A saxophone player performs on stage.

Office Hours with Bob Mintzer

By Deanna Gasparyan

In this ongoing series called “Office Hours,” get to know some of the exceptional scholars and artists who make up USC Thornton’s faculty as they answer questions about themselves.

A saxophone player performs on stage.
USC Thornton jazz studies faculty member Bob Mintzer. (Photo by Ryan Miller)

Bob Mintzer, Jazz Studies

What is your teaching philosophy?

When working with students, my objective is to inspire their desire to develop personal and systematic pathways toward becoming a better musician. Tricks of the trade and commentary on a student’s work are part and parcel, but it ultimately hinges on the work each student does on his or her own to connect with the music.

How do you think about presenting your playing?

Along with the life-long endeavor of mastering an instrument comes the task of deciding how you, as an artist, want to present your craft. This involves arranging, composing, the selection of repertoire and deciding who you want to play with and what the intent of the music should be. The question becomes how to present your music in the best light possible and how to incorporate what you’re working on as an instrumentalist into your repertoire using the aforementioned devices.

What is your favorite recipe?

I love making salads with ingredients from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. The vegetables just explode with flavor. I always include homemade olive oil and locally grown avocados from my backyard! The beauty of California is that fresh produce is available year-round.

Do you choose music, or does music choose you?

In my case, music chose me, without question. I was drawn to anything I would hear on television, radio, recordings, or in concert, and was compelled to try and figure out what was happening in the music. I would spend hours at a piano trying to recreate snippets of music that I’d heard. I wanted to play every instrument that there was and wanted to figure out what made different kinds of music sound as they did. To this day, I can’t go into a restaurant playing cheesy music and not analyze what I’m hearing. My brain gets sucked into the speakers. This can sometimes be a curse!

What is your favorite thing to do in L.A.?

My wife and I love to go to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and hear the Los Angeles Philharmonic, or any other kind of music that may be presented there. Disney Hall is one of the best concert halls I’ve ever experienced! We really enjoy having dinner at any number of fantastic restaurants in Los Angeles with good friends. Many of these restaurants are in absolutely beautiful settings. We also love to hike in Griffith Park or along the ocean in Malibu. It is incredible to have great weather for outdoor activity all year-round.

A classroom with student jazz musicians.
Jazz studies faculty member Bob Mintzer in the classroom with the Thornton Jazz Orchestra. (Photo courtesy of the USC Thornton School of Music)
TAGS: Jazz Studies,

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