Musician - August 2009
: Tim Willcox
In middle school, in Eugene, I had a choice of being in the choir or
being in the band or doing a sport or something like that. I chose
band, and then I had to choose between the saxophone or the snare drum,
the two instruments that were left. The saxophone looked inherently
more interesting. Shortly after that I started playing and had a really
great teacher named Joe Ingram. He was like the “Mr. Holland” of Eugene
... a really inspirational band director who was really into jazz. He
had tons of records, and he'd loan them to me. My next big exposure to
jazz was my saxophone teacher, Carl Woideck (University of Oregon
professor and author). I started on the alto sax and switched to tenor
my senior year in high school. I still play the alto, but the people I
was really listening to back then -- Coltrane, Shorter, Brecker --
inspired me to switch to tenor. [Note: In high school Willcox received
a Downbeat student musician award, was a Presidential Scholar of the
Arts in 1993, and received a Stan Getz/Clifford Brown fellowship from
the National Endowment for the Arts.] After high school I went to the
University of Oregon for a year, but they didn't have a degree program
for jazz performance at that time, so I transferred to William
Patterson University in New Jersey, where I got a BA in jazz
Moved to Portland in 2002 and already knew a lot of people. Currently,
I have my own quartet, but play in David Friesen's quintet with John
Gross, Dan Balmer and Charlie Doggett. I really play with everybody in
town: Bill Athens, Greg Goebel, Chris Mosley, Alan Jones, Dan Schulte,
etc. There's not a lot of steady groups right now since there's not a
lot of clubs open at the moment. Portland as a straight-ahead town is
changing. There are a lot of younger guys who are moving here and doing
interesting things, but I like to do both. I like to play wedding gigs,
for example, where you have to play super inside; but having that
restriction forces you to be creative in that context. One of the good
things about growing up in Oregon is being exposed to and learning the
standards. I think it's an important part of the history of the music.
I love Kurt Rosenwinkel and those guys, but a lot of the young players,
particularly back East, are using that as a starting point instead of
going back and listening to Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong.
I've always had students; even in college I was teaching at a local
high school. I enjoy teaching, especially if the student is into it.
It's fun to come up with exercises or devices to get them to improve,
and it's gratifying to see if it works.
Everyone ... Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, all the usual suspects,
really. I especially love Warne Marsh, Seamus Blake (plays w/John
Scofield), Chris Cheek, all tenor players. And, of course, Carl
Woideck whom I studied with for eight years.
Most Satisfying Experience:
Some nights you feel like everybody's listening to each other and you
feel free. You can rely on the other musicians no matter what you're
playing. It happens rarely. Most gigs are a bunch of people thrown
together, but on those special occasions when it really works, it's
exhilarating. I usually think to myself, ‘I wish it could happen like
that all the time...’; you kind of get into a zone.
Miles Davis “The Complete 1964 Concert,” “My Funny Valentine” and “Four
and More”; Keith Jarrett “Standards Live”; Elliott Smith “XO”; The
Beatles “Revolver”; Charlie Parker “The Complete Savoy and Dial
Recordings”; Peter Erskine Trio “Time Being”; Jan Garbarek “Dansere”;
John Coltrane “A Love Supreme”; Ravel “Piano Concerto in G majo” (esp.
the 2nd movement); Sonny Rollins “Way Out West”; Michael Brecker
“Michael Brecker”; Lee Konitz “Motion.”
“Sound Architecture” (2008) Diatic Records: Tim Willcox Quartet with
Toby Koenigsberg on piano, Chris Higgins on bass, and Randy Rollofson
on drums. Other recordings Tim appears on include: Marcus
Reynolds/Farnell Newton “Sense of Direction” Diatic Records; Chris
Mosely Quartet “Outside Voices” Diatic Records; Francis Vaneck's “Zone”
w/Randy Porter, Peter Erskine, Larry Grenadier and Ingrid Jensen; Gino
Vannelli's “A Good Thing”; Anson Wright's “Eleven Daughters” w/Darrell
Grant and Brian Menendez; and Shelly Rudolph's “In This World.”
8/6/09 Bridgeport Village, Tigard; 8/7/09 w/David Friesen and John
Gross, Seattle; 8/8/09 the Portland Spirit; 8/13/09 Happy Valley Music
Festival w/Karla Harris; 8/22/09 w/David Friesen Quintet, Jimmy Mak's;
8/28/09 w/Johnny Martin at the Heathman Hotel; 9/4/09 w/Dan Schulte
Sextet, Jimmy Mak's.
I'm working on a new quartet album featuring David Goldblatt on piano,
Bill Athens bass and Charlie Doggett on drums. I'm also writing lyrics
and songs, and hopefully I'll have a group with a singer. I want to do
more touring or playing outside of Portland.
It's really interesting working with David Friesen; his music is so
unique you can't just play the stuff that falls under your fingers. He
has his own harmonic and melodic scheme going on that nobody else does.
You can't plug in what you're used to playing. It forces you to
improvise all the time. It's really challenging.
-- by Rita Rega