GH: Now I've been leading a band at Berklee for 12 or 13 years. You know a large jazz orchestra.
GH: And the kids who come through that are truly amazing. For example, my rhythm section four years ago was Lionel ???, and ???, and F??? Nemis. Now they go on they're in New York right now. That's Lionel ??? trio. And they have so much to offer in the way of a rhtyhm section for a big band because they didn't play standard old style. So our band would go places where these big bands have never been. And actually I don't even consider it a big band. I just consider it a jazz orchestra which is to me a large small group.
FB: You mean new venues.
GH: No. I mean musical places. (FB: Oh musical places.) Musical grooves and they would take it and it was just frightening and yeah I had the same kind of rhythm section this year. FB:Great.) Last year I had a great rhythm section with ??? Falk on drums, Josh Gallagher on piano and these kids are gonna go places. And Obi Wang my bass player now.
FB: They'll be the stars of tomorrow.
GH: Exactly. So many people have come through that band. I think it's important not to force them into the round peg let em go with any peg they want to go with. That's really fun for me to let them go, but yet steer them down the middle of the river or close to the edge or down that river.
FB: Oops let me help you out
GH: And yeah I do keep in touch with a lot of my ex students. I see them all over the world. I get to travel a lot. So, they're always coming up. Hello Mr. Hopkins I remember you.
FB: You mean they're showing up on bandstands elsewhere or at the ?? festivals
GH: Yeah I see them at gigs. It's nice to see them appreciating their time here in Boston.
FB: Are you doing the international clinic routine?
GH: I do some of that yeah. I direct a jazz program at a music festival in Alaska, I've been there 26 years.
FB: ??? or which one?
GH: No it's in Fairbanks. Fairbanks. So actually that's a Boston connection. I started going there with this trombone player writer named Eddie ??? This started in 1980 wow. I was a kid then. A lot of the famous Boston musicians Fred ??? the drummer went. Mark Henry, ???, Bob Winter, myself
GH: And then Eddie Mann played trombone. They'd say stop going, but I 'd keep going and directing the orchestra there. I do another festival in Seattle. I go to Iceland I'm guest conductor of the Reikjavik jazz Orchestra. You go up there and you think geez this is gonna be like an iceberg, it's just the opposite. It's warmer than Boston in the winter.
FB: Is that a fact?
GH: Yeah the average temperature in Reikjavik is 30 degrees.
FB: I'll be damned.
GH: And they get very little snow.
FB: Yeah I knew that. So you bring your charts up.
GH: I bring my charts, we have a frenzy, a feeding frenzy of rehearsals. And then we do some recordings or whatever. We do concerts. Yeah I direct the Prague radio big band. Oh boy. I should have written all of this stuff down. I tried, but..
FB: Scandinavia has an extra edge on that on good listener ship and intelligent audiences.
GH: Everybody has that attitude which is good. You got to have an attitude or you're not gonna say anything. You can't just copy. So yeah they have an attitude when they play and it's great to see. And there's so many good horn players up there. I mean The Northern Europe thing for brass and saxes and rhythm section s in general, the whole thing is just really strong.
FB: Deep roots oompa bands ??? all that stuff.
GH: Yeah. A lot of stuff happening there. Eastern Europe is deep very deep also. They have such deep musical roots and when they combine it with jazz wow. It's a natural thing for them. And then going to South America was interesting. I got to go to Argentina a couple times with some Berklee trips. Played with Gary Burton down there that was fun.
FB: Oh boy. And he was doing the Piazola thing
GH: Yeah. Yeah that's a different groove. We actually played at some tango clubs. (FB: Nice.) And then the Berklee All stars. And we played at where else that was Barcelona what a city that is.
FB: I love it I love it. How long were you guys there?
GH: This was a long time ago 1986. A long time ago.
FB: But from Europe, we're getting the Spanish, french, and italian are assimilating their own folk and classical traditions and melding it with jazz.
GH: Oh I know.
FB: I just heard a bunch of piano players like Stefano ??? and Rico ??? guys like that who are assimilated Bill Evans and all of their classical stuff and bringing new waves of creativity it's brilliant.
GH: Yeah I just did a weekend or 10 days in Valencia.
FB: With Larry Monroe?
GH: No, it was my own thing with somebody I met here Jesu Santandreo and they have their own school there. It was a jazz school. There was a phemoneon going on in Spain or in Valencia now with bands. There are all these bands, community bands. I'm not kidding there's probably 50 or 60 big bands in this state of Valencia.
FB: Oh my God.
GH: And they have these contests where all the bands play and they write music for them. What they need they need are good directors. They don't have that many good directors for all of these bands. There are so many players. They need good writers and good arrangers. So I went and did an arranging band leading clinic and played some concerts there. And they had a really good band made up of professionals and some of the leaders. It's just it's freaky. (FB: Wonderful.) All these big bands...There's big bands there's like 50 or 60 of them. It's like the 1930s in Valencia. So you never know.
FB: There's some kind of a hiccup in history that's just hittin em now.
GH: I think it's stemming from their brass band concert band. 'Cause that's a big thing in Spain.FB:Yup.) Every town would have it's own concert band. And the band would have it's own restaurant and rehearsal room. They'd rehearse upstairs and they'd have a restaurant bar downstairs to play. A lot of.. the same thing happens in England. There's a big brass band tradition in England. So there's a lot of really good horn players. Let's face it that's what happened in New Orleans. FB: Yup.) The brass band tradition was very big after the civil war. And that's the history of jazz. That's the history of big band. That's why they played trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. Because they were around. After the civil war instruments were cheap and it was a way out of the ghetto. It was a way to make money.
FB: All those military bands dispersed and the horns were free.
GH: Yup. And then the traditions in New Orleans became so strong that it spread through the country. And then there were a lot of marching bands. black marching bands that plaeyd different styles and Sousa was the big superstar. And then there were these other bands that played more swinging. They'd embellish the arrangements they'd embellish the marches, but we digress.