September 24-27 07, Back to Boston and Berklee

Boston was my home for a number of the early years, having graduated from Brookline High School, then crazily accepting a scholarship to attend Sam Houston State Teacher College (the name at the time)in Huntsville, Texas, on a dance band scholarship. This is an entry all to its own, having to do with wanting to get away from home, wanting to live in the West,and being something of a bungee-jumping person, having never played the saxophone to any extent,going downtown in Boston and recording “More then you Know, and I’m in the Mood for Love” solo on the alto saxophone, receiving the telegram….”scholarship granted”, and taking the bus for 66 hours to Texas. An exciting and weird three years, ending with enlisting for the 4th Army Band, then in San Antonio.

I found a great education in traveling and enjoyed myself immensely.
I learned to read there, having never ever seen a lead alto part in manuscript for a fast moving “chart”. One learns to read fast Oh my, very fast indeed.
After those years, I returned to Boston to Boston University to study with Gino Cioffi, and then to the New England Conservatory for 6 years with Rosario Mazzeo.

One of the many jobs I had while in school was driving a cab. There was a place behind the NEC , a Yellow cab place and I took a job there, a great and horrible adventure. One learns , if one is a cabbie, not to drive into tunnels or underpasses, because the fares don’t go there.
Yes, I went to many concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra,playing as well listening to all of those wonderful players, and received a Grant from The Rockefeller Foundation to Play New Music for Lukas Foss,. Well I could go on and on as I am wont to do, however this is about returning to Boston to play at the Berklee College of Music.
Originally to have been an entire concert of new music, written for me by Berklee College Composers, it turned out to be a performance of only two, “Arabesque Giocoso”, but Thomas McGah, and “Six for Two”, by John Bavicchi.(Another long and tedious university story. Nothing ever changes)
Berklee is a wonderful school located on the Corner of Mass Ave and Boylston Street where an old Theater, a Hotel and the State Street Bank were all purchased by Berklee.And, like other schools the students are the most wonderful.The school has 4300 students and 460 faculty, the best ratio of just about any school within the US.
I have never seen such a vibrant group of students working at all hours of the morning, noon and night.
While we were very short of rehearsal space and grand pianos, my accompanist Jun (pronounced June) Toguchi seemed to do well, though I would have played more had I had the chance.
This had been created as a vehicle for me to play the music of Berklee Composers, however it turned into quite something else, including an amplified piano, not my cup of keys.
Driving to Boston from Ontario we got lost in the middle of the Adirondack mountains and were treated to the most intensely contrasting and beautiful festival of fall colors we had ever seen. We stayed lost until we drove into Lake Placid Olympic training grounds and finally found our way to Route 87, until 90, and then Boston quite quickly.
It was really a beautiful week, punctuated by the Boston Redsox winning the Pennant. We were taken for lubrification after the concert and each time the Sox would score a big firebell would be struck.
Prior to this event, I had played literally hundreds of concerts, having learned many things, one of which being, “a concert completely filled with new music is not preferable… anything”. People cannot really appreciate all new music on a concert; it just doesn’t work. Perhaps one day people will learn and accept that. One would hope so. This was similar to yet another couple of years in Buffalo playing only new music in Buffalo and then repeating them in Carnegie Recital Hall.
But there is an interesting addenda. I met my wife in Buffalo and, as I mentioned to her this morning, “we met because of new music”
In any event, we all had a wonderful time. John Bavicchi mentioned that I had developed ” aseptogenarian charm”. I spoke to his composition class and played for them as well.
Boston is a wonderful place to play.
best regards, sherman


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