FB: Did it take a while to grow a good big band here? Phil Wilosn had his Rainbow guys, Herb had his concert orchestra, eventually you had your own big band or right away?
GH: Yeah. Well, this was a professional band. It was all people that I'd met and worked with. So who was in the initial band? People like.. well, Wayne was in it of course, we shared the leadership for several years.
GH: People like Billy Pierce and Th Erenza,
GH: And ??? Tony Lada, Jeff Stout was a great mentor and a really great friend. He got me a lot of gigs right away see, I took his place in Buddy Rich's band and then when I came to Boston he's still here.
FB: Jeff is still connected.
GH: He is.
FB: Right on the edge.
GH: He was in the band and Paul Fontaine joined it. People like Dave KEnedy really fine lead player and oh the litany of drummers that went through that band is just amazing. Starting with Steve Smith. Steve Smith Tony Tedesco who now plays with John Pizerelli. Jean Roma played for a while and then Joe Hunt joined and I used Joe and then he left town and then I started using Artie ???
GH: So I , it's just, it's such a deep well of seasoned players in this town. I'm like a kid in a candy store. It seems like there's no end to it. And Butch Ellen, Alex Ellen,
FB: Oh yeah. Yup.
GH: Great jazz piano player. Plays wonderful jazz tenor, ??? played baritone for years. People like ??? went on to have a big career in LA playing on the Simpsons shows like that. (FB: Sure) Oh boy the names, there's so many
FB: And the band evolved as your writing changed you did different things. You had Mick Goodrick on guitar in there after a while.
GH: Oh yeah. Another mentor. Real honored to have him play. Like the first class at Berklee I had John Lockwood and Ted Lowe.
GH: That's what I said, I said Whoa! This is a cool place. These guys can play.
FB: This is 75?
GH: '74 yeah , or spring of '75 I had these guys. We used to work gigs in the summer. I still work with John Lockwood.
FB: Sure he's numero uno.
GH: In town, number one. And a real joy to work with. So flexible and so free.
FB: The ultimate sideman.
FB: Singers, horn players, any book throw him in the middle of it. He's got it.
GH: That's right and read. Of course I torment everybody with my music. Maybe that's why they do it.
FB: You mean 'cause it's such a bitch, the chops are difficult.
GH: Some of the reading is challening and to put it together the counterpoint is very challenging and then I don't want it to be like a real big band. I want it to be like a big small group where it's very free.
FB: Mhmm yup.
GH: I've reached that point where everybody knows the music pretty much and then we can do different things with it. I'll bring different sections in and out and some free moments and then back into the music. It's very demanding. and I'm just so grateful to have people that want to stretch out and are willing to do that.
FB: Well you got to grow em and keep em to do that. And then you can take all kinds of liberties like Ellington.
GH: Yup. Yup. Well of course another mentor and somebody who Herb Pomeroy really idolized and helped turn us onto the world of Duke Ellington. Yeah so, I had the big jazz orchestra and I played with Herb's band. During all that time and then I just so much from my 2 years in Boston I was gonna go back on the road. I started working all these gigs with these people and then I started working in the theatre making more money. The theatre work was good because I enjoyed the diversity of the music because I had all this jazz music and now I had some really meaningful orchestrations to play.
FB: You could see from the inside out how Leroy Henderson would put a chart together or something like that.
GH: We played a lot of stuff with Ralph Burns.
FB: Ralph Burns.
GH: I remember doing that in 1978 the original version of Dances and we rehearsed for 4 weeks. Adn then the snow storm we got an extra week of rehearsal. We were on call 12 hours a day to rehearse. So that was ... Ralph Burns was there doing different orchestrations every day. Every day. And Lou Soloff played lead trumpet and they brought in Art Baron on trombone. And they brought in this guy Peter Philips to play piano okay? 'cause they're doing "Sing Sing sing" the original orchestration. And pardon me. They're doing the original solos. Lou played the Harry James solo. Peter Philips is a great pianist he played the Just Stacy solo. and then Art Baron got to play improvise. Because I don't think there was a trombone in the original and they danced to this. (FB: I don't remember.) So they choreographed it and Bob Fosey was there.
FB: Oh geez.
GH: Yeah so I got to... I'd go and sit behind Bob Fosey and watch him work just because we didn't have anything to do. Sometimes we didn't have to play for hours. So I'd sit behind Bob Fosey and watch him talk to Ralph Burns. Bob Fosey was truly one of thse guys. He had a cigarette in his mouth and a cigarette in his hand. Anyways, I met Lou Soloff he was a trip to work with. Boy what a great player.
FB: Oh yea.
GH: But what was my point oh yeah. I got to work with Ralph Burns, I remember playing maybe 10 years later a revival of Porgy and Bess. You know we get done with the overture and my jaw's on the floor.
FB: When is Dances? 78 80?
GH: Eh 78 79 something like that.
FB: When that thing was on. When Lou was in town he'd bring his horn and he'd go sit in with Dave McKenna down at the Copley Plaza.
GH: Oh yeah I saw him. I know. I saw him do that.
FB: I hung out with him a couple of nights down there and probably you too.
GH: Oh yeah many times. He did some clinics here we brought him into school. Remember he played with Joe Hunt.
GH: They did a nice session. Introduced him to Ray ??? the trumpet professor that was here. And Ray was a real theatre player so I got to work with Ray in the theatres. A lot of the horn players that were on the road they come back to town and work in the theatres. So I got to play with some really good players. Yeah Herb would play ??? would play ??? played trumpet. Larry ??? great lead trumpet player and came in and played. There's not that many shows as there used to be because there's too many keyboards out there.
GH: Technology is crushing humanity. If I could be quoted on that.
GH: But playing Porgy and Bess was a real mind blower because the orchestration is so profound. I went out on the first break went around to Boston Music and bought the score. 55 bucks.
FB: Just to have it.
GH: 609 pages. I bought the vocal score.
FB: It had the orchestra parts figured in or not?
GH: No no. It was just the piano reduction. (FB:Piano reduction.) It was a great study and we had a great orchestra. Really good. It was a 45 piece orchestra. Just blew my mind.
FB: Who was singing?
GH: It was the Houston Opera Company.
GH: Houston Opera Company and they mounted it in it's full regalia. Because originally, when Gershwin was alive they refused to do it as an opera. They said oh you can't do that. You can't sing all these recitatives. People can't take it. And he was so busy working on other projects, actually that was the end of his life. I think he was really disappointed. So the Houston Opera Company was the first one to mount it in the 70s as an opera. And it's over 3 hours long. And it's all singing. It's all recitative. It's all music. It's all demanding. I mean it's really hard to play. Really hard. I mean the string parts are like 200 pages long and they just keep playing and playing. Yeah it's a full orchestra I think there's a 3 or 4 horns, a bunch of clarinets, a bunch of flutes, tuba, 4 or 5 percussion. It has the hardest xylophone part. One of the hardest xylophone parts in the repertoire in the opening. It's on all the auditions for classical people. Anyway, I'm in Boston working the theatre and I get called to go on the road. I'm teaching here I'm making great jazz music and it was just... you couldn't take that big of a cut in pay. Woody wanted to pay I think 125 a week. And I was making like 600 a week or more back then. I wasn't in it for the money here because it was so much music.
FB: Yup yup.
GH: But I think the people the people are the really important element that you meet and you get to work with these people. You hear them and as a writer I'm just so thrilled. All the people who have dedicated their time in the big band. And then I started working small combos with Jimmy Mosher. Jimmy Mosher, Charlie ???, Joe Hunt and Mick Goodrick.
FB: Yeah I remember some of those
GH: Yeah me and Billy Pierce would work with Boots Mallison. (FB:Yup.) We'd work with the great James Williams on piano. That was a real real time. James joined the big band. He was one of the pianists in the big band.
FB: That's right. Remember he played over here at the Back Bay Hilton.
GH: Club ??? Before that we used to play Debbie's actually we did a couple gigs at Paul's Mall Jazz Workshop. With James. then we used to play the Rise Club in Cambridge
FB: The Rise
GH: The Rise Club it was up on the 5th floor oh man it was hell to get to. That was an interesting club. Then we used to play the Night Stage which was called The Club. It was a rock club, but we'd set up it was great. (FB: They never did anything with that one. )Tony Teixeira had an interesting band.
FB: 9 piece band.
GH: Yeah 9 piece band.
FB: I remember that band.
GH: 6 horns yeah with Allen Dawson. Another giant that we got to play with. I used to...
FB: Whoa. Did Allen play with your quintet sometimes?
GH: Once in a while, I would play with his quartet or quintet. Not as much as I wanted to because everyone was so busy. ( FB: Yeah.) Yeah. But Allen, I got to work with Allen at Lulu White's. Lulu whites Tony Teixeira had the gig at lulu whites for years. After he quit I got the gig with Jeff Stoughton. We played for 6 months at Lulu Whites. I think it was 4 nights a week. And it was a really cool band, I worked with John Laporta, me, Jeff SToughton played trombone, (FB: Yeah it was for dancing. )Jeff Nevs played bass.
FB: Who was dancing?
GH: Allen Dawson and ??? played piano. What they claled traditional or dixieland. Traditional jazz. We just played the old jazz tunes with a lot of counterpoint. John would play clarinet would play swing tunes and people danced. It was great.
FB: That was a great scene over there.
GH: So a lot of great bands over at Lulu whites I remember going to see Bill Evans trio. And who's standing in the back near the wall listening, Dave McKenna's right there. Zing right on Bill Evans. Then, I go to hear Dave McKenna. at the copley at the oak bar, it used to be the merry go round room.
GH: And who's standing in the back, Bill Evans. Checking out Dave Mckenna. (FB: Alright. )This beautiful simpatico going back and forth.
FB: Mutual respect. They don't sound much like each other, but they sure appreciate each other.
GH: A lot more similarites than you'd think, but yeah alot of differences but they both played the piano.(FB: A ton) I mean they both really play teh piano that's why Miles was so impressed with Bill Evans. Miles woudl go in and hear Bill Evans play nad just sit there for hours. And say that's the way you should play piano. He was moved by that. Bill brough a diffeernt element to the piano.
FB: Yeah that one...
GH: Anyways, we keep teaching Berklee and doing a lot of gigs. I put together a quintet the more contemporary quintet with me and Billy Pierce. I've been working with Bill Pierce my goodness for 30 years. So the quintet, It was originally with Joe Hunt he played a lot and then Gary ??? great drummer and Lockwood played. Great bass player Jim Stinet played. One of my all time mentors Mick Goodrick who's such a unique voice in music. (FB: Definitely. ) Such a warm tender sound and yet so unique.
FB: Very open, very receptive in certain ways.
GH: Yeah at what he is. What he is. What ability to blend and play with people. I mean that blew my mind. If I could write like that if I could write so it was really going with the people. So yeah I played with Mick all these years was... is still a joy... So yeah we still have that quintet with ??? sometimes ??? Joe Hunt's back in town now. (FB: Yes.) He was another big influence Joe Hunt.
FB: Again a master of subtlety. Kind ofjust a wizard of the brushes .
GH: Understatement. Not the obvious. Joe Hunt like myself I think John Laporta was maybe one of the first to come to Berklee who didn't go there. Berklee was very incestuous. I found that out when I came here. Geez all the students were teachers here. (FB: Yeah. )I really felt like and I was an outsider as was John Laporta. So John kind of opened it up. And then Joe Hunt came. And then they brought Lou Moochie. So in the 70s they brought a lot of us in who were not Berklee graduates and I think it was really good for the school.
FB: No question.
GH: I think it kind of gave it a breath of fresh air.
FB: Enlarged the gene pool.
GH: Exactly. I think Herb would say the same thing. He was thrilled to have some new blood some new people to work with. And Herb was always so generous. He gave everyone so much opportunity. So many chances to play music to write music and I think I do the same thing. I try to do the same thing. As a teacher now, at Berklee with student bands and student writers you try to give opportunities where people can write their music and get it played and ...