The Joint is Jumping

Danny Stock

With a mix of storytelling, poetic instruction, and inspiring musical collaborations with students, alto saxophonist Charles McPherson held the GDS High School band room captivated for hours on a rainy day.

“Vibration is the soul of the universe,” he said, during a critique of a student band’s number. “Literally, the joint is jumping. Everything has a key. Everything is frozen music…Learn to play in all 12 keys and recognize the intervals…Put humanity into your instrument that’s otherwise just a piece of brass and physics. That’s the difference between craft and art…Learn to memorize. Memorize so as not to be encumbered by the academics of the piece.”

Mr. McPherson (82), who was in town as a guest performer with the Mingus Big Band at the Kennedy Center, shared stories of touring with Charles Mingus for 12 years, about his self-improvement journey inspired by older musicians, and studying and playing with guru Barry Harris (Brad LInde’s former teacher). 

Watch a compilation of musical clips from the visit >>


  • Arts
  • High School
  • Music