July 30, 2014
Josh Dargavell is a graduate student studying jazz studies in the College of Music.
My first year as a graduate student at MSU has been a wonderful experience. I know the opportunities I’ve been given here wouldn’t be accessible at any other school. I have had the chance to study, travel and play with some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world.
My main influence, teacher, and mentor at Michigan State is Michael Dease, assistant professor of jazz trombone. After my first year of study with him, I’ve seen tremendous growth in my playing. Professor Dease has really taken me, along with the entire Jazz Trombone Studio, under his wing in hopes of more success.
In this last year, the studio toured Michigan. We also received international recognition when the Spartan Jazz Trombones won the 2014 International Trombone Association’s Kai Winding Competition in Rochester, New York. Along the way, we’ve been fortunate enough meet some phenomenal musicians. The first that comes to mind is Tom “Bones” Malone.
A couple months ago, Tom Malone was in Ann Arbor for a gig with a funk group he's currently in. Luckily for the trombone studio, Professor Dease and Malone are good friends and there was no hesitation to set up a lunch date with the studio and Malone.
Meeting Tom Malone was an incredible experience. I had no clue I would be in the presence of one of the most successful musicians out there. I knew he played in the “Late Show” band but he told us stories about playing with the Blues Brothers, Frank Zappa, Tower of Power and so on. He’s literally played with everyone.
Another aspect of Malone that is absolutely fascinating is his ability to switch from instrument to instrument. His setup for the gig in Ann Arbor was mostly trombone but also included flute, clarinet, saxophone and trumpet. Somehow, Professor Dease plays multiple instruments, too! I had heard of people doubling on a couple of instruments, but this was unreal. It's no wonder Malone is so successful and in such high demand.
Although Malone gave us many technical tips about the trombone and jazz harmonic devices, the piece of advice that impacted me the strongest was his suggestion to work on our kindness. He said that his mother told him at a young age to be kind to everyone, from the garage collector to the President. It has certainly served him well, and he is a living testament to this concept as he taught and told stories at our lunch.