[Originally posted by Josh Yarden at AllCityPhiladelphia.org, May 29th, 2017]
By Dotan Yarden
Top jazz bands from across the School District of Philadelphia will gather for the annual All-City Jazz Festival on Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM (at CAPA, 901 South Broad St. Admission is free and open to the public.) Closing out the show will be The All-Star Jazz Band, under the direction of Terell Stafford, renowned educator, performer and band leader.
Stafford is the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Music, Director of Jazz Studies, and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. That title may seem like a mouthful, but it is only a partial list of his current roles. He is also the leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, the founder and Artistic Director of the Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in New York City. He has earned awards and accolades playing alongside jazz legends such as McCoy Tyner, Dick Oates, and Wynton Marsalis.
I visited Professor Stafford in his office at Temple University to find out more about Boyer’s music program during my college search. As a student of both classical and jazz music, he assured me that Temple was a place that I could study multiple genres without having to pigeonhole myself. “Music is Music,” he said and explained how all of the aspects of music compliment and elevate each other. Although he is well known as a jazz musician, he first studied music education and classical trumpet performance. He earned a B.S. from the University of Maryland and an M.M. from Rutgers, before shifting into high gear as a jazz musician.
I wondered why someone with such a great career as a performer would want to invest so much time in music education, so I asked. “My basic philosophy,” he explained, “is to impart knowledge to others that I’ve been fortunate to receive. I may have more years of experience than my students, but we’re all trying to gather and accumulate the same information and usually in the same way.”
I inquired about the roots of his passion for education. “My mom was a teacher, a reading specialist. I have pretty severe dyslexia. The time that she and other reading teachers would spend to help me learn to read meant a lot to me. I got to see prime examples of people dedicated to what they love and how it impacts a young person when people are truly dedicated, not just doing it for a salary.”
What’s in store for the All City All Stars?
Regarding the All-Star Jazz Band, Stafford said, “I really want opportunities for Philadelphia student musicians. I want the same opportunities for them that I see in other places that I travel in the States or in the world. I want the All City band to continue to flourish and become tighter as a musical unit, but also as a family. I want it to be the strongest musical component that represents Philadelphia from a youth perspective.”
Seeing how the persistence of his teachers inspired him to give back to his communities continues to be an inspiration for us today. Every rehearsal with Terell Stafford is a master class with a top jazz artist. C’mon down to Broad and Christian for a free concert on Tuesday evening, May 30th, and see for yourself.
Dotan Yarden plays baritone saxophone in the All Star Jazz Band, Principal Bassoon in the All City Orchestra and Concert Band, and is a PMEA All State musician. Dotan will graduate from CAPA and begin studying bassoon, saxophone, music ed and Jazz Performance at Temple University in 2017.