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Rick Holland: Al welcome.

Loved your new


H2 Big Band project with Dave Hanson, Youre
It and also really enjoyed your first project with
him Just A Little Taste, a tribute to the 1955
Clifford Brown with Strings session. My first
question addresses the balance in your trumpet
playing. Can you tell us which teachers inspired
you to have such a balanced and virtuosic
approach to the trumpet?
Al Hood: Thanks Rick! Sure my first teacher
of note was Howard Rowe, a trumpeter and band
director in the Rush-Henrietta school district
near Rochester, NY. He made the art of
practicing and playing the trumpet, in whatever
style you played in, fun and challenging. Most
importantly, he would let me take home amazing
albums from his collection every week, in every
genre, but mostly jazz! By far the most
influential teacher on my present playing,
persona and teaching approach has to be Vince
DiMartino. I spent the better part of 1983-89
studying with him in Kentucky. He was, and
still is, all that I ever wanted to be as a trumpeter
and as a pedagogue. After that, I studied with
Ron Modell at Northern Illinois University, a

natural orchestral musician with wonderful jazz


sensibilities and love for the music, Ray Crisara
at UT-Austin, who emphasized a polished style
in whatever idiom you perform in, and the late
Gil Johnson at Miami, a legendary musician
who knew music inside and out and who could
also play most any tune on the piano! All five of
these individuals, no matter what their specialty
happened to be, instilled a love for ALL musical
genres within me and I am very grateful for that.
Andeachoneofthemisawonderful
gentleman.
RH: When did you start listening to Jazz? Who
were your early mentors on record?
AH: Well, I went through the early part of my
development listening to the popular trumpeters
on radio Maynard Ferguson, Chuck Mangione
(Rochester connection!) and Herb Alpert. I
actually got to perform with Mangione in a
back-up orchestra in 1980. My first real jazz
enlightenment came when Howard Rowe let me
take home some Clifford Brown and Lee
Morgan albums. I was hooked. From there, the
hard boppers became a favorite (Clifford, Lee,
Freddie, Blue Mitchell, Kenny Dorham, Chet

and Miles) and grew in both directions from


Satchmo, Eldridge, Cootie Williams, Gillespie
and Clark Terry to Woody Shaw, Randy Brecker,
Kenny Wheeler and Tom Harrell, among others.
RH: What was your process like, especially as
you gathered harmonic, rhythmic and melodic
material in this idiom?
AH: It was haphazard at best. A lot of listening
kept the progress going somewhere at least! I
started to transcribe a bit in high school and was
always drawn to melodic ideas, melodic solos
and phrases and balladic playing. I wrote down
the solos and played along with the recordings
as best I could! A melodic approach is still a
high priority for me. Rhythm became an
integral performance element (and is at the core
of jazz music) urged by my combo coaches
when I attended the Eastman HS Summer Camp
and when I finally entered college, but the
harmonic element has always eluded me,
probably because I never learned the keyboard
and always shied away from it even through my
college training; a big mistake. Mainly, I was
attempting to emulate these masters on record
and played along with those recordings, often

covering up masterful solos with my feeble


attempts at improvising!WhatdidIknow?I
alsostartedtoreadalotaboutjazztheoryand
practicedpatternsIwasgiven,ordiscovered,
blindlyandwithoutrealpurpose.Idontwantto
sayIwastedmytime,becauseIwasexcited,but
itwouldhavebeennicetohaveafewmore
nuggetsofknowledge!
RH: Can you talk to us a little about-- how you
like to approach teaching at the Higher Ed.
Level? What are some things you expect from
your students?
AH: Though it doesnt always take root, I do
emphasize taking a holistic approach to being a
trumpeter, immersing oneself in as many styles
as possible. Keep your musicianship and style
study high in every idiom to make yourself both
more marketable, and to have the utmost of fun
and variety in the music field! First and
foremost, they must play the instrument well and
know both how it functions in the most efficient
manner possible, and if not, how to problem
solve their errors quickly and effectively. So,
consequently a lot of time, especially with the
young ones, is spent on tone production,

projection, efficiency, mobility and flow and


other necessary technical issues. I tend to utilize
the methods of Arban, Clarke, Schlossberg,
Charlier, Gates, Concone, Colin, Bosquet,
Sachse, Hering and other standards for
undergrads and Arban-Maire, Bitsch, Aaron
Harris, Vizzutti and Snedecor for the grads. All
are expected to transpose (in classical or jazz
idioms), keep up scale and chord work, work on
solo literature, do range exercises and lip
flexibilities, prepare their phrasing, be curious
and ask questions, and maintain a regular
regimen of intelligent practice and live and
recorded listening. Jazz majors, and some brave
classical majors, also transcribe, compose and
work on voice-leading principles.Everyoneis
encouragedtomaintaintheirownvoice,but
thatissometimeshardtoachieve.
RH: Are there some things you emphasize in
balancing the students routines?
AH: Not really. The assignments I give either
are clearly balanced already or I leave it in their
hands. Things I tend to be emphatic about are
practice as slowly as you need to MASTER
something, repeat that perfected item a lot to

ingrain it, and consider spreading out your


practice so you can maintain a fresh perspective
and pretty fresh chops! Thoughtless practice
done in an inefficient way is such a waste of
honest efforts some are not even aware they
are doing it! I see my biggest role as being a
guide for the inexperienced trumpeter to help
them get on a good path and then to teach them
to help themselves eventually! My students hear
these words a lot from me project, emote,
slower, efficiency, balance, center/core, slot,
phrase and the list goes on!
RH: Changing gears. Can you share with my
readers your involvement with your role as chief
researcher and chief interviewer for Dr. Nick
Catalanos biography, Clifford Brown: The Life
and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter?Can
you share the type of content you provided?
AH: Sure Ive been researching Brownie
since I was a graduate student in Illinois in 1992.
I first interviewed his widow LaRue for a school
project by phone and she put me in touch with
others in Wilmington, DE and the list just started
to grow and grow. I soon made my way to
Wilmington and interviewed many of his family

and friends there, had some sessions with his


teacher Robert Boysie Lowery and started
collecting every bit of information I could on
Clifford it became somewhat of an obsession
for a while! I finally did get to meet LaRue and
some of the other legendary Brownie associates
in person. My reputation as a Brown scholar
started to expand and consequently Ive written
several articles on him and made numerous
presentations nationwide. When Nick Catalano
was contracted to write the first Brown
biography for Oxford University Press, he
actually moved down to Miami, where I was a
grad student and wrote the draft, utilizing all of
my research, interviews and collected data. We
met on a semi-daily basis and as it turned out,
most all of my research ended up comprising the
chapters on Cliffords early years. I do have
plans to expand on that first biography, utilizing
far more of my research than Nick did, adding
some new research and writing it from a
trumpeters perspective. Theres also a video
documentary on Brownie by Don Glanden and
his son Brad that is forthcoming and is VERY
interesting and thoughtfully done. I had some

input into that as well. I also have future plans


to hold a 5-day CB Jazz Trumpet Retreat in
Wilmington, DE stay tuned!
RH: Youre project Just A Little Taste is an
awesome Brownie tribute Al. Please share with
us how that was conceived and put together?
AH: Just A Little Taste is my first CD as a
leader (I only have two!) and is really a
collaborative effort with my good friend and DU
faculty colleague Dave Hanson. Dave is one of
the premiere writers of this generation,
especially in the orchestral jazz idiom a little
sprinkle of all the greats and one day I asked
him if he wanted to do an orchestral/jazz
trumpet album with me a la Clifford Brown
with Strings. He said yes, I got a school grant
to get started and it was as simple as that. He
started writing beautiful pieces one by one; I
asked for a few, like I Remember Clifford,
Pure Imagination, Do You Know What It
Means (To Miss New Orleans) and If I Loved
You and left most of the rest up to him. We
recorded it with a quartet, sometimes a quintet,
over a few days and added the strings and winds
later its pretty hard to tell we did it separately.

Im proud of that fact, and even though I would


have loved to record it all together, it just wasnt
possible. It retains the essence and vibe of the
Clifford with Strings session, but is in no way a
copy of the style of that monumental recording.
It has become for me, and I think will forever
remain, a very special musical experience.
RH: Lets talk about the H2 Big Band. How did
it start? Is the band active locally? And what are
some goals that you and Dave have for this?
AH: The H2 Big Band is the result of the
second collaboration between Dave Hanson and
myself. (The H2 represents the first letter of our
last names) I received another university grant
and it was our plan to move on to the big band
idiom if that ever happened. So, Dave began
writing over the course of a year, cranking out
magnificent arrangements and originals and we
tried most of the charts with our Lamont School
Jazz Orchestra in concert first, giving Dave an
idea of whether they would work well or if they
needed some tweaks. The band itself is only a
studio phenomenon, unfortunately we only had
one 4-hour rehearsal and two days in the studio
to get what we did. It is composed mostly of

local Denver players, but I did import 4


members the incomparable Bobby Shew on
trumpet, Jason Carder (Miami), and Mike
Rodriguez (NYC) on trumpets and Glenn Kostur
(Albuquerque) on bari sax. Weve played a live
CD Release once at the 2011 Rafael Mendez
Brass Institute here in Denver, but thats it!
Dave and I would love to actually have a live
band here in Denver to continue to play this
swinging music and have plans for a second H2
Big Band CD. So, a working band would be
ideal
RH: Youre it, is going to get many great
reviews, because it is contemporary, yet,
Swingin. Share with us how you and Dave
conceived the plan that led to this recording.
AH: With the trumpet section we picked, we
definitely wanted some swinging brass features.
I picked Joy Spring of course (!), and that
became a celebration of sorts on the recording.
All of the tunes ended up having that sense of
camaraderie and togetherness, even though we
were only together such a short time. Daves
writing is world class, and on the CD theres a
sense of a swinging tradition, done in a

contemporary way, but never abandoning that


tradition. Some of the more esoteric pieces like
For Claus and Romanza are masterpieces by
Dave, but fit incredibly well beside the powerful
swing materials. I can only applaud Dave for
this and the beautiful playing of my cohorts.
The CD has received several great reviews,
though not from high profile magazines. But the
real achievement has been in the airplay its
still (4 months later) in the top 50 on Jazz
Weeks radio play chart, spending most of the
Summer in the top 20, peaking at #10 two times!
It also sat on the number one spot of Bob
Parlochas Top 40 list for several weeks. Now
we are entered on the ballot in the 54th Grammy
Best Large Jazz Ensemble category, so well
see what transpires with that!
RH: You enjoy a wonderfully balanced life of
performance and teaching. Playing with
everyone from Phil Collins Big Band to
performing with an excellent Faculty Brass
Ensemble, the Lamont Brass Trio. How do you
make it all work for you?
AH: Can I borrow some Sominex!? Seriously,
I am blessed with that balance and for having the

opportunity to play with MANY great musicians


in a city of Denvers size. I trained that way, I
always wanted it that way and I strive for that
mixture of making great music and art with likeminded musicians. Sometimes my chops say
No!, but I try to keep in decent enough shape
to play classical in groups like the Brass Trio
and the Denver Brass and jazz with the Ken
Walker Sextet and some of my own groups I
occasionally lead. Its more of a mind switch in
the long run knowing what it REALLY needs
to sound like for the situation youre currently
sitting in. Listening to all of the nuances of the
styles you need to play and keeping mental track
of that, and simply just ENJOYING playing in
all of those situations, challenging though they
may be. I wouldnt have it any other way.
RH: Al, I ask everyone this, what is your take
on the future of Jazz Education and
performance?
AH: I believe it is bright and brilliant as long as
the students and educators keep their attention
on the music and the traditions progressing and
not on the hype, superficiality and at times,
greed of the music marketing machine. Ive

played with plenty of honest expert musicians


and have seen enough brilliant educators in
action to know well be in good hands for some
time to come, but the more folks who are in the
field for the wrong reasons that can come around
to that realization (or get out of the business
altogether), the better off well be. Its certainly
an overcrowded scenario and could use a little
house cleaning!