My Sabbatical at the Berklee College of Music: Soul-Jazz in the 1960s

with Dan Moretti

Date Posted: April 02, 2018

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Interview conducted by Alison Evans

Could you tell us a little bit about your recent sabbatical?

A Sabbatical is a period of study and professional enhancement granted by Colleges and Universities to their professors to focus on a course of self-study. Mine was titled “The research and presentation of the compositional, recording, and performance standards of Soul-Jazz music of the 1960’s,” (a very academic title wouldn’t you say?). The objective of the sabbatical was to document the musical development of Soul-Jazz, through an analysis of saxophone performers and recordings from the 1960’s. Through research, interviews, transcriptions, and production analysis an in-depth study of the melodic, rhythmic, harmonic and sonic qualities of the style were analyzed. Also, the relationships between roots music and Jazz were studied.

Your sabbatical took you to Europe; how is it different teaching and playing overseas?

Teaching and performing in Europe is different mainly because most situations create an open, welcoming environment based on the fact that you are traveling from the US, which inherently holds some esteem. Then there is the Berklee College of Music connection which holds a certain level or respect internationally. But, mostly I find that the musicianship level is very high and there is an openness to wanting to understand my point of view regarding the development of American music and how that affects the world of music, specifically jazz.

After all of your research, what's the next step?

The end result will include a multi-track recording and video of a live performance of a selected set of Soul-Jazz transcriptions in addition to new material composed and recorded specifically for his project.

Are there any concepts of things you learned from your sabbatical that you plan to incorporate into your own teaching/playing?

Yes there are many concepts that I plan to use in my teaching and playing specifically trying to absorb the playing and some of the writing and arranging techniques created by the masters that I transcribed and studied. Here’s an example of a Stanley Turrentine solo with the YouTube link at the top that demonstrated how he felt the slow blues as a ¾ double time groove. At this point I haven’t proofed all of this. The challenge and most difficult aspect of this was trying to notate the way Stanley felt the performance rhythmically and all his inflections.

Transcription here.

Any lessons learned you would pass on to your student and/or colleagues from your sabbatical experience?

One of the major lessons I learned was that it’s never too late to go back to the basics of transcription and imitation to understand and learn how something works musically.

Is there any aspect of experience from your sabbatical you would do differently?

I think that the only thing I would do differently is focus on an even narrower aspect of a subject matter and dive in deeper.

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