Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dan's Still the Man

I always try to read the UNT Jazz Studies website, because it has a lot of good information pertaining not only to current events on campus, but also updates on the activities of some of my former classmates and professors. So I was pleased to read an article about Dan Haerle, a former UNT professor, whose 1999 CD "Spirit of the Moment" is now available on the iTunes Music Store.

Recorded with his longtime cohorts, drummer Jack Mouse and UNT alum Bob Bowman on bass (and isn't that an appropriate name for a bassist?), the CD features a good sampling of Haerle originals, some of which he's recorded before. My personal favorites include "Spangalang," " Magic Morning" (a.k.a. "that really hard tune from Improv IV") and a new one to me, "Swifty." Dan adds a touch of synthesizers here and there (though their EWI-like sounds make it seem as though there's a horn player in the band), but he's mostly playing some great acoustic piano, just like he would before class. This is truly a case of "those who can, teach." Bowman and Mouse provide excellent support and fine solo work throughout.

Also featured in a subsequent post on the UNT Jazz site was a story about Dan's list of parting thoughts to jazz students, given upon his formal retirement from UNT in 2002 (though he still teaches an online jazz fundamentals course). Read the whole thing, but here are some choice examples:
If you don't have a natural curiosity about the musical world and the sounds you hear every day, a musical profession is probably not for you.

Share the wealth. Pass on what you know to others. Music is an aural tradition that is continually handed down from generation to generation. You must listen to and assimilate the good qualities of great musicians.

[...]It only takes two people who want to make music to have a band. Nothing is ever missing. Each instrument may add to and enhance a group but music can be played with any combination.

You don't have to practice. You can sell your instrument and get out of music. Better yet, give your instrument to someone who is really hungry to play.

Never care about what anyone thinks of your playing, only what you think of it.

Don't play music to glorify yourself, give of yourself to glorify the music. Give up your ego and make the music more important than you.

[...]At any time, you are perfectly alright and simply in some stage of your growth. There will always be musicians who are more or less experienced than you. Be inspired by all of them.

In addition to the usual, practice away from the instrument, study with the instrument in hand.

Learning the melodies to songs correctly is a simple matter of respect for the composers.

It is the performer's responsibility to make a piece sound as the composer intended or else to write his or her own composition. An artist learns how to recognize the ways in which the composer indicates what the sound of a composition is.

There is only one tempo for a tune, the one that was counted off. Subtle differences in tempo can create entirely new experiences with the same music.
Again, read the whole thing. And buy his CD. This is one man whose output is well worth your time.

UPDATE: I heard some news about another musical Dan a little while after typing this post:Dan Fogelberg passed away this morning of pancreatic cancer. I got into his music as many people do--because a girl that I liked liked it. How much new music have we discovered because of romance?

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: It turns out that Fogelberg's father is a fraternity brother of mine; Larry Fogelberg, a longtime school band director, was immortalized in Dan's song "Leader of the Band."

Blowing out lots and lots of candles: Happy birthday to another guy who was evidently no slouch on the keyboards--Ludwig van Beethoven. And thanks to the late Charles Schulz, who, by virtue of making his Peanuts character Schroeder a huge Beethoven fan, made his name (and birthday) among the best known of classical composers among the general public.

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