News

January 2009

My band "Um" continues to perform live at the HI-HAT club at 3 Davol Square in Providence, RI on the first Wednesday of each month. No cover. All ages welcome.

I am currently scheduling private and group music lessons for January, February, March, April and May 2009. For more info about lessons see the "Lessons" page of this website. If you are interested, please contact me at halcrook1@cox.net.

My sabbatical over, I'm back teaching at Berklee College of Music in Boston this semester. Been sheddin' the drums since June. Taking lessons with master drummer Artie Cabral, who said at my last lesson: Hal, you really make those two sticks sound like one!

September 2008

My band "Um" will be performing live at the HI-HAT club at 3 Davol Square in Providence, RI on the first Wednesday of each month, beginning on Wednesday, October 1, 2008. No cover. All ages welcome.

I am currently scheduling private and group music lessons for September, October, November and December 2008. For more info about lessons see the "Lessons" page of this website. If you are interested, please contact me at halcrook1@cox.net.

This semester I'll be on sabbatical leave from Berklee College of Music, and returning full time in January 2009. I'll be studying drums with just about anyone who'll take me as a student. I bought a set of Gretsch drums from Bill Winniker in Boston, who also gave me my first lesson. Thanks, Bill. Thanks also to Jonathan Bailey for hipping me to Bill's drums on Craig's List, and to Dave Weigert for some invaluable coaching and drum exercises, and to Artie Cabral, who's got me bouncing sticks all over the place--which is the only threat I'll ever be as a drummer. Hope I don't poke my eyes out.

I also want to thank my students who are foolish enough to play a session with me on drums, and remind them to wear their helmets and goggles and body armor. I'm so bad. Really. I need my melody and harmony.

June 2008

My band "Um" will be performing live at the HI-HAT club at 3 Davol Square in Providence, RI on June 25, July 9 and August 6, 2008 starting at 9:00 pm. NO COVER! Um is Bob Gullotti on drums, Dave Zinno on bass, Leo Genovese on piano, and myself on "trom-o-tizer".

I am currently scheduling private and group music lessons for JUNE, JULY and AUGUST 2008. For more info about lessons see the "Lessons" page of this website. If you are interested, please contact me at halcrook1@cox.net.

May 2008

Here are the MVP (most valuable player) results for my advanced small-group jazz ensembles at Berklee College of Music for the Spring 2008 semester (see May 2007 news for further explanation):

Wednesday, 2:00 Ensemble: Adrien Sanchez, tenor sax.
Wednesday, 4:00 Ensemble: Michael Palma, piano.
Thursday, 11:00 Ensemble: Ilan Bar-Lavi, guitar.
Thursday, 4:00 Ensemble: Dan Pugach, drums.
Friday, 11:00 Ensemble: Takeshi Obayashi, piano.
Friday, 4:00 Ensemble: Wen Ming Soh, drums.

Thanks to all the players in each ensemble class for a rewarding learning experience. Since I'll be on sabbatical leave during the Fall semester of 2008, I'm looking forward to another great semester of ensemble classes at Berklee beginning in January 2009. Please note: I will continue to teach private lessons during the Fall semester of 2008 (see Lessons page).

January, February, March, April 2008

Same old same old: playing, recording, composing, teaching, practicing...

December 2007

After spending nearly half a century playing an assortment of old King 3B trombones (because I never found anything I liked better), I went out and got myself a new horn. It's custom made by wunderkind Steve Shires at S.E. Shires Co. in Hopedale, MA (steve@seshires.com).

This horn is magical. Mechanically perfect. Play one note and ten will pop out (ten good ones). The horn speaks like a prophet. Takes me wherever I want to go before I even know I want to go there. It probably does 60% of the work, maybe more. My new musical challenge is learning how to play the trombone using LESS effort. Musical instruments simply don't get any better than this. The only downside about playing a Shires trombone is that there's no excuse left. Don't waste your time playing anything else, unless you're the competition.

Lots of heartfelt thanks to Steve Shires and Gabe Langfur and expert trombonist/slide technician Roger Cagnon for all the TLC.

Here are the MVP (most valuable player) results for my advanced small-group jazz ensembles at Berklee College of Music for the Fall 2007 semester (see May 2007 for further explanation):

Wednesday, 2:00 Ensemble: Jesse Scheinin, tenor sax.
Wednesday, 4:00 Ensemble: Julian Lage, guitar.
Thursday, 11:00 Ensemble: Ryo Noritake, drums.
Thursday, 4:00 Ensemble: Alex Wintz, guitar.
Friday, 11:00 Ensemble: Jeremy Sinclair, trumpet.
Friday, 4:00 Ensemble: Hamir Atwal, drums.

Thanks to all the players in each ensemble class for a meaningful learning experience. I'm looking forward to another great semester beginning in January 2008.

July, August, September, October, November 2007

Practice, play, practice, record, practice, write, practice, teach, practice, eat, practice, play, practice, record, practice, write, practice, teach, practice, drink, practice, play, practice, record, practice, write, practice, teach, practice, sleep, practice, etc...

June 2007

June brings some very sad news. Extraordinary human being and musician, drummer Take Toriyama, passed away at his home in Brooklyn, NY on May 28, 2007. He was 38 years old.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral march in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and the memorial service at Club Barbes and the funeral ceremony in Manhattan on Sunday, June 3rd. Those interested can go to www.yoshiwaki.net/take.html and read the eulogy given at his funeral.

Take surely did not die from a lack of love or concern or respect from his family, friends and peers. I'm grateful to Yoshi Waki, Natsu, and Oscar and Valerie Noriega, and his many other good friends for the help they so graciously gave to Take's family, and to everyone else for their generous donations.

Take is featured on my latest CD recording called Creatures Of Habit--CHI. For more information about Take, go to taketoriyama.com.

May 2007

May 12th marks the last day of my 21st year of teaching at Berklee College of Music in Boston. (Students don't call me "Gramps" for nothing.) I'm happy to say that they all did well this semester, especially the ones who didn't call me Gramps. At least not to my face.

This semester I started a tradition of selecting an MVP (most valuable player) from each of my 6 advanced-level jazz ensemble classes.

Instead of choosing to receive a huge cash award, free music lessons for life, and a complimentary copy of my new CD called Creatures Of Habit, this semester's winners wisely opted to have their names posted on my website. Here are the MVP results for the Spring 2007 semester:

Wednesday, 2:00 Ensemble: Alberto Palau, piano.
Wednesday, 4:00 Ensemble: Gordon Au, trumpet.
Thursday, 11:00 Ensemble: Hogyu Hwang, bass.
Thursday, 4:00 Ensemble: Zach Mangan, drums.
Friday, 11:00 Ensemble: Josh Gallagher, piano.
Friday, 4:00 Ensemble: Rio Shibata, drums.

Thanks to all the players in each ensemble class for a meaningful learning experience. I'm looking forward to another great semester in September.

My band "Um" has just won Best Jazz Act in the 2007 Providence Phoenix Best Music Poll (and we're not even actors!). It's weird because we never win anything. In fact, this is the first time we have won something in 14 years of performing once a week in Providence (approximately 700 gigs). And all because you Um fans--foolishly believing our campaign promise not to raise the cover charge if elected--voted for us. HA! But thanks a lot.

Summer is almost here. Time for MORE music lessons! If you're going to be in the New England area and would like to schedule a music lesson between May and August, please contact me soon at halcrook1@cox.net.

April 2007

The 2007 Providence Phoenix Best Music Poll has nominated my band "Um" for the Best Jazz Act Category. Um appears live every Tuesday night at AS220 in Providence, RI. Now all you die hard Um fans can get out there and vote. If elected, we promise not to raise the cover charge. Thanks for your support.

Congratulations to all the players selected to enter the Thelonious Monk Institute's Masters program in September 2007, including trumpet player Gordon Au, one of my current students/teachers at Berklee College of Music. Go Gordon!

March 2007

March was a great music month for me. I got to practice a lot every day during Spring Break, and then I got to record a CD with an extraordinary young jazz pianist from Bulgaria named Plamen Karadonev.

Plamen's one of my former students/teachers from Berklee; it was his CD project. Hopefully the CD will be released soon. Also on the session was bassist Kendal Eddy, drummer Lee Fish, and saxophonist George Garzone (my hero). It was a dream band.

March was also a great month for my website. My business partner Jason Camelio and I added the Outland Music Catalogue and Order Form to the site, enabling visiters to download the form and purchase books and CDs directly from the site. (See the Books page.) Thanks again, Jason. You-da-man.

March was a month of practice and preparation for many of my students who auditioned for the next 2-year class at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. As in the past, some of them may be selected in spite of my help. Good luck, everyone.

February 2007

I wrote an article called "PATHWAYS TO MUSICAL FREEDOM: Improvising Beyond Time and Changes", which appeared in the February issue of Berklee Today (alumni magazine).

The article is a lesson excerpted from my new book, "BEYOND TIME AND CHANGES: A Musician's Guide To Free Jazz Improvisation", published by Advance Music.

The article also features transcriptions of solos from the demonstration CD that accompanies the book, which can be heard on line.

Special thanks to all the folks who sent congratulations, encouragement, comments and purchase orders.

January 2007

Happy New Year!

January 2007 is the month we launch my web site. After months and months of work, the site is finally ready for prime time. Soon you will be able to purchase my books and CDs directly from this site as well, so please don't spend all of that holiday gift money just yet!

I owe an inestimable debt of gratitude to my friend and business partner, Jason Camelio, who convinced me to develop a website in the first place, and then proceded to build me a real beauty.

Here on the site you'll find more information about me than you'll ever want to know. (See the Bio and Photos pages for shameless examples.) It's not that easy to design your own website without going a little overboard about yourself. I just hope that--deep down--I'm really not as egotistical and self-absorbed as I appear to be on these pages. I probably am, though.

Jason and I collaborated on the layout, the colors, the type style, the content, the tequila, etc. But Jason did all the actual work. He alone made our ideas a reality, while I made sure our glasses stayed full. Thanks Jay.

January marks the 15th anniversary of my band "Um" with drummer Bob Gullotti. Along with "the Ayatollah" and myself, the band includes bassist Dave Zinno and pianist Leo Genovese. We play every Tuesday night at AS220 in Providence, RI, as we have steadily since 1994. We're planning to record a new CD sometime this year and will keep you posted. (See the Home page for more details.)

This month I'm evaluating about 50 CDs submitted by students who are auditioning for my small band jazz ensembles at Berklee College of Music. Each semester I audition and select students to play with me in 6 different ensemble classes that feature many of the best student jazz players at the college. (See Contact page.) Forming the bands is challenging, since there are so many strong players to choose from. And coaching them... well... Please excuse me now while I go practice.

Check out the January 7, 2007 issue of the New York Times, which has an interesting article written by Nate Chinen about the state of jazz education in the world today. The article includes commentary by Jamey Aebersold, Billy Pierce, Roger H. Brown (president of Berklee), myself and others.

January is also the month that I schedule private lessons for the spring semester, 2007. (See the Lessons page for more information.) Anyone interested can email me at halcrook1@cox.net.

December 2006

December marks the release of my new book, "BEYOND TIME AND CHANGES: A Musician's Guide To Free Jazz Improvisation", published by Advance Music. It's the result of many years of studying, practicing, performing and teaching the principles of free improvisation--namely, how to make free jazz make sense, without losing your freedom in the process.

This is the 8th book I've published with Advance Music. You can preview this and my other books on the "Books" page of this website, as well as hear audio samples from the demonstration CDs that accompany each book.

Recently I learned how to opperate my MySpace account (duh), which was opened for me without my knowledge eight months ago by some well-meaning and fun-seeking friends. (Go to www.MySpace.com/halcrook.) Now that I'm managing the account and visiting regularly, anyone who requested my "friendship" before and was denied should please try again. (Sorry Herbie, Chick, Wayne, Sting, et al.)

December also marks the completion of my 41st semester (20 and 1/2 years) of teaching improvisation classes and ensembles at Berklee College of Music. Since 1986 it's been the ultimate day-job, and there's no end in sight. As I've said before, my students at Berklee continue to be of such high caliber that the best chance I have for career advancement these days is as a sideman on one of their recordings. Will play for food!
(See a list of noteable students on the Lessons page.)

COMING ATTRACTIONS

Watch for download-able lead sheets of my original jazz compositions, and also transcriptions of my improvised solos from various CDs, featuring the fully analyzed and CORRECTED versions.

Also in the works is the release of a jazz CD I recently recorded called "CREATURES OF HABIT" (hear samples on the Audio page). It features Leo Genovese on piano, Thomson Kneeland on bass, Take Toriyama on drums, and myself on "trom-o-tizer" and acoustic trombone.

This is the same band that recorded the demo CD for my new book. You know, the one called "BEYOND TIME AND CHANGES: A Musician's Guide To Free Jazz Improvisation". In case you forgot the name.

After releasing the "Creatures" CD, we'll be presenting other recordings I made with players such as Mick Goodrick, John Lockwood, Bob Gullotti, Marcello Pellitteri, Dave Weigert, Hans Glawischnig, and others. (See Discography page.)

Thanks for visiting. Come back soon.