What the School of Jazz has meant to me:
For about the last seven years, I have been attracted to jazz. Five of these years I have studied drums. All of the professional coaching and instruction that I have received up to this summer was in the classical music idiom. My jazz drumming was picked up solely from listening to records and watching drummers. Thusly, I have acquired several faults in my playing. The School of Jazz has exposed to me my weaknesses in jazz playing and my strong points. The school has acted in the same way a college lecture course acts. One acquires a great deal of information in a very short time, which can be drawn from and mastered after the course.
The school has also given me what I would consider an accurate picture of the personality of the jazz musician. With the faculty of excellent jazz musicians, the student practically lives with these men, getting an accurate idea of their personalities. Many of the misconceptions of the jazz musician are cleared up.
Henry Ettman (1957)
It has been the most unique and inspiring single event in my life to have been exposed to the personality and performance of the faculty of the School of Jazz. The professional, serious, yet “swinging” attitude of idols will greatly influence my future playing and listening.
I spent more time with Oscar Peterson than any of the others and can’t say too much about his greatness as a human being, performer, and teacher. In his ensemble group and private lessons he had such a completely mature way of spotting what needed to be done and graphically getting it across to the students.
His advice to the small ensemble actually formed an ideal democratic credo that could be carried into all other phases of life and make a great contribution. He urged the musicians to learn thoroughly what they wanted to say; say it with honest feeling and balance of inflection; and then to have the empathy to listen and complement the playing of others in the group.
I feel that now I will approach my playing with more of an inner ear to the fullest expression of what I want to say. I feel that I will explore and stretch my own resources and reach a place in playing that I hardly knew existed before coming here.
Lucille Butterman (1957)
Marshall – for what they’re worth here are some random bits and pieces.
- Bill Russo, who drove his comp. Students hard, credited with the school’s classic remark, in the opinion of students: “It’s interesting, but it’s not correct.”
- Everyone came to look forward to appearance of Stephanie Barber to see latest costume in her exotic wardrobe.
- Group of students listening spellbound in hall of Wheatleigh from 1-3 AM while Max Roach reminisced about early days at Minton’s, Charlie Parker anecdotes, general advice to newcomers, etc.
- Delight in watching Dizzy Gillespie playing with all the children, rough-housing with Percy Heath, Jr. on the lawn. Also setting off firecrackers in front of Wheatleigh for the kids, and breaking himself up with the children’s glee.
- An attractive and typical faculty-student incident: Peterson and Gillespie in hot badminton contest with Dale Hillary and Jose de Mello.
- Spontaneous outburst of student applause after Bob Dorough’s composition “Nine” had its first run-through by the big band.
- Absolute ball Bob Dorough and I had watching you, Willis, and Rudi having big time at Gloria’s soiree.
- “Piano party” between self, Tupper Saussy, and Oscar Peterson, each taking a chorus of “What is This Thing Called Love” without interruption for about 15-20 choruses – typical example of approach to teaching tried at School of Jazz.
Sorry, it’s tough to think of them. Hope these help.
Franny Thorne (1957)
- The whole student-teacher relationship has been a wonderful experience.
- History course most informative and necessary.
- The jazz musician doesn’t have to prove his musicianship by playing classical music; jazz is a respectful music not easily mastered.
- The professional jazz musician is a regular, ordinary human being.
- Students begin to see the wide scope of jazz and realize they are far from mastery if there is such a thing.
Kent McGarity (1957)
I enjoyed the school in many ways and did not in a few. The big band could have accomplished more if things by Count Basie had been used or Dizzy’s big band things. In the three weeks only two XX XXX in the entire band. The
It (for me) became very boring after the first three days. I enjoyed the small group very much as it swung and gave one opportunity to play (solo). The History of Jazz class as I am concerned was the best thing at the school and was the most interesting thing I have ever attended in my life, with one exception which was taking private lessons from Charlie Mariano in Los Angeles. I feel drummers were worse off than anyone as they were tied down in the big band and were not considered in the arranging course, as they were not familiar with theory, etc.
The atmosphere of the school was wonderful. I’d just like to say to you, Mr. Stearns, congratulations as your course was wonderful.
Dale Hillary (1957)