Reprinted from Curentul, ROMANIA

Datorita perioadei in care toata lumea se pregateste de Sarbatorile Criiciunului si ale Anului Nou, eoneerte de jazz in sali de spectaeol nu au fast, eel pu_ in Capitala, eu 0 singura excep_ie, reusitul recital oferit in data de 4 decembrie de Big Band-ul Universitiitii Natibnale de Muzici din Bueuresti, ehiar “la section,’ in sala George Eneseu,
sub condueerea profesorului, istorieului si eereetatorului american Tom Smith. Programul pretenpos, eu un grad 1nalt de dificultate, a fast prezentat eu nerv si aplomb, intervenpile so[istie-improvizatorice fiind sus_inute de saxofonistii Cristian Soleanu, Alex Simu, Catalin Milea, trompetistii Sebastian Burneci, Mitch Matthews, Laurentiu Moise, pianistul Petru Popa, chitaristul George Dumitriu, bass-istii Arthur Balogh, Radu Dumitriu, bateristul Laurentiu Stefan. Sa nu uitam cii aeest valor os cinar ansamblu stUden_esc si energieul sail dirijor, impreuna eu trioul pianistului profesor Florin Ra. ducanu, au evoluat lolli, 16 deeembrie, la Sail Palatului linde, in eadrul eoncenului umanitar intitulat “Suflet de eopil”, a realizat un ariginalliant sonar intre numerele seeniee aereditate de grupuri rock si pop, de solisti de opera si instrumentisti de foldor. De menponat lansarea, eu 0 saptamana in urm!, a impresionantului disc de eolinde avandu-i drept interpre_i, in uncle eazuri si autari, pe voea!isla Maria Raducanu, pe bass-istul Vlaicu GoIcea, pe ehitaristul Sorin Romanescuj CD-ill de colinde, al cirui prim tiraj fUnd deja eplJizat, se reediteaza in aceste zile, spec a putea fi proeurat din duburile de jazz – ne reo ferim, desigur, Ia cele trei importame Jacasuri de lmalnire a muzidenilor cu fanii lor, dubuJ Laptaria lui Enache din complexui Teatrului Na_ional, Art Jazz Club din subsolul Galerillor de Arta Orizom si Clubul Green Hours de pe Calea Victoriei 120.

Exista lnsa, din pacate, si stiri imristiitoare. Daua disparipi au indoliat de curand lumea jazz-uJui. Unul dintre marii saxofonisti ai lumii, Bob Berg, In varsta de numai 51 de ani (el ne.a fost oaspete In aprilie 1993), si-a pierdut viata lmr-un tragic accident rutier In data de 5 decembrie, automobilul sail ftind distrus lmr-o coliziune cu un carnion greu. Cu trei zile lnainte, In data de 2 decem brie, se stingea dintre cei vii, Ia Bruxelles, capus de cancer, pianistul de culoare Mal Waldrom 10 varsra de 75 de ani. Pe Mal Waldrom, coIaboratorul unui num_r record de muzideni de gen dintre cei mai mari (sa-i amintim doar pe Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane), interpret cu 0 discografie uriasa, I-am aplaudat spre finele deceniuJui trecut Ia Festivalul clujean ,Jazz Napocensis”, unde a evoluat lmpreuna cu vocalista Jeanne Lee si cu saxofonistul Nicolas Simion. _i ftindca vorbim des pre acei minuna_ disparu_ a caror amintire se eternizeaza gratie mostenirii discografice si filrnice, se covine sarememoram ca In ultima zi a acestui an se implinesc 10 ani de cand un mare saxofonist roman de jazz, Dan Mandrila, nu mai este printre nolo Nascut in 1938 la Chisinau, Dan Miindrila a Ufmat cursuri de clarinet Ia ConservatoruJ “Gprian Porumbescu” din Bucuresti, devenind, din 1%3, un membru marcant alorchestrei Eiectrecord, cu care a intreprins 0 serie de tuenee in Germania, Cehoslovacia, PoloRia, Finlanda, Suedia. Considerat In anti 70 until dintre primii exponenti europeni ai saxofonului tenor in jazz, Dan Mandrilii a fast selectat In “East European All Stars Big Band” care a inregistrat si un disc la Fraga (1970) si In grupul “The Nonconvertible All Stars”; a participat Ia importante festivaluri de gen peste hotare (Ljubljana, San Sebastian Spania, Zagreb, fostul Berlin Occidemal, Vaqovia, Fraga), jar 10 lara a lilac parte Ia majoritatea manifestarilor festivaliere, a sus_ut numeroase concerte, a efectuat multe lnregistcari Ia casa Eiectrecord si In studiourile Sodetiipi Romane de Radiodifuziune, ftind 10 uJtimii ani component al Big Band-uJui Radio. Este greu de rezumat In cateva randuri activitatea sa fervema 10 aria muzicii, comributille majore
marcate de elIa evolu_ jazz-Will autohton. Deocamdatii, sa pastram 10 suflete un moment de reculegere 10 amintirea lui.

Dar ftindca viata merge lnafire, sa-i mentionam – spre a-i pastra In memoria noastra afectiva – pe nativii acestei luni: Johnny Raducanu, care a implinit Ia 1 decembrie 71 de ani, bass-istul catalin Rasvan, care pe 14 decembrie a aniversat 42 de ani, trompetistul sibian Leopold Reisenauer (emigrat In 1986 in Germania), care la 18 decembrie si-a sarbatorit 44 de ani de viata, chitaristul timisorean Bela Kamocsa – 58 de ani la 24 decembrie, urmat de pianistul clujean Iancsi Korossy (stabilit acorn mai bine de trei decenii 10 SUA), care va lmplini ‘pe 26 decembrie venerabila varsta de 76 de ani, si dirijorul german de centime international Peter Herbolzheimer (nascut Ia Bucuresti), ce-si va aniversa implinirea a 67 de ani In ultima zi a anului.
, Ce!or care realizeaza ziaru! “Curemul”, ca si cititorilor s:li cele mal bone ganduri si urari de sarbatori, de la mesagerii artel muzicale a creativitatii. La multi ani! si La multjazz! .

Bucuresti Jazz Festival 2002

e la inceputul anilor ’90, de cand la Universitatea Nationala de Muzica din Bucuresti se infiinta, din initiativa lui Mircea Tiberian, prima Clasa I Specializare de jazz din Romania la nivelul unui institut de invatamint superior muzical (actualul rector Prof. Dr. Dan Buciu fiind unul dintre sustinatorii acelui proiect) , interesul pentru jazz al studentilor conservatoristi a crescut constant. Astle!. a aparut cu un an in urma “New Academic Jazz Quartef’, prin vointa unor tineri impatimiti – studentii Alexandru Simu – saxofoane (21 de ani, Universitatea Nationala de Muzica, an III), pianistul Petru Popa (22 de ani. an IV), bass-istul Arthur Balogh (22 ani, an III), bateristul Laurentiu stefan (21 de ani, an II), “New Academic Jazz Quartet”. grup studenlesc vizand proiectia in actualitate a unor mijloace de exprimare tiplce jazz-ului modern, fiind insEt utilizate Ierne din repertoriul international contemporan, I-am aplaudat pentru prima data pe cei patru inzestrati instrumentisti chiar la sediul activitatii lor, cantand pe scena Salii “George Enescu” din stirbei Voda, in deschiderea concertului sustinut in luna martie a,c. de tanara orchestra germana a Gimnaziului din Geretsried. in data de 26 aprilie, Saia ArCuB a gazduit maratonul muzical numit Gala “Academic Jazz” care a etalat, limp de peste patru are, intr-o perindare de patru momente scenice distincte, evidenla unor Idei, concepte, nazuinte si pasiuni specifice reprezentantilor veritabilei pepiniere de talente, depasind prin realizarile lor conditia “invataceilor” aflati in plin proces de formare la scoala artei sunetelor – ne referim la unii participanti, studenti ai Universitatii de Muzica din capitala. si in acest context, “New Academic Jazz Quartet” a !asat 0 buna impresie, in special saxofonistul si pianistul oferind audienlei, etalonul talentului lor improvizatoric. In sesizabil crescendo valoric de la 0 evolutie scenica la alta, grupul s-a prezentat la Cluj (intr-6 formula de Pe la inceputul anilor ’90, de cand la Universitatea Nationala de Muzica din Bucuresti se infiinta, din initiativa lui Mircea Tiberian, prima Clasa I Specializare de jazz din Romania la nivelul unui institut de invatamint superior muzical (actualul rector Prof. Dr. Dan Buciu fiind unul dintre sustinatorii acelui proiect) , interesul pentru jazz al studentilor conservatoristi a crescut constant. Astle!. a aparut cu un an in urma “NewAcademic Jazz Quartef’, prin vointa unor tineri impatimiti – studentii Alexa ndru Simu – saxofoane (21 de ani, Universitatea Nationala de Muzica, an III), pianistul Petru Popa (22 de ani. an IV), bass-istul Arthur Balogh (22 ani, an III), bateristul Laurentiu stefan (21 de ani, an II), “New Academic Jazz Quartet”. grup studenlesc vizand proiectia in actualitate a unor mijloace de exprimare tiplce jazz-ului modern, fiind inset utilizate Ierne din repertoriul international contemporan, I-am aplaudat pentru prima data pe cei patru inzestrati instrumentisti chiar la sediul activitatii lor, cantand pe scena Salii “George Enescu” din stirbei Voda, in deschiderea concertului sustinut in luna martie a,c. de tanara orchestra germana a Gimnaziului din Geretsried. in data de 26 aprilie, Saia ArCuB a gazduit maratonul muzical numit Gala “Academic Jazz” care a etalat, limp de peste patru are, intr-o perindare de patru momente scenice distincte, evidenla unor Idei, concepte, nazuinte si pasiuni specifice reprezentantilor veritabilei pepiniere de talente, depasind prin realizarile lor conditia “invataceilor” aflati in plin proces de formare la scoala artei sunetelor – ne referim la unii participanti, studenti ai Universitatii de Muzica din capitala. si in acest context, “New Academic Jazz Quartet” a lasat o buna impresie, in special saxofonistul si pianistul oferind audientei, etalonul talentului lor improvizatoric. In sesizabil crescendo valoric de la 0 evolutie scenica la componenta augmentata la sapte componenti), cucerind juriul si publicul competitiei muzicale studentesti derulata sub genericul “Jazz Napocensis 2002” (18 – 22 mal); in consecinta, interpretilor bucuresteni Ii s-a atribuit “Marele Premiu” al acestui Festival Concurs in care si-au disputat sansele numerosi tineri din Cluj, lasi, Timisoara, Sibiu si din capitala. Au urmat aparitiile de succes in cadrul Concertului “Academic Jazz” derulat in data de 15 iunie, la Sala “George Enescu” a Universitatii Nationale de Muzica din Bucuresti si, sub denumirea “Petru Papa & Alex Simu Quartet”, la Clubul de jazz “Laptaria lui Enache”, in cadrul manifestarii “La Fete de la Musique” organizata de Institutul Francez din Bucuresti. In recitalul sustinut vineri 18 octombrie la Sala ArCuB, “New Academic Jazz Quartet” ‘a dat din nou masura inzestrarii pentru jazz a tinerilor instrumentisti, de asIa data ei interpretand patru compozitii originale de grup – “Journey”, “Impromptu Roumain”, “Passing By”, “You” – si compozitia profesorului lor Mircea Tiberian, intitulata “Ian us” (in talmacirea careia, Geier patru Ii s-au alaturat saxofonistul Cristian Milea si trompetistul Sebastian Burnecl). . In continuarea serii, am trait 0 surpriza de proportii, urmarind Big band-vi Universitatii Nationale de Muzica din Bucuresti, pnigatit in numai o saptamana si jumatate de repetitii, de reputatul profesor, cercetator si istoric american de jazz – totodata si remarcabil instrumentist la trombon – Tom Smith, adus la noi de Comisia Fulbright. Cu un entuziasm energizant si cu competenta asigurata de 0 indelungata experienta didactica. Tom Smith i-a incitat pe studenli sa dea ce au mai bun, ei reusind sa of ere un notabil n’ivel interpretativ Geier cinci dificile plese alese din repertoriul modern si contemporan al big band-urilor profesioniste de peste ocean “Runaway Hormons”, “Heartland”, “Stolen Moments” (Ia aceasta piesa fiind invitat ca solist saxofonistul Cristian Soleanu, de curand student la amintita Universitate), “The Ring”, “This Is Not For You”. Interpretari investite, gratie ingeniozitatii dirijorului, cu atributele unui autentic show, mult gustat de public!

Senior Fulbright Professor of Music

Tom Smith is currently the Senior Fulbright Professor of Music at the Romanian National University of Music in Bucharest, and the Director of Instrumental Music at Pfeiffer University, near Charlotte, North Carolina USA. For many years he has been one of the Southeastern United States’ most visible music personalities. Downbeat Magazine once called Smith “part trombonist, part music missionary.” He developed a love for music at an early age when his father, a noted jazz and classical trombonist, instilled in him a passion for all genres of serious music. After attending the University of North Texas, he received his bachelors degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a masters degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For four years, he led many award-winning high school and middle school bands. Smith was the longest continuous member of the prestigous North Carolina Artist-in-Residence Program, when he served at three different North Carolina community colleges from 1984-1992. It was during this time that he founded some of the most critically acclaimed community and regional jazz ensembles in America, while performing for over two-million people. Smith’s best known ensemble was the Unifour Jazz Ensemble, an eighteen-piece big band of much renown. They were the first Musicfest USA National Champions and placed eighth in the 1988 Downbeat Readers Poll. In that same poll, Smith placed fifth in the trombone category, tieing the legendary Carl Fontana. As an improvising soloist, he has performed and toured with Louie Bellson, Clark Terry, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, the New York Voices, Nicholas Payton, Herb Ellis, Donald Byrd and the Glenn Miller Orchestra. In 1995, he served as a musical director for Norwegian Cruise Lines, after serving for two years as the feasability study coordinator for a multimillion dollar music facility. Tom Smith’s eclectic musical interests have always been deeply rooted in classical music. Since 1997, he has developed a well deserved reputation as the Carolina’s most ambitious collegiate wind symphony conductor, having presided over memorable performances that have showcased some of the most difficult orchestral transcriptions in existence. Still never venturing far from jazz, Smith’s university big bands from Pfeiffer University receive Superior ratings from numerous prestigous festivals, including the Reno Jazz Festival, a competition considered to be one of the most difficult in the world. Smith is also a noted music historian and researcher. He is routinely published, and presents papers at international conferences that cover the widest range of subject material, from solving the murder of clarinetist Frank Teschemacher, to (along with research partner Gary Westbrook) identifying the “musical fingerprint” for the identification of unidentified personnel on early recordings. Writer Cordell McQueen once commented that Tom Smith was the kind of artistic and administrative visionary who would never be appreciated in his own lifetime. Here is a person who can initiate the founding of over forty large ensembles, create organizational techniques that are used all over the world, and keep up his chops, while at the same time delve into topics as far fetched as Cherokee spirituality, while still successfully juggling a vibrant family life. The fact that he has spent most of his career forwarding a mostly rural agenda will probably keep him out of most texts, but he should be there all the same.

Philosophy of Artistic Leadership

A very wise teacher (my students want me to come clean and name names) said that “empowerment is easily attained, but not so readily assimilated.” I took this to mean that humanity can assume it has the answers, but the self- actualization necessary for validation was another thing entirely. Over the years, I have used this little morsel of wisdom to humbly expand upon professorial “chalk and talk,” so as to implement the components inherent of critical thinking and social learning. Socrates, Bandura and others did not invent these transformative constructs. They are derived from the same divine sentience that discovered fire, created the wheel, and invented baseball.

They are those infintesimal shards derived from the same energies that make possible the innovation derived from constructive thought assimilation (also known as retention of subject matter). These are important considerations for the creative artist, since one is incapable of innovation until there is a true actualization of independent thought; and without said independence, an artist can never lead. I almost always attain a sense of bemusement when students engage in some long discourse about how I taught them how to think.

Of course, the ability to perform said functions were internally ingrained all along. I merely showed them those old road maps that were in their back pockets the whole time. Musical leadership in the so called “educational pantheons” is not all that different from the dialogues that create those initial realities.

The principle differences are most applicable when recognizing the importance of forging professional relationships, and taking all salient points into account. When these vaunted actualizations are immersed in the collective energies of a plethora of independent thinkers, many wondrous possibilities become quite real. Still, there must be a refinement derived from the manifest intentions of so much collective thought. At that time, the chosen bearer of responsibility must edit, hone and strengthen. Only then can a true innovative process be both acheived and retained.

Sarah and son Matt

iSeptember 22, 2002 was the day when my family (wife Sarah and son Matt) and I arrived in Bucharest, Romania to begin a series of remarkable adventures. In my role as Senior Fulbright Professor of Music at the Romanian National University of Music and the University of Bucharest, I lead the university jazz ensemble, teach music history and improvisation, lecture weekly on the parallels of sociology and American music, lead the newly founded Romanian National Jazz Ensemble, and conduct the even newer Bucharest Pops Orchestra. It was nice to pick up the baton again after a hiatus of several months. As many of you know, I have of late been heavily involved in classical conducting, having since 1998 conducted Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Strauss’s Don Juan, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, the Faure Requiem, the Holst Planets, Von Weber’s Second Clarinet Concerto, and Randall Thompson’s Testament of Freedom. Yet, I must say that a comprehensive year of jazz has been a very fulfilling experience. Fortunately, my supposed skills as an administrator seem to make a difference here. It is now easy to visual a coherent Bucharest arts infrastructure, due in no small part to the efforts of Fulbright predecessor Rick Condit and others. Bucharest is blessed with a wealth of talented musicians. Moreover, the people are friendly and the food is great. Still, I look forward to returning to my duties at Pfeiffer University in Fall, 2003. After all, Romania is a great place to visit, but America will always be home.

This new Tom Smith site has been constructed to address a need for organizing my rapidly evolving mental clutter. For once, I have made a realistic attempt to archive some of the better known articles and reviews. This way, people will never have to sift through the really obscure stuff, although I am certain there will inevitably be those who recoil in horror when they see some of the things I now consider note worthy. There is also a new forum page, an always growing clips page, something devoted to non music writings, and of course a section for the Romanian adventures…in other words, something for everybody.

A very wise person once told me life is what happens while you are making plans. A truer expression was never uttered. Yet, with change comes the more exciting probability of new frontiers. I guess sometimes you just have to open the door and walk inside.