When I was an undergrad, I didn’t think I was allowed to listen to any music that wasn’t “classical”. Nobody said that those were the rules. I just assumed that I was only allowed to listen to Chopin. Of course, I grew up in the 80s, so I would listen to the Smiths when my piano teacher wasn’t around, but I felt a little guilty about it.

In an almost miraculous occasion of serendipity, I raided my grandparents record collection on the same week that my theory teacher and mentor, Terry Mohn, gave me an album to peruse. From my grandparents, I found Ella and Louis backed by the Oscar Peterson quartet. From Terry Mohn, I discovered Getz and Gilberto and the stunning world of Antonio Carlos Jobim. It opened a new world for me.  I found I was allowed to like stuff that I liked.

So when I received the commission for the state convention of the Nebraska Music Teachers Association this year, I let those influences mingle with some Ginastera and the Cuban rhythms that you hear growing up in Tampa. I enlisted the help of Justin Lepard. He is a young cellist that can play classical and jazz. We had a successful premiere at the state convention, and now I’m mailing off copies of the piece to see if we can play it at the national convention. Below is the latest recording we made of the work. It’s a whole lot of fun, and it might not ever have been written if Terry Mohn hadn’t given me a copy of Getz and Gilberto.