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Posted on: 1/7/2007

At Loyola University of the South, Dr. Joseph Hebert directs the Wind Ensemble, as he did when I attended. At that time, he also ran the jazz program he had founded there (before passing it to John Mahoney). But I had first experienced him via the Loyola Summer Music program, where my older brother and then I had attended during high school. So in various ways, I had learned from him during my elementary, high school, and college years. The artists he brought in and tours he led were also important experiences in my life.

After I found I could not yet get into my chosen graduate school, he offered me the chance to take an extra year of study at Loyola in order to further my abilities--an opportunity that certainly opened a door to my future. Then, in the summer between grad-school years, when I visited home to see if I could find musical work to pay my school bills, he promptly offered me a steady gig of major proportions that exceeded any hopes I'd had. "Doc" always finds the intersections of need and opportunity, which inspires the rest of us to make the most of them and to create them for others.

Another "Doc" had similar impact. Dr. Patrick McCarty taught music theory for the Loyola Summer Music program during my high school years, where he opened up my eyes to a fascination with scores, parts, and their aural sum. When I later majored in music there, he was my freshman theory teacher. I'd often turn in two versions of the homework: one that I knew was what he was seeking, and one that included the uncategorized sounds I was hearing in my head for the exercise. He'd patiently correct each, showing me the theoretical names and processes for what I was hearing--often jazz influences I could not yet identify on my own. I still remember his red, blue, green, and purple inks for marking various musical characteristics.

These two professors intersected frequently in my high school years. In fact, Dr. Hebert directed me within the All-District Concert Band in my senior high school year, for which the repertoire included "Ballade," written by Dr. McCarty. It's still one of my favorite wind ensemble compositions; so I'm holding onto the LP.

The teaching of both "Docs" reinforced my belief that it's important to have some of the most experienced instructors teaching the youngest students. They set me on a path and steered me through years of efforts to find my creative voice.

Certainly that path had its roots at Jesuit High School. When I was a junior, I asked my band director, Mr. Marion Caluda, if I could re-arrange a concert band arrangement of "Sounds of the Carpenters" so that it might become a feature for our trombone section. His consent provided me score-study and some writing practice. And of course I played the trombone in any configurations I could find at school.

In my senior year his colleague, Mr. Logan Boudreaux, formed the first Jesuit jazz band in many years, and we managed to get our act together enough to perform at the Loyola Jazz Festival, which I had attended as a spectator for years. Such opportunities sparked my interest in a life of music-making, and I am indeed fortunate that they were able to give me those opportunities.

Tribute submitted by:
Antonio García
Director of Jazz Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia