• Tuesday, May 31 Mike Allen & Miles Black with the VJO

    Mike Allen-alto, tenor and soprano saxes
    Miles Black-piano and guitar

    $20. at the door
    Hermann's Jazz Club 753 View Street - Victoria, BC
    (250) 388-9166
  • Friday - June 3 Steve Holy 5tet "Plays Mingus, Haden and Holland"

    Chris Davis-trumpet
    Mike Allen-saxes
    Rod Murray-trombone
    Steve Holy-bass
    Dave Robbins-drums

    8pm to 11:30pm
    Frankie's Italian Kitchen 765 Beatty Street-Vancouver
    (778) 727-0337


  • Move Over Blues

    Later in 2016 my 20-year association with Western Washington University and its Music Department will come to an end. I started there in 1996 as an affiliate instructor under bassist Chuck Israels, teaching private jazz lessons and helping out with small and large jazz ensembles. Along the way I had the opportunity to do some lecturing by subbing for Chuck on occasion in his Jazz History and Arranging classes. He and Margot were incredibly generous; they allowed me to stay in their home while in town for work and I will always be grateful for their hospitality and friendship. I learned a lot about Jazz working alongside Chuck in educational and performing situations. When he retired in 2010 I was hired to run the Jazz Area and quickly grew to love it. During that five-year tenure as Jazz Director (2010-2015) and with the help of my incredible quartet bandmates Miles Black, Adam Thomas and Julian MacDonough, we ushered in a new era of jazz at WWU that rejuvenated the university and Bellingham jazz communities. After a long hiatus people in the Pacific Northwest started talking and caring about WWU Jazz again. There was a huge surge in donations of books, CDs, LPs and gig offers for students and faculty; the broader community felt connected to what we were doing and wanted to share in it. The repercussions of this chapter in the WWU Jazz story will be felt for years as our former students spread out and share-on the passion and expertise they absorbed. I can honestly say that it was a far superior musical learning environment to any I had experienced as a student; it’s what I’d have wanted. A major reason was the educational mentoring model envisioned from the outset, with faculty members playing and performing alongside students in their performing ensembles. That close contact encouraged a natural and easy interaction that got the most out of the faculty and inspired students to raise their game. Prolific composing and arranging work by Miles Black provided a steady stream of fresh ensemble repertoire tailored to the abilities and interests of the students, meanwhile Adam and Julian’s passionate leadership of the smaller ensembles sparked students’ drive and imagination, inspiring them to take charge of their learning. And the MAQ’s regular performances at area clubs, high schools and regional music festivals allowed us to express ourselves artistically on the highest level.

    Now for the unfortunate part. When my interim position was opened to a full-time hire in 2015, my hope to continue building the program as a tenured full-time professor was dashed. Admittedly, I was somewhat concerned about taking on a full-time role and how it might affect my playing career, but in the end it wasn’t an issue, the department made it clear I was no longer in its plans, someone else was hired for the job. It came as a complete shock and I was very disappointed in the decision. I may have sealed my fate by making it apparent that I wanted to double down on the successful mentoring elements of the program, which in hindsight might not have been appreciated as a legitimate educational model in a university setting. It was too bad for the students who really wanted that experience.

    I am thankful for my time at WWU and look back fondly on working with the students, many of whom are, or certainly will be integral people in their music communities. There are too many names to list but most of them know who they are and the impact they made on us and each other.

    Often people say that when one door closes, another opens but sometimes all that happens is that a door closes and you realize what you are left with is just fine.