What Is The Best Musical Advice You Ever Received?

Hot Topics - Windplayer Vol. 63
                                                                           By Anne Farnsworth  

Dave Koz    

Dave Koz

              Probably the best advice I ever got was from Tom Scott, whom I called out of the blue one day. His point to me as a young musician was to just get out there, and have a good time. Play in as many different musical situations as possible, he suggested, because you never know which iron you have in the fire will take off. But most importantly, he was all about keeping that dream alive inside; there will always be people around who'll say you can't do this or can't do that, and the true winners are the ones who never lose track of their dreams.

 One of the pioneers of the smooth jazz sound, Dave Koz hosts a nationally syndicated radio show, The Dave Koz Show.

George Garzone

          From my Zen master - "Keep going and never stop."

              A founding member of the Fringe, tenor saxophonist George Garzone is a leader in the avant-garde jazz movement.

             He teaches improvisation at Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory.

Jerry Bergonzi

              This is something that happened to a friend of mine but it’s stuck with me all this time. This guy drove 300 miles one night to see his hero, Paul Desmond, play with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After the concert, he approached Paul and said, ‘I play tenor, too. Do you have any advice for me?’  And Paul told him, "Don’t attack the note; enter the note."

              Tenor saxophonist Bergonzi began his career with the Dave Brubeck Ensemble in 1973. He has released more than 50 recordings and has performed with Bill Evans, John Scofield, John          Abercrombie, Gerry Mulligan, and Mike Brecker.






Wycliffe Gordon                                      Wycliffe Gordon

           My Mother told me, "No matter how much success one acquires in this life, always be grateful for all of life's experiences and it's teachers."

Wycliff Gordon first caught the public's eye anchoring the trombone section Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Along with an active performing and recoding schedule, he is on the faculty of Michigan State University.


Dave Liebman

          I received many tidbits from master musicians I had the privilege to work with like Elvin Jones, Pete LaRoca, and Miles. One thing Miles said in his elliptical, short, and vague way of speaking about music was food for thought for many years - ‘stop before you’re done’.  It’s sort of Zen. My interpretation is that if you are thinking about finishing a musical statement, you’ve already played too much! And, of course, surprise endings were a Miles trademark. It also allows room for the rhythm section to initiate ideas and be active participants in the conversation.

Grammy-nominated soprano saxophonist, author, and educator, Dave Liebman has played with Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and Elvin Jones. He has an international touring schedule and has been inducted into the International Association of Jazz Educator's Hall of Fame.

John McNeil

          The best piece of advice I ever got was from Clark Terry. I wanted to become a professional player but was meeting with nothing but discouragement.  It was the '60s and all I heard was "can’t make it; too hard." Clark Terry heard me play one night and I asked him, "I want to become a pro but everyone says it’s so hard. Do you think I can make it?"  And he says, "Absolutely. When you get to New York," he tells me (not if but when), "Your job will be to not listen to anybody else cause there’s never any shortage of people around to tell you what you can’t do."  Another thing Clark told me was to be prepared to play any kind of gig - Broadway shows, ethnic weddings, anything. And that’s what I did. It got me through the early years.

Trumpeter John McNeil has toured and recorded with Horace Silver, Gerry Mulligan, and his own bands. He serves on the faculty of New England Conservatory and is the author of The Art Of The Jazz Trumpet.


Terrance Blanchard                                      Terrance Blanchard

         The best piece of advice I ever got was from Art Blakey who told me, "Never talk above nobody, never talk beneath nobody.  Always talk straight at them."

New Orleans native Terence Blanchard has released a new CD, Let's Get Lost. A Grammy-nominated trumpeter, he has been scoring films since beginning a collaboration with Spike Lee in the late '80s.



Back              Jazz Vocal Techniques                 About The Author