Chapter 2 FB: EMJQ were residents? AC: Yes, John Lewis and Bill Evans, and Jim Hall and Gunther, himself, and George Russell and Bob Brookmeyer were all teachers there. Students included Joe Hunt was there with a band, well, maybe George Russell's band, he was sort of in this learning and teaching roll with some other guys from Indiana. I think Dave Young, who was in George Russell's band was another Indiana musician that was there, David Baker. The list of students is available on the web, it includes a lot of Boston people who are locally known very well like, Ted Casher, who is the ultimate club date and studio sax player who has played around town forever. FB: Another interviewee in this series... AC: Oh yeah? Well, he sat next to Ornette Coleman in the big band at this school. What I am trying to get at is the connections that built the NEC Jazz Program and to some extent Berklee as well. The relationship between Berklee and NEC really at least go back to this period. Steve Kuhn was a student there along with Ran, the saxophonist from Mother of Invention, Ian Underwood. These were the people that were all in the school together. It's quite unbelievable. Robert Di Domenica, who taught at NEC for a long time... FB: ...Flute player and composer... AC: Yes. He's played a big role in some of Charles Ives' music being performed and recovered with Gunther. It is all these unbelievable connections that have to do with Jazz, the sort of modernist jazz. FB: That whole third stream concept blossomed there. AC: And there were jazz historians who, I can't remember exactly, was it Marshall Stearns? He ran these round tables there and had these conversations and Randy Weston was a waitor at the place who sat down at the piano and sort of kicked off his career by being around this. He was living there. Carl Atkins, has his connections, who was the first chair of the jazz department at New England Conservatory. He was a student of David Baker's and Indiana and also had a connection with Gunther and western Mass. I not sure exactly how all the story...Herb Pomeroy had connections with the scene there too. FB: It's a little modern marlboro enclave. Get them out the the Berkshires, get them some clean air and the creativity just happens. AC: Yeah, not too far from New York or Boston, sort of a third point in the triangle, and a safe environment to send your 20-year old college student but also access to the top minds in modern jazz. What's like that Black Mountain College with John Cage and Merce Cunningham and the poets and stuff? I don't know much about it. FB: They were probably slipping off to Tanglewood to hear some of the classical stuff too. AC: Oh yeah, I am sure they were feeling very connected to that. And they also had guests would come to these jazz history discussions. They had musicians from Trinidad and Haiti. FB: WOAH! AC: And there is film of this. Very interesting. It's really really interesting. They were pushing the world music angle on jazz which was just showing up a little bit in a taste of things - Ahmed Abdul-Malik's jazz records with oud and middle-eastern scales, or Chico Hamilton who had kind of a world music vibe. FB: Joe Harriet from England who was a West Indian. AC: Yeah, but they were promoting this exposing all these young musicians to these other parts of the African diaspora and world music. FB: Early on AC: Yeah in the '50 up until 1960 Don Ellis might have been exposed to some of the Indian and African concepts there. I don't know how much he would have known about it before that. It is very interesting to me that all these connections were being made but when Gunther Schiller...it was really only eight to ten years later that he had the jazz program running at the New England Conservatory. So this was a short time. He still had all these connections and he brought in Ran Blake who had been doing things like babysitting for Thelonious Monk and sweeping floors at Atlantic Records and playing intermission piano for Mingus. These stories need to be told. Ran Blake has done many more things than people realize. He was a night clerk at a hotel in uptown Manhattan, which is great fuel for his film 'Noir Interest.' But anyway Gunther really put him into academia. This is a really intelligent guy with a degree from Bard, who was very well-read, very knowledgable about all sorts of things from film and literature to philosophy and race issues and all sorts of things. He is very scholarly. But he was a piano player who was struggling, definitely recognized by critics but not really finding a way to have a consistent good life in music, and then this teaching thing is huge. FB: And like Monk, he had a absolutely unique style, completely full-blown and completely identifiable. Monk didn't have the communication skills and Ran did. AC: Yeah, it's so interesting Ran took care of Barber and T.S. Monk when they were little children. He was the babysitter. He sat there. He saw. He was in the halls of Atlantic Records when Aretha Franklin was meeting with (sounds like 'Irta Guhn') and Arif Martin and all these people. He knew all these people. Ran has a document which is a petition he started sometime in the early 60s, I believe. Hundreds of signatures, it's a who's who of jazz, lobbying to reissue George Russel's 1956 jazz workshop records which RCA had taken out of print and left out of print for years. On and off over the decades actually it's been out of print a lot. And I would say one of the most important jazz recordings of the 50s, unbelievable music that stuff with Art Farmer, Bill Evans, Barry Galbraith, who taught at NEC in the 50s. And so there are a lot of local connections amoung these people and they go way back. So George knew that Ran, I don't know how close they were, they knew one another. Ran was a big supporter of George's music. He had been a student at this place that George was teaching. They're all in touch with each other and then they reassembled sometime between '69 and '74. Jimmy Dufrene came as well, who was part of this scene. And Paul Blay has a distant connection to this scene he actually sat in, it's in his autobiography, he bumped Ran off the piano bench at the last concert at the Lenox School of Jazz one of those years, probably '60, might be '50. FB: He was an upstart from Toronto. AC: ...who had been in L.A. doing fairly well and he decided to move to New York with his soon-to-be wife, Carla. And they drove across the country and they arrived in Lenox, at the final concert, thinking, "well i'll meet a couple of people there." And that is how Paul got the gig with Dufrene and George Russell. He literally, Ran was on the stage to play a final concert piece and Ran being a gentle soul let they more aggressive Paul Blake...I'm just imagining, knowing the two personalities, how this went down. It wouldn't necessarily be the most welcomed thing at the final concert of your study period to be giving up your spot on a piece to a somebody who wasn't a student. FB: And from that emerged the trio with Dufrene, Paul and Steve Swallow. AC:Yeah, they heard Paul play and were like, "very interesting." And some relationships developed that Paul, in his autobiography, attributes to his success or his foot in the door to that moment and that crowd that was listening. FB: Serendipity AC: And Paul was hired by Hankus Netsky to teach at New England Conservatory. He taught there sometime in the early 90s to the early 2000s. I can't remember. Very part-time. I hired Bob Brookmire to teach there. I can't remember the exact year but I am guessing '98, probably my second year as chairman of the jazz department there. I had been living in New York and I heard that Hankus Netsky, the previous chair, was going back to school for his doctorate. I was very fortunate to get the job and the department was very strong and very well assembled by Hankus. From 1986 to -96 he was the chair. I mentioned Carl Atkins, Dr. Carl Atkins, conductor, baritone saxophonist, woodwind doubler. He's the conductor on George Russell's 'Living Time' album on Columbia with Bill Evans featured on it. He was the original chair of the jazz department at NEC - something like 1969-'77. Then there was like a revolving door, a whole bunch of short-term chairs. Then Miroslav Vitous for about four years, and that was a complicated period. FB: Tom McIntosh was in for a bit. AC: Tom McIntosh, I think he was there twice. I think he was there with the Monk institute for a semester, also a great writer and trombonist. Ernie Wilkins was involved. I've heard rumours that Thad Jones had something to do with the department, but I don't know if he actually was really there. It's hard to believe that I never saw real documentation about that. They guy who puts out the Bill Evans newsletter, Jack Riley? Not the club owner, the pianist. Pat Hollenbeck, the current president of Boston American Federation of Musicians Local and great percussionist and arranger. He writes for the Pops a lot. He orchestrated a lot of George Russell's music. He was the chair when I came as a grad student. There is Tom McKinley, William Thomas McKinley, composer, pianist, classical composer and jazz pianist, was the chair for a couple of years. FB: Who had his own MMC label for a long time that brought in an awful lot of contemporary works from Europe under his aegis. AC: I am not saying these names in the right order, and I can't reconstruct the order very easily from memory, but they were all department chairs in that short five year period. I mean, more than five people. Some of them for a semester. Some of them for two years. So it was very complex situation where maybe they didn't want the job or various forces were going on. And it was a tough time for the conservatory when Gunther left, there was a lot of financial problems. It didn't really get on it's feet and get stable until... FB: Larry Lesser came in at that point as president. AC: Yeah a little later, after that I think there were a few different presidents. I think it stabilized when Peter Row, the great Indian music scholar who has been a big infulence on jazz students there, by the way, improvisers, became the provost in the eary 80s and Larry Lesser became president around that time and the school really stabilized. They brought in Hankus Netsky to be the chair of the department after Miroslav. Miroslav ran it with a very, let's say, light hand. Many stories I will not put on the record here. Student workers did a lot of the nuts and bolts. He was the aristic overseer and director of it. Ran Blake's third stream department was very strong at that time. My wife, Dominique Eade, graduated in '82. She went from Vasser, English major for two years, to Berklee for three semesters to New England Conservatory from '79 to '82, 3 years. It's a long bachelor's degree with many different angles. But got her bachelor's degree in '82 and joined the faculty, the college faculty in '84 when her teacher, Jerry Martin, retired - who sang with Ran Blake occasionally. She's been there...it's twenty-sixth year right now teaching jazz voice there. She and I have been together around '84 and I had a window into the department even though I wasn't s student or a faculty member over there during those years. FB: She brought home the stories. AC: Yeah. There were a lot of things happening. Great students came to this school. Many people came from Berklee bachelor's degree to a master's at NEC, that's a very common pathway - I don't know proportianally, maybe a quarter or a third of the students sometimes might be Berklee bacherlor's, NEC masters. The master's program at NEC has been very strong all these years. That's the part I think in some ways maybe the most exciting and effective, although many people went there for bachelor's too. And there's transfers back and forth between the two schools occasionally. It's a small number of them, a handful. FB: A lot of shared faculty to present date, like Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzon, Danielo Perez. AC: George Garzon has taught at both schools for many years. Danielo, John Lockwood, Frank Carlberg. There are more: Bevan Manson at one time, he's not here any more, he is in California. Quite a few people have taught at both school and me (ha ha.) I taught here; I taught there; I am back here. There are also people who gone between the two like Mick Goodrick was here, then there, then back here. They're the two big games in town. Berklee is a much bigger program. But if you take the cutting-edge modern jazz improvising-oriented part of it, that aspect of Berklee is closely related to the relatively small part of NEC which is the jazz and creative music, improvised music.