Randy Salman, a music professor at DePauw and member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra spoke with the Greencastle Rotary Club recently.
Jazz is an art that is branded on improvisation, so it only makes sense that a member of the Jazz Masterworks Orchestra would give this sort of speech.
"When I was going to college the first time, I had planned to be an English teacher," Salman admitted. "But when I tried out for the band they realized I was first chair in the all-state band and talked me into being a music teacher."
Salman attended the University of Illinois for his undergraduate degree. He was also one of the founding members Chicago Jazz Orchestra which is in its 26th year. The purpose of starting that band was to play with Big Band personalities such as Count Bassie and Quincy Jones. At the tail end of the Big Band era, the famous composers were still traveling around but couldn't bring the whole band on the road with them anymore. They would hire local bands to sight-read the show. The Chicago Jazz Orchestra became the band that those personalities would use when they were in the Midwest.
"I used to show up at my teaching job in Indianapolis in a tuxedo on Monday's because I would often have a show Sunday night in Chicago and didn't have time to get back and change before my 8 a.m. class," Salman joked.
He is now the director of the Jazz Band at DePauw.
What the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra is set up to do is to capture some of the jazz recordings that were never recorded. This is to have an archive of jazz work that would otherwise find its way into obscurity.
Jazz education is also now being taught in Universities around the nation. This in itself is a bit of an oxymoron due to jazz's improv nature. But jazz has held a large part of history especially in the early 20th Century.
Salman has been with the organization with the Smithsonian for seven years. They play shows at the museum in Washington D.C. as well as tour. They played DePauw for the first time recently.