Jazz Piano Skills welcomes Dr. JB Dyas, Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development at the Herbie Hancock Institute
Welcome to Jazz Piano Skills; I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It’s time to Discover, Learn, and Play jazz piano!
I am thrilled to welcome to JazzPianSkills, Dr. JB Dyas. Dr. JB Dyas has been a leader in jazz education for the past two decades. Currently, Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, Dyas oversees the Institute's education and outreach programs, including Jazz in America (www.jazzinamerica.org), one of the most significant and wide-reaching jazz education programs in the world. He has presented jazz workshops, teacher-training seminars, and jazz "informances" worldwide with such renowned artists as Ambrose Akinmusire, Don Braden, Bobby Broom, Dave Brubeck, Gerald Clayton, Robin Eubanks, Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Ingrid Jensen, Sean Jones, Delfeayo Marsalis, Christian McBride, Bobby Watson, and Steve Wilson.
Prior to his current position at the Hancock Institute, Dyas served as Executive Director of the Brubeck Institute where he implemented its College Fellowship Program, Brubeck Festival, Summer Jazz Colony, and Jazz Outreach Initiative. Before that, he served as Director of Jazz Studies at Miami-Dade College – one of the nation's largest and most multi-cultural colleges, and New World School of the Arts – Miami’s award-winning performing arts high school.
Throughout his career, Dyas has performed across the country, designed and implemented new jazz curricula, directed large and small ensembles, and taught various jazz courses to students at virtually every level of musical development – age seven to seventy, beginner to professional, learning-challenged to prodigy. He has conducted jazz and tune-learning clinics, adjudicated high school and collegiate jazz festivals, and presented numerous jazz seminars throughout the United States and in Australia, Canada, Columbia, Cuba, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey. He also teaches Jazz Pedagogy at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, is on the faculty of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop, and serves as an adjudicator for the Annual GRAMMY Music Educator Award.
Additionally, Dyas has written for DownBeat magazine and other national music publications, presented clinics, and performed at a number of International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) and Jazz Education Network (JEN) Annual Conferences, co-founded the International Sisters in Jazz Collegiate Competition, served on the Smithsonian Institution's Task Force for Jazz Education in America, and contributed the chapter “Defining Jazz Education” to the biography, "David Baker - A Legacy in Music." Dyas recently introduced his “What is Jazz and Why It’s Important to the World” lecture for International Jazz Day, for which he annually presents education events in conjunction with the Hancock Institute and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He also has made a series of teacher-training jazz education videos (all available at jbdyas.com), including a national webinar along with Herbie Hancock and US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on the importance of jazz education in our public schools.
Dr. Dyas received his Master’s in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Miami and Ph.D. in Music Education from Indiana University. He is a recipient of the DownBeat Achievement Award for Jazz Education. A professional bassist, Dyas has performed well over a thousand jazz and commercial dates throughout his career and continues performing in various jazz and commercial music settings.
Now, sit back, relax, and welcome to Jazz Piano Skills, Dr. JB Dyas!
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. Hill. Y'all are in for a real treat today. Today I welcome to jazz piano skills. Dr. Jay B Dyess and Dr. Dyess has been a leader in jazz education for the past two decades, currently Vice President for Education and curriculum development at the Herbie Hancock Institute of jazz. Dr. Dyess oversees the institute's education and outreach programs, including jazz in America, one of the most significant and wide reaching jazz education programs in the world. He has presented numerous jazz workshops, teacher training, seminars, and jazz clinics worldwide, with such renowned artists as Dave Brubeck, Gerald Clayton, Robin Eubanks, Herbie Hancock, Delfino, Marcellus, Christian McBride, Bobby Watson, Steve Wilson, and many others. Before his current position at the Herbie Hancock Institute of jazz, Dr. Dyer has served as executive director of the Dave Brubeck Institute, where he implemented its college fellowship program, the Brubeck festival summer jazz colony, and jazz outreach initiative. Before that, Dr. Dias served as Director of Jazz Studies at Miami Dade College is one of the largest and most multicultural colleges in the nation. He's also served at the New World School of Arts, Miami's award winning performing arts high school. Listen, I could go on and on and on, but let's get to the interview. So sit back, relax, and welcome to jazz piano skills. Dr. J. B. Dyess. Dr. J. B Dyess. Can I just sit here and stare at you for a while man just kind of soak this all in that I'm actually sitting down with you man, like the king of jazz education on jazz piano skills. I am thrilled welcome my friend.
Dr. JB Dyas 2:50
Well, you're too kind first of all, and Bob, it's great to be with you today.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 2:55
Oh, man, I tell you what we have so much to talk about. And so you know what I want to just I want to jump in and before we get in to all the, you know, before we get into jazz education, before we get into all the wonderful work you're doing at the Herbie Hancock Hancock Institute, before all that, you know what I want to do, JB? I want you to take some time right now. And I want you to tell us about you, your childhood, your parents, siblings, how you got into music. How did this journey that you have been on your entire life? How did it start? So my friend, I'm turning the microphone over to you. It's all yours.
Unknown Speaker 3:35
Well, it's a pretty Securitas route. I grew up in New York, right in Greenwich Village. Wow. And I grew up in a theatrical family. My dad was a director, producer and my mother was an actress. So the arts were always around us. My dad had a summer theater in Saugatuck, Michigan we would go there every summer for 17 summers. And since the time I was three years old, I worked in every phase of the theater. I worked in the light booth. I worked in the sound booth I clean dressing rooms I helped my sister was a costumer, I helped her there. I feel the coke machines. I worked in the box office, I cleaned the bathrooms, acted in the plays, play drums in the pit before I could really play drums still can't write the player. Right? You know, how hard could it be? When you're 11 years old? Yeah, exactly. Right. So so all my growing up, and my dad was frankly medium successful. Okay, he had he had one Broadway hit called Send Me no flowers in the 60s. But you know, he was in work out of work and work out work. I mean, I remember growing up, he was home all the time and then he's gone. all the time. So, so my my dad would always say, Jim, Billy, stay out of the theater. You don't need this. It was great that I did all the theater jobs at the at the summer stock theater because you're learning life skills, but stay out of the theater. Right? You, you don't need this. I will support you. I will send you to college, but not if you're going to be a theater major. You don't need this kind of laugh. Yeah, right. And And so finally, I'm 12 years old. And I finally come to him. And I say that I decided what I'm going to do. You're right, the theatres is just too shaky. And he says, Great, son, I'll send you to school, whatever you want to do just not the theater. She says, So what are you going to do son? And I said, jazz music?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 5:54
I bet he went, Oh, such a relief.
Unknown Speaker 5:57
So that was that was a big joke in our family. Actually, you know, I got I started as a rock and roll. I'm a bass player now. But I started out as a rock and roll guitar player. And right after high school, by the way, I never wanted to go to college. I mean, I had, you know, I've been to school for 12 years and a senior in high school less than no one wanted to do. And I was a good I was I was a good rock and roll guitar player. I thought I was a lot better than what I was. So I carried myself that way. Because, you know, you know, I was like, I was probably the best rock guitar player in my high school. So you know,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 6:36
so therefore, you're the best hot rock and roll.
Unknown Speaker 6:39
So you know, I thought it was you know, Jimi Hendrix. Jimmy Page, JP dias.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 6:49
Not necessarily in that order.
Unknown Speaker 6:52
I mean, I was so mad. It's embarrassing. So anyway, right after high school, I look into going on the road with a rock band playing six nights a week in hotel lounges. And this was in the 70s, where every, every hotel every Sheraton Marriott, right Holiday Inn, right, they all had top family bands in the lounge. That's right. And so I looked into this really good group. And, and, and I remember, I'm only 18 years old, and I'm traveling around the country and making more money than my dad. So the last thing that I'm thinking about is going to college. But so anyway, the bass player and the keyboard player in the group, they were both into jazz. And they were carrying around like a footlocker of albums, a lot of CTI records. And so we would play in a club for two weeks Monday through Saturday, have the Sunday off Monday through Saturday, then we're on the road, we were booked all over the country through our booking agency that probably have 40 or 50 of these groups criss crossing the country.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 8:04
Hey, and at 18 Man, that's the life right there, man.
Unknown Speaker 8:07
I was having a ball. Yes. Right. Well, so they were into jazz. They were always listening to jazz. And so then, on one of the Sundays, they say, Hey, we're going to a jam session, one of our days off going to gym, come on, JB, come on, bring your racks you can sit in. And I and thinking that I'm all that, you know. Sure, man. So I go up and, and see I really couldn't improvise. Because what I would do is I would solo every night in the top 40 band the exact same solos that were on the record. Right, right. And so I remember, they come up and they bring me up to play on green dolphin street, and they had the real book up there. And I just absolutely fell on my face. It was just awful. And so for the first time, I realized that I was nowhere. I was nowhere. And so I said, How do you guys learn how to do this? How did you guys learn how to like record symbols and read music and and be able to improvise like that? Yeah. And I really respected these guys because they were older and wiser. I mean, one was 19. The other one was around.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 9:26
So I said, you're hanging your hat on their wisdom.
Unknown Speaker 9:30
I said, How'd you learn how to do this? And they said, we went to community college
Unknown Speaker 9:42
community college, I gotta get me into one. Learn how to do this. So I remember the band broke up in Sioux City Iowa and and because the singer in the group, they they were going to put a bigger they're putting money behind her and they were going to Put a bigger band in, I thought we were gonna get a new singer. But they just gave us a two week notice. So I said, Well, now what do I do? So, you know how people decide to go to college because they really want to study because of a great program they have or structure there. Right? Right. Well, I went to, I went, I started, I said, I'm gonna go to college now and learn how to do this. And I started at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. And the reason why I went there is because I had a friend who had a place who said I could stay there. So I found a place and that's how I did my school.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 10:35
Hey, when you're, when you're at unemployed in Sioux City, Iowa, you're going like, Alright, you got to place for me to stay. I'm there.
Unknown Speaker 10:43
So I went to school and I took it very seriously. You know, I had I was the proverbial d minus student and in high school. In college, I was straight A's until the second semester of my junior year, I was serious about learning how to do this. Right. So that's, that's how I got myself, got myself into college and I remember getting myself into jazz, you know, on on the road when I was with those cats and the, you know, the 19 and the 20 year old and they were listening to Herbie Hancock's chameleon, from headhunters. Oh, yeah. And I, you know, I walked in, you know, walked in in their room, and they're listening. And I said, Man, what's that? And they said, That's jazz. And I said, jazz. I gotta get me into this. And that's that was that was my transitional tune.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 11:38
Yeah, that's, that's amazing. Right. And little did you know, at that time, you would end up Mr. Big way, get the Herbie Hancock Institute.
Unknown Speaker 11:48
I've told her be the story. And it turns out the chameleon was the transitional tune for lots of us. Right. And to give it even more coincidence, is that my other transition tune was take five, wow, by the debut. And my former gig before here, was I was executive director of the Brubeck Institute. And I got to be very close to Dave, he became like my grandfather, one of the most one of the wisest and a true humanitarian.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 12:21
Yeah, I Oh, I never met Dave Brubeck, but I always heard that he was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. Is that true?
Unknown Speaker 12:29
salt of the earth? Yeah. And normal. Yeah. Just like a regular cat and just absolutely. Loving and deep. Yeah. I mean, he thought about everything. Religion in life, or death and politics in classical music and Right, right, you know, the world affairs. He was. He was quite something. Yeah, what
Dr. Bob Lawrence 12:54
a blessing for you right to have that kind of intimate relationship with him and, and learn from him. What a blessing man?
Unknown Speaker 13:01
Well, it's interesting, because I was the director of education for the Thelonious Monk Institute of jazz when it was at USC, when I got the call to apply to the Brubeck Institute. And I applied and they offered me the position, but I had a good job. Right? So I was in one of those rare positions, where I didn't need the gig. That was which was new for me in my life, because often give me a gig in a wedding, but But sorry, right. So here. So here, I said, I called they offered me the gig. And I said, before I take it, I'd like to spend some time with Dave, just to see if we're on the same page. And so George Moore was his, his assistant. And to show you Dave's loyalty, George Moore had been his assistant for like, decades, even George had grandchildren. So George said, I said, I want to come to Connecticut, where, where he lives, and I said, you know, just get a hotel room and I'll stay there for two or three days and just visit a so he calls back and he says, this is in Wilton, Connecticut. George says, Uh, no, David says that you stay at the house. David says that you stayed and I said I couldn't impose. So I but he insisted. So I went there for three days to hanging out. Oh my gosh. First of all, he's got pianos, he's like six or seven pianos on all of those. There's a there's photos of him with kings and queens and presidents and Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis. And just this most exquisite house and even had an even had an upright piano on stilts so that he could, so they could Practice standing up and right standing up isn't my back?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 15:03
Am I am right, what a great idea.
Unknown Speaker 15:05
So, so we talked about everything. And I told him my ideas for the institute about having a fellowship program and doing jazz outreach and having a summer jazz colony for the top 17 high school kids in the country. And after that, I just knew I had to get next to him. And I was there for four years, when the Thelonious Monk Institute recruited me back, they created this new position of Vice President, right. And at this time, I thought, I didn't really want to finish my career in Stockton, California. That's where the Brubeck Institute was the University of the Pacific, although it's beautiful, right? That was Dave's alma mater. That's why the Okay, was there, right? I thought if I wanted to get back to LA and, and so that was right. That was one of the hardest things I had to do was tell Dave that I was going having to leave but he completely. And I, you know, I went and I made an appointment because he was he was playing in LA and I, I flew down from Stockton, and I made an appointment to go speak to him in his hotel suite after I saw his concert. And he said, you can tell me anything except that you're leaving. And I said, Man, and I told him, he's not buying any of it. And I said, you know, Dave, I said, I just really can't see myself finishing my career in Stockton. And he said, Well, I can certainly understand that. So that was in August, and then the next New Year's Day, we talked on the phone for almost an hour. So everything was everything had been cool.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 16:44
Yeah. How old? Was he? How old? Was he at that time?
Unknown Speaker 16:48
At? Okay, you know, late 70s. So he, and I remember a couple of my favorite date I telling you how wise this pianist was. We're talking about how every jazz musician you talk to gives you a different way. They think you should learn how to play jazz, right? That's right. Go to school. Don't go to school, use transcription books, don't use transcription books, right? Use play alongs don't use play alone, right. And so I said, Dave, like, I know that when you would ask David Baker, what the best way to learn how to play jazz was he said, Well, you got to come to someplace like Indiana University. Get a degree, do what we say. And you talk to how Galfer the great jazz pianist that played with Phil woods, he would say, Hey, man, if your parents have enough money to send you to college, take that money, come to New York. Hang out study with a study with a great, so everybody had different things. I know that US people would say you got to go to New York. Others would say you got to stay home and practice. Right parents Blanchard wrote would always say, you know, if you really want to be a jazz musician, you got to spend at least a couple of years in New Orleans. Right to write to soak up the ethos. Right, right. Right. So do you go to New York to go to New Orleans? Do you stay home and practice? Do you go to school? Do you not go to school to use play? alongs? Do you let us play along? So as Dave, I said, What do you think is the best way to learn how to play jazz? And he said, any way you get there is the right way. That's right. And that was just
Dr. Bob Lawrence 18:29
Yeah, right. Cut right. cuts right to the chase. Yeah, get there.
Unknown Speaker 18:33
My other favorite one. I said, Dave, do you play for yourself? Or do you play for the audience? And he says you always play for yourself. Unless it's a really good audience.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 18:53
Right. Oh, that's. Yeah. Yeah. You know, that's a that's interesting, because there's one of Bill Evans, quotes that I love. He says, and I'm kind of paraphrasing a little bit, he said, maybe it's a peculiar year liberty of mine. But I'd much I'd much rather perform without the audience.
Unknown Speaker 19:18
Yeah, every everybody's got a different take on that. Of course, we all know Miles Davis. Yeah. You know how he would, you know, face the band. Yeah. Not even announced tunes. Yeah. Right. But they've said you play for yourself and each other, meaning the rest of the Quartet. Right. But if you got a good audience, you play for them? Absolutely. Because they're into it. And that's exactly and they're responding to you. And they're, they're informing what you play.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 19:46
Right. Right. So okay, JB, so, this is fascinating. So let's go back. You're 18 unemployed in Sioux City. You end up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, right? Because that we ended up
Unknown Speaker 19:59
Yes. And then what So what I was doing, I was earning my way through school. Okay. And so it actually took me seven years to get my degree because I was in school on a cruise ship on the road, right back to school on a cruise ship or, you know, during the cruise gig thing. So, I'm in Virginia Beach, Virginia, playing in a group called Last of the good guys. And I'm living with a vocalist and she and I break up and the band breaks up and my whole world is going dark. I'm 21 years old, classic. And so I do whatever, you know, red blooded American boy would do. You know, I called my mom. And she said, Well, your dad's your dad's in Palm Beach, Florida. He's directing a play at the Royal poinciana Playhouse six week gig and he's got four more weeks. Why don't you give him a call?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 20:58
He needs a drummer.
Unknown Speaker 21:03
Why don't you just go hang out with him and figure out your next steps. So I go down there and I you know, I'm stay with my dad who went you know, the gig came with a two bedroom apartment right there in Palm Beach and nice. four blocks from the ocean. So I'm going to the beach and crying in my beer and all that stuff. And my dad said, you know, you know why you're here. Why don't you think about finding some work? So I I went around all the music stores, everything, put my name up. And I had an I was a good guitar player by that but I had an electric bass. Because like every rock and roll guitar player they also play. Right, right. Because you kind of you know, when you're in the high school band, the high school Garage Band, rock band, you kind of trade off. That's right. Okay, I'll play bass. So I found a gig. I found a gig playing with this cat named Jimmy rivers at the harlot on electric bass, and I was there for nine weeks in Jupiter, Florida, which is north of prank Beach, right playing at a Holiday Inn. You know, my dad goes back to New York ice, I rent a cheap, low efficiency in West Palm Beach. And I start gigging and I'm down there, and I start and I start working. And I put together this and by the way, I finished my degree at Florida Atlantic University, where there was this incredible teacher there named Bill Prince. Remember that? And it was incredible. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Multi instrumentalist. Alright. He, he got a doctorate in trumpet performance right from the University of Miami. But he played tenor saxophone, like Sonny Rollins, right and principal clarinet in the Jacksonville symphony. And when he moved to when he moved to University of North Florida, he was at Florida Atlantic University when I was there.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 23:05
So I did he go to North Florida. Was that with rich Madison? That's correct. Yeah. With rich Madison at that time, right,
Unknown Speaker 23:12
exactly. Right. Yeah. Right at Florida Atlantic University when I was there. And then just after just, I think, a couple years after I graduated, he took that gig at North Florida, finished his teaching career there. And he's, he's still there, professor emeritus. Okay. So I formed this group called the Kids Next Door. And this was a big hit in, in palm in the Palm Beaches, because we were doing all the disco tunes of the 70s. Like this was Saturday Night Fever was popular. But we're also we were also doing four part vocals, like the modern airs, and singing I got a gallon Kalamazoo and Chattanooga, choo choo. Wow. So we were huge with the Palm Beach set up, they wanted to boogie, but they were still like these older, older folks. So they loved it. And we had the smiles in the and we were the Kids Next Door. And so
Dr. Bob Lawrence 24:11
this did you wear tuxes? Did you wear Texas? No. But we did
Unknown Speaker 24:14
wear matching suits with ties right down to matching shoes. I mean, a slick group. And all these cats in the group were really good jazz players. But we're doing this and we would play a jazz set often as the dinner set we play stay Yeah, right. Right. Right. But then and we had a great singer who could could sing everything from you know, Donna Summer to Ella Fitzgerald who really, really, really lucked out on that. So I'm living the life I'm making the most money ever made playing with the best cats booked all the time, places or places are packed. People like Bob Hope and and famous people are coming in all the time Lauren green I remember the cat from Bonanza, right? Come in. And so I'm living the life. And I'm getting up, I'm, you know, we play and I'm playing six nights a week, and I'm hanging out every night. And then I'm getting up at three in the afternoon. And the reason why I'm getting up at three in the afternoon, every day, is because that's when General Hospital came on the soap opera, and I was hooked. That was the Luke and Laura days. And then, so I, Bob, I had a revelation one day, I really remember this looking in the mirror and saying, you know, what's wrong with this picture? You're hanging out all night, and you're getting up at three in the afternoon. And the reason why you're getting up is so that you can watch General Hospital. So I decided to call my good friend and mentor, Bill Prince, right, who was still at FAU, Florida Atlantic University. And I said, Can I make an appointment to talk to you? I've got some issues. And he said, Sure. Come in. So I told him, I said, I told him the story, that I just don't feel fulfilled. I'm playing with all these cats. But you know, and he said, Why don't you try teaching? And I said, Well, I don't know. He said, he said I was living the life. I was touring with Buddy Rich and he's on three Buddy Rich records playing solo trumpet. He's on the mercy mercy mercy record. isn't right. Right. And he said, but then I decided to start teaching. I went back got my degrees. And now I can play whatever gigs I want. I can have a semblance of a normal life. Right? Why don't you try teaching? And I'm calling Well, I don't know if I'm really well, as fate would have it while I'm in his office, the the phone rings and the the dean of or the chairman of Broward Community College, which is in Fort Lauderdale, called bill and said that he needed the guitar teacher to come in and finish the semester because his adjunct guitar teacher just left in the middle of the semester to go on the road with the Pointer Sisters, which was a famous pop group. Yeah, right. In those days, right. And so he needed somebody to come in and teach eight guitar students, or seven or seven, seven guitar students, seven guitar students. And does Bill know anybody. And And Bill said, Well, hold on, just hold on just a minute. He said, I gotta get for your teaching abroad community college one day a week, you want to take this thing? Oh my
Dr. Bob Lawrence 27:45
Unknown Speaker 27:46
I'm on the spot. And I go, okay. So I start teaching there one day a week for eight hours,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 27:56
never taught me never taught before,
Unknown Speaker 27:58
never taught before, but going in there and I loved it. I loved it. So I remember the drummer in the band that Kids Next Door wonderful drummer, wonderful singer, singer who we just lost a couple of years ago named Tony lavender. Because all I'm doing is talking about the students and when I'm teaching them, I'm talking about it all the time. We're rehearsing with the Kids Next Door. I'm talking about the students wait to hear this kid man he can do and so I remember Tony saying, you know on behalf of everybody in the band, would you please shut up above your students? We know you we know you like teaching them. We got it. We got it. We got so that's how I started my teaching career. So from there, I started teaching more classes at Broward. Then I got a was an adjunct at Miami Dade Community College. I did my master's degree at University of Miami. Once I got my masters they really liked what I was doing at Miami Dade. And it just turned out that somebody was retiring from this from the music department at Miami Dade College. And so I was right there just finished my master's degree and they loved what I was doing as an adjunct. And they hired me full time and that was my first full time teaching gig.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 29:14
That is fantastic. So then how did you end up if I remember reading correctly, weren't you at the University of Indiana? Is that where you did your doctorate? Yes, I
Unknown Speaker 29:23
did my doctorate at Indiana and Indiana University Yeah, right Indiana University in the way that happened was I was teaching at at Miami Dade community college and then also added to that in the late 80s was New World School of the Arts right which is the performing arts high school which they built right there on the campus right so I was there so why was now the Director of Jazz Studies at New World and at Miami Dade I kind of my load was split between the two right right so every year we brought down visiting artists and and we Write down Jamey Aebersold we would bring a visiting artist for three days, they would, they would clinic the band for three days and then be the performer at our final concert. This was always at the end of the school year. Right? So I had Jamey Aebersold come down. And Jamie did his thing. And loved apparently what I did because he offered me to teach at the camp at his, at his jazz camp that summer. Went to the jazz camp as a teacher and the first morning session was jazz theory and improvisation. And and there were just four people that taught it. Dave taught David Baker taught the most advanced. And then DAN HURLEY taught the second one from the University of North Texas. Yep. And then Jamie taught the third one that was the biggest one, right? That's like the lower intermediate. And when there was a there was what we call drummers theory, where all the drummers were in there. And they were just basically teaching them. It was in a piano lab, just basically teaching them piano. So everybody else who taught at the camp didn't have anything to do that hour that 90 minutes in the morning, we started with that started at 830. And we started at 10. So I went to David's class just like a student. Right. And I did that for I was at Jamie's camp for 30 years. I did that all the way up until David stopped doing the camps. Yeah. And I learned more from David's class and while I was there, he said, If you want to do your doctorate, Indiana will give you what they call it an associate instructorship. Right. It's a little better than a grad assistant because your tuition plus a little better stipend. And that's why Indiana happened thanks to Gabe are sold and, and my goal today was and I did that class for about literally every summer for 20 years. And then the person who was doing the drummer's theory retired and I started doing that with a drunk basically drummers and vocalists and but for that first 20 years or so I was there just like a student soaking up. And I remember they said it took me about 10 years to you know, get that first session under my fingers. Yeah. Who knows tense?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 32:21
Yeah, it's talking about rubbing elbows with the best players and educators that you could possibly rub elbows with, right at those camps.
Unknown Speaker 32:30
Yes, I learned so much about teaching from David. Yes. And in on I don't teach like David. But he informs everything I do the same thing with Jamie. And I remember, David would always talk about when you become a jazz player, because a lot of times people would criticize David Baker. Because he would have people do trance, a lot of transcriptions. And they would learn licks and they learn to fives and all keys and turnarounds and all this kind of thing. And so when they would play it, oftentimes it would sound like they are, you know, putting them, you know, the Frankenstein monster together?
Dr. Bob Lawrence 33:08
Unknown Speaker 33:09
But David would always say, no, no, no, this is your point of departure. That's right. It's like learning a language. You gotta learn phrases and all this kind of thing. But then when you go to write your novel, or write your book of poetry, you got to put it, you got to use what you know, but you got to do it your own own. Yeah.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 33:27
And I 100% agree with that. It's a launching pad. It's meant to set you free, actually.
Unknown Speaker 33:33
And that's exactly right. And that's exactly what he said about teaching. He said, I want you to absorb everything that I'm doing and what Jamie's doing and right, Bill Prince is doing right? With Seidner at the University of Miami. Yeah. And but then you that's your point of departure, and you have to do it your own way. So I treat jazz education as an art form. Yes. Just like jazz is an art form.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 33:59
Thank you very much.
Unknown Speaker 34:00
I have. I have transcribed the best teachers, learning from the best teachers, so to speak, transparent, quote, unquote, right. But then I put that into my own pot, and I mix it with my own experiences. And so just like, just like when I play, Ray Brown and Christian McBride and Ron Carter, they all inform what I do. Right? And Jocko, right form what I do, but no one would think I'm them, that's for sure. Right? So then the same way with teaching. Yeah, that's
Dr. Bob Lawrence 34:37
exactly right. That is exactly right. You know, I'm curious. So when did you mate? When did the transition from guitar to bass happen to where you you made that decision? I'm a basis.
Unknown Speaker 34:52
What happened was I when I went to Florida, and I was looking for any kind of gig, I could find guitar or bass, I had an electric bass and I got that gig, playing in a lounge act with the guy, Jimmy rivers. That's when I started playing bass. And then I got electric bass. And then I got branded as the basis I got. And so then when I decided to go back to school, because I did my undergrad degree in jazz guitar performance. And when I went back to get my master's degree to start my master's degree, four years later, my bass chops were the ones that were up, because that's what I was working on. Right. And I was playing over 300 dates a year. I mean, I was I was working. I mean, I was working big time. I mean, with the Kids Next Door, we were, you know, six nights a week with with only two weeks off, and we played in the same room for three years in the flame in North Palm Beach. So I was working a lot and those chops were up. So when I went to the University of Miami for my master's, I was a jazz pedagogy major with bass principal.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 36:06
Wow. Fantastic. Okay, wow. What What a story what a story, JB.
Unknown Speaker 36:15
So here I am, I'm coming to you from LA, Los Angeles at UCLA, my office here at the Herbie Hancock Institute of jazz performance. Yeah. And it's yeah, you know, it's been a ball. And it still is,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 36:29
well, yeah, it's, it's awesome. Your contributions and what you've done for jazz education is nothing short of miraculous. It's fantastic. So I want to talk a little bit before we get into the Herbie Hancock, what you're doing there at the Herbie Hancock Institute and, and all the wonderful work that you're doing with kids, let's kind of just talk a little bit about jazz education. Generically for for a moment, you know, cuz I know you deal with kids, adults, people of all ages that are interested in wanting to develop their Jazz skills. But let's, let's talk about the beginner. The beginning, the beginning jazz student, right? Most students get into jazz after they've gotten into music, right, just like you did, just like I did. And so here we go. Here's here's a young man, young woman wanting to learn how to play jazz. What? What's the what's the very first thing, which if you sit down with a student right out of the block, you know, wanting to learn how to play jazz? What's the first thing you do with them? What's the first thing you talk about? What's the first thing you do?
Unknown Speaker 37:41
Well, especially when I'm working with a jazz pianist, and I teach a lot of, I teach a lot of jazz piano primarily to students who are not pianists. But when I have a beginning student that's never played jazz before, and but has some chops, you know, they can play rice or play practice minuet, and G and so forth. The first thing that I the first thing that I let them do, the first thing that I do is show them and talk about how jazz works. And so I always like to use the tune song from my father, because there's only four chords, and it's a straight eighth groove. And so I talk about and I play the recording for them, and I have a lead sheet there, in front in front of them. And we listen to the tune, and I explain what a chorus is. And I said, what you have to understand is that in jazz, there's a set of chord changes. And every time we go through that set of chord changes, we call that a chorus. Now, a lot of times they've heard the term chorus before, but they've always thought it meant something different. Correct, like in rock and roll. It's the middle part. That's right. That's it. Here at UCLA, it's the group of singers like we have the Men's Chorus and the all campus chorus and the women's chorus. in musical theater, chorus, those are all those that didn't get a speaking part. You put them in the chorus,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 39:12
right? Course, right. So it's all it's got all these different meanings.
Unknown Speaker 39:16
So I said, so it depends on the kind of music you're talking about. So when we talk about a chorus, in jazz, I always say it means a one time through the chords of a tune. And in jazz, what they do is they take that set of chords, and they play it over and over and over and over and over again. And the reason why it never gets boring is because every time they go through that chords, something else happens. And they say and what makes it so exciting is because the audience doesn't know what's going to happen next, because the musicians themselves don't know what's gonna happen next. And I say it's different in classical music, right? If you if you listen to the New York Philharmonic play the Beethoven In First Symphony, and then you go, the Beethoven's Fifth and then you go hear the Chicago Symphony play it? Yes, there'll be a different interpretation. And so but you know what notes are coming up next. Right, right. So. So that's the first thing. I want to make sure that you understand that, then. And so we go through it together. And we talked about the form. Yep. And how, see this first eight measures, and then that's repeated. So that's a and second A and then the next eight measures is different is B. And then they do it all again. So it's a, b, and there's eight measures in each of the three sections. So there's 24 measures. And so we'll go through it. And the first time I said the first time, they always play the head. And I explained that the head is the melody, right? The first time through is the melody. And I said, we call it the head because jazz musicians, they have their own lingo for everything. That's right. And I say, you know, I've been a professional musician, since I've been 15. And in all these years, never once have I gone to my job with my with my instrument to make some money by playing with the other fellows. Some toe tap and music. But, but you go to your gig, make some bread playing with the other cats.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 41:26
What did you say? What? What was that?
Unknown Speaker 41:32
Yeah, that's exactly right. And so I say we played the head in the beginning. And we played at the end, right? And then everything else, the solos are all in the middle. And every every jazz musician can solo for as long as they want within reason, right? And I said something like I said, you can listen to some of those Coltrane records where he would sometimes play 100 courses, I always talk about how when Miles and train were playing at the Village Gate and miles would play as you know, three or four choruses and Coltrane would come up their miles would go down to blocks to the daily get a ham sandwich. Come back and be in time to play the head at the end.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 42:19
Well, yeah, I heard that one time. I don't know if this is true enough. I heard one time Coltrane said the miles after like taking 100 courses or stuff to say, you know, man, sometimes I just can't stop playing. And I guess the story goes in Miles said well, why don't you try taking your horn out of your mouth?
Unknown Speaker 42:35
Right, taking the one. Yeah, so I'd say you know, sometimes it's just not that deep.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 42:41
Exactly. That's exactly right.
Unknown Speaker 42:44
So, so we go through it, we go through it together. Yeah. And, and I explained that jazz is like a sandwich, you got one piece of bread at the top, that's the first time they play the head got to the bottom. And then in the middle. All the delicious stuff is great way to put it. Yeah, because you'd never go to the subway over here and order a bread sandwich you carry about. I also talked about the head still has to be good, still feel good swing. That's when I tell the story that you know, International Jazz day, seven years ago was in Paris. And and the Herbie Hancock Institute, we facilitate International Jazz day along with UNESCO, which is an arm of the United Nations. So I finally have something I wanted to do all my life was to see the Mona Lisa. And the Mona Lisa is at the Louvre in, in Paris. So you wait in line, you wait in line, and you finally get up there and you get to see her, but just for a minute, because they kind of keep the line moving. Yeah. And I and I remember just seeing that it was exquisite, of course. Right? Of course. And and you know, one of the things that interest was so surprising was she wasn't that big. I thought she was going to be Yeah, right. Yeah, right. Right. She's just like an average sized painting and then just as I was leaving, I look back and I and I saw a point they really put a nice frame they really had a nice frame around her. Because you have to have a nice frame on the Mona Lisa, you can't just thumbtack or to the wall correct right. But nobody stood in line for two hours to see the frame. That's correct. had to have it had to be good. Right You know, the frame probably cost five grand or something memorize a gorgeous frame. And but no one stood in line to see the frame. And so the same thing in jazz. Of course, we want to hear the head of course it has to be in tune. Of course it has to sound good, but the most important part is in the middle. Yeah. So then we go through and we play just the roots of the chords versus the roots of the chords with a recording with a recording so they have in the definitive recording. Then I showed them some voicings To play only four chords and they play the voicings, then I show them one handed voicings. So the two handed voicings than one handed voicings, then we go through and we improvise. Just using just using two notes just using the root and third you go. So I'll do something like root Budo, third root third
Unknown Speaker 45:34
and say what made it interesting the rhythm? Is?
Unknown Speaker 45:50
Nothing but roots in thirds. Yeah, that's right. And then we add fifth and so forth. Then we transcribe some of Horace's solo. Yeah, right. And we say now insert. But don't make it sound like you're inserting try to have it get there organically. Yeah. And then. So the way that I teach is this, we just go we, we learn tunes. And each to each subsequent tune uses something from the previous tune. Right? Right. And then you need to use the material that you learned on the previous tune on the subsequent tune. So after song from my father, which has F minor in it, we now learn cantaloupe violin, which has F minor. So now you can use some F minor stuff that Horace silver played. Or Joe Henderson Played, right, depending on if they have the chops for the great thing about horses solo. It's easy, right? Technically, I mean, I just. And that's the other thing they realized. Difficult and brilliant, aren't synonymous, you can have something difficult and terrible and something easy and brilliant. And vice versa. That's basically the gist. Yeah, I have a list of 25 tunes. Each one starting easy. Each one uses something from the previous tune. Yeah. So you have what you need to do to play on that tune, rather than doing two fives and okay. Yeah, turnarounds. And right. And that's an after you learn those 25 tunes. You're on your way.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 47:20
Yeah, that's fantastic. Do you have a list of those tunes on the Herbie Hancock Institute page or something?
Unknown Speaker 47:24
No, I have it on my website. I actually do.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 47:27
Okay, I'm gonna make sure we get a link to that. So, so listeners can go check that out.
Unknown Speaker 47:32
Yeah, I have the list of I have the list of the 25 tunes. In order. Yeah. So that every subsequent to news is something from the previous tune. I also have a link to the definitive recording. Oh, that's fantastic. And a listing of the personnel because they say never not know who you're listening to. Yeah, that's fantastic. Even if you have to pull it off to the side and look it up. Yeah, that's fantastic. Yeah. And then, and then after you do that, 25 I have my list of 104 must know tunes. Yeah. And these are the 104 must know, tunes. And I have them the first 52 and the second 52. Yeah, and the and these are all standards and tunes that are played a jam sessions and gigs and so forth. And so the idea BB, is that the first 52? Or a little bit easier than the second 52? Yeah. But also, if, if you're a jazz musician, and you don't know if you get called a tune called on that first list of 52. Yeah, you're going to be really embarrassed. Right? Right. If you don't know it, and on 50 June, you'll still be embarrassed, but not as embarrassed.
Dr. Bob Lawrence 48:42
So funny. You're taking me back. I remember. I can't remember what magazine it was keyboard magazine, I guess. When it was around. Dick Hyman posted a had an article 100 tunes that every jazz musician should know. And boy, I started working on those 100 tunes. And then right away and then the next month, he had another article 100 More tunes, every jazz musician should not so what the heck, in the next month. 100 more jazz. I can't keep up. But that's fantastic. That is awesome. You know,
Unknown Speaker 49:11
and the reason for the 50 to 100 and 412 in a week,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 49:17
I guess I was just gonna say I knew there was I knew there was some formulaic approach to that. I knew
Unknown Speaker 49:23
it. And by the way, once you learn those 104 Dick hymens next 104 Day caimans next 104. So much easier because you're saying, Well, this is this is just like this except that Oh,
Dr. Bob Lawrence 49:35
listen, I'll tell you a really quick story.
Well, I hope you have found part one of this jazz panel skills podcast interview with special guest Dr. JB dyes 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 in the privilege of meeting and spending time with JB simply confirms our sentiment 100% Now don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass at 8 pm. central time to discuss this podcast episode featuring Dr. JB Dias 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 972-380-8050 my extension here at school is 211. You can reach me by email, Dr. Lawrence, email@example.com. Or you can use the nifty little widget found throughout the jazz panel Skills website called SpeakPipe to reach me. Well, there's my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, and part two of my interview with Dr. JB Dias enjoy the journey and the pearls of wisdom shared by JB in this episode, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn, and play jazz Piano
Jazz Musician, Educator, Author, Clinician
Dr. JB Dyas has been a leader in jazz education for the past two decades. Currently, Vice President for Education and Curriculum Development at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, Dyas oversees the Institute's education and outreach programs, including Jazz in America (www.jazzinamerica.org), one of the most significant and wide-reaching jazz education programs in the world. He has presented numerous jazz workshops, teacher-training seminars, and jazz "informances" worldwide with such renowned artists as Ambrose Akinmusire, Don Braden, Bobby Broom, Dave Brubeck, Gerald Clayton, Robin Eubanks, Herbie Hancock, Antonio Hart, Ingrid Jensen, Sean Jones, Delfeayo Marsalis, Christian McBride, Bobby Watson, and Steve Wilson.
Prior to his current position at the Hancock Institute, Dyas served as Executive Director of the Brubeck Institute, where he implemented its College Fellowship Program, Brubeck Festival, Summer Jazz Colony, and Jazz Outreach Initiative. Before that he served as Director of Jazz Studies at Miami-Dade College – one of the largest and most multi-cultural colleges in the nation, and New World School of the Arts – Miami’s award-winning performing arts high school.
Throughout his career, Dyas has performed across the country, designed and implemented new jazz curricula, directed large and small ensembles, and taught various jazz courses to students at virtually every level of musical development – age seven to seventy, beginner to professional, learning-challenged to prodigy. He has conducted jazz and tune-learning clinics, adjudicated high school and collegiate jazz festivals, and presented numerous jazz seminars and teacher-training professional development workshops throughout the United States and in Australia, Canada, Columbia, Cuba, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey. He also teaches Jazz Pedagogy at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and serves as an adjudicator for the annual GRAMMY Music Educator Award.
Dr. Dyas has written for DownBeat magazine and other national music publications, presented clinics and performed at a number of International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) and Jazz Education Network (JEN) Annual Conferences, co-founded the International Sisters in Jazz Collegiate Competition, served on the Smithsonian Institution's Task Force for Jazz Education in America, and contributed the chapter “Defining Jazz Education” to the biography, David Baker - A Legacy in Music. Dyas recently introduced his “What is Jazz and Why It’s Important to the World” lecture for International Jazz Day, for which he annually presents education events in conjunction with the Hancock Institute and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He also has made a series of teacher-training jazz education videos (available at jbdyas.com), including a national webinar along with Herbie Hancock and US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on the importance of jazz education in our public schools.
Dr. Dyas received his Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Miami and Ph.D. in Music Education from Indiana University and is a recipient of the DownBeat Achievement Award for Jazz Education. A professional bassist, Dyas has performed well over a thousand jazz and commercial music dates throughout his career and continues to perform and present jazz clinics worldwide.
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