Roots

Minnesota is the land of giant metal animals. Customarily, fish, fowl and other woodland rodents seem to be deserving of this honor. Perhaps these massive critters are tributes to the strength needed to survive the harsh Minnesota wilderness. The winters can be downright cruel and these creatures not only endure, but thrive in this arctic wonderland. The folks who design these monuments have the utmost respect for nature; either that, or people up here are just nuts. Although I didn’t become a resident until 1996, I’ve lived in Minneapolis longer than I’ve lived in any one city my entire life….

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Giving Notice

Along with teaching trumpet and composition, I direct the jazz program at MacPhail Center for Music, one of the nation’s largest community music schools. MacPhail serves more than 7,500 students annually with 35 instruments taught by more than 165 teachers. The jazz program has over twenty faculty members and focuses primarily on small ensembles and private instruction. MacPhail has partnered with the premier jazz venue in Minneapolis, the Dakota and the DFJE, to form an all-star high school jazz combo called the Dakota Combo. Each year, advanced high school students from around the state audition for participation in this group. They…

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When I First Came to New York

The phrase, “When I first came to New York,” means something special in the jazz world. It’s difficult to read an autobiography, watch a documentary, or find an interview, that doesn’t contain these words. It’s a subtle divider amongst jazz musicians; either you’ve done your time in the city, or you haven’t. It feels like a loaded statement, one that is treated as matter of fact by the musicians who utter it. Why is this string of words such an intimidating phrase to those jazz musicians who haven’t lived there? FEAR. It’s the fear of failure. This fear grows as…

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Proposition and Introduction

The midwestern United States provide excellent terrain for personal revelations. Family road trips are a part of our culture, and since there’s not much to look at out here, we can get into those deep, life changing discussions. It was a trip such as this, just before a Thanksgiving get together, driving through northern Minnesota, when Suzanne asked me, “What do you think about marriage?” and I replied, “Well, I’d like to be married to you.” One thing led to another, and we decided to get married. Heading home to Minneapolis last December, after visiting family in Lincoln, Nebraska, my…

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