I first met Alan Baylock through his music. I was playing in the top big band at ASU in 2002-03 and Mike Crotty was the director. I don’t remember how many Baylock charts we played that year, but the one that stuck with me was Cottontail, probably because it had a bari solo which I struggled with at the time. But I fell in love with Alan’s music – it was fun to play, challenging, and interesting, yet familiar and accessible. Here’s Alan’s arrangement of Cottontail off one of his CD’s, Two Seconds to Midnight.
In 2010, I won the SURDNA Art Teachers Fellowship Grant and as part of the grant (based off the recommendation of Mike Crotty) I spent 10 days in Washington DC. As I was planning my trip, I decided to take a chance and see if I could reach out to Alan. I looked him up on Google, found his website, and sent him a message. I told him that I knew Mike Crotty and that I would love a chance to talk to him, and offered to buy him lunch. I had no idea what he would say, but I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. You gotta give people the opportunity to say no, right?
Well, Alan did return my message and we agreed to meet when I arrived in DC. I was so excited. I was meeting one of my idols. Alan picked me up from the nearest Metro stop and took me to the Air Force Base, the home of the Airmen of Note. He showed me all around the building. It was amazing to see pictures of the former arrangers of the Airmen of Note and the rehearsal space had a energy in it that I couldn’t explain. Ironically, the Note takes off only 4 weeks a year, two weeks in December and the 2 weeks in July that I was there, so I didn’t get to meet them. (I did get to meet them a few months later though, at the Jazz Education Network Conference in New Orleans.) Alan and I enjoyed lunch and talked for hours about music, life, teaching, and studying. It was really awesome. It was one of the highlights of my trip!
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to see Alan again at the JEN Conferences in January 2011 and 2012. In 2011, Alan gave a really awesome Writing Clinic and the tune he used was Cottontail. It made me appreciate one of my favorite tunes even more! I also got to hear the Airmen of Note and the Alan Baylock Orchestra in 2011, and the Alan Baylock Orchestra again in 2012. (in fact, it was one of my favorite performances of the entire conference.) Alan is one of my favorite people and I feel so fortunate to call him a friend.
When I started Doublers Collective in 2010 (after the grant trip), Alan Baylock was one of the first people I asked to write for us when the time was right. He said yes right away, really excited about all the different instrument combinations of the group. Alan has been waiting 2 years for the green light. He has the ideas and concept. Every time I see him we talk about it. So, this summer, I decided that it was time to make it happen. I organized a Fundraising Event at Winfield’s Cafe on Aug. 7th at 7 PM, put together the campaign through Fractured Atlas to accept donations and hopefully, by the end of the evening on Aug 7th, I can officially give Alan the go ahead!