Chapter 3 FB: Um, what was your next step after high school? How did you get to the states? How did that come about? MP: After high school I was a student, I went to study at the University in Palermo. I did one year of Political Science, and I realized it wasn't for me, then I switched into foreign languages and literature, which I liked, but at the same time, somebody put a bug in my ear about Berklee. So I started to do the Berklee correspondance course, which took forever, back in the day, I remember I had to send a check, they were sending me a booklet with some exercise, lessons that I had to return all the homework back in here. The professor who was correcting my homework was Dean Earle, which, I didn't know who he was, but I read his bio on the Berklee brochure. And he played with Charlie Parker so I was in heaven. A guy that played with Parker was saying to me the right things to do. So I did 8 or more correspondance courses. That took a long time, I think about maybe 1 and a half, 2 years time. So after that I decided to let my father know that I really wanted to come here, because I was getting more and more interested in the study of arranging, composition, Jazz composition, and my career in Sicily was at the highest level it could have been and I really felt the need to move forward. FB: Some of those topics you mentioned were covered at least initially in some of the correspondence courses you had with Dean Earle. And so it piqued your interested. What was your father's response? MP: Ah, at first it was shock. Because in Italian culture, usually, kids stay with their families until they are grown up, and even some of them when they get married, they still live close by. FB: That's true of Italian Americans as well. MP: So it was something difficult to be digested but he was very supportive. And he said 'if that's what is gonna make you happy, go for it.' FB: That's a very different response than Tiger Okoshi got from his father. MP: Oh, what he get? FB: He split on his honeymoon and he didn't come back. MP: So I applied to Berklee and I got accepted, so I moved here, I arrived here December 7th, of 1981, which is a couple days from now, it's the anniversary of it. FB: Pearl Harbor. MP: Pearl Harbor, yeah. I didn't know about Pearl Harbor until a few years later. I got here, and it was after a huge snowstorm, and in Palermo I never saw snow. I didn't know what 0 celsius meant. 32 fahrenheit. So it was a big culture shock of course. And the following day I went to the performance center, because I lived on Newbury Street. My cousin was a student at Northeastern University, so we shared a studio for the first month or so, on Newbury street. I was scheduled to start my first semester of Berklee in January of '82. So on December of the following day I arrived, I go to hear this concert given by some faculty members. I step in, and I am in heaven because I hear this great piano player, swinging like crazy, great rhythm section, and I can't remember who the rest of the guys were, but the piano player I remember, Alex (inaudible). And I said, I made the right choice to be here because this environment was missing from the place where I was in Palermo. This diversity also, in Palermo you had very limited amount of great players, and once you play with them for a while, you look for something else, and it wasn't there. I could have gone to Rome, they probably had great players there, but I said to myself, once I leave here, I might as well go where Jazz was born.