CHAPTER 1 FB: Welcome once again to another session of the Berklee Oral History Project. Today in the hot seat is Mr. Ted Pease who's had a distinguished 45 year career at Berklee College of Music, as a drummer, teacher, bandleader, arranger, a lot of other roles here, during the course of your career. Hi, Ted. TP: Hi, Fred, nice to be here. FB: Thanks for coming in. We warmed up talking about things that we had in common like Benny Goodman, LPs when we were youngsters and being English majors and copping together hasty outlines for classes. It sounds very familiar. Why don't you tell us how you first got banging on drums. TP: Well basically if I go back all the way to the beginning I have to start sitting in front of my parents old Victrola record player when I was about five or six years old and being fascinated alternately between Beethoven's 5th Symphony, which I for some reason really loved and enjoyed, and Sousa marches. This would have been about 1944 and it was during the war, and I had an uncle that was in the service, and there was a great deal of sort of patriotic fervor going around in my family at the time. So Sousa marches on these little 78 records, they were the order of the day. But from there I went to playing the piano and we were renting a house at the time and the owner of the house had this beautiful grand piano that she had just left there. So, at the age of 5, 6 years old I started plinking on the piano. And I finally took some lessons and began playing the usual classical repertoire for all the way through elementary school and then by the time I was a teenager I began to get interested in other things, notably sports, and practicing the piano three or four hours a day was not something that I wanted to do. I think that I had exhausted my abilities in that area anyways, so I stopped playing the piano. But I had this enormous interest in classical music all throughout that time, and I'd listen to records, and it'd seem like every waking moment I wasn't at school I was listening to music. And my mother was a great opera fan so there was music playing all the time one way or another in the house. But as a teenager I got into, you were talking about Benny Goodman, I got interested in Jazz because of some Benny Goodman records that my friend loaned to me. And they were on these old 78s, and three or four minutes of music, listening to Benny Goodman trio quartet records which were the ones that I really enjoyed because you could really hear what was going on by Teddy Wilson, the piano player and Gene Krupa the drummer. And I started just sort of fooling around with any implements I could get my hands on, whether it was table utensils or, I remember at one point I even used some candles, I started breaking candles using them on a desk top. FB: Fascinating rhythm. TP: And driving my mother crazy. Why, why are all these broken candles lying around? They got me some lessons with the local drum teacher, and I started playing the drums and joined the high school dance band, and just graduated, so to speak, very naturally from the piano to the drums. And I enjoyed dancing in those days. I can't dance very well anymore, but I was in a dancing school for young people in those days where they taught you ballroom dancing. And so I loved to do the jitterbug or the lindyhop, and there was the accompanying music for that was such a natural thing, with those old swing bands that were popular there during the late forties and early fifties. So I became really interested in that kind of music and when I went to play with the high school dance band, I just kinda knew what to do, and so one thing led to another and I also began playing with a friend of mine in high school, Ed Hickis, my old friend, who is still having a very illustrious career in the music business as we speak. He played with Thad Jones, Mel Lewis band in the 70s and is currently touring all over the world with Liza Minelli. But Ed and I, we had a sextet in high school and just had a great old time, and that was helpful. By the time I got to Boston, Ed was still here studying at BU and so we roomed together for awhile. But that's a whole other story. Anyway, I spent four years in a liberal arts college out of Cornell and did some, I did a lot of playing in Cornell, there were some very good musicians who were, you know, pre-med students and engineers, and whatnot. But there was kind of an underground Jazz community there and we played a lot of gigs and concerts and that was in the late 1950's. FB: As well as some GB? TP: Some, some dances but mostly we were really hardcore beboppers back then. And we had a lot of fun. Some of those, one piano player in particular, Alan Steiger, has had a notable career for himself out in the San Francisco area. And Steve Brown, a guitarist, spent many years at Ithaca College. I think he was the head of the Jazz department there until he retired. And we had trios and quartets and did a lot of playing there and did our studies during the day. But it was after I graduated from Cornell that I didn't know what to do with myself. I think I mentioned to you that I didn't want to teach English which was what I was majoring in. And so, Ed was here, Ed Hickis was here at BU, and he said "Why don't you come to Boston? They have a summer program over at Berklee." I knew about Berklee because I had visited Ed here a couple of times and Herb Pomeroy had his big band down at the stable, the old... FB: I caught them as a freshman at BC. TP: So I had been there a few times and I had gone and seen Herb's band and just been blown away, because somehow it was very different than the music that I had been listening to in New York. Basie's band, and some of the other big bands that were down, sort of, in New York area. There was a kind of, I don't know how to describe it really, but it was like a Boston sound that presumably had been generated out of Herb's own musical genius and the kinds of voicings and orchestrations that he was fond of and his students, Michael Gibbs was already here, writing for the band, and I heard this band and I said "man, this is, I really want to see what's going on." So when I graduated from Cornell I came here for the summer, and that was in 1961, and I've been here ever since, I mean I've been very lucky that way. FB: How can we articulate the distinction of Herb's band? Were there any other local bands in the area that would have emulated the sound, or contributed to this, kind of like, Boston quality? TP: Well, you know I was thinking about this last night, and I think, I think what happened was, Herb took this kind of amalgamation of Duke's band. Herb loved Duke's music. So he kind of started from there, but he just did in his own expression. But he had all these very gifted students that were studying with him here at Berklee, Michael Gibbs being a perfect example. There were others as well, there was a trombone player named Chris Swanson, that I remember who was very gifted, and Gary MacFarland, spent a little time here. They were all young and eager and getting into their own sounds and styles and whatnot, and I think some of that rubbed off on Herb, and he just let it happen, basically. FB: Did he incorporate any of their charts into the band? TP: Oh yeah, especially Michael. Michael Gibbs. I was extremely impressed with Michael's writing. And Michael was from Southern Rodisia, so here's this guy, a trombone player with an English accent, coming from Africa, and kind of a marching band tradition over there, and then absorbing American Jazz sounds, notably Gil Evans music, especially coming up with his own sound and Michael was a composer, Gil being more of an arranger. Gil would take Gershwin's music and take Porgy and Bess and do something with it maybe, but Michael was composing. So he was writing these really interesting compositions with very unique voicings and combinations of instruments that he may have borrowed from Gil and just transforming them into these wonderful sound scapes. FB: Gary MacFarland also had a very unique way of putting an orchestra together and interweaving sections. He had some really really wonderful albums on Verve and other labels. TP: Yeah I loved Gary's writing because it was so contrapuntal. If you came out of the Basie tradition it was the sax solos and the brass writing was based on a vertical concept, which I loved, and we all did. FB: Yep, echoed now more recently by Bill Holman. TP: Gary came, his music was lighter, it had a more, the texture was lighter, he wrote almost like a small group concept. FB: Conversation between the sections, crisp but smooth flowing. TP: Yeah, so, all of that, Herb just let that happen. And I think it all kind of creeped into the music that was part of the Boston scene. I really credit the Berklee atmosphere for creating what I thought of then as "the Boston sound." So and then there of course were some marvelous musicians coming out of here, uh Charlie Mariano, Toshiko, and the players that were teaching at school here, Alan Dawson, and Herb of course, that sent this music out, cast it upon the waters, so to speak, and I just found as I came here that summer 1961 I said "man, I feel like I'm home." I went from this very sort of stern Ivy League education to this wonderful open scene that was here over at 284 Newbury street. FB: How did you infiltrate yourself into this? Did you come in as a freshman all over again? TP: Yeah I basically started from scratch, I came here as a nobody. I was kind of testing the waters, so to speak, but FB: But you had a couple years on the other guys. You were probably 21? TP: Yeah I was 21, 22 years old. FB: I always like to have older freshmen in my class because they always bring another level of sophistication and awareness into the classroom. TP: And I had a considerable amount of playing experience at Cornell, which was separate from my education there. I'd done a lot of playing out there, so I guess what happened was the very first day, they auditioned incoming students. So I got there early, and I was one of the first drummers to audition. And first it was a gentleman named George Brambilla who was teaching here, a pianist. He heard me play and he said, "Hey, would you mind auditioning, staying here, playing the drums while we have all these horn players and piano players come in and play?" So, I sat there... FB: You were the house drummer. TP: There I was, brand new on the first day of school and I was part of this auditioning band for these horn players and whatnot. So right away they kind of felt like, well he's got good time, and I started getting some recommendations for some of the better ensembles. Right from the beginning. So between that and the fact that my friend Ed that I spoke about was already playing in a local dance band led by a gentleman named Dick Wright, Ed got me the chair, the drum chair with Dick's band that summer. I started playing right away, that was one of the main reasons I was able to stay here, not only because I loved the music but because I was making a little bit of money, doing these gigs and whatnot. It wasn't a lot, but it sure helped. FB: It defrayed the tuition costs, etcetera. TP: Yeah. So.