Tribute to Richard Erb, Arnold Jacobs, George Osborn, John Marcellus
Posted on: 1/7/2007
As an undergraduate, I focused on tenor trombone. Richard Erb is bass trombonist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and on the faculty at Loyola University of the South, where I studied with him. He had the most profound effect of all my wonderful trombone teachers on my playing skills--and a world of patience. It helped, I think, that in his youth some of _his_ teachers had told him he would never make it as a professional trombonist.
Arnold Jacobs, the late tubaist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was Erb's most profound teacher, to whom Dick had sent me when I was struggling the most. In one hour, Jacobs permanently changed my playing for the better. (He would say, of course, that I made the change; but I could not have without him.) Needless to say, I returned for more hours! And then my lessons with Dick entered the new possibilities we had hoped for.
In graduate school I focused my classical studies on the bass trombone and kept the tenor my jazz focus. I was fortunate to have George Osborn as my private trombone teacher at The Eastman School. He, too, exhibited great patience with this jazz-writing graduate student. I kicked myself into preparing as much as possible; but sometimes the exhaustion of the jazz-writing major would take over--such as when I actually feel asleep once in a lesson while standing up and holding the trombone! George taught me a tremendous amount; so I must have been awake most of the time.
John Marcellus directed the Eastman Trombone Choir and the Bionic Bones then, as he does now. He has always been a champion of all music: jazz, classical, and contemporary--large and small ensemble--and he addresses each with ease (and of course, his notoriously active sense of humor). I experienced some of my most profound performance-related emotions under his baton as he elicited the music from our bells.
Without the mentorship of these fine folks, I would certainly not be playing the trombone today.
Tribute submitted by:
Director of Jazz Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University