rodriguez (trombone), Charlie and Eddie Palmieri (piano).  A Latin solo with a more authentic feel makes use of a more diatonic way of running the chords, and a more rhythmic approach to your phrases. Of course, jazz is also a very important tool, but learn to mix the two.


Try steering away from material which has ambiguous style markings. Charts should say "mambo", "songo", "merengue", "bossa nova", etc., not "Latin" or "light Latin".  There's too much room for interpretation.  It will also be helpful to look at the bass, piano and specially percussion and drum parts and look for written parts, as opposed to slashes only. If there's a recording of the chart, I strongly suggest you buy it and have the students listen to it.  


In closing, take the time to listen and compare rhythms on your free time. You will find that it makes it a lot easier to choose grooves that might be more appropriate to a particular chart.  Also, why not be adventurous?  In my experience, most competitive jazz festivals always require a "Latin" tune.  Why not a songo, or a cha cha, or even a plena?  Have some fun with your students in learning new rhythms, which will in the long run benefit them a lot more than you think.  Remember, there are plenty of wonderful choices out there, not just a bossa nova or a samba! 


Francisco Torres



Francisco Torres is a trombonist, bass trombonist, composer, arranger and clinician who hails from the state of Sonora, Mexico but now calls Los Angeles, California his home. Francisco is equally  talented in the following styles: jazz, classical, latin, funk, reggae, ska, and studio work. He is the trombonist and musical director for the Grammy-Award winning Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, as well as a member of Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band. Francisco has in recent years produced and arranged for Poncho's albums garnering several Grammy nominations, as well as developing a small reputation for Latin Jazz arranging. He has performed with Latin greats Cachao, Celia Cruz, Arturo Sandoval, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Victor Manuelle, and can be heard on records by Michael Buble, Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, Spoon, and Los Lobos. 


As a jazz trombonist he has performed with Joey Defrancesco, Terence Blanchard, Natalie Cole, Nicholas Payton, Clare Fischer, Bill Holman and many others. Television credits include Saturday Night Live, Dancing With The Stars, America's Got Talent, The Latin Grammys', the ALMA Awards, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and he can be heard in the soundtracks of "Confessions Of A Shopaholic", "Charlie St. Cloud" and "Dance With Me".


As a Yamaha endorser, Francisco maintains a busy touring and clinic schedule, while fitting in studio work when at home. He credits jazz trombone greats Carl Fontana, Frank Rosolino, Andy Martin, and Hal Crook, as well as Latin greats Barry Rogers, Generoso Jimenez, and Leopoldo Pineda as influences. In Francisco's eyes there is only music, not styles. Ever a perfectionist, he strives to give each and every performance what it requires, in any genre. He is a firm believer that you must honor the music.





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