Chapter 7 FB: What are some of your prized students to come out of that. AMG: Oh man. Oh I got uh Richard Cole, Greg Osby, Antonio H?, Jovan Jackson, there's another one named Oliver, (FB: Ralph Moore), Ralph that’s… Ralph Moore. FB: And then your boss. AMG: Oh my boss. That's right. My boss. My two bosses. Bill Pierce and Matt Mavulio. Yep that’s right. I also, he didn't say it, but Joe Viola was a little upset because Joe Lovano said that he was Joe was his first teacher, but that 's not right. I was his first teacher. One semester. Joe called me up about that because he was very upset about that. That's it. I think Joe Lovano was here one semester or something so it probably you know... Yeah I was his first teacher. There's a couple other guys. (FB: Donald...) Not Don, I had Don Harrison in my ensemble. Don Harris. But man there's some other young guys that ... Oh Neil Shaw... (FB: Jaleel) Jaleel Shaw. Oh man. And I also had Walter for one semester. (FB: Walter Smith?) Yeah Walter Smith. (FB: He's something else.) He's something else but I only had him for one semester. The rest of the guys I had for more. Ralph Moore I had for about 5 semesters. There's some other guys that are playin’, now that I catch their name, boy they're great players man. Oh Tim Price. (FB: Oh ok.) Can't forget him because he's the only one that I… I hear from every Christmas. He never fails to thank me for helpin’ him. FB: What was the most important lesson that you had for all these guys? I mean what were one or two principles that you had that were really vital? AMG: Well, my whole thing is to be very truthful. You know what hurts? I mean as a teacher I'm not too diplomatic. You know like I was talkin’ about Fitz Reynold. I mentioned him he needed to work on his time. He got bent out of shape. So, we never communicate. But I do that. I hear a student play write down all his good points and I write down the bad points and then I tell them this part we'll talk about the good part, but I'm gonna work on this. And if it deals with time or his ear, I tell him. I don't just say you know everything's cool. I just tell him that that's what we gotta work on. And if you gonna play jazz which most students don't want to hear is you got to have ears and you got to have time. Ears can be fixed. I mean you can teach a person to hear, I think. The one thing I haven't found out how to straighten out is if a guy doesn't know where one's at. I haven't found how to correct that yet. You know if he has a time problem I work different things. Some I solved some I haven't. FB: Yeah that's a hand, eye, brain coordination and ear is a very very delicate neural synapses at work there. And it's not something you can... You either got it or you don't have it. AMG: Well the ear thing I can train. ‘Cause a lot of kids can hear but they don't know what they're hearing. You can make them hear that. But time, I haven't found out anything…how to solve that, yet. I mean I've helped it. I know certain things will help time and stuff like that. FB: It's good to give students that initial assessment. You hear them play, these are your good points these are your not so good points. AMG: It worked, but it's a disadvantage when you get a star from Crossroads Junction and he's the best player and then you have to tell him that this area has a problem. You got to do some kind of way, I don't know. FB: I've heard students say that. They come from being a big fish in a small pond to come into the big city and all of a sudden they're not number one anymore. AMG: Especially here at Berklee. Because you see when you come to Berklee you were in high school and you come here and you the great player and then you might have a kid that's from Japan or from Europe who's already played professionally who's coming here to work on some more things and all of a sudden he realize he’s not the best... the child prodigy they say he was. FB: Right. This is like a huge melting pot. Where everybody's checkin’ everybody else out. You're learning where you really fall in the big picture of things. AMG: The thing I found out, a lot of experience of teaching, when I was younger I was very just definite. I've tried to do it verbally, easier, in a more diplomatic way. Diplomatic way not taken away from it but through my verbal approach is very different so it don't knock ‘em down. FB: Yeah you don't want to bruise their egos too much. AMG: No no I don’t want to especially dealin’ with someone else's kid. I think a teacher, "Oh I'm studyin’ with Andy McGee" and they... you know. I have a lot of…You have a lot of influence on people's children. (FB: That's true.) That took me a time, 'cause when I first started teaching, Right away I'd be say "Man look your time is out." FB: So you learned how to gloss it over a bit and make it a little more encouraging. AMG: Yeah I try to… a little softer FB: It takes a while. AMG: Yeah it takes a while. Tony would say, Tony's my man, but Tony Teixeira would say so and so can you drive front? You know he was always. He asked that a ton. FB: Mr. Blunt. AMG: Yeah he was funny. He's a funny cat. FB: He wrote some great stuff. AMG: Great great. Fantastic musician. Great loss. Great loss when he passed away. FB: Much too young. AMG: We did a lot of jingles and things together. Music was his life. That was one of the praises of being at Berklee. FB: I caught that band with him and Allen and the rhythm section. And all you guys up front. That was a gas. Did they make any records? AMG: No. They had Jimmy Durban on baritone...(mumblings) FB: There must be some tapes around. AMG: No it was a rehearsal band. Well Tony was a straight guy. He's got a rehearsal band, he's got Allen Dawson, and he's got me , he’s got Jimmy Durban stuff like that. He'd never record the band because guys like myself... When you start sayin’, "Look let's record ya." We're talkin’ about some money. People etiquette is not in the music business. "Let's do a recording, let's do this." You got to tell Allen well wait a minute, and me record for what? FB: Is this a rehearsal tape or is this going out to the public kind of thing? AMG: Yeah. Well even that...we don’t want t hat. It’s a rehearsal band. We rehearse and that's it. Unfortunate music business wise it got so, I don't know the word for it. Etiquette...guys take your music make some money and you get nothin’. FB: What are some of the other high points of your career here at Berklee? Some of the most satisfying events or achievements that you've had here at Berklee? AMG: Well one of the…When I first came here one of the high points was I met so many good musicians and good… when I first came and I was able to converse with anybody. We were very close. I could work with everybody. To meet John Laporta, Allen and all those guys, Herb. That's ... and then of course the high point of meeting being a friend of Mr. Berk and Joe Viola, those are the kind of high points. Of course naturally one of the highest points is the fact that, three or four years ago they gave me a tribute. I thought that was… Larry McCullen, he worked that out. That's one of the things... it was lot of musical, it was a lot of good musical things that I couldn't really pinpoint. I'm just talking about the feeling part. I didn't feel like I was going to a job you know. You could do something with everybody, you know I mean it was close. And then Mr. Berk.. If I had to talk to him about anything I didn't have to go through a whole you know system. I'd knock on the door or something. FB: Personal one on one. AMG: One on one. FB: What was Larry like as a person? I only saw him at public events. I didn't get to know him close. AMG: He was a very smart man. Very smart, very smart. Good businessman. Tough tough. You know business wise. He would make you feel good. They would say sometime that you'd go in for a raise and you'd leave smilin’ and you didn't get it.That wans’t in my case, he was always concerned. You could always talk to him if you had any personal problems. He was one of the guys. I mean you know. The main thing that impressed me about him too, he was interested in the art. That's the thing that bothers me today that he was interested in, and he recognized that jazz is the only art form of music that is all American. He knew about it. He played a little piano. He and I used to... He understood what he wanted to do. And that's why...Nobody else wanted to do this type of thing deal with jazz you know. When he started an all jazz school. New England Conservatory they laughin’. Well not laughin, but it's jazz school. (FB: Snobby.) Well they say you know, what all jazz? But this is what...but he understood that and he loved it. He loved it. FB: He was one of the few people who as you say combined jazz and business in a creative fashion. Like George Ween was another guy. AMG: Yeah well I wouldn't make that comparison. I know both them, I don't know George that well. FB: But he was a player who was a businessman. And he made his life with the music. I mean different kind of personality. AMG: Yeah George is different. Larry, well you know. I have to say George kept the art going through ??? ... he worked hard to keep quality music going. I got to give him credit for that. I didn't know him as well as Mr. Berk. Mr. Berk and I became good friends. And we talked...I could say talked about anything. FB: But artistic level of excellence was a very important factor for him. AMG: Yeah yeah. That's the same thing too with George. You know, with the Newport jazz festival. I did some things with George. But the personality was a little different. George you know he’s a businessman too, he lookin’ at himself a little bit. He kinda looked at himself in the mirror at himself. FB: He wanted to play a little more not be in the background so much. AMG: Yeah. It was nothin’ for him to sit in with Coltrane or anybody, which would be out of place. You know what I mean? I think he's carrying it a little too far.