|The old, but not oldest Berklee|
In my third semester, I was publicly humiliated by a composition teacher for building a "free" section into my final composition and, fed up, I left. I saw an ad in the back of Downbeat magazine for J.D.S. and signed on.
J.D.S. occupied the second floor of an office building in Park Square, a smaller scale and less ornate version of the late 19th century Boston architectural style that brought us Filene's department store (the site of which is now two walls with a 3-year-old construction hole behind it, but I digress).
|Filene's 3-year-old hole|
|Leave the Driving to Us|
Interior of the Hillbilly Ranch
Jacks Drum Shop
|Jack Wertheimer (center)|
|Jack's Record Company|
The interior was compact. I remember a room that could accommodate a few people for classes, a larger space, with risers good for big band rehearsal, and 3 or 4 practice rooms. There were locks on the practice rooms, but the usual method of entry was a credit-or most likely a library-card slipped down a loose door jamb. Sound proofing was a couple extra ceiling panels nailed to the walls.
The extraordinary teachers were Stanton Davis and Jeff Stout (trumpet), Jack Wertheimer (trombone), Bob Mover and Tony Viola (sax), Art Matthews, Paul Neves and Dan Fagell (piano), Allan Wilson, Basil Good (guitar), John Neves (bass) Ted Lagodmos (mallet instruments), Harvey Simons, Reid Jorgensen and Jerry Shellmer (drums). A bunch of brilliant Brazilians signed on as students, but were already accomplished pros and ended up teaching: Victor Brasil (sax, piano), Claudio Roditi (trumpet, piano), Zeca Assumpcao (bass).
At J.D.S. I found a place where people were serious, but the gloss of professionalism was tempered by the love of the hang and mutual empathy for others locked in The Jazz Struggle. Students came from across the country, but I think many were, like me, refugees from more mainstream institutions.
I don't remember classes starting before 11 AM. It was not a crowd of early risers. By noon the place was littered with cigarette butts tossed into coffee cups and occasionally, by mid-afternoon, a pint or half pint of Old Crow would make its surreptitious way around the room.
|JDS created the Jazz Wagon, to give free concerts in Boston neighborhoods. I played a few of those gigs, usually in gyms with basketballs flying over our heads. Hey-there's Larry the Trumpet Player in the middle!|
Now, imagine those two doing battle during what was supposed to be a big band rehearsal. One comping on piano, the other channeling Bird/Konitz/Woods on the alto, then switching, each riff growing increasingly ferocious and aggressive. MInton's recreated. Or imagine Claudio Roditi, standing in the narrow hallway, demonstrating how different trumpet players would handle a set of changes: "So, if Freddie was gonna play this, this is what it would be..." "And Clifford would play it like this..." We flunkies sitting there with our chops hanging out.
One morning, in the middle of a semester (I guess we had semesters), a guy with horn-rimmed glasses wandered in. He walked through the rooms, seeming to take an unusual interest in the furniture and the condition of the walls, taking notes on a pad of paper. No one said anything except "who was that guy," but everyone knew who he might be. When we showed up the next morning, Jack told us the school had been closed down.
|Notice the cost of a course: $30.00|
At this point, the cost of jazz education has skyrocketed and Park Sq. has been de-natured and up-scaled. What now stands on the spot occupied by J.D.S., The Teddy Bare Lounge and the bus terminal? The Four Seasons Hotel (Minimum $495 per night) and the Heritage on the Common (studio condos start at half a million bucks).