While in elementary school, I would spend all my summer vacations with my grandparents. They had a Lloyds 8-track cassette player and a collection of music from the big band era including The Mills Brothers, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and many more. One cassette was titled, “The Stereophonic Sound of Benny Goodman”. After a few repeats of the whole cassette, I fell in love with the clarinet. Many years later, I found out that the clarinet player was actually
After a few repeats of the whole cassette, I fell in love with the clarinet. Many years later, I found out that the clarinet player was actually Maylon Clarke and not Benny Goodman, but at the time, that didn’t matter. In fact, I also learned that whenever the phrase “The Sound of…” is in the album title, that means it’s not the original artist. Anyway, one summer while we were at the Carson City family entertainment grounds in upstate, NY, I purchased a souvenir tomahawk that had tone holes and could actually produce some legitimate scale tones. Soon I was given a plastic recorder by the pastor at our local church and within a few weeks, I was giving him weekly demonstrations of what I learned on the recorder. Within a few years I was in high school, and when I was a
Within a few years I was in high school, and when I was a sophomore, I took private clarinet lessons because my school did not have a music program. After about a year at Peterson’s, my teacher, who at the time was playing with Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, left for another gig; I soon left as well, but continued to practice on my own. While I was in college, a friend introduced me to the community band at Brooklyn College. There I played clarinet and found an opportunity to learn the tenor saxophone. I used a fingering chart to learn the finger positions. At that time, I was listening mostly to jazz, not just swing, and I began to appreciate the mastery of so many great performers.
After graduating from The City College, I took one semester of music at The Queens College, while working part-time at J&R Music World in Manhattan. I participated in a jazz improvisation workshop led by jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd and was offered a seat in the Jimmy Heath college big band. Life changed and led me to take care of my grandmother in upstate, NY. There, I began to play in all the local bands. I soon developed a solo approach to playing music and invested in a small PA system for outdoor playing. After several years, I was able to get a larger PA, the one I am using now and I continue to look forward to playing for people every chance I get.