JazzPianoSkills welcomes jazz pianist Bob Winters. Bob. Based in the Pacific Northwest Bob enjoys retirement from education and is an avid jazz enthusiast.
Welcome to JazzPianoSkills, I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It’s time to Discover, Learn, and Play jazz piano!
I am happy to share my interview with jazz pianist Bob Winters. Although encouraged as a child by his mother to study classical and jazz guitar, Bob was lured away from music by his love of literature. He studied poetry at the University of California, Berkeley, and creative writing at U. C. Irvine.
For 35 years Bob taught literature and film studies at Whatcom Community College in Washington State. In mid-career, Bob rediscovered his passion for music and began taking classical piano lessons, and later turned to jazz.
Now retired, Bob devotes several hours a day to studying and playing jazz on his beloved 1923 Steinway baby grand. Bob became a JazzPianoSkills Member last year and we quickly got to know one another. He is an active participant in the online Jazz Community where you can reach out to him at any time. I am fascinated by his jazz journey and I know you are about to be as well. So, last week I sat down and spent some time with Bob to talk about his life and of course, jazz.
Now, It is my great pleasure and honor to welcome to JazzPianoSkills, Mr. Bob Winters.
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
Dr. Bob Lawrence 0:32
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn, and play jazz piano. I hope everyone has been busy working hard with the harmonic and melodic workouts for the key of A-flat major. And working on playing a not-so-easy jazz standard Tea for Two. Just a little reminder that you have one more week to enjoy the key of A-flat major because next week, we begin tackling the key of D flat major. Yeah, baby, it's gonna get fun now, right, we get to the lower side of that circle, D flat and G flats coming up and b i can't wait. So next week, the key of A-flat major will be over right over and there will be no turning back as we move forward forward with with our harmonic and melodic workouts for the key of D flat major. But before we do today, you get to enjoy my interview with Mr. Bob winters. Although encouraged as a child by his mother to study classical and jazz guitar, Bob was lured away from music by his love of literature. He studied poetry at the University of California, Berkeley, and create a creative writing at UC Irvine. For 35 years, Bob taught literature and film studies at Whatcom Community College and Washington state. In mid-career, Bob rediscovered his passion for music and began taking classical piano lessons. And later, he came over to the right side later he turned to jazz. now retired, Bob devotes several hours a day to studying and playing jazz on his beloved 19 Check this out in 1923 Steinway grand man, I gotta go out and visit the Pacific northeast here soon to just play on that instrument. So Bob became a jazz panel skills member last year and we quickly got to know one another. He is an active participant in the online jazz community where I got to know him and where you can reach out to him as well, at any time. I am fascinated by his jazz journey. And I know you are about to be fascinated with his journey as well. So last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with Bob and spent a little time with him to talk about his life, and to talk about chess. So now sit back, relax. And welcome to jazz piano skills. Mr. Bob Winters.
Bob winters please, stop, stop it. Oh my gosh, I am so thrilled, you know, because you and I have been talking about doing this for a while. And we have finally connected we finally made it happen. And I am delighted and I'm thrilled and very, very thankful that you have decided to come on jazz piano skills and share your story and share your journey with all the jazz piano skills listeners.
Bob Winters 3:48
Yeah, I hope I hope that some people can relate to my own experiences with it as a batsman.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 3:57
Yeah, right. Well, they will they will certainly and you know, you know, you've been a you've been a member of jazz panel skills for a while now. And so, you know, that I like to have, you know, I have professional musicians, professional pianists come on and talk and we talk you know all about various jazz piano skills, but I gotta be honest with you. I love having students of jazz Come on, like yourself and sharing your journey and background because you're right, so many people will will and can relate to your your journey. And I've said this before, and you I know you can appreciate this from an academic background as well, that I tell I tell students all the time that I learned when I was in graduate school at the University of North Texas, I learned I learned a whole lot in the classroom. But I also learned a whole lot more in the hallways, sure interacting, interacting with colleagues and students and friends and and so that's what this is in the spirit of is sharing with fellow steam wooden's your journey and your experience so that they can benefit from it as well.
Bob Winters 5:04
Right. And and I, I, I hope people can appreciate I'm going to be totally honest about my experience here. And, and even when I haven't perhaps followed the rules exactly. But I'm willing to confess that because I'm probably not the only one.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 5:24
You're not so you know what, Bob, let's let's as we always do, I always like to start at the beginning. So share a little bit with the jazz panel skills listeners about your, your childhood, your upbringing. Did you come from a musical family? Were your parents musical siblings musical? How did? How did it all start for you?
Bob Winters 5:44
Well, you know, my mother was probably the biggest musical influence on me. She actually played jazz guitar. Wow. Before she got married on the CBS Radio Hour with Don Ameche. Now, this was back probably in the late 30s, early 40s. And of course, it was radio. And so they never saw her because I remember her telling me that most of the band members thought it was very odd for a woman to be playing jazz guitar,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 6:22
you know that you don't see that? You don't see that often. Yeah.
Bob Winters 6:25
But she, she knew a lot of of the music from the, you know, swing era from the 30s and 40s. And she introduced me at a very young age to the guitar and I, I loved the guitar, playing the guitar. But at the time, I wanted to be Bob Dylan. I didn't intend she would play these Charlie Bird and Herb Ellis records all night. And she'd say, now let's, let's see if we can learn this. And I thought I don't want to learn that. I want to, you know, I want to be a rock and roll star.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 7:03
And the next Elvis,
Bob Winters 7:06
Yeah, so I, you know, I learned enough from her basics. But I never took formal music lessons from a teacher to she taught me as much as I was willing to learn. And of course, like a lot of kids, I formed a band and a garage band and had that in high school, but I never, I didn't consider that music would be a vocation for me. And once I went off to college, I really didn't pursue music at all for many years. It wasn't until actually, when I was about my late 40s, early 50s, that I've finally realized, I really missed music. I always kept the guitar around. And I kept, you know, by that time, you know, we had inherited from my wife's mother of an old upright piano. And I thought, boy, this is my chance, if I'm really going to go, you know, return to my love of music. It has to be here. And so I started taking formal lessons. And of course, when you take formal lessons, you often wind up with a kind of a classic classical piano lessons and, and I had a very good teacher, she was very good with adults, she understood, you know, what adults would prefer to learn. So but a lot of it was, was performance based. Not a lot of theory. Not a lot of, you know, there was sight reading, but mostly it was on performing pieces. And I would play the pieces we would have these little what'd she call them a bash, you know, she got where she bite all of her adult students together, and she'd buy some wine and we'd sit around and play for each other. And it's and those were great fun. But when I would go to her house in and play for my lesson, she began to notice that if she didn't turn the page for me, it didn't make any difference. What I had done was I had memorized the entire piece. And I was just playing by ear. And well, you can't really do that in classical piano. That's that's sort of taboo. And so finally she said, you know, have you ever thought about jazz piano? Maybe that would be more up your line? And I thought, Well, no, I hadn't but I was intrigued by it. So she gave me some books and she pointed me toward a J As piano teacher, who had a very close neighborhood,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:05
yeah, that's a nice way of saying, Hey, if you're not going to read the music, the way it's written that you should go ahead and play jazz. Exactly.
Bob Winters 10:13
That's, you know, I guess I wasn't surprised. That was coming from a dyed in the wool. You know, German classical.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:22
Yeah, you got kicked out is what happened to you, man.
Bob Winters 10:26
I think I did. Yeah. And, and it kind of appealed to my rebellious streak. And I thought, you know, well, why not? You know, I could do that. So then I, I took about a year of jazz piano lessons, I'm not sure I learned that much. And then life got in the way. And I kind of gave it up for a while. But once I retired, I thought, you know, this is my chance to really get serious about it. And that's, I, I did try some other online teaching methods. And, you know, one thing that I really appreciate about your, your platform, and your approach is that too many times, what I was really being taught was licks, like, you know, you if you know, this one lick, you will master every song, you know, or learn this one chord, and you'll play 1000s of songs. And, and I always thought, Well, that just sounds like shortcuts, I want to really learn the piano. And, and that's what I found in, in your lessons that it took me right back to some real basics, which I needed. And but but it did it in a way that I was always building on what I had just learned. So I really appreciated that. And that's where I think my real learning has gone.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 11:54
Wow. So So share with everyone your professional background.
Bob Winters 11:59
Well, I, I, I took a couple of degrees from the University of California, I went to Berkeley and, and mostly studied English. And, and then when I got my first teaching job, I, I taught English, of course, but they wanted me to teach a film class. And at that time, film classes were usually taught to the English department, there was no such thing as a film studies department, at least not around here. And so I'm, I developed a curriculum and I taught film for First of all, English and film and literature and film. And then just my last years before it retired, I just taught film because I was also working as a college administrator. Right? What school what school was it? It was awesome. It's up here in the Pacific Northwest. It's a very small school.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 12:59
Okay, wonderful. And you were there for how many years?
Bob Winters 13:04
I was there for 34 years? Wow. Wow. Well, you know, when I came to walk them, it was one of these experimental colleges, like a college without walls. You may remember those from the 60s.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 13:21
Right. Yeah. Right.
Bob Winters 13:23
And that just appealed to me, you know, and I thought, yeah, you know, it's kind of like guerrilla teaching. I can, I'll go out and find the students and I'll teach him something and, and to heck with the low salary and the lousy, lousy conditions of the buildings and, but then eventually, of course, the college as it got more students kind of developed into a typical, really kind of a junior college and, and it became very sort of respectable, which I always thought was kind of sad, because I kind of liked the guerrilla teaching idea.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 14:03
Yeah, you got that rebel side going? Yeah, yes. So, okay, so Well, Your mom must have your mom must be thrilled. You know, wherever she is. She must be thrilled that you're like doing jazz now. As a jazz guitarist really,
Bob Winters 14:19
it sunk in, you know, she would. She was very excited. Now this is in the early 60s, but she was very excited about the the emergence of bossa nova and, and she would play bossa nova on the guitar, and she would try to teach me and at that time, it was still relatively new in the US. And, and it but it was very, it was very trendy was very hip. And so it developed a kind of fondness for that as well. So that that was kind of an interesting influence, but mostly she, she taught me respect for those, you know, the American Songbook, you know, those songs, which in jazz become new songs.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 15:13
That's right. Yes, exactly. Right. That's a great way to put it. You know, okay, so I'm interested, you may have mentioned it, but so your mom being a, a jazz guitarist, but now here you are, and, you know, pursuing jazz piano? Why? Why the tilt toward piano, as opposed to guitar?
Bob Winters 15:35
You know, that's a that's a good question. I, I think while I was playing the guitar, I always longed to play the piano, I'm not sure what the attraction was, it may be something as simple as there's so much richness and possibility on the piano, correct. That it becomes kind of in a small way, it kind of becomes its own orchestra. No doubt about it. And, and that really appealed to me. But my, I have to say, my parents, you know, they were not wealthy people. They did not, we did not have a piano in the house. The only piano I could get my hands on was at a neighbor's house. And they had four kids studying the piano, so I never, I never got to approach it very often. But I always want to do that. I always loved piano music. And so that's what drew me to the piano.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 16:33
Yeah, that's awesome. Okay, so here you are. You're retired now we're retired. And you have the time to devote to the study of music and the study of jazz, which is fantastic. I think I can't think of any better way to spend retirement quite honestly,
Bob Winters 16:52
I agree. When people tell me, I just, when people tell me Well, if I'm, you know, when I retire, I just don't know what I'm going to do. And I look at them like, Well, maybe it's because you, you know, you haven't found anything you're passionate about, you know, if, and, and so it has really given me a great richness and enjoyment in my return.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 17:18
Well, you know, yeah, because the study of jazz and study of piano and music, you know, it's such a, it's, you know, it's such a great intellectual exercise as well, right. I know, I know, the emotional and the music side and the plane and perform, that's great. But there are, a lot of times what people don't realize is, there's a fabulous intellectual side to this study, that is like a fascinating, huge, gigantic jigsaw puzzle. And you're putting these pieces together and making it all make sense and connect to one another. So now that you've gotten back into it, you mentioned a little bit about some of the, you know, frustration that you had with, you know, a lot of times there's, it seems like, you know, when somebody sets out to study jazzers, now, we live in information overload, right, where you can get all kinds of information all over the place. I know, I know, it's a shock to a lot of people out there that you know, everything that you read or find on Google or YouTube is not actually accurate. I know, that's a stunner. For a lot of folks, but but the reality of it is, there is a lot of information out there. And it can kind of be overwhelming, quite honestly. And so. So talk a little bit about, talk a little bit about a little bit more about the frustrations that you've had getting back into it. And what are some of the things that you're doing to circumvent that and, and to and to move forward?
Bob Winters 18:49
Right, well, like I said, I had, I had turned to the, to the internet lessons, as especially, you know, once COVID hit, but you're right, there's so much out there, it's hundreds of sites. And, you know, YouTube is full of videos. And it felt like I was just sort of had some smorgasbord, and I was picking up, you know, little bits and pieces of each thing. And it wasn't really coming together for me in a way that that wouldn't make sense. So I could build on one thing. So for a while I was pursuing blues piano and then and then for a while I was pursuing you know, something else and then and then I would get kind of lost in voicings for a little bit and, and when I first joined up with jazz piano skills, one of the things I appreciated the vast amount of information you have, but I I remember writing to you and saying, Well, is there some way that I can, you know, form this into a curriculum of some kind and And then you suggested that I tried the courses. And that really, that really then took off because I started at the beginning of those and worked through those. And, and I really loved the way in which, you know, you had, like I've said, you kind of build one on the other. So, at the same time, as I was learning skills, I was also kind of trying to put those skills into practice by learning pieces. And, and, you know, working working what I was learning in the, in the theory and in the more technical aspects to the pieces themselves. And I think that was a real key for me, because otherwise, it's kind of like a shotgun, and, you know, pieces all over the place. And you can't really, you can't really bring it all together. And I think I think the courses were the key for me.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 21:06
Oh, that's awesome. That's, that's so nice to hear, too. So, you know, it's funny, right? We say the study of jazz, but you know, what I like to I tell students all the time that, you know, especially students that I'm working with here, one on one here at school, I always say, you know, I know we say we're studying jazz piano, but but really, but really, we're studying music, and we're looking at it through the lens of jazz, but But you know, being able to understand the harp, the harmonic structure of music, how that how that's put together, the keys, the chord scale relationships, these are things that exist in music, regardless of the genre, right? Whether it's classical music, or jazz music, or rock music, I mean, it's the same 12 notes, regardless of the genre of music that we're playing, right. So I always like to try to approach it with students that, you know, we're going to study music together. And, and if we're going to put a jazz, a jazz bent on it, that's fantastic. That's, that's one. That's wonderful. But but, you know, just to understand, I think, first conceptually, how music is structured and put together is the key to actually moving forward in jazz. Because if you try to start with improvisation, or you try to jump into voicings, and you try to jump into, you know, altered scales, and, and you don't have a conceptual understanding of the harmonic structure and how music is put together, just on a general basis, you're already behind the eight ball, you're already setting yourself up for failure, Would you not agree? Yeah,
Bob Winters 22:40
absolutely. In fact, you know, I had the distinct feeling as I was, you know, I'd see something interesting. Such as, maybe studying intervals or, or something like voicing, but I kept feeling like I was running in, you know, I would travel that path for a little bit and then run into a dead end. And so I kept doing that kind of dead ending. I couldn't, I couldn't see the, the path forward. And so that has been, yeah, that's been really key for me. And, yeah, and also, you know, for jazz, I think jazz, there's something there is something a kind of internal rebelliousness about jazz, how it it kind of pushes on the edges of things. And you know, the fact that, you know, people were shocked when Bebop came along, and they said, well, that's not jazz. And then sure enough, it was jazz, and certainly some experimental stuff to this day, where, you know, it just seems to be constantly pushing the boundaries. And there's something about that internal rebelliousness about jazz that I that I find suits my, you know, rebellious. Yeah.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 23:54
Yeah, right. I think I think it's wonderful. It's like this. I find I agree with you, it's like this, this, if you have the curiosity of a child always wanting to get into something. And kind of see how something works or, you know, bend the rules a little bit, you know, just
Bob Winters 24:14
to see what happened and you bend the rules.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 24:17
That's exactly right. That's exactly right. So I couldn't agree more with you. That's, you know, there's always and you know, what's fascinating, you're bending the rules with the same tools. Yeah. Right. Right. That's, that's what's that's what's, that's what I find to be fascinating. You know, like, you mentioned voicings, right, how, you know, when you study voicings you can, you can look at a voicing one way and it's, you know, it's a C major seventh chord, but you look at that same voicing another way, and it's an E minor chord or you look at it another way and it's an A minor chord and you look at it another way, right? And all of a sudden, it's kind of like this chameleon, it changes Depending upon how you're looking at it, right. So it's, it's, I always describe it the students eye, you know, you know that, you know that, that image of like, two faces looking at each other. But if you look at it one way, it's a vase, if you look at it, it's another way it's two faces. You know, that's kind of how jazz is, you know, if you look at it one way, you can see one image, if you look at it another way, you see a totally different image,
Bob Winters 25:26
when I when I first ran into that, I, that the fact that a chord can be, you know, can be seen in so many different ways. I kind of panicked, you know, kind of feeling that, that, you know, well, well, what is that? You know, was it minor? Or is it a C major? I mean, it has to be all those things. You cannot it's impossible, right? Yeah. And, and then when I came to the realization that, yes, it could, I felt that the ground had sort of shaken under me a little bit. And once but once I got my feet back, and I realized, no, this is the beauty of it. It's not, it's not a flaw. It's it's part of the beauty of voicings and context and melody, that, you know, these things can work in different ways, depending on how you approach them. I, I really began to, to appreciate that and, and I, I stopped panicking.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 26:27
Good, but that's excellent. Yeah. So you know, okay, so when you studied, I'm curious. How before joining jazz piano skills, how, how comfortable were you with basic chords and chord construction?
Bob Winters 26:44
I, I basically, I knew block chords.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 26:51
And like the root third five, seven, right kind of configuration? Yeah,
Bob Winters 26:54
I am. And maybe even some, you know, I think I must have learned the three note. Block. Yeah, but but not not as elegant as the traditional and contemporary shows that I've studied in jazz piano skills, but real basic root bound, you know, a root and a third, and, you know, a fifth, right? That was it. Right. But the, and, and I had, you know, I was always a terrible reader of music. So that that was probably why I, I insisted on memorizing all the classical pieces, because I frankly, was such a terrible reader, that I couldn't follow it. And I do appreciate the fact that your, your, your system, your pedagogy has offered alternative to that. It's, it's certainly necessary to read them. But those are like the 60 essential chords, but But you also offer visual impressions of that too, which to be honest, I think is really useful for me. I can read much better now than I could, you know, a couple years ago, but But I liked the visual image. I still rely on that.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 28:18
Yeah, well, you know, and that's because, you know, and I think I think you would agree with this, right? That I tell students all you know, look, a student will say to me, they want to study music. And I always say to them, that's fabulous, then, then please tell me what what is music the study of? That's right, and they immediately sit back, you know, it would panic on their face, because they're not capable of answering what music is the study of, but yet they want to study it. And I go see, so I said, Don't you think we should actually define what what music is the study of so that we're making sure we're on the same page here, right? And, and so I go from there to explain to them that music is not the study of dots and buttons, like we're traditionally taught, you know, that we look at a piece of music that that means push that button, and that data has pushed that button that really ultimately, and even for great classical musicians, this is the same as it is for jazz musicians. Ultimately, music, it's the study of shapes and sounds. That's what music is, right? Harmony, everything. Right? Everything's a shape whether you're playing that shape harmonically, or whether you're playing that shape melodically. There's a shape to it. And then and then there's a sound to that shape. Is it major? Is it dominant? Is it minor, half diminished? What is that right, what am I hearing? And once you start, actually, I think, approaching music from that understanding that it's the study of shapes and sound and then you're practicing in your study of it is illuminating that fact. Don't you find that that's when you actually start to move forward? As opposed to, as opposed to just being a dot button kind of relationship,
Bob Winters 30:04
right? Well, I kind of felt that's what I had. That's kind of what I felt I had fallen into in studying classical piano. Right? Because, you know, there was, there was an assumption that my teacher made that most adult learners don't really want to be burdened with a lot of theory, and a lot of, you know, abstract Musicology, what they want is to be able to play, you know, at a dinner party or something or play a piece. Right. That's right. And that's exactly right. I think she's probably right about that. But I think I was, you know, to be honest, I was less interested in playing the piece, and more interested in how it was put together. And you know, the structures of it. So I did, I loved Bach, and I still do to this day, I think Bach is, is brilliant. And, you know, the deeper you look into it, the more you appreciate that, that architecture, right, and sounds and shapes. So yeah, I think that it is, it is much more of the sounds and shapes than than just being able to follow the dots as it were.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 31:20
Yeah. And in fact, it was interesting, I would go as far as to say to classical lovers that, I would say to them, study jazz, and you'll be a better classical player. And the reason, the reason being is because you'll start to actually see the relationships of all those notes, what you're actually playing, as opposed to just seeing one.go into another.go, into another dot. And actually understanding music from a jazz perspective, how a jazz musician looks at a piece of music. only benefits the classical piano player. Yeah, in fact, and I say that out of personal experience, my classical piano playing became much better after I studied jazz.
Bob Winters 32:04
I haven't I haven't looked back since I've started studying jazz, but if I ever do, it may come as a surprise to my teacher. But yeah, the well, you know, one of the things that I also really appreciate is the the Saturday standards. Oh, yes, you know, I, I have to say, one of the things as a film teacher that I, I worked on, for 30 years, was trying to get students to recognize that older is not bad. And that newer is not better. And so, you know, I would show them, I would teach a history of film glass, and I would, for the first two thirds of the class, we probably saw nothing in color. Everything was in black and white, these were classic movies. And my students would say, well, when are we going to get to the good stuff? You know, the color? I'm thinking, Well, wait a minute, I just showed you some of the most brilliant, you know, it's not like, you know, everything old solar was just, you know, inadequate. And then suddenly, now, we finally figured out, you know, how to make movies. And, and, but I think there's something similar happens in jazz where, where, you know, like, one of the one of the Saturday standards, I remember thinking, oh, gosh, I've heard that song a million times, I'm not sure I want to let me learn that. Because, you know, I'm to add an old, you know, old song. And once you actually study it, and you get inside of it, and you realize there is there are treasures in there. There's all kinds of gems, you know, that that and all kinds of wonderful things to learn from, even in the most, you know, sort of familiar tune there is, if you study it carefully, it has much much to reveal to you. And I really no doubt
Dr. Bob Lawrence 34:11
about it. Yeah, no doubt about it. Okay, there's so many things I want to comment on based on what you just said with the film. And then also about, about these old standards and really studying it. So let me let me, let me talk about the film stuff first that you just mentioned. You know, what's fascinating about that, and I'm curious to see what you think from a film perspective. You know, I've come to realize, in my journey, in my jazz journey, and the study of jazz that the history of jazz actually becomes our, our, our blueprint, our curriculum, if you will, the course of study that we should pursue, like when I tell young jazz students, I'm going to use You want to know, you want to know the outline of how to study jazz? And they go yes, like, uh, well, it's pretty simple. It's called the history of jazz. That's your outline, you know, because you cannot just, you cannot just start to study jazz and jump in at Chick Corea. I mean, you just can't, you just can't do that. Right. And, and by looking at once you understand the history, the evolution of the art form, and you start to see how, like, improvisation, for example, was very, very vertical, you know, the old jazzers would see a C major chord, and they would think the notes, while C, E, G, B. So that they would, they would think, very vertical, straight up straight up that cord. So they improvise on that chord. And then they'd go to the next chord. And if it was a D minor chord, they'd be thinking the notes D, F, A, C, right? As it was, as if somebody said, Hey, let's improvise over this song. And somebody in the room said, Well, how do you suppose that we do that? And somebody said, Well, you got a C chord for the first chord, why don't you just jack around with the notes C, E, G, and B. And then when we go to the next chord, Jack around with those notes, and everybody in the room went, everybody in the room went, that sounds like a pretty good idea, right? So you can kind of see how it was vertical. And then you can start to see if you study jazz, you start to see how that vertical pneus starts to become more horizontal, and you start to see that there's scale tones that start to creep into the improvisation. And then you go on, and then non scale tones and, and you start to see this evolution that as an aspiring jazz pianist to understand that to go back and listen to the early jazzers. And, and and kind of study it, like you said, study it and see what's going on, that kind of paves the way for your course of study. Now, I say all that I'm curious, would that is that kind of the same? And failure? We're just talking? Yeah, it
Bob Winters 36:59
certainly is. Because, you know, the, I mean, now, modern filmmaking is just, you know, completely, just unbelievably complicated process. It involves an army of technicians, and highly trained and talented people to, to make it to make it happen. But, you know, I, when I look back originally, you know, the, the early filmmakers, who just one guy, or maybe two guys, one to hold the camera, and the other stand in front of it, and, and pretty soon, they figured out, wait, maybe if we turn the lights up, that would be you know, and so they started opening windows in these old studios, because they didn't have electrical light. And then when electrical light came in, I mean, that changed everything. And then once they figured out that they could cut and splice the film, suddenly, storytelling became a possibility. And but somebody had, and I think this is one of the things I've always loved about old film is it's somebody had to be the one to think up. Well, what if we try this? You know, what if we try it? And then build upon that? And, and so it is very much I mean, it's, it's kind of an, an interesting analogy, I suppose, you know, that. You know, the, as the technology became available, the movies kind of took off, more so than with jazz, because in jazz you, you the technical possibilities, ie, you know, the recording possibilities, or, or multiple tracks hasn't really impacted jazz, it seems in the same way that technology might impact the movies. But as far as figuring out the basic structure of how, how film is made. Yeah, it started out, you know, back in the 1890s. And it continued through, and, and reached a really pivotal point in the late 1930s. When these great technicians were working with the, the technology as it was, and then, you know, and then color film came in, and my students who say, you know, wouldn't say, Oh, well, finally, they figured out color. And I remind them that there were a lot of filmmakers who didn't move to color, because they thought it was a cheap effect, you know, that it was garish and, right, you know, they were they were still in tune with the classical, black and white. So, I do think that there is that kind of evolution is is similar, but or at least I hope so, because I you know, I think well, gosh, I you know, I could have been I should have spent my whole career playing jazz piano. But then, but then, you know, I'd be in, you know, doing I don't know what now, I'm gonna be your competitor. Right?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 40:16
Oh my god. So, you know, the other thing that you mentioned about like, on the Saturday standards that I send out, you know, I like to do the, the harmonic DNA when I call the harmonic DNA of all those pieces, right? That the, the Roman numeral analysis, if you will, right? And like you're saying, like, when you go to really study a tune, and you really start to get underneath the hood, how, what's really happening underneath there, what how's this harmonic movement? What's going on with the harmonic motion and movement of the piece and so forth? You start to, you start to discover all kinds of goodies, you know, that you that you mentioned, and one of the things that one of the things that I think that is, is fascinating with the study of jazz, and I'll tell this story, and I think I may have told it on some podcast episodes. I know, I know, I, I've told it to students, many times. In fact, I've probably told it so many times, that students have heard it, but they've just been really keen not to tell me that you're, Bob, you're telling the same story that you know, but I remember an old jazz musician back home, you know, that I admired so much and, and I grew up watching him play and perform, and he could play anything, Bob, I mean, any requests that came up to the bandstand, he could play it. Any key that a vocalist wanted to sing a song, and he could play it. If you didn't know the tune, if you whistled it or saying it he'd play it. I mean, he could just what what a incredible musician he was. And I remember asking him one time, his name was Warren and I sit down and said, Warren, how is it that you know, so many songs? I mean, I've watched you for years. And there's never been a song that had been requested that you have not been able to play. I've just, I just marvel at that. I just How is it and you know, he was a car mechanic during the day and fabulous jazz musician by night. And so he had these, like, he had these greasy little fingers. And he always had a little cigar in his mouth. And, you know, if you lined him up with 100 people, and you said, Pick out the incredible gifted jazz piano seemed to be the last one out of the 100 that you pick, right. So I said to him, I said, Hi, how do you? How do you know so many times he took this cigar out of his mouth and he blew the smoke. If you looked at he, Bob, he looked at me like I asked him the dumbest question on the face of planet Earth. And he said to me, What are you talking about? He said, there he goes, they're all the same. And I went, What's he talking about? He's He's senile. I mean, what a kook, right? What do you mean, they're not all the same? Misty is not the same as I left my heart in San Francisco, which is, is not the same as Blue Bossa which is is not the same as confirmation. I mean, what's going on here? What how can you make such a blasphemous statement as as that right? Well, now 35 years later, 40 years later, I look back and I marveled at the brilliance and the depth of which he must understand music, to where you can actually look at these tunes. And and you hear them in such a way that they're actually all the same that you under you hear 251 motion, or 36251 motion? You, you know, certainly the melodies are not the same. But he's hearing all this underpinning that supports these melodies. And there's, like I say, there's a reason why we can't copyright chord chord changes or chord progressions, right? That that movement that defines music, that very essence is shared by all musicians and is found in all of these tunes.
Bob Winters 44:05
Yes, absolutely. You know, one of the most profound and influential bits of advice that I've ever gotten, actually was from you. It was on Oh, it was on a I it was something Yeah, I think you were maybe one of the podcasts. But you had said, you know, how do you how do you tell the difference between an amateur musician and a professional musician, and what she said was that the amateurs move toward greater complication, whereas professionals strive toward greater simplicity. And that is, that has been a real transformational you know, enlightenment for me, I realized that it doesn't mean it doesn't mean that that you know, you you avoid void, you know, nuance and, and, and elegance, it does mean that you see the I think for me anyway that you understand the structure not only what needs to be in the music, but also what doesn't need to be in the music. You know, I, I was for far too long I was thinking, Well, why don't I add some nights and Levenson maybe a 13th? You know, it's thinking, Well, that would be really hip if I did that.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 45:32
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And of course, the 13th is better than the 11. Yeah, yeah. And the 11th. And the 11th is better than the nine. That's right.
Bob Winters 45:40
And it's a bigger number. Yeah. Cuz I thought, well, that's real jazz. And basically, you know, that that sort of punctured that little balloon, which I'm grateful for, to realize, and you know, I was listening to Keith Jarrett, in that great album he made with Charlie Haden called Jasmine. And there's a song on there that the Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden play called. Is it? Oh, gosh, what's the name of the song now? I'm blanking on it. For all we know, I think it's the song. Oh, right. And, you know, Jarrett pursues that, at least the beginning of it. And really all the way through in a very simple kind of open way. As you as you've said, you describe it as leaving lots of air and space in there. And it is so beautiful. That he does it. And it's not, it's not easy to emulate. You know, it takes a certain a great level of skill to be able to, to do that. That kind of simplicity is I think what you were talking about?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 46:57
Well, that's exactly right. You're mentioning Keith Jarrett, there's a version I just listened to the other day again of him playing my wild Irish rose. First of all, who plays my wild Irish? Yeah. Who's gonna do that? Right? Not too many jazz musicians I know. And here, he's playing my wild Irish rose and playing it's so simplistic that it's off the charts. Amazing. Yeah. It's, it's unbelievable. And so yes, I couldn't agree more with you on that. So yeah, you know, yeah, we do strive for I think, as you go down the road, in your jazz journey, it is it is a journey of simplification, right? I tried to tell students all the time that if jazz is complicated, up here, if it's confusing, or complicated or fragmented up here, then it's complicated and confusing and fragmented down here in the hands, right? So we have to get to the point. And students I work with I go, I have to get you to the point I have to teach you in such a way that music becomes simple. It's simple. It's here. Now I know, there's the physical side of it that you have to actually physically execute. But if it's not simple hear up here, then you have zero chance of getting it to work here. Yeah. Yeah. If it's simple here, you got a shot here. Yeah,
Bob Winters 48:29
I think, you know, for, for, basically, you know, beginner students like, like myself, I think that's such an important lesson. Because if you don't know, if you don't know that much about jazz, there is this tendency to think, well, the more complicated it is, the more you know, sophisticated on my sound, you know, and, and I don't think any professional jazz musician, pianist has ever thought that, you know,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 49:03
ever, ever in fact, I'm telling you. Here's another story I tell all the time. My very first transcription that I ever did, was a red garland solo, a foggy day in London town, he was version of that I think it's off his garland of red album. And I started transcribing his solo on foggy day in London town, and there's an F major chord, and the notes, the notes that he plays as he plays an arpeggio, f A, C, E, and I stopped, I stopped the album. I wrote that down I stopped and I said that can't be right. So I moved the needle back I put put it down again. And he plays I stopped I wrote fac E again I go that's just I said, My ears are horrible. My ears are just awful. There's no way that red garland can be on an F major chord be playing the notes F Have a see those are the core tones for heaven's sakes, that's ridiculous. He's not that simple minded. He cannot be, he cannot be he plays so great. He cannot be playing that.
Bob Winters 50:10
He must. Yeah. Right.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 50:14
It's got to be better than I've lost all respect for that. You know, but the reality of it is, that's what he was playing and the articulation, the touch the feel. Fabulous. Yeah. So much so that I thought it was actually more complicated than Yeah,
Bob Winters 50:29
isn't that a gift? Well, you know, you, I think the way that, that, that your lessons, particularly in the podcast, iTunes, where, you know, you might start with giving a basic block chord, and then move toward a traditional shells and contemporary shells and two handed voicings, and, you know, you have said before, and I really appreciate this, that, that for a while you played in when you were, you know, just starting to play gigs, you played them all in block, quartz, everything. And there's nothing wrong with block chords, just because they may seem more straightforward than a contemporary shell, for example, in in pride, you know, force does not mean that they're somehow primitive, or, you know, unsophisticated. But again, you know, that's the kind of awareness that I think, I think, you know, beginning jazz students need to work toward, they need to understand that, that it's okay to play those block chords, play them well, and play them with, you know, with a good sense of touch, and they're fine. And I think you did a real service to all those beginning students by saying, you, you did nothing but play block chords for a while.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 52:00
Oh, for a long time. In fact, I remember I'd go out and do gigs, and the band leader would hand the book. The book to me, and I started looking through the book and the charts and I can't remember, literally, I can remember one night seeing the very first chord I came across, I looked at it, and it was like a C dominant seven sharp 11. And I said to myself, well, not tonight. Tonight. Tonight. It's C dominant seven. Yeah. Because because I have no idea how to play sharp love. Tonight. It's C dominance. And it's okay. It's okay.
Bob Winters 52:34
I still do that, actually. Right. Because yes,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 52:38
so, yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny, my, my, I used to play block, you know, that's how we back that's how I think every student should learn those blocks. First and foremost, because really, Bob, going back to what I was saying earlier, the blocks, I tell students all the time, yes, these are great. These are voicings that you should have on your hands, but rather, whether you realize it or not, there is an improvisational exercise as well. Because it's those shapes, those shapes that you will use to convert to melody. Yes. Yeah. Right, those shapes, melody will flow from those shapes. So to know those blocks and their inverted shapes is setting you up for improvisation. And that goes back to the history of, of jazz piano. If you go back and look at the early guys soloing and playing, you will see that oh, my gosh, there's there. He's improvising off a C major seventh and second inversion. Yeah. Oh, my gosh. Right. And you actually see it on you see it on the page. Right.
Bob Winters 53:39
Yeah, I so I think that that's a really valuable skill, which is, which is why you know, the least when I started following your curriculum, the first thing that that I ran into were the 60 essential chords. And you know, that suddenly, I think you've mentioned this, knowing that there are 60 and not 160. That, that was strangely comforting. To me. It was like, Well, this is not impossible. I can learn 60 chords, I mean, maybe, maybe I haven't memorized them, but you know, I'd work through them again again, and after a while, you sort of get the shakes down and you understand it. Speaking of books, I want to show you I, I do and I'm sure other students do, too. I keep a notebook of all my now it's becoming unwieldy. And it's, you know, I'm just at the first leg of my journey. I'm going to need a lot more notebooks, I think but all the materials that you've supplied, you know, the, in the podcast, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the solo, all that stuff. I copy it off, you know, I print it out and I Keep it up, go back again again. Because, you know, there is. Yeah, I think, you know, there is no shame in going back and looking again, at those 60 essential cords, there is no shame in going back. And, you know, revisiting some of the, you know, harmonized scales that that you, you've offered and, and I think I had to convince myself that it was okay, you know, you you're as a student, you, you're sort of led to believe that if you have to be held back if you, if you need to go back and study something further, that you should do that quietly, and maybe with a little bit of shame that you didn't learn it so well. But I think that's not true. And music and jazz, you know,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 55:52
Bob Winters 55:53
really helps to go back. So I'm keeping No,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 55:56
oh, I think I think that's great, Bob, that's what you just made my day. But I, you know, it's funny, because I, I tell I say this to students all the time, too, you know, the further I get down the road, the faster I run back to the beginning. Because because it's at the beginning, I realize is where everything happens if the stronger I have those block shapes under my fingers, and the understanding of those being able to play those in my left hand and my right hand to be able to improvise using those shapes. I just those fundamentals because I run back to them. Right. It's kind of like, you know, a few. A couple months ago, I interviewed Burt Ligon. And and we were talking on on that podcast episode we were talking about, when you go to spring training your watch the greatest baseball players in the world, the greatest baseball players that spring training, practicing fielding ground balls, and practicing catching popups and practicing making a throw from shortstop to first and you're going like, wait a minute, I can see this on my little league field, what the heck is what the heck are these guys practicing this stuff for? You know, I want to see something fancy here, they're out there practicing the very fundamentals of the game, right. And that's what you're getting at, we should not feel ashamed to go back to practice the fundamentals of the game, you know, of playing.
Bob Winters 57:22
And of course, every time I do that, I discover something about that. Whatever topic, whatever it is, maybe it's a certain kind of voicing, or, or, you know, something else that I didn't see the first time, I think, right, as I bring that approach to the podcast, to I listened to the podcasts, usually, three times. So first time, I'll just listen to it. Right, you know, i and i will approach the piano the second time, up small print out the materials and have that in front of me as I'm listening to it. And the third time, I'll listen to it at the piano so I can actually, you know, kind of follow along with what you're doing. And, you know, if that's a slow way to learn, well, I've got all the time in the world. I'm not, I'm not in any way.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 58:15
You know, it's, you know, it's funny, it's it's the slow, it's the fastest slow way you'll ever learn. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's the fastest slow way. Right there. That's, that's awesome. Yeah, you know, you know, I will say, and I try to encourage students with this as well, you know, that if I, if I had a timeline, and on my timeline, somebody asked me to, on that timeline to put up push pen on that timeline as the most significant moment that I've experienced in my musical growth as a jazz musician, where would I Where would I put that push pen? Well, I would put that push pen at the very point to where I could play my block chords. There inversions. instinctually. With ease, I could take any lead sheet, I could see that chord symbol, and I could go from chord to chord, the chord, the chord, the chord with little movement without the hand move, with the hand moving very little, because I'm incorporating all those inversions, right. And I could play a melody over the top of that, why? Why I kept time, in my left hand, like strumming a guitar like ching ching, ching ching and playing the melody or at the top of it, when I could do that. And I could go song after song after song after song. That was the most significant moment in my musical development because I knew everything from that moment on was just icing on the cake. And I was so thrilled at that moment. I was so content. I was so happy at that moment that I remember my teacher said to me, Bob, we need to move on? And I was going. And I was like, not really.
Bob Winters 1:00:08
Not really where I want to be right now.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:00:11
I'm pretty happy right here, you know, I'm playing a lot of tunes, I'm playing these chords, I got the melody going sounded pretty good. I'm I'm pretty happy. You know. So I think like what you saying, going back? Going back to that beginning, in fact, I would tell students all the time run back to that beginning, like what you're encouraged to do go back to those boxes, because I think, I think the key is found within that pool of 60 shapes, if you have those. Now you have the foundation, which to build upon.
Bob Winters 1:00:45
You know, and that's so true. That I, the idea of getting back to that basics, that I kind of bring that idea to, you know, whenever I, I tried to play a piece, I always I'm always trying to think about, you know, getting back to the, to the essential core of it, and revisiting, you know, the basic structure of it, which is the architecture of it, trying to understand how the song is built. And not, you know, not immediately rushing toward, for example, improvisation. I think so many new students are so blown away by great improvising, they hear, they hear Bill Evans, and they hear Keith Jarrett, and they hear right, check Korea, and they think, oh, that's what I want to do. And they sort of skip over the tune. So they can do and you can't, you can't possibly, and you can't possibly do improvisation. Until that tune is deep in your bones. That's exactly right. You know, is exactly learn that and kind of temper my drive, to, to improvise, because, you know, improvising is cool. And everyone loves it. But you know, the only way you can do it is if you if you've gone back and learn the tune deeply.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:02:20
That Well, that's right. In fact, I had a teacher that he wouldn't even let me begin to improvise until I can actually play that melody of that tune in my sleep. And the reality of right in the reality of it is if you play the melody, and you're singing that melody that in and of itself is improvisational, right, because you're not, you're not reading it off a page, you're interpreting that melody, you're playing that melody, creating a treatment of that melody, based on how you're hearing it and singing it internally. And that in and of itself is improvisation. And you should, you know, in fact, I'll go as far as when I listen to somebody improvise, I can tell you in in in a second. How well they know the melody or how well they don't know the melody based on how they're playing. Yeah, because if you really, if you really know the tune, like what you're talking about that melody can't help but surface through your improvisation.
Bob Winters 1:03:14
Yeah, it it's a hard lesson for for those who think that, you know, they could just go straight into improvisation and sound like Keith Jarrett, or whatever. But right, yeah, yeah. So yeah. With that, with that said, I think that the the learning the block chords, and then the skater and then the shells, and then the two handed voicings in and of itself, it forces you to play that tune over and over and over again. And listen, listening to the vocalists sing it? And the words of the lyrics themselves sometimes are, are, you know, hidden in the notes themselves of the melody, no doubt. And you know it. I know, you always say, well just learn it by ear. Learn the melody by ear. And you know that that's the best way to do it. I have not, I'll confess I have not always followed that advice. I know that this will come as a shock to you, but I have a real book and sometimes, sometimes I will copy a page out of it. And but you know, you know that while I've made that confession, I have to say still you're right. Until I can sing that to myself in my sleep. That's when I finally be begin to get that peace.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:04:44
Yeah, well, you know, I think there's and the truth of the matter is there's there's an evolution of that process as well. So I would tell you know, using a real book or fake book, with a melody written in there to kind of help start to guide the To kind of jumpstart you in that process of learning melodies of playing tunes, there's nothing wrong with that. That's how I did it. I mean, that's, I mean, I had I had fake books and, and I would just go to that fake book. But it wasn't until, and this is what you've been talking about this whole entire hour. It wasn't until I started looking at that melody. And I started going, oh, wait a minute. That's arpeggio motion and that scale motion. And that melody starting off the third of that of the key, or that melody starts off the fifth of the key and, and I started actually looking at the melody much deeper than just dots, to where now all of a sudden, I started to get to the point to where I could learn, I could play melodies by ear, in fact, so much. So Bob, I used to always, I got to a point to where I would play melodies. And I would go, I would say to myself that I know that because I heard it. Or did I know that because of my analysis, because I analyzed so many melodies that I could analytically get there. Did I did I get there because of analysis? Or did I get there because of oral skills? And then I sat back in my chair, and I said to myself, well, who cares? I got there.
Bob Winters 1:06:13
That's true. That's the
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:06:15
writing. Yeah. So it's not I guess what I'm saying. It's not an either or, right. It's a both and we we want to have the ear working. We want to have the the analytical, the conceptual understanding, we want all that stuff working together to produce Yeah,
Bob Winters 1:06:30
I mean, I can use the, the real book, you know, lead sheet the melody, just one time through. And then once that melodies in my head,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:06:41
then I can learn it. Well see, yeah, well, then you're on the right, you're on the right path. That's that's part of the journey.
Bob Winters 1:06:49
That's a small part. You know, I feel I feel your, your absolution now that I've confessed. And
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:06:58
I forgive you and you your penance, Bob, your pendants tonight those you have to learn three standards without without any reference to a
Bob Winters 1:07:07
book. I'm getting there. I'm getting okay.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:07:14
Oh, man, that's so fun. Well, listen, man, you know, here's what's so funny, you know, before you and I got on the on the, on the internet today and connected with one another. Right? You and I went back and forth with a couple emails and you're like, like, what are we going to talk about? You know, you know, and I said, Hey, man, it's just going to be it's going to be fun. We're going to talk about music. And, and I had a whole list of things here that I wanted to get to and talk to you about, but it never fails. Right? You get going on this stuff. We're packed with the dude, we didn't even get to, but we didn't even get down to three of my points. We only got to like two things, you know?
Bob Winters 1:07:50
Well, yeah. So
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:07:52
I have to have you back on at another date that continue our conversation.
Bob Winters 1:07:56
Yeah, maybe I'll Well, I actually had a list too. And I don't think I got anywhere near it either.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:08:05
That's, that's jazz. Right. Yeah, that's jazz. So but no, it's been, you know, it's been such a pleasure to have you on and I know, I'm going to hear such great feedback from all the jazz piano skills listeners, because as we were talking and sharing your, your thoughts and your journey and your understanding of jazz and the art form, I could, I could see the collective head shaking across the country and across the globe of people listening, and their head shaking up and down in agreement with you. So you have been without question and inspiration for so many today. And I can't, on behalf of on behalf of all the listeners, I just want to say thank you, Bob, for taking time out of your your schedule today to join me and to share your thoughts.
Bob Winters 1:08:51
Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. It's an honor to be here.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:08:55
Well, so just promise me that you'll come back. And we'll continue this in the future. To get maybe through all of our list of all the all the topics that we want to talk
Bob Winters 1:09:08
about, right? I'll have a different list by that.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:09:13
Exactly. So all right. So Bob, we're going to be broadcast and this is going to go on jazz piano skills. It's going to go out Tuesday, it's going to be fantastic. If anybody has a desire to reach out to you, is that something that they could do via email or anything like that?
Bob Winters 1:09:30
Absolutely. Yes. I'd love to hear from others. And one of the things that I I would love to see in the community in the online forums is students talking with each other. It's an absolutely because I as much as I respect you, I realize we also have things that we can say among ourselves and help each other along the way.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:09:53
It goes back to what I said at the beginning of our conversation. I learned just as much if not more in the hallways And I want to, I want to stress that that as well. I want everybody be encouraged everybody to get in the community. You're an active participant in that community. And I would love for folks to get in there and interact with you as well. That'd be that'd be fantastic. So, so yeah, so reach out to Bob go through the jazz piano skills community. He's there and if you have any questions for him, he'd love to hear from you. And and, and then we'll have, we'll have you back on at another time soon, Bob.
Bob Winters 1:10:32
Great, great talking with you.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 1:10:35
Likewise, Thank you boss your Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast episode with special guests Bob winters to be insightful, entertaining and of course, beneficial. One of my mentors and teachers, our friends and used to say to me after every lesson, never forget, the greatest thing about music is the people you meet through it. And the privilege of meeting and spending time with Bob simply confirms our sentiment 100% Don't forget if you are a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass. 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode featuring Bob winters in greater detail and of course to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. As always, you can reach me by phone through the Dallas School of Music at 972-380-8050 by email Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by SpeakPipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the pearls of wisdom shared by Bob winters. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano
Bob is an active JazzPianoSkills Member, Jazz Pianist, and lifelong lover of music. Although encouraged as a child by his mother to study classical and jazz guitar, Bob was lured away from music by his love of literature. He studied poetry at the University of California, Berkeley, and creative writing at U. C. Irvine.
For 35 years Bob taught literature and film studies at Whatcom Community College in Washington State. In mid-career, Bob rediscovered his passion for music and began taking classical piano lessons, and later turned to jazz.
Now retired, Bob devotes several hours a day to studying and playing jazz on his beloved 1923 Steinway baby grand.
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