The Music Man: Tony Glausi – living for jazz
When Tony Glausi meets someone for the first time, he introduces himself by saying, “I teach jazz” or “I play trumpet.” The response generally goes one of two ways.
“Oh, yeah! Dave Brubeck, right?” the stranger might say, grasping for the closest jazz touchstone he or she can muster. “‘Take Five’!”
The other response he gets has slightly more pity: “But what do you mean you play music for a living?”
“They don’t quite believe you,” Glausi told the Emerald. “They just don’t know what it means to be an artist and how you can make a career out of that.”
Here’s how: since age 14, Glausi has taught private trumpet lessons, with students whose ages range from 4-60. His 4-year-old student, Glausi said, has pretty esteemed taste for a child his age.
“I kid you not, he comes in and he’s like, ‘I love Chuck Mangione,’ ” Glausi said. “Mangione is a kind of popular jazz guy, but for a 4-year-old to be way into it is pretty insane.”
In spring 2015, Glausi graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Dance with a degree in jazz performance. That fall, he started his graduate teaching fellowship; he teaches a jazz band ensemble course in the music school three times a week.
“There is some history of trumpet players maturing young, like Booker Little, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown and Wynton Marsalis,” said Carl Woideck, a senior instructor of jazz history who has known Glausi throughout his undergraduate career. “I think Tony is in that lineage.”
Three years ago, Glausi met Marsalis when his band played in Eugene. Following this, Glausi won the Laurie Frink Career Grant, which funded a trip to New York City, where he stayed with Marsalis for a few days.
Glausi was able to pick Marsalis’ brain — in fact, Marsalis asked Glausi to come with 100 questions prepared for him. So Glausi wrote up everything from minute inquiries such as, “How do you like to warm up on the trumpet?” to more weighty questions: “What do you think is the future of jazz?”
“It was just a mentorship,” said Glausi. “It was just him sharing wisdom with me.”
Glausi performs live several times a month with a dizzying number of bands in the community (just look at the sidebar below to see some of his upcoming shows). Last summer at the Shedd Institute, he founded the Shedd Youth Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble for high school students in the Eugene community.
Friday, Feb. 3 and March 3 — Fishbowl Fridays Presents Tony Glausi with Adam Carlson & Josh Hettwer 4:30-6 p.m. in the EMU’s Fishbowl, Free
Saturday, Feb. 7 — Tony Glausi’s Nine-Piece Funk Band Debuts at Roaring Rapids Pizza Company (4006 Franklin Boulevard) 6:30-8:30 p.m., Free
Friday, Feb. 10 — Solo Piano at Springfield Art Walk
Springfield Public Library (225 5th Street, Springfield). 5-7 p.m., Free
Friday, Feb. 10 — Swing Shift Jazz Orchestra “For Locals Only”
Richard E. Wildish Community Theater (630 Main Street, Springfield) 7:30 p.m., $25
Thursday, Feb. 16 — Red Pants Trio Debuts at The Jazz Station (124 West Broadway)
7:30-10 p.m., $10 GA
Friday, Feb. 17 — Tony Glausi Sextet: Tribute to Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers at The Shedd Institute (868 High Street) $19, free for students
Saturday, Feb. 18 — Red Pants Trio at Izakaya Oyazi (259 East 5th Avenue)
Friday, Feb. 24 — Oregon Jazz Ensemble Feat. Jay Thomas in Beall Concert Hall (961 East 18th Avenue) 7 p.m., $10 GA, $8 students and seniors
“We don’t have in Eugene what I grew up playing in: youth conglomerate high school jazz orchestras where kids can come play in an ensemble that is hopefully better than their own [high school band],” said Glausi, who graduated from West Linn High School outside Portland. “It’s about playing a challenging repertoire and performing at real venues.”
In 2015, Glausi put out his debut album Identity Crisis. Last September, he released another album, One-Dimensional Man, which he wrote and recorded with his nine-piece funk band. This October, he will release another record of Christmas traditionals. Glausi sells sheet music of his original works on his website.
Josh Deutsch, a UO grad with a master’s degree in jazz performance and composition, is now a New York City-based performer who met Glausi in 2014 as a guest artist with one of Glausi’s ensembles.
“In that first meeting, Tony had so many ideas and so much ambition that we talked about trying to let go and be in the moment musically, rather than force in various concepts,” said Deutsch. “It’s been great to watch Tony’s raw talent turn into thoughtful artistry.”
Glausi learned the piano first, before picking up the trumpet at age 8 after seeing his cousin play it.
“When you’re 8, you’re not really thinking into the future and thinking philosophically about things,” he said. “You’re just like, ‘It’s shiny and I want it.’ ”
As for now, his relationship with the trumpet is slightly more mature. It’s still shiny, but “it’s also annoying and it’s also work,” he said. “Not that I don’t love it. I love making music. It’s different.”
His whole family is composed of musicians. He and his five siblings grew up playing piano, and each plays a different instrument: clarinet, saxophone, violin, flute and oboe.
But the Glausis aren’t the Partridge Family. Don’t expect to hear that they arrange quaint family jam sessions whenever they’re all under the same roof.
“When we’re together, it’s time to not make music because we’re always making music somewhere else,” said Glausi, the only sibling who’s pursued music professionally.
Glausi said there were about 10 albums that his family had on heavy rotation that spurred his interest in jazz. These ranged from a Glenn Miller record to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, a gift from an uncle who knew he was interested in the trumpet.
“I didn’t like a lot of jazz, but I liked Kind of Blue,” he said. “I remember my sister came home with a Coltrane album and I hated it. It was like bebop or swing and something about it bugged me. But when you’re 8, you don’t know anything. It’s like bitter tea or coffee or something.”
Over winter break, Glausi’s mother kept egging him to go see La La Land, the 2016 movie and nominee for best picture at this year’s Academy Awards. The musical-film tells the story of a doe-eyed piano player and jazz artist (played by Ryan Gosling) who falls in love with a struggling actress (Emma Stone).
“I had everybody tell me to go see it,” Glausi said. “And I’m like, ‘This is just my life.’ These are concepts and scenarios that I live everyday. So it didn’t rock my world or anything.”
In one scene, Gosling’s character tells Stone: “Look at Louis Armstrong. He could have played the marching band charts that he was given. But he didn’t. What did he do? He made history, didn’t he?”
Stone’s character replies: “I should probably tell you something now to get it out of the way… I hate jazz.”
Glausi, who said he’d rate the movie “7 out of 10,” remarked: “Everybody’s heard a jazz musician say those things time and time again.”
This June, the 22-year-old Glausi will graduate from UO with a master’s degree in jazz composition. When asked what his dream venue would be, Glausi said he would be honored to play at renowned venues and large-scale jazz festivals, but really, he prefers the intimacy of a house show.
“That’s my bag,” he said. “Just a house concert where people are really into the music. That’s where it’s at, as far as I’m concerned. I could be playing for 10 people and if they’re really into it, that’s great. That’s what I live for.”
Listen to our podcast conversation with Glausi below, or visit his website at tonyglausi.com.
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