Featured Musician - February 2008
Name : Mary-Sue Tobin
My Dad loved all kinds of music and was instrumental in opening up my ears as a
kid. He took me to an Art Blakey concert
at the WOW (Woodsmen of the World) hall
in Eugene when I was eleven or twelve and it blew my mind, that was my first
experience with live jazz. After that
I'd bug him to take me to concerts of any jazz player who'd come to town. I saw
Richie Cole; then a series of more “avant” concerts at galleries in
Eugene. There was Vinny Golia and Rich Halley (Lizard Brothers with Gary
Harris), etc. I thought this is the kind
of music I want to play, even though I was fourteen. Educationally, I started on piano at age five
and played oboe in the youth symphony in junior high. When I got to high school
I tried to play jazz piano while keeping up with the oboe. The new band director, Greg Hall, who had
just come out of North Texas State suggested I try the alto saxophone and it
just clicked. My private teacher, Carl
Woideck, also encouraged me to make the switch.
Those two were really inspirational.
I studied jazz at the University of Oregon and got hired right out of school to tour with a
World beat pop group. After that group broke up I moved to Portland and started
studying with Rob Scheps. I wanted to
complete my jazz studies and he encourage me to go to PSU. There I met Charlie Grey, Darrell Grant, Glen
Moore and Alan Jones and most of the players I play with now. Being in that environment changed my
life. I ended up getting a Masters in
Music in Saxophone Performance and a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies. After graduation I auditioned for the Oregon
Symphony and am currently on their list, so I do play for the Pops concerts.
Teaching: I have
a full studio of students. I teach at
Beacock's Music in Vancouver as well as privately. I'll take beginners to advanced. I'm a huge
proponent of making sure they have a good foundation in the fundamentals. All
the basics... tone, technique, repertoire, ear training, reading. This doesn't
mean we can't have fun but I want to create strong players with great ears, a
great sound, great technique and good reading skills.
Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly, Ornette Coleman, Steve Lacy, Wayne Shorter,
Dewey Redman, Macio Parker, Chet Baker, Eric Dolphy, Bud Powell, Bill Evans,
Johnny Hodges, Duke Ellington, Sidney Bechet, Charles Mingus, Steve Reich, John
Zorn, Marvin Gaye, Claude Delange, Carla Bley, Alban Berg, Mahalia Jackson and
world music of all kinds. Also, Michael
Brecker, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Jobim, Rashaan Roland Kirk, Steely Dan,
Frank Sinatra, P Funk, Prince, Ella, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Coltrane,
Phil Woods, Sophia Guibadailina, David Byrne, Stevie Wonder, Steve Grossman,
Steve Coleman, Bernard Herman, Cole Porter, Rob Davis. Scott Hall, and Warren
Experience: I'm actually rarely satisfied, I always feel I could do
better. But, one of the bands I was in
opened for Herbie Hancock and that was exhilarating! Musically ... I'd have to say getting picked
to participate in the 2004 International Banff Jazz Festival in Canada. They audition musicians from all over the
world and pick fifty. Once your in you
get coached by the director, Dave Douglas as well as a staff of great musicians
including cutting-edge players from New York like Jason Moran and Mark
Turner. The whole experience is really
intense. At one point I was in an
ensemble doing a Kenny Wheeler tribute.
I was the only alto player and his music is more introspective. In the midst of all this I had a chance to
stop and look around at all of these great players from all over the
world. I actually got a little teary
thinking about how lucky I was to be given the opportunity to play this
beautiful and difficult music in this setting where you have to be at the top
of your game.
Bands: I'm in
quite a few ensembles but my main groups include the Andrew Oliver Sextet as
well as Andrew's Portland Composer's Orchestra; then there's my two quartets,
one called Paxselin and the other the all-female Quadraphonnes saxophone group;
then there's the Portland Jazz Orchestra based out of PSU, and the Oregon Jazz
Orchestra under the direction of Devin Phillips; I'm in the Lily Wilde
Orchestra and also am part of the Diatic Collective formed from the label's
artists like Dusty York, Farnell Newton, Drew Shoals, Justin Durrie, Willie
Matheis, Chris Mosley, etc.
“Know What I Mean, Cannonball Adderley Quintet In Chicago,” Cannonball Adderly;
“Evidence,” Steve Lacy; “Mysteries,” Keith Jarrett; “Sonny Side Up, East
Broadway Rundown,” Sonny Rollins; “Shape Of Jazz To Come, New York Is Now,”
Ornette Coleman; “Heaven,” Phil Woods; “We Want Miles,” Miles Davis; “Michael
Brecker,” Michael Brecker; “Dexter Calling,” Dexter Gordon; “I Hate To Sing,”
Carla Bley; “Rhythm People,” Steve Coleman; “Time To Smile,” Steve Grossman;
“Black Market,” Weather Report; “Coltrane Jazz, Afro Blue Impressions,” John
Coltrane; “Bucket 'O Grease,” Les Mc Cann; “Tijuana Moods, Mingus Ah Um, Oh Yeah,”
Charles Mingus; “Swing Easy,” Frank Sinatra; “Duke Ellington Meets Coleman
Hawkins,” Duke Ellington; “The Man Who Cried Fire,” Rahsaan Roland Kirk;
“Parker With Strings,” Charlie Parker; “Buhaina's Delight,” Art Blakey;
“Quarteto Movo,” Hermeto Pascual; “Overtime,” Dave Holland Big Band; “2000
Thesaurus,” Clare Fisher Big Band; “Jazz Stories,” Lynn Darroch; “Tales Of The
Forgotten Melodies,” Wax Tailor; “You're Getting Better,” Ken Nordine; “Dance
Of The Love Ghosts,” John Carter; “Konitz Meets Mulligan,” Lee Konitz and the
Mulligan Quartet; “Triology,” Kenny Garrett; and the Diatic Records catalog.
Discography: To be
released in the Spring, OTIS STOMP with the Andrew Oliver Sextet 2008 Diatic
Records; to be release in the Spring, an untitled recording with the group
Sound for the Organization of Society, 2008 Independent; HOLLOW EARTH from the
Paxselin Quartet, 2007 Diatic Records;
BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY, Swamp Cactus, 2006, Sad Hyena Records;
FOUR DECADES, Swamp Cactus, 2005, Sad Hyena Records; STANDING STILL MOUNTAIN,
w/Andrew Oliver, 2005 self-produced; A
GUIDE TO DESOLATION WILDERNESS, Paxselin Quartet 2004 SH Records; TO B,
Flatland, 2002, Clandestine Records; STICK IT IN YOUR EAR, Mary Sue Tobin and
the A-List, 1998, SH Records; AMERICAN DREAMS, Loud Sistah, 1996,
self-produced; and TONIC OF THE PEOPLE, Dub Squad, 1990, Tonic Media.
Where Playing Currently: w/Quadraphonnes at Mississippi
Pizza, Monday, February 4, 8pm; w/Lily Wilde Orchestra at Duff's Garage,
Saturday, February 9, 9:30pm ; w/Portland Sax Quartet at Kaul Auditorium for
the New Century Sax Quartet Workshop, Sunday, February 17 4pm; Portland Jazz
Festival: Diatic Records Showcase/Andrew Oliver Sextet at the Someday Lounge,
Sunday February 17 8pm; Portland Jazz Festival: Portland Jazz Orchestra at the
Crystal Ballroom, Friday February 22 8pm; Portland Jazz Festival Diatic Records
Presents the Paxselin Quartet at the Design Counsel Group, Saturday, February 23 8pm; Portland Jazz Festival:
Quadraphonnes at the West Cafe, Sunday, February 24, 4pm.
Gigs Coming Up:
In March on Monday the 3rd at the Someday Lounge w/Diatic Record
Collective at 8pm; on Tuesday the 4th with the Lily Wilde Orchestra
at Duff's Garage 9:30pm; on Saturday the 8th at KMHD (89.1)at 2pm
on Homegrown Live w/the Andrew Oliver Sextet; on Tuesday the 11th
w/Andrew Oliver CD release party at Jimmy Mak's and on the 31st w/the
Quadraphonnes and the Portland Sax Quartet at Beacock's Music in
Vancouver at 8pm.
Looking forward to future projects with the Diatic Collective.
The label owner, Dusty York, has all kinds of players on board and we
have plans for creating new venues for playing in and around
Portland. For example, the Someday Lounge on NW 5th has given
Diatic Records Sunday nights to showcase it's players. Other
things include a future chamber jazz series featuring both my sax
quartets and of course, writing more.
think you can both play and enjoy all styles of jazz, the whole
time-line. Classical players are required to know all
styles and I think the same should be true for jazz players.
Those female instrumentalists who are getting ahead right now are getting there because they can play, not for any other reason.
-- by Rita Rega