Chapter 6 FB: So you had lessons with Viola and LaPorta? BP: I didn't have private lessons with LaPorta on saxophone; I did with Joe later on. I had Charlie Mariano was my first teacher, then Andy McGee, and then Joe for the most part. There was another gentleman I studied with named Nick Kyasa ? He was a flute teacher. Really good teachers. I mean, I never had a real saxophone teacher when I was a kid. Because You know in the band system, the bandmaster teaches everything you know he was a music ed major so he learned to play trombone and trumpet. He might not be a great saxophone player maybe he was great on his own, he was a clarinet player. The one guy who had the most influence on me. and then the one guy in Miami was a bass player but he knew more about jazz. FB: Let me ask you a pedagogical question [BP: Yeah, sure.] … what was Charlie Mariano like vis-a-vis Joe Viola? BP: Good question. Some parts of that I can't really answer. I probably shouldn't. You know, it was the thing about being around Charlie that made the most. This guy with this wealth of experience and ability to play: everybody loved Charlie. He was the guy that everybody wanted to not necessarily to study with, but everybody wanted to play like Charlie. And Charlie… I couldn't tell you today what I learned from Charlie, but I know I learned a lot. Just being in his presence, just hearing him play with me in the class, and you know he was he that, was the old Berklee: if you play something bad, you say, “Man, you suck. Gee, you stink, kid. Go back and practice! What are you doing?” So I mean, you can't really do that. FB: I need that [slaps own face], you know. BP: Well, yeah, for some people. That's not fashionable anymore for a lot of reasons (and not necessarily the wrong reasons), but in those days if you weren't a capable musician or if you didn't practice, the teachers would really tell you. They still do that here too, but maybe in a nicer way. FB: Well, it's kinda like getting booed off the bandstand back then. That doesn't happen anymore. ‘Cause there's no bandstand. BP: Yeah, that's true. It's kinda, those old guys, the way they learned on the bandstand and even with their teachers. If you wanted to take care of business, they didn't have to, they just told you right out: “Man, you suck. Man, you suck: you're not gonna get any better unless you practice.” FB: I went around with a microphone at IAJE and talked to some of the older cats. And they said the best thing that happened to me was getting in jamming situations and making it or fucking up. BP: Or getting really embarrassed. [FB: Yeah.] I remember doing a session here at Berklee when I was a kid, and I was in tears. It dawned on me of how untogether I really was. It really hit me. Man. It set me on a bad course of action. Because from that point on I decided I was going to be so critical of myself to make myself better. This is what I thought. And I followed that course of action for many years. Then I realized this is negative, and you don't get anything out of negation or negativity. But man, I used to go on that premise: “You suck, you suck, you got to practice or else you're gonna suck and suck worse.” And then it dawned on me: you have to embrace. But that's, you know, a lot of people are like that. We're all sort of like that; it's kinda the vibe the way people went about getting better or giving up.