steve marsh

Steve Marsh

Can Do All Of That

Longtime friend and musical colleague, saxophonist Steve Marsh has launched from his hometown roots in Albuquerque and Phoenix to float in the orbits of artists like Lyle Lovett, Tony Bennett, Brian Setzer, Bonnie Raitt, Mel Tormé and Clare Fischer. Through perseverance, hard work and natural talent, Steve has carved out a niche for himself in Los Angeles and around the world, spanning multiple musical styles.


First Impressions
(mp3, 1.0MB)

(mp3, 6.5MB)


JK: Why don't you start out by sharing a bit of your musical history: who you've played with, gone on the road with, how you ended up in L.A., ...

SM: Well, on the professional circuit, most people will probably remember that I played with Lyle Lovett for a very long time. I originally met him because Matt McKenzie and Ray Herndon, some of our classmates in the band at Mesa Community College (MCC), were gigging in a very good country band at Mr. Lucky's in Glendale, AZ. I would fall by Mr. Lucky's after my Hispanic wedding gigs or whatever I was doing at the time, because the Mr. Lucky's band performed after-hours sets on the weekends. You could go by there and sit in. Sometimes Bob Warren would be playing there. I knew very few of those country tunes, but they're easy enough to hear and when they pointed at me, I would play some kind of a solo.

Well, that Mr. Lucky's band was on tour in Europe, in Luxemburg of all places. They were on the same festival as Lyle Lovett, and it was like a folk festival. Lyle was playing solo, and they really liked Lyle's songs so they started accompanying him there. The Mr. Lucky's guys told Lyle, "Say, why don't you come to Scottsdale and we'll record some of your songs." Lyle is from Houston, so that how he ended up here at Chaton Studios in Scottsdale.

By then, Matt Rollings, the great piano player (he was 18 years old at the time), had quit Mr. Lucky's and was getting ready to go to Berklee. He was playing in Francine Reed's band, as was myself. Ted Connell was on drums, and Andy Gonzales was on bass. So Lyle and the Mr. Lucky's guys recorded a bunch of Lyle's country tunes at Chaton Studio, and Matt Rollings played on those sessions, along with McKenzie and Herndon. Matt Rollings told Lyle, "I'm playing with this really cool jazz singer, Francine Reed, and we gig four nights per week." So Lyle Lovett showed up, and of course everybody loves Francine on first hearing, so Lyle invited both Francine and myself to come down and record at Chaton. Besides the straight-ahead country tunes, Lyle had written these—he called 'em his "blues" songs—a little bit swingy, a little bit bluesy, a little bit jazzy, you know. And those were the tunes that I recorded on.

JK: Right, he kind of walks that divide between different genres.


SM: Yeah, Lyle was one of the first country artists in the '80s who was known for starting to cross genres a little bit. In some cases, this fellow Billy Williams, a guitar player at Mr. Lucky's, wrote out a few horn sketches for me. Or sometimes they would just play the tracks they had recorded and I would improvise, and when they liked one of my licks, we would keep that and harmonize it, and I would end up overdubbing all the sax section parts. It was really the first time I ever did a lot of that, overdubbing entire sax sections. That was a really good experience. And that became Lyle's first album. For any students who might be reading this, the main lesson is that at age 24, I had prepared my musical skills well enough to do a good job when an opportunity like this presented itself. I felt that Lyle's swing tunes needed a sort of Count Basie style lead alto feel, and I knew how to do that. When we started touring, I orchestrated all of the horn charts.

Those Lovett recordings took place in the summer of '84. That album went to Nashville, got re-mastered, and came out in '86, and we started doing things like the Austin City Limits TV show and a couple other things, one-off gigs here and there. I started touring heavily with Lyle Lovett in 1988 with those same cats: Matt Rollings on piano, Matt McKenzie on bass, Ray Herndon on guitar, Dan Tomlinson on drums, Francine Reed on vocals; it was a big Phoenix contingent. That developed into a thing we did almost every summer for the next twenty or so years. Sometimes Lyle would skip a year or two while he did some acting jobs. I spent probably twenty-two or twenty-four summers touring with Lyle. In 1993 we did six months of touring in a couple different segments, and during that same year I also toured another six weeks with Mel Tormé's big band, aka "the Melvinator!"

JK: Wow, how about that!

SM: Yeah, it was cool.

JK: So, with Lyle, was that mostly in the States or did you do some international stuff?

SM: We did some European tours early on, it might have even been the first or second year of the touring band. I got to see London, where we worked at night but we got to go see the sights during the days. We covered the whole U.K., and we played Scotland and Ireland. We had a really nice weeklong gig in Switzerland sometime in the '90s in the really sweet resort town of Gstaad, with first-class accommodations all the way, playing a country music festival over there, of all things!

JK: For the Bilderbergs! (laughs)

SM: (laughs) Yeah, could have been, could have been! I don't know what the deal was. And another neat thing was that we did a tour of Germany. It was only maybe two years after the wall came down, and we played a gig in East Berlin, and on the bus on the way to the gig, we went across what used to be Checkpoint Charlie, and you could really see the difference. West Berlin was pretty nice and somewhat affluent, but immediately when you got to the East Berlin side it was dark and dingy looking, just run down and beat up. It was a pretty good example of the failure of authoritarian style socialism. But then we played in this park in East Berlin and all these German hippies were there, and you could smell burning pot in the air. It was like playing in San Francisco in the 1960s! It was this weird billing of Lyle, the Violent Femmes, and Bonnie Raitt. Bonnie was awesome and our horn section got to sit in with her on those tours; that was really nice, she's great.

Because Lyle's songs are very lyric-driven, and because of the English thing and a lot of Texas colloquialisms, we never toured Asia. I think that they just wouldn't get it, what with all the stuff he writes about Texas and so on.

We performed on a lot of TV shows: I did David Letterman's show four times, we did the old Johnny Carson show a time or two, a couple times with Jay Leno, and we did four different years of Austin City Limits—they do a really good job there with the sound and camera work.

JK: What kind of a venue is that? Do they always have that in the same venue, or do they move it around some?

SM: It might have changed now, but when we did it, it was in the communications building of the university in Austin, Texas, on the top floor. All of the camera cranes stay set up there, and they really had the production dialed in, because they had produced so many hundreds of shows.

JK: How many people did that seat? I was thinking it was this huge auditorium.

SM: A couple hundred, but it's not huge. At some of those tapings various Texan celebrities would show up: the governor at the time, Ann Richards, was a big Lyle fan, and the coach of the Texas football team would be there. We did a lot of fun stuff. We performed on the Grammy awards show in 1989.

And then some of the tunes I recorded with Lyle have been used in motion pictures, which led to another income stream, some royalties. The Firm, with Tom Cruise, used one of Lyle's songs. There's a big old alto sax solo in a scene, and I made some nice royalty money on that. Through Lyle's producer, I also got to do a record with George Strait. That record went platinum, like most things that George does. So, yeah, I've got a couple gold and platinum records up on the wall. La-dee-dah!

JK: That's exciting.

SM: Yeah. The Mel Tormé thing was really cool. It was a big band of L.A. players. It was later in Mel's career, so some nights his voice was better than others, but on the nights that Mel was really feeling good, the "Velvet Fog" came out and he sounded spectacular. It was interesting that we were playing a lot of Mel's arrangements. Mel was a self-taught arranger, and the other arrangements we played were these great Marty Paich charts. Mel had really studied Marty's charts to learn how to arrange. Mel would sing and conduct us at the same time, and then he would go up and play the drum set on "Hawaiian War Chant," from his days of hanging out with the Dorsey band. That was a really fun tour.

The other big tour I did for about two years was with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, the rockabilly big band. I worked with him from '96 to '98. We did a weeklong gig in Finland with Brian, the Pori Jazz Festival, which is a really large Scandinavian music festival.

JK: Was it cold up there?

SM: Not in the summer. But it was only dark for about two hours in a twenty-four hour period (laughs). It was weird, too: we played some really late sets, I think we played from 1am to 3 a.m. and during that time the sun had set and come back up. We missed the whole thing! We'd come out at 3:30, ready to go to sleep, and it was already getting bright again.

Pori was one of those mixed genres festivals—I got to see Earth, Wind and Fire perform there, Joe Lovano had a 10-piece band there—that was really interesting. Ted Curson was there, the trumpet player who used to play with Mingus. Joanne Brackeen also performed; there was some interesting jazz stuff at that festival.

I made a record with Brian Setzer that went double-platinum.

JK: Oh, wow!

SM: That was kind of the height of that retro-swing revival.


JK: After having played all over the world, in various contexts, what would you say are your favorite venues to have performed in?

SM: I certainly got to see a lot of beautiful places. At last count, I've performed concerts in 49 of the 50 states. I think my number one venue would be Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, mostly because it's just so beautiful. We used to call it the Fred Flintstone theatre because it's built right into the rocks. Different bands make their videos there, because it's really beautiful. The backstage area is like these catacombs that they've built down into the rocks. The downside of Red Rocks is that it's at 6,400 feet elevation. Coming up from sea level in L.A.—as a horn player, and the singers, too—you definitely feel the altitude. You find yourself taking extra breaths in phrases that you would normally be able to do in one breath, and you get lightheaded while blowing the horn. They do keep an oxygen tank on the side of the stage, and sometimes it's very necessary to hit that oxygen tank!

It was also a big kick to play the Hollywood Bowl with the Grant Wolf MCC jazz band of 1981, when we won the Playboy Jazz Festival college band competition. Then I played that festival again in '83 with ASU and Chuck Marohnic.

Another place I really liked playing was Wolf Trap, outside of Washington D.C., which seats about 7,000 people. In the old days we would sell that venue out, usually with another act. Y'know, Lyle Lovett on the bill with Bonnie Raitt or Reba McEntire or Shawn Colvin. It's a nice venue that looks good and sounds good.

We got to play a couple places in New York City in the old days, like The Bottom Line, where we would play four or five nights in a week. A lot of interesting artists played at the Bottom Line over the years. And we played the Beacon Theatre in New York, which was really nice. During my very first ever concert in NYC, my reed split right down the middle, which almost never happens! Always keep some spare reeds in your pocket!

We use to play an interesting place in Santa Fe, which is close to where I grew up (Los Alamos). My high school band director would show up and I would get nervous (laughs). My parents would be there. It was something they call the Indian School there, which was set up to teach Native American students. They have this outdoor amphitheater, which again looks a little bit like something out of the Flintstones. It's kind of subterranean and has a really steep ramp for loading all the gear in and out of the pit, which was a drag for our road crew. Lyle's crew would carry a grand piano around that would become disassembled every night and put on the truck and reassembled and retuned every day. So the crew had to deal with stuff like that, and all the lights and sound equipment. We often experienced tremendous rainstorms at that Santa Fe venue, which made things very difficult for our road crew.

JK: When somebody hears all that, it would sound like a pretty storied career. Compared to someone like me, who pretty much stayed in Phoenix, do you think you would have been able to achieve any of that if you hadn't made the move to get out of town and go to L.A. or Nashville or wherever? I guess that's another question, too: is L.A. one of the only cities you think you could have done that in? Or could you have done that in Chicago, or New York, or Seattle, or Nashville? If someone is going to make a career in music, where should they go? (I mean, obviously not Phoenix...)

SM: It could happen in most of the cities you mentioned. I moved to L.A. in '88 and the things have changed a lot, the business is not nearly as healthy as is was back then. Seems like musicians are scuffling everywhere now. I could have done Lyle's tours if I had still been based out of Phoenix, but I am glad that I made the move to L.A., because that opened up a lot of other possibilities. Being around so many high caliber musicians on the coast is a very healthy thing for any musician. The competition aspect is very important for musical development, and you don't really get that in Phoenix.

When I moved away from here I was ready for a new challenge, not that I was so great that I'd outgrown Phoenix, but I'd played with most of the players here. At that time there was a woman vocalist who I was involved with, and she had moved to L.A. to do some recording, and I followed her out there. It seemed like the time was right to leave Phoenix. The same year ('88) that I moved to L.A. was the same year that I started touring with Lyle, so even though I initially knew very few people in L.A. to connect with, the Lyle tours brought in some income so I could survive.

But touring was a double-edged sword, because if you're based in L.A. but are touring a lot, then people don't see you and there's such long sub lists of great players, and it's easy to become forgotten. Like when I would get back to town I would call the contractors whom I worked for and say, "Hey, I'm back, hook me up with some gigs, please." And then two months would go by and I'd get finally a call, "Hey, Steve, are you still on the road?" They'd have completely forgotten that other conversation, just because there are so many great players there. That's one of the ways L.A. is really different than Phoenix. Whereas there are a couple of good bass players here, over there I could give you a list of 30 or 40 great bass players, and they're all magnificent! Same thing with drummers, piano players, a million good saxophone and brass players; the skill level is really, really high in all categories.

JK: Kind of forces you to up your game.

SM: And that's a healthy thing, you know. For people that stay in a smaller market, you can do the big fish in a small pond thing, but I think you can get a little too comfortable with that. It was hard to break into L.A., for sure. You transfer your union membership to Local 47, you start trying to sub in big bands, you meet cats that way, people learn who you are. But you gotta be ready to play well the first time somebody important hears you. First impressions. They're very judgmental out there in L.A. A guy can play great jazz tenor and good flute, but if his clarinet chops are raggedy, that's what they're gonna talk about. "Oh, man, he sucked on clarinet!" (laughs) 'Cause there's guys who can do all of that, you know?

The business in L.A. has changed so much. There are all these different tiers and genres of playing. The elite cats that did the motion picture stuff used to kind of sneer at the cats who did the music theatre stuff, and the theatre guys sneered at the cats who did the wedding bands. But what has happened is that a lot of the movie work has been outsourced. A lot of the producers don't want to deal with the Hollywood Musician's Union and the back end payments, the royalty payments, so they'll use the London Symphony, which of course is a very fine organization. The LSO will record for a one-time buyout. Or they'll use some Slovakian National Orchestra because they'll do it for very cheap, or they'll record in Perth, Australia. What I hear is that a third of the movie music has disappeared from Hollywood. And so those movie music cats have had to jump down to doing theatre stuff, and it can be really high-end stuff, like a long run of Lion King at the Pantages Theatre or the Ahmanson Theatre. And so then some of the theater cats get pushed down to the next level thing, whatever that is.

JK: Just collapsing, one level at a time.

SM: The great Dan Higgins calls it the "Lily Pad" scenario. All of the lily pads are sinking underwater, and cats are hopping to the next surviving gig structure! And before long, cats are thinking, "Well, those $400 wedding gigs in Beverly Hills really aren't so bad after all." Believe me, I do plenty of wedding gigs and I'm glad to have the money. And there are tremendous musicians doing those gigs! Josh Sklair is the guitar player in one wedding band I play with, and Josh was Etta James' musical director and guitarist for 25 years. Our bass player (Reggie McBride) used to record with Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Rickie Lee Jones, Keb' Mo', Barry Manilow, and Reggie was a founding member of the band Rare Earth. So when Reggie is in town he comes and does a high-end Hollywood wedding with us. That was a big difference between my gigging days in Phoenix and L.A. Even in the wedding bands, the caliber of players is so much higher in L.A. There are exceptions because we know that there are some great players here in Phoenix, but there's just so many more of them over on the coast. One of our female vocalists sang with Ray Charles as a Raelette, and another woman sang for Joe Cocker for a long time. One of our male singers went on to tour as the lead singer with Roger Waters' Pink Floyd shows.


JK: What advice would you give to a young person that's thinking about making a living in music or trying to do break into a major music city?

SM: Get yourself as prepared as possible. Talk to some professional musicians; they can be in Phoenix, that's fine. What I find is that young musicians just have no grasp of how competitive the business is, how few jobs there really are where you can make a living, and how good the competition is. They should use their young years in high school or college to practice as much as they possibly can. Study and learn as much about music as possible. Either become super, super good in one area—like become the best jazz player on the planet—or be very versatile. For myself, the versatility thing has led to more employment. There are a couple different styles that I can play pretty convincingly and fit in stylistically. For instance, I had to learn how to become a fairly authentic-sounding blues player after my first year of trying to play bebop lines over the top of shuffles; that just didn't sound right. I bought records of the old bar walking tenor players. I also became an acceptable charanga flute player, by buying CDs of Cuban charanga bands, so that I could make gigs with some great Latin bands in L.A. So one must listen carefully to a variety of styles to get a real authentic feel for the music.

And use a metronome, by all means! A lot of young musicians don't use the metronome nearly enough, that's a big problem. Almost all of my young students rush like crazy. Woodwind players still need to learn their doubles: get classical training on the flute and clarinet. That seems to have become a lost art. Some of my young sax players don't think they're gonna have to play those instruments, but to get certain jobs, you have to be very competent and not just sound like a "doubler", but like someone who really knows how to play those instruments on a high level.

JK: As a trumpeter, I'm certainly glad I didn't need to learn a whole bag full of different horns, I probably would have lost interest if that was the case.

SM: It's a lot of work, a lot of time commitment. It's a lot about commitment, you know. Are you willing to turn off your phone and shut yourself in a practice room for thousands of hours? Can you deal with the lifestyle, pay the dues and be poor for a long time? Get declined for loan applications when you're finally trying to buy a condo at age 55? Even a very modest condo? (laughs) Even in terms of relationships—if you have to go on the road a lot, it's really hard to keep a relationship going. I've had several situations crash and burn because I had to be gone on the road a lot. Just even without going out of town, it's difficult to find a mate who understands what we do and won't be constantly going, "Why do you have to practice your horn all the time?" It's difficult...but I'm not bitter! (laughs)

JK: To piggyback on your earlier comments, I think one of the things that young people need to do is not be fooled into complacency just because they're the best musician at their school...

SM: Exactly!

JK: ...or at their university or in their city. As you know, a place like L.A. or Nashville or New York, they attract the best person from every city the world over, so you can't really let up, you can't ever think you're "good enough."

SM: That's very true. I really find that to be the case where I teach, at the small university in Ventura County. Even though it's very close to L.A. and Hollywood and all that world-class talent, the students are up in Ventura County and they might be the best bass player on campus, but they're one of only 3 bass players there. They get such a big head, so I'm constantly trying to show them examples of what the competition is really going to be like. They are really going to have to be able to deal with the professional level of musicianship.

JK: I think a lot of times—and this is something I didn't really learn until later on—we don't realize all the stuff we are willing and able to accomplish. Using your hypothetical electric bass player as an example, and you want to become really great. Maybe you hear something like Jaco Pastorius play that Bach etude on his Word of Mouth album, "Whoa, geez, I could never do that." Well, yeah, you could if you were willing to learn it, like, 4 notes at a time.

SM: Slowly!

JK: If you took your time, you could probably learn that in a couple of months. You might not be able to play it quite as good as he does, but just the persistence factor is something that is overlooked a lot of times. Developing that mindset that you know you're just going to have to spend some time on it, and if you put enough hours into it, it will eventually pay off.

SM: I think the other key is slowing it, way, way down. Practice learning things very slowly. I train my students to learn things really, really slowly. Some of the etudes we study are very technical, with a lot of 16th notes and a lot of precise articulations marked in. You'll never get it all on the first try at the marked tempos, but a lot of young musicians that I've observed will just rush in to these things, and they blaze through it and make a million mistakes and ignore a lot of the dynamics and articulations. You need to try to get as much accuracy as possible on the very first reading, so I always prefer to have my students, even after a week, to still be playing it fairly slowly, but very accurately. Then you can always build the speed later by just increasing the metronome clicks a little bit at a time. But they'll just blast through something and it doesn't faze them at all that they've missed half the accidentals and articulations, and have forgotten the key signature thirteen times. Oh my God! Slow it down, and try to make something musical happen in the early stages. I think that's important.

Before we finish, and because of our shared musical background, I'd just like to say something about Grant Wolf. We were so lucky to have found him, or for him to have found us, or however it worked. And let's include the great Mr. Don Bothwell as well. Meeting you and Grant and the rest of the guys up at NAU summer music camp, that was a life-changing event for me, man. Especially because I was coming from this little tiny town in New Mexico where hardly anything was going on. Because I had grandparents in Flagstaff, I ended up at that music camp. At NAU camp I met you and Jim Henry, Scott Shiever, Jeff Dellisanti; a lot of guys that are still my friends. I also met the great pianist Tim Ray up there. Tim later did a lot of the Lovett tours with us. Tim is a very versatile musician!


Grant was just so inspiring. Now that I'm more of an educator, I wish that I'd have observed him more closely from the perspective of how he taught. I saw what he did, but it was always from the perspective of being a player and a student. I so wish that Grant were still around so I could call him up and ask him about some of my dilemmas as an educator now. "What did you do there, how do you do this?" I was so sad when he passed away, like we all were. We had some great years with that guy, and with Don Bothwell being at the school too.

JK: That was a real special moment in time when those two guys were running things over there at Mesa Community College, impacted a lot of players. They brought a lot of people in to work with us: Ladd McIintosh, Pete Christlieb, Gary Foster, Don Rader...

SM: It was also a terrific group of students at MCC when we were there. I came over to MCC from New Mexico because of Grant, but also because I knew you guys from music camp. I knew you guys were really good creative, good aspiring jazzers, (laughs) so I knew it was going to be a good environment when I got there. And it was! We had some great bands, great concerts, and a lot of fun concerts with the "Jazz Boogers!" Hah! God bless Grant Wolf, he really set the scene, and he proved that you don't really need a super high-budget program. He couldn't give out huge scholarships like ASU could, but a lot of the hip, young players would still go to MCC for a few years and then finish up somewhere else.

JK: The thing is, too, we had some good bands out there, and certainly there were some really good musicians, but I would say overall the level of technical proficiency of the musicians wasn't necessarily the best you could find anywhere...

SM: No, it wasn't.

But it's just that there was a passion and an openness and ears to hear things. "Oh, wow, what's that, let's try this!" I think that's one of the things Grant did. I remember as I'd walk by his office, there'd be some music playing in there and I'd think, "Oh, gosh, I haven't heard that sound before. What's that?" He would try to bring a lot of that stuff in and incorporate it. Occasionally some things wouldn't work, so we'd leave it and move on.

SM: We tried some very interesting things there!

JK: He was always real good about finding what pieces worked with whatever tools he had in the way of students.

SM: Precisely. Grant was something else, man. I remember my first semester there was when he brought in all those Coltrane transcriptions and he had us play Trane's Moment's Notice as a sax soli. And we also did Locomotion, using the Andrew White transcriptions. We'd be having sectionals in one of the rooms and Grant would check in on us every once in a while, and that's when he would do that "turn off the lights" thing. After he heard us play the soli a few times and when it was sounding somewhat together, he'd say, "Ok, let me turn off the lights and see how well you guys do! Take it from letter A." [Click!] Complete darkness. "Ok, one, two, a one, two, three, four." Sha-ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-be-deeee! And off you'd go. (laughs) Go until it crashed and burned. Grant was a trip, man. He was phenomenal.

I remember that summer at NAU, I was in that band with you and Jim Henry and Grant had us doing some free-form playing. And again, Grant turned off the lights in the room sometimes. He say, "Let's improvise a ballad"; or "let's improvise a 3/4 tune this time." That was pretty heady stuff for sixteen and seventeen year old kids. He definitely wasn't one of those band directors that gets the "band director handbook" and goes directly through Page 1, Page 2, Page 3.

JK: Even still, that was, what, forty years ago? There are probably not very many high school students now that have had somebody turn off the lights and say, "Play!" and see what happens.

SM: If they did, they were probably some of Grant's students that had become band directors.

JK: Closing thoughts?

SM: It's been a real pleasure seeing you again, James. I rarely get back to Phoenix any more, but I have great memories of our musical adventures here, and I still have some very wonderful friends here. And also I wanted to say that it was great fun recording your saxophone quartet composition by overdubbing one instrument at a time. (Listen here!)

JK: That was quite a tour de force on your part! I can think of few other guys talented enough to nail all four sax parts so well, to say nothing of all the work that went into recording it. I guess that's a perfect example of what you were talking about, surviving in that crucible of great talent in L.A. by doing your homework, working hard, and learning everything you can to be a success. You've been an inspiration to me, Steve, and to many reading this right now, I'm sure. Thinking about what friends like you are doing keeps me plugging away, thanks for taking the time to share.

—December 2016

Artist Info


Jazz Artists

Clare Fischer, Jack Sheldon, Chuck Flores, Mel Tormé, Rufus Reid, Bobby Shew, Ladd McIntosh Big Band, Lewis Nash, George Russell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Ray Anthony, Brian Bromberg, Joey Sellers, Vinny Golia, Les Hooper Big Band


Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Johnny Mathis, Lou Rawls, Lyle Lovett, Brian Setzer, Four Tops, Temptations, Paul Anka, Bonnie Raitt, Marilyn McCoo, Steve & Edie, Maureen McGovern


The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Janiva Magness, Floyd Dixon, Kid Ramos, Finus Tasby, James Harmon


Yes, through the University.





Tenor Sax

Selmer Super Balanced Action (Otto Link rubber New Vintage 6*)

Alto Sax

Selmer Mark VI (Meyer Limited Edition #7)

Soprano Sax

Selmer (old Soloist "F" mouthpiece)

Baritone Sax

Keilwerth Superba II, w/ rubber Link mouthpiece


Yamaha 621, with Louis Burkhart headjoint. Pearl Alto Flute. Yamaha wood piccolo.


1970's vintage Buffet R-13, Clark Fobes 2L mthpc. Yamaha Bass Clarinet/Clark Fobes mouthpiece.

Sax Cases

Walt Johnson cases

Microphone (live)

Shure 57 or 58 (they take lots of abuse, and keep on ticking!)


Macbook Pro
Home studio gear: Rode ribbon mic, Grace preamp, Prosonus analog to digital interface


▸The Amazing SlowDowner app
▸iStrobosoft phone app tuner


Listen to, sing along, and transcribe solos by artists with an accessible style, such as:

Dexter Gordon, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Miles Davis (40s-50s), Lester Young, Stan Getz, Curtis Fuller, Jim Hall.

Other Listening, for vocabulary & concepts:

Lennie Tristano Sextet, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, Clifford Brown, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Wynton Kelly,Wes Montgomery, early period Art Pepper, early Lee Konitz, Gary Foster, Warne Marsh, David Liebman, Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, George Coleman, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins.


Arranging/Composition/Big Band styles: Count Basie Band, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band, Maria Schneider, Joey Sellers' Jazz Aggregation, Gil Evans (Miles Ahead), Kenny Wheeler: especially Music for Large Ensemble, and The Windmill Tilter.


Jazz Arranging & Composing, a Linear Approach by Bill Dobbins
A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony & Melody by David Liebman
Inside the Score by Rayburn Wright
Conversations on the Improviser's Art by Andy Hamilton and Lee Konitz
An Unsung Cat - the Life and Music of Warne Marsh by Stafford Chamberlain
John Coltrane, his Life and Music by Lewis Porter
Lennie Tristano, his Life in Music by Eunmi Shim
Footprints, the Life and Work of Wayne Shorter by Michelle Mercer
Stopping Time: Paul Bley and the Transformation of Jazz by Paul Bley & David Lee
Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner
David Liebman: Self-Portrait of a Jazz Artist by David Liebman
Forces in Motion: Music & Thoughts of Anthony Braxton by Graham Lock
The Mysticism of Sound and Music: the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Central Avenue Sounds: Jazz in Los Angeles. by Various contributors, University of CA Press
Here, There and Everywhere - My Life Recording the Beatles by Geoff Emerick

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