Early Years/Education: Grew up in San Diego and started on the trumpet at age ten. I got started in a school band setting, and when they brought out the instruments, I picked the trumpet because it only had three buttons and I thought it would be easier. I didn't have a private teacher in the beginning; I learned how to play with interactive books and records that were around at that time. By my junior year in high school, I started to take it seriously. My friends and I also started getting into jazz. We'd hang around the different jazz venues in San Diego and listen. I got exposed to great players like trumpeter Brian Lynch, who was with Charles McPherson at the time. I really wanted to move to New York but had heard about the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
I took a year off after graduating from high school, applied and got in. At Berklee I studied with Bob Mover, Claudio Roditi, Mike Methany and Jeff Stout. After three years, I returned to California to complete my academics and eventually finished up with a music performance degree from Berklee.
In 1984, I moved to San Francisco to play. The idea of starting M.U.S.E. (Musical Understanding through Sound Education) came when I worked for another company for a year and found I really liked working with kids. I decided to go on my own, and started with two schools that were interested in me offering band to their students ages nine to thirteen. It grew from there. M.U.S.E. is self-sufficient. I've always thought, if I do a good job, people will come. We promote it in the schools, we bring instruments with us, we let the kids try them, it's hands on. The hardest part is finding good teachers. They have to have enthusiasm and energy, but you have to be patient, too, in dealing with kids. We are in 23 schools in the Portland area, and 22 in the S.F. Bay area
We need to expand our audience, and I think doing it through music education is one of the best ways. Like the other night, we did a performance, and there were all these parents here. We cut into an unrehearsed thing with some professional musicians, and they just loved it! I think there's a big audience who will react that way if they're exposed to it. Right now, it's on our shoulders to make it happen. I'm an optimist, I think there's tons of potential for new audiences, new musicians; but you have to earn it, you have to work for it
Musical Influences: Charles McPherson, Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham, Peter Sprague, Rob Schneiderman, Mike Wofford, Butch Lacy, Hal Crook, Teddy Pico, Joe Morillo. Here, it's Dan Balmer and Ron Steen.
Most Satisfying Experience: That has to be the experience of recording my latest CD "Influences." I enjoyed the challenge in playing with just me as the one horn player (except for two cuts with the great Mr. David Evans). There is a lot of freedom with this format and responsibility. I enjoyed that challenge. I also felt the CD represented me well for the player I am.
Favorite Recordings: Any of the following artists: Blue Mitchell, Art Farmer, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Albums: "Rokermotion," N. Y. Hardbop Quintet; "Spheres of Influence," Brian Lynch; "Kind of Blue," Miles Davis; and "Hot Flowers," Wynton Marsalis.
Discography: "Influences," Bryant Allard, 2007 (Greg Goebel, piano, Dan Presley, bass, Dave Averre, drums, David Evans, tenor sax). "Reunion," The Powerhouse Quintet, 2002 (Bryant Allard, trumpet and flugelhorn, Steve Feierabend, tenor sax, Bim Strasberg, bass, Tim McMahon, drums, Ivar Antonsen, piano). I'm on the Tall Jazz recordings "Winter Jazz 2" w/Rebecca Kilgore and "Winter Jazz 3" w/Marilyn Keller. Also recorded with Conjunto Alegre.
Gigs: The Woodshed Jazz Orchestra, Thursday, July 28, Shute Park, Hillsboro; the Portland Jazz Trio and Marilyn Keller, The Oysterville Jazz Festival, Sunday, August 14. I also [will] perform at private party functions throughout the summer.
Future Plans: I want to stay focused on what I'm doing here with music education and this performance center. My biggest passion right now is to make my new Performance Center a place where music education meets the real world of Jazz and all the great performers here in town as well as great musicians touring from out of town. I really want to see this place become a great space where people can come and hear great music; avoid the clinking of glasses and chatter of noisy people. It will also be a place where we will conduct vocal and instrumental clinics. This is a new stage of my life as I continue my role with M.U.S.E. and my own playing career. I'm also looking to mix myself up with new players and a new band.
Other: Things have changed here (in Portland). Now, as a musician, you have to create your gigs, [and] it's more playing for the door. It's harder, you have to hustle to get people in the door; but the advantage is at least you don't have to play in some place where everyone is talking and not listening and don't really care about the music.
-- by Rita Rega