UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Saturday - May 28 Mike Allen Quartet

    Mike Allen-saxophones
    Miles Black-piano
    Steve Holy-bass
    Dave Robbins-drums

    3pm to 7pm
    no cover
    Pat's Pub 403 East Hastings Street - Vancouver
    (604) 255-4301
  • Sunday - May 29 Mike Allen Quartet "The Jazz Project - Art of Jazz 5"

    Mike Allen-saxophones
    Miles Black-piano
    Michael Glynn-bass
    Max Wood-drums

    4pm to 6:30pm
    $16-general / $10-students
    BAAY Theater 1059 North State Street-Bellingham, WA
    (360) 650-1066
  • Tuesday, May 31 Mike Allen & Miles Black with the VJO

    Mike Allen-alto, tenor and soprano saxes
    Miles Black-piano and guitar

    7pm
    $20. at the door
    Hermann's Jazz Club 753 View Street - Victoria, BC
    (250) 388-9166

NEWS

  • Move Over Blues

    Later in 2016 my 20-year association with Western Washington University and its Music Department will come to an end. I started there in 1996 as an affiliate instructor under bassist Chuck Israels, teaching private jazz lessons and helping out with small and large jazz ensembles. Along the way I had the opportunity to do some lecturing by subbing for Chuck on occasion in his Jazz History and Arranging classes. He and Margot were incredibly generous; they allowed me to stay in their home while in town for work and I will always be grateful for their hospitality and friendship. I learned a lot about Jazz working alongside Chuck in educational and performing situations. When he retired in 2010 I was hired to run the Jazz Area and quickly grew to love it. During that five-year tenure as Jazz Director (2010-2015) and with the help of my incredible quartet bandmates Miles Black, Adam Thomas and Julian MacDonough, we ushered in a new era of jazz at WWU that rejuvenated the university and Bellingham jazz communities. After a long hiatus people in the Pacific Northwest started talking and caring about WWU Jazz again. There was a huge surge in donations of books, CDs, LPs and gig offers for students and faculty; the broader community felt connected to what we were doing and wanted to share in its success. The repercussions of this chapter in the WWU Jazz story will be felt for years as our former students spread out and share-on the passion and expertise they absorbed. I can honestly say that it was a far superior musical learning environment to any I had experienced as a student; it’s was what I would have wanted. A major reason for its success was the educational mentoring model I envisioned from the outset, with faculty members playing and performing alongside students in their performing ensembles. That close contact encouraged a natural and easy interaction that got the most out of faculty and inspired students to improve steadily and keep their eyes on the prize: making good music together. A key contribution was the prolific composing and arranging work of Miles Black providing a steady stream of fresh ensemble repertoire tailored to the abilities and interests of the students. But first and foremost it was the MAQ’s regular performances at area clubs, high schools and regional music festivals where current and prospective students could experience how we “walked the walk”, cooperating and sharing in the process of creating good music.

    Now for the unfortunate part. When my interim position was opened to a full-time hire in 2015, my hope to continue on building the program as a tenured full-time professor was dashed. Admittedly, I was somewhat concerned about taking on a full-time role and how it might affect my playing career, but in the end it wasn’t an issue, the department made it clear I was no longer in their plans and they hired someone else for the job. It came as a complete shock and I was very disappointed in the decision.

    I’m thankful for my time at WWU. I already look back fondly on working with the students, many of whom are or will certainly be integral people in their music communities. There are too many names to list but most of them know who they are and the impact they made on us and each other.

    Often people say that when one door closes, another opens but sometimes all that happens is that a door closes and you realize what you are left with is just fine.

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