…While Listening To Myself In The Mirror #14

I believe all of us, like Blues Legend Robert Johnson near Dockery Plantation at midnight, come to our own “crossroads” where we make our “pact” with the devil; less ominously, at the very least, arrive at our “point of no return” with what we are going to do with our lives…

My Crossroads: Mass Ave & Boylston St, Boston's Back Bay.

At my crossroads, I decided to give up playing Top 40 or commercial cover grind and start “creating” music. Although I wouldn’t turn down a wedding or Bar Mitzvah, I would not actively go after that kind of work or club gig.

My nine semesters at Berklee were spread over an eight year period. Around 1981, my seventh semester, I formed my first band, Conception. Shelly, Henry and I had a house on the South Shore in Braintree Mass where the band practiced; we played a nice blend of originals and standards. In Boston we played Ryles and The 1369 Club. We traveled as far north as Portland New Hampshire to play Horsefeathers and as far south to play Dr. Watson’s in Philadelphia.

I Understand Ryles Is Still Happening. Everyone Loved Ryles. Shelly & I Saw Pat Metheny There With Danny Gottleib, Drums; Rufus Reid, Bass; Michael Brecker, Tenor Sax.

I Never Played Paul's Mall. I Did, However, Get To See Milt Jackson, Steps Ahead, Betty Carter And The Gary Burton Group With Pat Metheny Guitar, Danny Gottleib, Drums AND BOTH Steve Swallow & Eberhard Weber On Basses!

Talk about being inspired! I got to see/hear so many of my influences up close and personal. I even took Henry (on my lap) to see Weather Report at The Orpheum. Studying, Playing and catching my many influences was really shaping my ears and intellect for the coming years!

a career in music? Don’t be silly, you won’t make a living. That’s no life for a son (daughter) of mine. That’s that! I don’t want to discuss it again!

Hey! Turn the radio up! I love that song!

One of the tunes that I composed during that period was my Walk In Tune! I had the pleasure of recording it with my group Vibre´many years later on Our Maximum Jazz/Universal Group enhanced CD, Blue Comedy. I loved the album and  the group!

*The Series …While Listening To Myself In The Mirror, chronicles the milestones, influences and progression of the musical career and times of Arnold Faber, Canadian Career Musician/Composer. The intent is strictly to inform, entertain and chronicle a 38+ year career in Canadian music history.

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…While Listening To Myself In The Mirror #13

I had one week to register at Berklee, find a place to live and, suss the lay of the land enough to establish a routine for learning, honing and exercising my musical passion…

Berklee & I Go Way Back!

Berklee really did it for me. The school gave me a very singular insight into my creative process that simply doesn’t quit. Any genre, anytime; personal or business; I just don’t seem to hit any brick walls and, I only seem to be getting more excited as the years pass! Needless to say, the lifelong friendships and memories established during our eight years in and out of Boston, are absolutely priceless.

If You Were A Drummer/Percussionist Going To Berklee, You Knew Jack's Drum Shop. Going From The Mass Ave Building To The Boylston Building, You Had To Pass It (you went in, even just to drool!).

My program was The Jazz Composition & Arranging Degree and my instrument major was percussion. I had to change my instrument major to mallets exclusively because that was my whole thrust for being there as far as my main axe was concerned. I did however, get a lot of excellent drum set instruction that first semester.

Our First Home Was In Weymouth Mass. On The South Shore. I Used To Park The Van In North Quincy And Take The Red Line Train To The Green Line. Then I Took The Green Line To Boylston.

1976 was a very pivotal year for me, with Shelly in her final trimester, staying with her parents, waiting for Henry to arrive and me starting college so far away. Every Friday, after my arranging class, I would hop into our van and drive the 883.2 km, Mass Pike, then New York Thruway to Toronto (3 times until our first of three beautiful sons actually arrived!).

a career in music? Don’t be silly, you won’t make a living. That’s no life for a son (daughter) of mine. That’s that! I don’t want to discuss it again!

Hey! Turn the radio up! I love that song!

I had been on the road three years before coming to Berklee, so I knew the ropes and set out to find a working band to make some extra cash when I wasn’t in school; I answered an ad for a drummer. We were to play a series of Chinese food restaurants within 100 km radius of the school that featured music for dancing. The band consisted of a female lead singer, a guitar player, who is a dear friend to this day, a Cordovox player who punched bass as well and myself on drums (I still dragged my vibes along to play ballads). We played all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. That era makes me think of Year Of The Cat, Al Stewart; Cold As Ice, Foreigner; Blue Bayou, Linda Ronsdadt; 9 To 5, Dolly Parton etc.; lightweight MOR of the times was our thing. We played together 2 years.

Interesting contrast to the music I wanted to create; I was either in school or playing and balancing my family life; interesting times!

*The Series …While Listening To Myself In The Mirror, chronicles the milestones, influences and progression of the musical career and times of Arnold Faber, Canadian Career Musician/Composer. The intent is strictly to inform, entertain and chronicle a 38+ year career in Canadian music history.

…While Listening To Myself In The Mirror #12

With our ’74 Chevy van loaded up, surfboard on roof rack and Shelly 7 months pregnant with Henry, we bade goodbye to our friends and comfort zone in Regina Sask., and headed for Boston; first stop, Toronto 2039 km.

The Stratus Singers Contract Was For The "Mark Twain" Room, In The Regina Inn; June-Mid August '76. Talk About Luxury, Everything Was First Rate, Pool, Food Was Excellent And The Staff Knew Us Well. It Was Really Difficult To Leave Our Friends And A Life-style That We Had Grown Accustom To In The First Three Years Of Our Marriage.

I remember around November 1975, I was leafing through my monthly Down Beat Magazine when I Came across a Berklee College Of Music ad. I said to Shelly, “If I ever went back to school, that’s the one I would go to.” Shelly said, “Why don’t you go.”

It took me several months to line up all my references, student loans, transcripts, etc.. Then about May 1976, I got a telegram from Berklee advising me of my acceptance!

The music of influence for me at that time, to name some, included, Duke Ellington, Joe Pass, Lenny Breau, George Gershwin, Chuck Mangione, Phoebe Snow, Gary Burton, Gap Mangione, Dave Brubeck, Ray Charles, Al Kooper, Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Beach Boys, Tower Of Power…

Professionally, it was disco all the way; But my candy was the Guess Who, The Who, Heart, Little River Band, Billy Joel…

My love affair with the vibraphone was starting to really heat up; likewise my insatiable curiosity for arranging and composition.

This Was My First "Owned" Vibraphone, a Musser M44. I Would Drag This And My Slingerland 6 Piece Drum Kit To Gigs. I Would Play Ballads On The Vibraphone.

Music, like baseball means you are always practicing for the “show“. It may never come but, according to your passion, you prepare for any eventuality; one just never knows when one will be tested…

I have never wavered from my goals of making music to the best of my passionate abilities. I have been, at times very frustrated, but NEVER discouraged, because of my need to create!

a career in music? Don’t be silly, you won’t make a living. That’s no life for a son (daughter) of mine. That’s that! I don’t want to discuss it again!

Hey! Turn the radio up! I love that song!

When I started on my vibraphone quest, there was my huge interest historically in Red Norvo, Lionel Hampton, our own Peter Appleyard and Milt Jackson. Then I discovered Gary Burton; I went to Berklee to study with him.

It was around this time that his New Quartet album came out. It left a HUGE impression on me. The tune that grabbed me by the throat was Chick Corea’s Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly.

Gary BurtonI hope you are well.

*The Series …While Listening To Myself In The Mirror, chronicles the milestones, influences and progression of the musical career and times of Arnold Faber, Canadian Career Musician/Composer. The intent is strictly to inform, entertain and chronicle a 38+ year career in Canadian music history.

Performing Music: The Only Thing More Intimate Than Recording It

Size Of The Audience Shouldn’t Matter If The Intent Is Sincere.

The idea of putting ones’ self out there to be scrutinized, gawked at and judged, scares a lot of students as they progress in their studies. I remember peer discussions about after graduation of music college. They ranged from the COVER UP: I play for myself man, the insecurity blanket to FALSE BRAVADO: now that I have this degree, I think I will go for a poli-sci degree, the professional student approach.

Me? I just NEEDED to play/compose. I felt because I was training and that I had NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER in that fact, that everything else would fall into place.

It’s certainly not an easy path but, my logic of you are on the planet anyway so, you might as well do something you love seemed to comfort me. I say this to students on a daily basis. I also tell them that if they have any doubt as to their love of music and their desire to make it a career, they will not succeed.

Really, to succeed in any profession, you better really love it because you will be living and breathing it the rest of your life.

The give and take of performance vs recording: performing, it is a one shot deal, real-time, subject to perception so if you smile, chances are you’ll live to see the next sunrise!; recording, although you live with it forever, you do get to improve, polish and analyze it before anyone else does.

Recording live? Well, I suppose, that would be all of the above in 3D!

I really believe that you have to be comfortable in your own skin and that you have to be able to look in the mirror each day. You have to learn from your setbacks and rejoice in your victories.

“Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
– Ludwig Van Beethoven

A visual souvenir of when Rik Emmett was a guest of mine at one of my Jazz At The Jacks (Jack Singer Concert Hall/Calgary AB Canada); one VERY talented Human being who keeps on keeping on, like myself…