Posted by Joe Sellmansberger on April 11, 1999 at 21:56:43:
In Reply to: Re: Re: Practicing Jazz posted by Carl on April 11, 1999 at 15:59:49:
Rich Matteson was a survivor. I remember days when he was playing jazz (and whatever other playing jobs he could find) AND sold Meinl-Weston tubas and baritones out of the trunk of his car to make financial ends meet. This was before the days that North Texas State University realized what an incredible addition he would be to their music department. Howard Johnson is ANOTHER fantastic top notch artist to be studied and emulated, but I would not "rate" these two artists against each other. I don't consider dixieland jazz to be pedestrian, nor commercial, nor a cop-out, especially when it is offered forth by someone as incredibly unique and musical as Louis Armstrong. I can't think of a more presigious thing to have on a resume than being on a (more than one) record album with Louis Armstrong, a "dixieland" player through and through. Perhaps familiarity breeds just a tiny bit of contempt(?). I think that you are very, very lucky to have studied under Mr. Matteson, and I am sure that a significant portion of what you are today, musically, is due to those studies.
Having attended some of Mr. Matteson's many improvisation clinics, I understand why he developed his "system": To improvise, the player has to be playing SOMETHING, and with Mr. Matteson's "formula" approach, STUDENT jazz musicians (whose heads and chops may not yet be full of readily-accessable "cool" ideas) are offered a beginning point, on which they can build. Later, they can even abandon this system totally if they develop enough of their own ideas to take its place . . .That would be up to the strengths of their talents and pursuits.
Rich certainly did have an identifiable style, but no more than most all other of the jazz greats. Again, whether "dixieland"-- if you will, straight ahead jazz, or on the concert stage, Rich was an incredible artist. Mr. Johnson is another of certainly equal stature. I was not fortunate enough to have had weekly (or whatever) lessons with Mr. Matteson. I was offered an assistantship at N.T.S.U. by Mr. Little and was too stupid to accept it. If I had, I certainly would have spent as much time with Mr. Matteson as possible, and would still be recalling and relying on that instruction, today.
I respect your attitude and perspective, and I think that the main thing to pass on to the gentleman who made the original inquiry is that Howard Johnson is yet another tuba jazz great to study and put up as a "model" and as an "ideal".