FB: Thus the artists and residents program began, who was your first major attraction?
TE: First major attraction was trombonist Carl Fontana. And the way I was able to bring that in was Phil Wilson and I who had attended that trombone meeting where ITA, international trombone association was formed, struck up a very close relation and we decided, man its great commerodidity getting all these guys together and we would bump into Ron Barren, the principle trombonist of the Boston Symphony, then he was second trombonist he'd said, "How you guys doin? Boy, I haven't seen you in three months." And we would bump into another trombonist in town and say hey Tom, how you doin? Boy, worked with you about six months ago, haven't seen you since then. And here we were all in town, trombonist, who were friendly, respected each other, had similar interests, but unless we worked in the same building, we didn't see each other regularly. So we got the idea of why not have a trombone week to try and one, bring focus to the trombone. Two, get young kids involved and have clinics and master classes for them. And three, come up with, we didnt need an exuse, but coming up with an event to bring trombonist all together from around town. And that was the start of Boston Sackbut week. And ummm, that really brought a lot of us together and I lost my train of thought.
FB: Carl Fontana.
TE: Oh, so.
FB: Your first major guest.
TE: So our first week of Boston sackbut week I said boy why don't we bring in a trombone player to play with the Harvard jazz band. And...
FB: Carl Fontana lived on the west coast?
TE: He lived in Vegas.
FB: And he was like a respected studio guy?
TE: He was known back in the 50s from his playing with Woody Herman in the early 50s, Stan Kenton in the ealry 50s but since the late 50s in through the sixties, he was working in Vegas and he was Paul Hanka's lead player. And so he played the show each week but he wasn't traveleing and he was kind of this mystical cult figure because everybody who heard these early recordings were just blown away with his feel and his facility on the intrument.
FB: So Phil Wilson who was already teaching here had played with Woody Herman and knew of Fontana but hadn't met him?
TE: Oh sure. No I don't think they had met before. Ya know this is instinct, I don't think they met, but ya know, when trombone players meet, especially if they've known of each other, there is admediate connection. I remember seeing Carl and Phil meet and they both knew of each other's playing and it was like ya know, it was the bear hug and it was like ya know a family I haven't seen you for while and they just started with the stories and how you doing.
FB: Instant brotherhood.
FB: Bonding. Big time.
TE: That happens all the time and thats exactly it. So ummm, it costed a little money to bring in Carl in from Vegas. And so I couldn't get money from Harvard but I had association with Harvard summer school. I taught a jazz class, the first jazz class I taught at Harvard, And the first was actually in summer school. I approached the very open minded director of Harvard summer school I said, ya know I'd like to put a concert on in the spring and bring in a famous trombone player. And he said, well I don't know how thats associated with summer school. Well wait a minute, our catalogs come out in April. I said, thats when the concert is, thats when it would be. He says well, why don't we make this as a release event for summer school catalogs. He wanted to help so much, he just came up with something that would work. And so he came through with some funding. I got some funding from the Conn coorporation of which Carl was a Conn performer, Conn, its a tombone manufacturer. So I got the funding. I think Phil as part of Sackbut week, the concert the night before our concert, he put a concert on called God's Trombones at Berklee, which was the Berklee trombone ensemble, all his students. And Carl was featured in that and some other players who are like Dennis Wilson and players are out there doing the scene now. Funny story about this, the night Carl played at Berklee, Carl was being sponsered partly by the Conn cooperation but Carl was playing a Bach at the time which is a different brand instrument. The representative of Conn came back stage to congradulate Carl on his playing and Phil and I saw him coming. And here's Carl holding a Bach trombone and the representavive has forked out some money. Admediatly, we took the trombone away from Carl and Carl said "what are you doing with my horn?" And we kinda concealed his trombone as the Conn rep came over and just congradulated Carl Fontana. And there's Phil and I in the corner ya know, with our backs trying to hide this trombone that Carl just played. I mean all kinds of wonderful stories like that. And that is part of trombone lure and the commeradity also.
FB: So Synergy fromed around this, your initial impotis.
FB: Great, great.
TE: And that was the start. Following that, the next year, oh Phil is also involved in the concert, to hear Carl and Phil play together. The next year we brought in saxophonist Joe Farrell who is, that was the period he was doing like Moon Germs and and...
FB: With Chick Corea or after?
TE: This was about the same time that he was playing with Return to Forever. So brought him and the following year I think it was Clark Terry and...
FB: Another unique voice.
TE: Right. And then for our tenth anniversary of this program, part of Boston Sackbutt week, which still exist, Boston Sackbutt went on for fifteen or sixteen years. We brought in bebop trombonist Frank Roselino, the Mingus trombonist Jimmy Knepper, and Phil Wilson. And what diverse dichotomies in personalities and playing abilities, all playing the same instrument, but their personality and approach to the instrument were so different. I remeber Mingus, Knepper, who had played with Mingus who played in almost an old-time feel but with bebop vocabulary and Frank Roselino highly embellished and highly energetic and just right out there.
FB: A little baroque Turnarounds.
TE: Exactly. All the little turns, turns man. And we're having dinner together and I remember Jimmy saying, " well Frank, what you doin on the west coast?" And Frank said I gotta a lot of gigs later(fast mumbled impression of Frank) with the trombones.....,"And it was like ya know this guy was a layed back player, this guy was on top of the beat highly embellished, and thats exactly the way they talked.
TE: And it was interesting to see that ya know, how it is all informed and related to the person.
FB: Absolutely, I mean you listen Phil Wilson talk and he's drawls and he glisses and he's got honey in the horn like Quentin "Butter" Jackson.
TE: You hear him laugh then he laughs on the horn. Thats right. Its beautiful. Its just an extention of his personality.