Tribute to My Teachers
As a young music student the message was clear: study everybody, but find your own voice. This recording is made in “Tribute" to my teachers; the people that helped me to unlock the gifts that made me into the musician and the person that I am today. As I have grown, I have always felt that I did not fully appreciate how lucky I was to study with these iconic-legends because at the time, it was all so natural. Well, I appreciate it now. I was always encouraged and advised to seek out the finest possible. I never forgot that lesson. That’s how I along with friend, and colleague of many years, the great vibraphonist/producer Mark Sherman, selected the musicians for this recording. There are no finer players, (as this recording will attest), then Kenny Barron on piano, Rufus Reid on bass, and Carl Allen on drums.
When I was 13, I began studying saxophone and harmony with the great Frank Foster. He used to let me sit in on any of his gigs I could come to. That’s where I met and began to study with George Coleman and Frank Wess. I will never forget how nice and encouraging they were to me. A little later during high school, I began playing some gigs with Dizzy Gillespie’s nephew the great drummer Craig Glanville, whose beautiful family introduced me to the master himself. I will never forget the times I got to play with Dizzy. He gave a copy of his book which I still have, “To Be or Not to Bop" after a performance with the McDonald’s Jazz ensemble directed by the great Justin Dicioccio on the Merv Griffin TV Show. It was an incredible growth period in my life. The great Gil Evans himself called me to rehearse with his band which, at that time, I found very surprising. I still remember the note my mom left saying to call him back. I didn’t believe it at first. The experience I had later playing with his band, Monday nights at Sweet Basil on 7th Avenue, will be a part of me for the rest of my life.
This was the period I began to explore the harmonic elements in Nicolai Slonimsky’s "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns", (using a passing tone, triadic system developed by the great Gary Campbell). This book is like the harmonic bible in both classical and jazz music. It was Coltrane's handbook, and many of the other greats, like Michael Brecker, worked out of this book. It was while getting a MA from Queens College that I began taking saxophone lessons, and studying composition and arranging with the legendary Jimmy Heath. He taught me so much. That’s why so many of his composition are featured on this recording. It’s a “Tribute" to him, and to all my teachers. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, George Coleman, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and all the other saxophone masters who have influenced me and assisted with my development in this incredible art form we call jazz improvisation.
I would like to thank the following people who made my quest possible.
My violin playing, company owning, aeronautical engineer father, (whose mother was also an accomplished violinist), and my physician mother (whose father was an accomplished big band trumpet player). To my lovely and supportive wife and singer, Miyuki, and to my beautiful and intelligent daughter Sakura. To the incredible musicians on this recording, Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, and Carl Allen. And a special thanks to Mark Sherman for his constant support and motivation. What an honor and a privilege it was for me.
Tim Hegarty October 2013