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Sharing His Wisdom

Jazz pianist Alan Pasqua turns to teaching to keep traditions intact.

October 20, 2000|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Multitalented pianist Alan Pasqua has received his share of musical wisdom from a variety of teachers throughout his 30-year career in the jazz trade.

A few of these instructors have been hands-on tutors, such as pianist Jaki Byard or theorist George Russell, with whom Pasqua studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.

Others have been bandmates and colleagues, such as groundbreaking drummers Tony Williams and Peter Erskine, and saxophonists Joe Henderson and Michael Brecker. At times, Pasqua has been his own teacher, making those unique discoveries that come only through practicing the art and act of jazz improvisation.

The 48-year-old pianist has long sought a way to pass on some of his wisdom to younger curious players. Now, as a full-time instructor at the USC School of Jazz Studies, he can.

"I feel that teaching is the means to keeping our tradition intact, and I have a responsibility to do it," said Pasqua, who counts among his chief influences harmonic innovator Bill Evans. "When I see one of these students get an idea, when the lightbulb goes on, that's a big deal to me."

Pasqua teams up with Erskine and bassist Dave Carpenter in their long-standing trio tonight and Saturday at Rocco in Bel-Air. The music will be, by turns, lyrical and dissonant, intellectual and romantic, hard-swinging and free-feeling. It's some of the best modern-minded jazz that's around our town these days.

"The thing is how the band phrases," he said. "It really feels like we're one instrument breathing together, beginning and ending our notes together. It's a collaborative collective."

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BE THERE

Alan Pasqua plays with Peter Erskine and Dave Carpenter tonight and Saturday, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., at Rocco Ristorante, 2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel-Air. $10 cover, no minimum. Call (310) 475-9807.

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In Brief: Albert "Tootie" Heath is a master jazz drummer who has played with the giants, from Sonny Rollins to Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. He doesn't get out often enough, so when he plays with saxophonist Chuck Manning on Tuesday at 9 p.m. at Rocco, it's a special event. If you want to know what hip, swinging jazz drumming is all about, check out Tootie.

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Zan Stewart writes about jazz for the Valley Edition. He can be reached at Zansky@aol.com.

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