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In Tribute to John Coffey



 
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the buzz
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Location: Chester, NY

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 9:36 am    Post subject: In Tribute to John Coffey Reply with quote

Since many of us have fond memories of this GREAT teacher and man that were posted in the "Feminine vs Masculine" thread, I thought it best to start this thread exclusively dedicated to him............Your anecdotes and recollections are eaglerly anticipated!

The following is one of the posts I left at the aformentioned thread:

My teacher ( who also studied w/him) recommended John to me when I got to Boston. When getting in contact with him to set up my 1st lesson, he did not ask me what I needed to get from him as far as technique, etc, etc, he simply stated come over and we will go from there. When I arrived and after we exchanged some dialogue as well as passing along greetings from my teacher, John simply stated, "Do not tell me what you are looking to improve upon, just take out your horn, open up Arban's to page 11, and play me line #1."
Within @ 1 minute, he told me to stop and informed me that my range and articulation where my main concern. He hit it right on the screws! Immediately, I knew I was in the hands of a Master. After the lesson, he closed the shop for the evening, had me go to the local "Adult Beverage" store and the stories began to fly! Great memories for sure................

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"Some days you get up and put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die and the horn wins."
Dizzy Gillespie
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Greg Livingston
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the privilege of learning from John Coffey when I was a rookie instrumental music teacher in the Newton, MA schools (1979) and John was temporarily directing the high school band. I was just starting out and he was coming into the 9th inning of a long and storied career. I'm still there, thanks in large part to his tutelage, and I can't wait to read some more stories.
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roytrpt
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like very much to see some kind of tribute to John Coffey. I was fortunate enough to work for and with him for the last ten years of his life. He was more influential to me musically, personally and professionally than my parents. I was young, impressionable and fascinated with everything that he had accomplished as a person, musician and teacher. Pick a category...he wasn't simply successful. He was extraordinary. I met and got to hear, dozens of great players and people simply because I was there...and because those people went to see him. I am not interested in beginning a tribute. I know who and what John Coffey was. I ask that a thread titled as a tribute, begin as such. Spell his name correctly... and to the one respondant on that thread, acknowledge a "senior moment". John Coffey didn't do "temp" positions.
Rant over... sigh....
Be well
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Roy Miller
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the buzz
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

roytrpt wrote:
I would like very much to see some kind of tribute to John Coffey. I was fortunate enough to work for and with him for the last ten years of his life. He was more influential to me musically, personally and professionally than my parents. I was young, impressionable and fascinated with everything that he had accomplished as a person, musician and teacher. Pick a category...he wasn't simply successful. He was extraordinary. I met and got to hear, dozens of great players and people simply because I was there...and because those people went to see him. I am not interested in beginning a tribute. I know who and what John Coffey was. I ask that a thread titled as a tribute, begin as such. Spell his name correctly... and to the one respondant on that thread, acknowledge a "senior moment". John Coffey didn't do "temp" positions.
Rant over... sigh....
Be well

Your correction is noted. My apologies I have requested to the moderator's to make this correction
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"Some days you get up and put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die and the horn wins."
Dizzy Gillespie
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Accordion Ron
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Joined: 26 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would always get a kick out of John pulling the bits of tobacco out of his bucket sized trombone mouthpiece, mentioning something about a cuspidore and two curtain rods. Then he would proceed to play my lesson out of the Bb trumpet book on his trombone the way it should go.
Ron.... Ps do you remember him saying, "I sat in front of the trumpets in the NY Philharmonic, and when they had an FFF they would blow your toupee right into the mezzaneen. How ever you spell mezzaneen? This was to get me to play louder. It worked!
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roytrpt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the buzz,
Thank you.
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Roy Miller
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roytrpt
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

moderators,
Thank you.
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Roy Miller
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the buzz
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Roy: Welcome
Moderators: Thank You!

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"Some days you get up and put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die and the horn wins."
Dizzy Gillespie
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Smokin Joe
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a short time after the death of Bill Chase (who was also a pupil of Mr.Coffey) that I was taking a lesson and John stopped to tell me this story.
He told me that he was giving a lesson to a student when his phone rang and it was an agent asking john if he ever got another student like "Chase" again to let him know immediately. John told the agent "hold on a second I got one right now", John handed the phone over to his student, " Don Ellis".

Joe
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roytrpt
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smokin Joe,
John Coffey was very proud of Don Ellis. John outlived many good friends and former students, but Don Ellis' death seemed to hit him especially hard. Around 1979-1980 John was beginning to fail, and I drove him home one Saturday (apologies to those students who didn't get a call that day). At his house, John was talking about Don and gave me a copy of "Live At Montreux". Stamped "Promotional Copy" on the front. On the back, signed: "To John- Thanks for the lessons! Love + joy- Don". I never felt that it was given as a gift as much as it was given because John didn't want it around as a reminder.
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roytrpt
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Accordian Ron,
Two "bits of tobacco" anecdotes.
John asked me to clean his trombone which was sitting on a stand with the mouthpiece in it. O.K. One look and I was struck by two things. This was the largest mouthpiece I'd ever seen and I had never before (or since) seen anything so disgusting. It was thoroughly coated with "bits of tobacco". Unspoken advantage of large mouthpieces is the ability to store industrial quantities of crap on, and in it, and still have room to generate a large sound!
I had just put a horn away, and turned in time to see John casually strolling by with the waste basket in his hands. Flames were inches from his nose as he headed for the water cooler. Those of you that studied with John knew that he was the chain smoking king. One in his mouth, one in his hand and another smoldering in the large, full, ashtray. On this day, one also in the trash can!
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