FB: We have a lot of material we could cover and before we get into your various roles as a performer and band leader and faculty and administrator, perhaps you could fill us in a little bit of your early musical childhood in Phoenix. AC: I was born in Connecticut and I grew up in Phoenix from the age of about five. My parents were jazz fans. I didn't realize how lucky I was in this field until looking back on it I realized that very few people my age grew up in a household with tonnes of jazz records. I mean, my parents went to see Monk and Mingus and Miles Davis and all sorts of things. They were big hard-bop fans. My father's best friend was a semi-professional pianist and singer, good singer and pianist who loved Horace Silver and sang in kind of a Chet Baker-ish style, did gigs, he was an English teacher, highschool English teacher. We knew him in Connecticut and then in Arizona. I grew up hearing standards, records of Chris Conner and Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. And also lots of Miles Davis records and Art Blakey records in the house and stuff like that. And when I was nine they came around with the school band pitch, "Do you want to play an instrument?" I eventually settled on the saxophone with my parent's encouragement 'cause they didn't like viola or french horn, which were a couple of my early thoughts -- I don't where I came up with those, just randomly I think. They said, "Saxophone, that sounds doable." They didn't really expect me to take it seriously but it was a nice addition to the school day and I got into it and I was pretty good at it. By fifth grade I was doing well even compared to some of the older kids. And so I was pretty into it. And I wanted to quit around seventh grade but then I saw a famous TV show series, Jazz Casual, I think it was. While I was visiting my grandparents in New York I saw the Charles Lloyd Quartet and suddenly the saxophone took on a completely different meaning to me. Instead of this being a nerdy thing to do at school, I saw it as a creative and hippy-ish thing to do that was cool. I mean there's Charles Lloyd with his afro, his beads, his sunglasses dancing with his tenor. And Keith Jarrett was in it and Ron McClure, who I ended up playing with a little bit years later, Jack DeJohnette, who I played one tune with in my life and never thought I'd meet any of these people. But just the thought of saxophone being a cool thing. I went out and bought Charles Lloyd records immediately. My parents took me to see Miles with Gary Bartz and Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. And I thought, "Wow, there aren't very many jazz musicians, I keep seeing these same guys. Like I have my Charles Lloyd records and there's Keith and Jack again with Miles, this was 1971, I was fifteen. So I started to get into the music, highschool jazz band, played my first solos, got more serious about it, went to some summer jazz camp things in Mesa, Arizona that were very good - a lot of LA (Kenton) veterans on the faculty: Pete Jolly, Lanny Morgan - good bebop alto player, was a teacher there, Buddy Childers, lead trumpet player from the Kenton Band. So I got to meet -- Art Pepper did a clinic, I didn't get to meet him, but I was in the audience with twenty or thirty kids listening to him talk, he was right out of jail. FB: More glamour. AC: Yeah, he was borrowing a horn from the music store which he pawned after the clinic and got on a bus and they had to track him down. I learned that later on. But I had some exposure to some pretty hip musicians. My father took me to a club when I was a teenager where it was okay to go. I went to a couple of clubs and heard local musicians when I was sixteen or so. Then I started studying with a a guy who's not really known as a recording artist, but he was excellent, Frank Smith, not the one who is in some books, not the avant-garde Frank Smith. This guy played with (Ierto en flora) and toured all over the US in the seventies, the early seventies. FB: They were very hot for a while. AC: So yeah, he wasn't on their records, they always used Joe Farrell and Wayne Shorter and people like that on their records, but he played the gig. He came back to Phoenix and was my teacher for a couple of years. He was my first real improvisation teacher. Then I went to college and I was a music theory and composition major and Dan Hurley, who's famously just retired recently from North Texas, was our jazz teacher for a couple of years at Arizona State, studied with him. And I was playing gigs from about the age of 18 to 19 with older musicians in Phoenix. That was how I got into it, school bands into the nearby state university. I wanted to compose, teach theory, play jazz and that's kind of what I've -- teaching theory and playing jazz is something like what I've done ever since. FB: Stylistically you moved from bebop to doing some avant-garde things as well, how did that transition come about? AC: It is interesting. I think that goes back to partly the time I grew up in and what I was interested in and I would say that you could trace that back to around high school, because I was listening to late Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, I kind of stumbled on it and even the Art Ensemble at Chicago and Julius Hemphill's releases from that time in the seventies, The Hard Blues and The Dogon AD were a big influence on me. And I loved the stuff. Most of my college jazz band friends were not so into it, they were more into Keith Jarrett's American and European bands, Pat Metheney came out with out while I was in college with his first record and that was a big sensation. Dave Liebman was very influential, like Dave Liebman and Steve Grossman that way of playing saxophone, the post-Coltrane thing. But I was always interested in that and earlier stuff and newer more avant-garde and radical stuff. I listened to it. I wanted to play it. I found a handful of people to play it with. I didn't really start playing anything that you would call free or avant-garde until around '78, the last couple of years I was in Arizona. I had a duo with Lewis Nash, who everybody would think of as -- we were very similar, we were from opposite sides of town and met in college. We played in a duo for about a year and a half. Like me he was very interested in history. He would study Baby Dodds documentary recording and then turn around listen to Andrew Cyrille, he took lessons with Andrew Cyrille. He was really into and listened to Rush (he'd ali)-- FB: --and a damn good composer as I remember. AC: Lewis was--now he's probably known as the, he and Kenny Washington, the best straight ahead, traditional drummers of around fifty years old or younger. He is probably getting close to that. I think he might have just turned fifty. He was wide open and into all sorts of things and he is. He's known for that professionally. We played a range of things, we did cover versions of the Sonny Rollins and Philly Jo Jones, starting with the fringe on top and then we would do a late-Coltrane thing and we did some Roscoe Mitchell and Andrew Cyrille pieces. I had been to the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York. FB: Karl Berger? AC: Karl Berger ran the school in the summers. It was a year-round thing, but I went two summers, '78 and '79. There I studied with Roscoe Mitchell, Braxton, took one private lesson with Julius Hemphill which lasted most of the day. Jimmy Giuffre came once a week. Jerome Cooper from the Revolutionary Ensemble, I spent a week with him. Jack DeJohnette was there. Leo Smith, George Lewis. So I got to spend like a week, many hours a day with each of those people, and with Roscoe Mitchell it was about six weeks. FB: A tremendously broadening experience which could only inform your classroom technique and appreciation for whatever kind of kid you run into. AC: It was very mind-opening. And being from Arizona, I honestly didn't expect to ever meet anybody like that in my life until very close to when it was actually happening, or to ever make a record. I just thought it would be cool to be a music teacher and have some gigs, some local gigs just playing jazz. That would be a great balance of life. I could be not a jazz musician who doesn't know where my next meal is coming from and yet not so academic that I don't have any creative outlet. I sort of envisioned that when I was about seventeen. FB: And you made it happen. AC: I guess I have. FB: No question. AC: I am not a household name as a player player by any means, but I've been successful in terms of finding great teaching opportunities and I've gotten to play a lot of music with a lot of great people. FB: Beyond having that goal, did you have any sort of compelling presets you wanted to teach or what you wanted to do pedagogically at that point? Had you begun to do any teaching yet? AC: I do remember when I was deciding what to major in in college and I was gravitating more and more towards music. Looking through a college catalog and looking at the music theory and composition faculty and realizing, "That's a full-time job. And they have the summers off, supposedly. They can be creative and have some kind of job security." My father was always saying, "Do music as a hobby. Go get a business degree." They were encouraging but not confident in the sustainablity of a music lifestyle, which they were right about. It's very hard to make your whole life out of performance. Almost everyone who can teach teaches because they love it and because it helps them survive. I didn't know what I wanted to teach I just liked music theory. I was good at math in school and I didn't want to be a math major or a math professor, but I liked the systematic, logical, organised and somewhat mathematical-- FB: --the form of structures. AC: I was very interested in it. And I interested in everything. We studied some Renaissance music and Medival music up to, I was interested in Stockhausen and (zinakas) and very avant-garde stuff. I met John Cage when I was a student for a short conversation. I was into everything in a way. I was interested in ethnomusicology and world music and I thought it would be fun to turn students on to the wonders of music. FB: I couldn't agree more.