alma mater jazz

It’s funny, I think about my high school – New Trier, class of ’91 – more than I think of my university years. Tonight marks the 23rd annual (non-competitive!) Frank Mantooth Jazz Festival, currently being webcast live at, and it is nothing short of deeply moving.

I am listening now to the strains of Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz orchestra, and I am floored. Jim Warrick always did a fantastic job with bringing good jazz to New Trier, and he always let the students and musicians shine. It was never about himself, making money, or false prestige. Some of my classmates went on to become professional musicians, and I feel honoured to have shared the stage with them. The rest seem to have gone on to lead successful lives in every sphere. (It has been hard for me to stay in touch with them as they’ve scattered, and also because I have only returned to Chicago once since I graduated.) In a word – Jim took many a lonely outcast musician, and helped them find inner peace and confidence through their senses of rhythm and melody.

To Dan, James, Ben, Matt, Scott, Andy, and all of the other friends who I loved but whose names escape me at this late, sentimental hour — but most of all to Jim Warrick — my sincerest thanks for allowing a mediocre piano player to grace your stage for four years. I will never forget the memories, nor will I ever lose my love for jazz. And, if it’s quiet enough in the house, I just might sit down at my piano and try to play Spain again…or one of the old Spyro Gyra Synthesizer Ensemble arrangements…

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