By my memory, I’ve only been in the recording studio twice. Once was to play on Andrew Allen’s Secret Identity (I hope to be able to share it with you one day). The other was as a lackey during the recording of an incredible Michael Brecker tribute album called The Comet’s Tail.

At the time, I was working in the Center for Jazz Composition at the University of South Florida. I was working towards a Masters of Music in Jazz Performance, but got to spend a great deal of time hanging out with some of the greatest jazz composers alive.

A major part of my duties was organizing travel and schedules and keeping everything moving. Our major activities centered around a series of concerts we did each year, typically focusing on the work of a particular composer. We also hosted the International Jazz Composer’s Symposium. Making posters and literature for these events (in Apple Pages, nonetheless) was some of my first graphic design experience.

This experience is the source of many entertaining stories like making a five hour round trip so a certain performer could get his weed or having $6,000 in drums given to me by a concert sponsor only to be poached by some folks in authority. It was a strange time, for sure.

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One of the highlights happened in the midst of tragedy in the jazz world – the passing of saxophonist Michael Brecker. He was an accomplished horn man, but his compositions might be his greatest legacy. We just happened to be in a place to do something about it. So, with the help of quite a few friends, we set out to honor Michael’s legacy with a series of concerts and an album of his music.

What came out of that was Chuck’s The Comet’s Tail. It’s an incredible album that I’m proud to have been witness to, even if I had nothing to do with the music itself. That time also taught me a lot about logistics and helped me realize how bleak the potential of a career on the bandstand might be. It was that realization that led me to the work I have the privilege to do now.

Itsbynne Reel.

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