jazzoLOG: Phil Mattson Brings Us Jazz Choirs    
 Phil Mattson Brings Us Jazz Choirs48 comments
picture4 Nov 2006 @ 13:02, by Richard Carlson

Time is simply God's way of keeping everything from happening all at once.


No, no, you're not thinking, you're just being logical.

---Niels Bohr

The most important thing in music is what is not the notes.

---Pablo Casals

In this photo from a rare LP are (l-r) Jason Smith, Michele Weir, Mary Schmid, Sara Jennison, Joe Finetti and John Paddock: The P.M. Singers (1984, corrections welcome)

About 20 years ago I learned something was happening in a kind of music I like, but it wasn't until yesterday I found out what it was. You'd think in this day of instant communication I could have done better than that, and probably were I a musician I might have known more or sooner. Some of my most important lessons have dawned slowly I guess, and that's OK. It makes aging tolerable.

People who know me pretty well realize I've always liked singing groups...especially ones with close and intriguing harmonies. I've never been a singer though---except for a couple of unique occasions when I got talked into something. But a year ago my wife and a conductor ganged up on me and I've joined a choir. Look, I'm at the age when a guy should do everybody a favor and stop singing, but of course I seem to live a lot of life backwards and so suddenly I'm learning more about group vocalizing.

So on with the story: back 20 years I understood the vocal groups I liked (The Four Freshmen, The Hi-Lo's and even some Beach Boys) were pretty much past their prime and it was the end of an era. There was a group around called The Manhattan Transfer whose repertoire tried to cover everybody from The Pied Pipers (who had the breathtaking Jo Stafford singing lead---and Frank Sinatra sometimes adding a high baritone) to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross with some doo-wop in between, but clearly there wasn't much of an audience even for them...except when they made a disco hit out of the theme from Twilight Zone. But I ran across an LP in a cut-out bin by some people called Phil Mattson and the P.M. Singers that suddenly perked up my musical life.

The record was on a label called Doctor Jazz that just had tanked in 1986, despite the fascinating and skillful production of afficionado Bob Thiele. We jazz fans unfortunately are used to recording companies that start up and go down faster than it takes to get the records into a shop downtown. This item's title was Setting Standards, the 6 young people on the cover looked irresistibly fresh and healthy, and the selections included Body And Soul, a song written by Joni Mitchell, Richie Cole's New York Afternoon, and Thad Jones' lovely instrumental, A Child Is Born. For a couple bucks I had to find out what was going on.

The set turned out to be one of my favorites, especially the words someone had set to and the performance of A Child Is Born...which still is so moving tears come to my eyes. The piece is pretty much a capella, except for an occasional piano chord and tinkle...but the P.M. Singers' intonation is so perfect, it made my hair stand on end. The cover had almost no information about who these people were, but I assumed Phil Mattson must be one of them and I picked out a guy who seemed to be standing commandingly in the picture. There were no liner notes and all the credits said was Mattson had arranged the whole thing---except A Child Is Born, which had been done by somebody named Michele Weir. Their version of Body And Soul was the same Manhattan Transfer had on their Extensions album from 1979, and I assumed this one was just an OK cover.

Slow forward now to an email last month from my college buddy, Don Frese, over in Maryland. He writes he's just sprung a bundle for a 5 CD set that he knows I'd love so much he's ordered another one for me. Watch for a package from some place in California, he says, and let him know if it gets there. This guy's a collector too, so I'm lickin' my chops for a couple days. When it arrives, inside is a highly coveted collection of highlights from a 4 day festival in 1991 to honor the career of Stan Kenton. Practically everybody who'd ever been in a Kenton band and still could hold a horn---and some who couldn't---were there playing old and new or reminiscing with incredible stories of being on the road.

So of course, it's wonderful and I'll be forever grateful---but when Don wrote back he wanted to know what I thought of the vocal version of Intermission Riff. I hadn't gotten that far through it, so I went into Volume 4. Well, it was a choir of 13 singers who somehow managed, with the inevitable help of a trombone or 2, to capture the sound and spirit of how the Kenton band did it every night. I spotted the leader's name---and thank goodness my memory for some things still is hanging on. It was Michele Weir. I knew I had seen that name somewhere...and went right to that old LP.

Google to the rescue! In the meantime, it turns out Michele has blossomed into one of the most respected vocal arrangers anywhere. She has a solo album celebrating that impeccable intonation by carrying only acoustic guitar accompaniment. But most of her website seems to advertise and praise the gifts of this Mattson guy. Finding anything about him turns out to be a bit trickier. There's one site that carries about a dozen of his CDs, most on the label of The School For Music Vocations (do I sense a pun?) which must be connected to the Southwestern Community College, because that name's on there too, over in Creston, Iowa...in whichever corn field that might be! I ordered a shopping cart full, including a reissue of the Doctor Jazz because my LP is pretty worn out.

I Google on after Phil Mattson, and yesterday found a Phd thesis by Sheryl Lynn Monkelien for the University of Nebraska in 2001. It's a very formal 182 pages and costs $30 to read...so I settle for a preview. The Influence Of Phil Mattson On Vocal Jazz Education In America: A Case Study. She says she ran across this guy when she got her first teaching job in a high school out on the prairie somewhere. Her assignment included the choral program, so she was going through the library assembled by her predecessor. The arrangements looked very strange to her and quite difficult. She was unfamiliar with any of this material, although apparently well prepared for her post. She went to the principal and made the comment that these charts didn't seem typical for a high school swing choir. The principal said, "That's because we don't have a swing choir. We have a jazz choir."

A JAZZ choir! What's that? She went back to the arrangements, noticed Mattson's name on some, and decided to look him up. Lo, he's giving seminars and intensives and stuff in Iowa, so she signs on for one. Another disciple is born.

Now look, I'm not a big fan of the word "guru," especially when it's used to describe anybody with a special knowledge for sale. But I have to admit guru seems to apply to Phil Mattson. First of all, he was not the good looking guy on the P.M. Singers LP. (Oh, Mattson's still good looking...but in a rather more weathered way.) In fact, apparently he wasn't among the singers at all. He's the keyboard player. He arranged Body And Soul for Manhatten Transfer, and it sounds like him playing there too. He also prepared the gorgeous I Remember Clifford on the Transfer's classic Vocalese album. Michele Weir was one of the P.M. Singers, who were nominated for 2 Grammys by the way during their brief existence, and is one of the beautiful people looking out of that cover art.

Phil Mattson has stayed afloat somehow during this trying era of arts privatization. (Don't worry, that's as political as I'm going to get in this.) Amazingly from out there in Iowa somewhere, somehow he's revolutionized choral singing...and mostly he's done it one kid at a time. He had a group that recorded before P.M. Singers that he called The Fanfairs. Of their 4 releases in the 70s on the Foothill label, one copy of A Tribute To Gene Puerling still exists at a rare record site. I'm fighting the temptation to spend the $25 for it. After the P.M. Singers, there doesn't seem to be another of his groups surfacing until 1995, when comes along VoicesIowa. They have a few releases available...and each one clearly has at least one moment of staggering ensemble brilliance. In 1999, he formed Vocalogy and recorded an album of The Sacred Choral Music Of Duke Ellington. Whether or not you knew there was any, I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in choirs, jazz or otherwise. Mr. Mattson likes to work with 6 singers I guess, and that's what he's got here. He plays a lot of piano on this disc...and Duke would have loved it! If you're interested in learning more or finding any of this stuff, get in touch.

[< Back] [jazzoLOG]



25 Feb 2007 @ 00:11 by Bill ("Willie") Fisher @ : I sang with Phil Mattson
Hello, I was there in 75-76 when Phil Mattson first arrived at Foothill College, and when he first heard about Vocal Jazz. My brother Dana and I were soloists on those Fanfairs albums you mentioned. It was a great experience working with Phil. Thanks for your article; I'm going to try to contact Phil, and Michele Weir, because I haven't seen them in about 25 years! Take care, Bill Fisher  

25 Feb 2007 @ 00:34 by jazzolog : Willie Fisher 'n Phil
I love the Internet...because folks just Google on in! Willie, I sent this thing to both Michele and Phil, and Michele replied...but maybe I ended up in Phil's spam bucket. If you reach him I hope you refer this essay to him. Michele was most gracious and mentioned she never had heard the performances from the Kenton tribute, so it was my delight to file them over to her. Uhhhh, you don't happen to have a copy of the Fanfairs Puerling album, do you?  

25 Feb 2007 @ 06:15 by Bill ("Willie") Fisher @ : "Puerling" Album
I agree, the Internet is the greatest thing since... Vocal Jazz? I'm sure my brother Dana has a copy of that album. I think I just have the first two or three Fanfairs albums; Dana stayed in the group for a year after I left, which is when they did that project. I've got a lot of crazy & interesting stories about both Phil and Michele, if you're ever interested. I'm actually looking for a recording of the Stan Kenton Camp performances from the late 70s, when Michele and I and a couple other former Fanfairs worked with Phil there. We sang the first-ever rendition of Phil's Stella by Starlight, and Michele did a solo of Willow Weep for Me that I still think is one of the best solos I've ever heard. If you have any idea whether that recording exists, and how one could acquire it, I would be very interested! Take care, Bill Fisher  

25 Feb 2007 @ 10:54 by jazzolog : Phil, Michele, And Stella
I'll send you an email, Bill, as soon as I get the chance. As for stories about both or either Phil and Michele, I'd love to read them...here or anywhere. I'm stumped on the Kenton Camp question...nor did I know he had one, but when you write Phil he might help you. Michele may have a copy but she's incredibly busy all the time. In fact the 2 of them will be getting together again in April for a concert at Carnegie Hall (April 9th). I've heard of her rendition of Willow, and I think she performed it at Carnegie once...but no recordings of it that I know of. As you probably know, Stella is on the Jubilee album, which is only 15 bucks here http://www.micheleweir.com/catalog/index.php .  

8 Mar 2007 @ 04:43 by Rich Kirkpatrcik @ : A student of Phil's
I studied with Phil in 1985 at The Phil Mattson School of Music in Spokane, WA. I love Phil's philosophy of music ed. and swear by what I learned from him and his crew like Weir and the others who were teachers at the time I studied. All I can say is that I have since to hear of anyone else who has shaped choral music and vocal music like Phil Mattson. My High School vocal jazz teacher was mentored by Phil, so I even got his ideas in my head before I studied with him. Anyway, it was need to read this post. Brings back some great memories! (I also had chance to sing with the Foothill Fanfairs, but in 1987-88 after the Phil era.  

8 Mar 2007 @ 05:02 by Arnie Mondloch @ : Phil Mattson
I was actually searching on the internet for a former girlfriend, Sara Jennison (she's the one front and center in the picture of the P.M. Singers in purple - Michelle Weir is the one on her right in the peach blouse). After Phil left Foothill, he came and taught at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA for a couple of years, then left to start The Phil Mattson School of Music. He was so influencial that several of his students followed him from Foothills to Gonzaga - including everyone in the P.M. Singers. The guy in white with the stache is Joe Finetti; Joe was also a great trombone player and I played with him in the Gonzaga jazz band. If anyone knows how I can get in touch with Sara, please let me know (or give her my email address). BTW - Sara went on and sang with a group formed by Bobby McFerrin called Voicestra, which was featured on his Medicine Man album.  

8 Mar 2007 @ 10:01 by jazzolog : Time To Write Michele
It's great to hear from some of you folks who have sung and worked with Phil Mattson. Willie and I wrote a couple times but now I've forgotten who owes who an email. Please note Arnie is referring to Michele on SARA's right, but of course she's to her left as we view the photo. I mentioned before that Michele replied to this article, I think she may be interested in these recent posts, and she may be able to help with a contact to Sara Jennison. I'll write.  

9 Mar 2007 @ 01:54 by Rich Kirkpatrick @ : more...
Jason Smith who is also from San Jose like me had the same HS teacher as I: Jan DeShera. Sara sang very briefly (can't remember exactly) with a group I was in called "Sharp Nine." As I was leaving the group, Sara went to sing with McPherin. Such a talent Sara is.  

11 Mar 2007 @ 22:46 by jazzolog : Reply From Michele Weir
Michele writes~~~

Hi Richard, thanks for the update. If you want to pass on this info, I don’t know how to reach Sara, but maybe Joe finetti does. Or try Phil Schroeder.

Good luck with all



Michele included email addresses for Joe and Phil. They may not want them posted publicly, so let me know if they would be helpful.


21 Mar 2007 @ 11:39 by jazzolog : The New York Voices Sing Rilke
It is a melancholy business going through Used and Cut-out CD racks. Here we have artists whose work just didn't make it somewhere or other. Commercially or personally, somebody didn't get the message. At a franchise like Coconuts (which apparently now is F.Y.E. in many locations http://www.fye.com/coconuts_stcVVcatId480241VVviewcat.htm ) it also is exhausting. Coconuts in Pittsburgh files them all (at least in alphabetical order) in a couple mile-long bins and the work of going through them is time-consuming, dirty and sweaty. So we find Orlando Gibbons between Gun Club and Grant Green. But for one treasure it's all worth it!

One of the treasures last Sunday is an EarthBeat! release entitled Ancient Tower. The title comes from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke called I Live My Life In Growing Orbits, which includes these lines~~~

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don't know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
or a great song.

That's the Robert Bly translation, and on the CD this and 5 other Rilke poems are read by Meryl Streep. They provide the lyrics for 6 songs or anthems or chants...well, I really don't know what they are for I've never heard anything quite like this. The composer's name is Robert Benford Lepley who, at the time of this recording (1994-95) was parish minister of a United Church of Christ, but now seems to be specializing more in his music http://www.robertlepleymusic.com/ .

The reason I'm posting this comment here is due to Ancient Tower's performers, The New York Voices. This group does not come out of Phil Mattson's teaching, so far as I know, but the singers certainly run parallel. Their usual releases are a blend of pop and jazz stuff, always performed with astonishing brilliance, but maybe a bit too eclectic to land them a big following in either branch of music. That's stupid to say, I suppose, because even Lambert, Hendricks and Ross had to struggle to find work. But I recommend their releases, especially the latest and the collection available that contains selections from their first 3 CDs http://www.newyorkvoices.com/ .

But Ancient Tower is something else! New York Voices started out with 5, but eventually reduced themselves to the more customary 4 voices. Here they augment back to 5, adding jazz vocalist Amy London to sing alto. Lauren Kinhan moves up to second soprano, and Kim Nazarian handles the staggering chores on top---often WAY up on top. Otherwise Peter Eldridge sings baritone, but Darmon Meader plays a lot more horn here as well as singing tenor.

Lyrics by Rilke. Now look, I thought all of this appeared possibly too strange to be successful in any way. I'd never heard of Lepley, nor of Amy London. The New York Voices can be a mixed bag, and I had little experience with EarthBeat! So it came down to whether Meryl Streep would lend her talents to anything less than at least interesting. I plunked down the few bucks and risked it.

I'm here to tell you the entire hour is positively sublime. I don't know what all the poetry means, but Lepley manages to follow every clue to score just the notes and chords that send your imagination to the right places. The intonation of absolutely everybody is so spot-on as to be heavenly inspired. And these songs are all over the place! But at the same time, they're catchy. My wife, without the poems in front of her, even found herself singing along with one. The CD still can be found at Amazon and other outlets, and is shown as number 8 among the recordings at NY Voice's site. Some excerpts of their work also can be heard there; I recommend number 5 which is called Open Invitation.  

12 Apr 2007 @ 17:16 by David Scott @ : More Phil Alumni
A vocal group I belong to called Vocalogy (see www.vocalogy.net) is made up of singers that went through his school as students, fellow teachers, or both. Phil's orbit is full of interesting people.  

12 Apr 2007 @ 20:25 by jazzolog : Vocalogy~~~And A Promise
The group David is in is mentioned in the main body of the entry...and again I recommend the Ellington Sacred Music album. Since I commented a few weeks ago, a number of people have checked in with stories and additions. I'll try to get an update together real soon. Hey, all this would be easier if you guys would set up a Message Board. How about it, Kirkpatrick?  

7 Apr 2008 @ 05:34 by Roy Turpin @ : Phil Mattson & The Fanfairs!
Just came across all of this vocal jazz history because I was searching about the unfortunate death of Gene Puerling. If you are looking for Sara Jennison I imagine you could reach her through John Paddock or other members of the vocal group Clockwork. I sang with her in both The Jazz Singers & The Fanfairs for several years with Phil Mattson as director. In fact that recording of Intermission Riff was John Paddock, Joe Finetti & I singing the men's parts. We used to go into the recording studio and do all of these demo recordings for music publishing houses, then use the extra studio time for recording Fanfairs tracks. I still have all of the LP's on vinyl along with lots of cassettes of guest clinicians. Bobby Mcferrin before his 1st album was released, Richie Cole, Ashley Alexander, Don Shelton & a recording clinic with Gene Puerling. It was quite an education studying with Phil. He's as close to a musical genius as it gets. I was at Foothill for 4 years & never got my AA degree because we were always touring so much. Jazz conventions & conferences criss-crossing the entire US along with doing the PM Vocal Jazz Camps every summer. What stories I could tell. My favorite Phil quotes are "sing that phrase like mice dancing on cotton, and if you are going to make a mistake sing it loud."  

7 Apr 2008 @ 10:12 by jazzolog : Sara Found & Lots More Info
Wow, tremendous amount of information in this comment. Thanks so much Roy. I found Sara, through the help of a couple other alumni. I wrote about it on one of the other entries about Phil. http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php/_v63/__show_article/_a000063-000427.htm Great story...but unfortunately not ending with her singing anywhere at present---except in a church choir (but do they stream their services!?). I'll let her know you've left this comment.

As for Michele's vocal arrangement of Intermission Riff, from what you say she must have written it a while back...and if there's a recording of it with you guys I'd love to learn about it. The Fanfairs stuff is pretty rare, and I've never heard any of it. The recording I'm talking about was done in 1991, for the 50th Anniversary of Stan Kenton's first appearance at Balboa. It turned out to be a huge festival bash, with absolutely everybody still alive then showing up. It's funny, because I had assumed that Kenton was miserable to work for...but that's not true at all. A 5 CD set was released and it costs a fortune, but a friend gifted me with it...and it's amazing. One of the CDs is given over entirely to forums, divided into the various periods of the band, made up of arrangers and personnel. Anita O'Day and Milt Bernhart are hilarious! Anyway, Michele's group is one of the performers, and I was wrong, wherever I wrote the chart was for 8 voices. There are 13 singing and they appear to have been her students at the time at California State University at Long Beach. She never had heard the performances and so I sent them to her.

I just want to reiterate that the people who studied with Phil Mattson are a brilliant group, and at some point there should be a central Internet location for them to gather. I think there is a fan club at MySpace, and maybe that's doing well. Except for an article about an old radio version of A Christmas Carol, nothing I've written has drawn so much response from all over the place. My address book must have a dozen people who have sung with Phil...and I can only imagine what a reunion recording would sound like. May something like that happen soon!  

17 Apr 2008 @ 19:29 by Roy Turpin @ : Appreciation & Update
Thanks for passing my information on to Sara. She got in touch with me last week & sent me a picture of her & her family. What a delight!

I must have misread the earlier post about Intermission Riff. The version that I remember doing was not arranged by Michelle but someone else & I can't remember who. I believe we recorded it for Hal Leonard Publishing and I used to have a copy of it (on a small plastic 33.3) but definitely don't have it with all the rest of my Fanfairs music & memorabilia. I have copies of all the Fanfair albums & ripped them to mp3's so get in touch. This stuff is 30 years out of print so I doubt if Foothill Records would object.

I agree with you about a central location for Phil's vocal jazz folks to gather. I know after 45+ years of teaching, Phil & his passion for vocal music has inspired people all over the world. You must have quite an address book! A reunion recording would be totally fun & very interesting to organize. I have often said my version of heaven would have a sound track with cool wall of sound, highly syncopated vocal harmonies. While other people might find this to be hell and only hear elevator musak the group here is definitely in the former camp!

19 Apr 2008 @ 06:00 by adrienne jacoby @ : Phil, Mich and the whole kaboodle
I taught vocal music at the junior high level for 27 years. (retired now) Thank God, literally, Phil was sent across my path very early on. He was still teaching at Foothill College in the bay area. He absolutely impacted my career and the lives of many of the students with whom I came into contact . Michelle was in the Fanfares which was the Foothill Vocal (showcase) group. Jason Smith was still in high school and brought to the camp by Jan deShera. What a reward to see Phil's influence and passion spread throughout the vocal music community.  

7 May 2008 @ 22:29 by Roy Turpin @ : Response To Willie
I have a copy of the Stella By Starlight recording with your brother Dana & I on it. It's found on the Look Out! It's The Fanfairs album. I know it was performed in the Fanfairs 77-78 when Michelle was in the group.

Pick up a copy of the New York Voices doing arrangements with them mystical poetry of Rilke. Absolutely beautiful harmonies & an inspired album!

I recently attended the Harmony Sweepstakes in Marin County. Angela Doctor was Mistress of Ceremonies which created a lighthearted atmosphere which I remember she is often doing. It was a fun evening with many excellent groups. Stephen Saxon from Where's Gesualdo, won best vocal arrangement & a group Vocaldente won the competition & audience favorite. They are an all men's group reminiscent of the Comedian Harmonists revamped for the 21st century. An incredible evening hearing so many groups with impeccable musicianship. What a concert!

8 May 2008 @ 09:53 by jazzolog : Thanks To All The Fanfairs
This is getting a little complicated here at jazzoLOG, as there are 3 (and maybe more) articles about Phil Mattson-related musical creation. Thanks for the comment Roy, and I forwarded it on to Willie in case he doesn't happen to look in here. I'm glad also you found the Rilke album, which I mentioned up above a year ago March. I was going to make you a copy of it in case it's no longer available. You might also notice I just attempted an article about The Fanfairs, essentially to get it into Google for anybody trying to find old friends. http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php/_v63/__show_article/_a000063-000487.htm  

10 May 2008 @ 11:12 by Roy Turpin @ : Other Fanfair alumni located
Thanks for forwarding my info to Willie. Last week I sent you a copy of Stretching Out! The final Fanfair album with Phil Mattson as director. This was recorded after lots of studio experimentation using the "Gene Puerling sound" and a specific recording technique the Singers Unlimited utilized. It includes background & solo work by Phil's son Mark who also did many of the instrumental arrangements on the PM Singers albums. I believe he has his own recording studio down in LA & does studio session work.

Just found a link to an album with former Fanfair members George Black & Theresa Stanfill who were both in the Fanfairs with me. Sample tracks can be found at: http://www.jonpauling.com/ I ordered myself a copy.  

12 May 2008 @ 09:42 by jazzolog : A Fanfare For Roy Turpin
I always thought a fan was somebody who followed a famous person around, maybe fanning them if they got too hot while performing. Or perhaps fan the flames of fame for them. But maybe fan comes from fanfare...which is something else we do when the famous person comes to town. Don't mind me, I'm a word person.

I presume the group at the other end of the link Roy provided is indicative of the sound one hears increasingly on the so-called Christian radio stations. That Gene Puerling sound seems to have been embraced by all kinds of those groups, possibly starting with Take 6. I understand he also was influential in developing The Carpenters stuff. The sound lives on, even though it appears few people know who Gene Puerling was, to say nothing of Phil Mattson.

Roy's generous gift of a copy of Stretching Out! arrived Saturday...and it truly is sensational! I'm presuming the album is from 1980 or thereabouts. Nowadays I've become accustomed to freaking out over the quality of music one hears in colleges. This was not always so---and certainly not 30 years ago. The Fanfairs Tribute to Gene Puerling, from 1978, is a pleasant experience...but I have to say I wouldn't spearhead a reissue campaign about it. For Stretching Out! I would...and hereby do.

This is a wonderful album, with arranging credits pretty evenly divided between Phil Mattson and Gene Puerling. There's ample solo space for most of the 12 Fanfairs, including Angie Doctor, Theresa, Mark, and George, mentioned above, John Paddock, Jan Larsen (on a Body And Soul that easily tops Manhattan Transfer's version...and probably The PM Singers too), Karen Trebe, Rick Steffans, and the ever-lovin' Sara Jennison (now Nebeling) on Laura and vocalesing Zoot Sims' solo on Four Brothers. Puerling's setting of Laura here is very different from the incomparable version he created for The Hi-Lo's. Do you suppose the Foothills bookstore has any copies of this LP boxed up somewhere? Does anybody know if they ever put any of these volumes on CD? This music should be heard!

I always wonder when I hear vocalese---by anybody other than Lambert, Hendricks & Ross...or Kurt Elling---whether the singers become acquainted with the original jazz solos. Did The Fanfairs listen to Coleman Hawkins? Was that part of the education? Or are they essentially words and notes on a page? Was Rick in on the joke about Woody Herman's solo in Four Brothers? It sounds a bit like he was.

At the same time I'm writing with Roy, I'm also catching up with Phil Schroeder who joined Phil Mattson at the next phase of his career, at Gonzaga University in Washington State. Schroeder continues to work with Mattson today, as well as other alumni. There's also talk of getting Sara back into a recording studio, something she's confided she might do---if it doesn't lead to a lot of commuting or travel. Roy tells me he and Sara handled the difficult tenor and alto inner harmonies in their years with The Fanfairs. Those parts, usually dissonant and maybe half a step away from each other sometimes, have to be spot on so the rest of the group doesn't wander off key. Nice to know they're in contact again.  

12 May 2008 @ 17:18 by Roy Turpin @ : Reissue Campaign
Stretching Out was done in 1980 & pre CD. I know there are no commercially available copies on CD. There may be others that followed the same vinyl to mp3 process that I did. Foothill Records owns the copyright & who knows where the original master tapes are. I have one unopened copy of Stretching Out but other collectors may have them. It may be worth a call to the Foothill Bookstore but I doubt if that would bear fruit. I believe there were 1,000 pressed and most of the copies were handled by The Fanfairs & sold a concerts for $10. If you are serious about a reissue, you might want to start with Nile Norton who took over directing The Fanfairs from Phil.

I know there is also a wealth of unreleased material with those tapes. Another version of Jeanine, The Way You Look Tonight & Moody's Mood For Love to name a few. There is also some great material on the Look Out, It's The Fanfairs! Album. Course this is heavily ladened with the forte piano vocal technique but remember this was an experimental group & the Stretching Out album was the result of Phil being at Foothill for 7 years.

Sure we listened to Coleman Hawkins, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker... Phil had all of these Music Minus One series on 33 & a listening booth. Theses were by a guy named Jamey Abersold that we used to practice with. The education also included a class called solo jazz voice where we got to stand up an sing with a rhythm section & Phil on piano. We could try out new material & get vocal coaching from Phil. I grew up listening to jazz music & my father was a singer so music was playing in my house all of the time. Rick was totally in on the joke & the funny thing was he was naturally like that often diffusing tension in the group with humor or a funny comment. Actually I remember this group being like that. Lots of strong personalities, perfectionists & lovers of beauty. Somewhere I have a 4 track recording of Mark & others in the group singing a Singers Unlimited style happy birthday arrangement for Phil where Mark does an impression of F. Melius Christianson from heaven.

Glad to hear you are connecting with Phil Schroeder. I listen to the PM Singers albums & what I hear is quite magical so any collaborative work with he and Sara I would highly support. Maybe we can get really creative here. Setup a recording
studio in Sara's house & offer a baby sitting service. What do you say Sara? We exchanged emails about setting up a party of alumni. I'll keep you posted.

31 May 2008 @ 08:12 by Tina Kiszla @ : OK, Roy Boy, I can't stand it!
"Little Girl Blue" signing in! Yes, it's Tina (Youngstrom). How the h - e- double sausage links are you? I've stumbled on to this website before and have been reading your emails. I'm living on the island of Kauai and going to nursing school to become an RN by spring 2009. Was actually thinking a Fanfairs reunion or "Thank you Phil for being the greatest teacher ever" party would be freakin' hilarious! I'd probably cry the entire time. The Foothill year was one of the best in my life.  

31 May 2008 @ 21:37 by Roy Turpin @ : What a riot Tina!
Wow, Kauai must be a totally beautiful place to live. I studied music at Concordia College & the midwesterners used to say H-E double hockey sticks! Great to see you on the board here & to hear you are finishing up your nursing studies...in paradise yet! It's such a commitment to others encouraging their wellness & healing! I bet we would have alot to talk about since I am a somatic educator. So is Greg Lee. I am in my final year of Somatic Experiencing Trauma Training so it appears many of us chose body oriented healing careers.

I agree that Phil was the greatest teacher ever. We had fun, sang really challenging music, partied, entertained & practiced, practiced practiced our butts off. I definitely agree with you about our time at Foothill. There was a demand for perfection & an invitation to bring our most creative, best selves forward. Of course this was pre-Proposition 13 when funding for the arts was at an all time high. I like the idea of connecting up the Fanfairs either through a party or recording & celebrating who we are now. I would have plenty of Kleenex there because you would not be the only one with tears..I am sure mostly due to deep appreciation and joy.

Have you had contact with any other Fanfairs? I heard Jan was living somewhere in Hawaii. There are lots of Fanfairs who have yet to be found. So Walter Barry, Lisa Marino, Karen Trebe, Dana Fisher...if you are on the internet, google yourself & find this blog!

I send you heartfelt blessings & am grateful to connect with you again.  

18 Jun 2008 @ 03:21 by Roy Turpin @ : Fanfair Outtakes
I found several tapes of outtakes & a demo tape of recordings we did for Hal Leonard Publishing which includes the recording of Intermission Riff where Sara does a solo. I'll send that on a CD along with four other demo tunes & six tunes we did for the Stretching Out album but never made it. These were supposed to be for another album but they never made it to vinyl. Includes Joe-Bob doing a scat on The Way You Look Tonight which is totally outrageous & my rendition of Eddie Jefferson's James Moody solo of Moody's Mood For Love, an older version of I Hear Music, I Get Along Without You & the very end of Little Girl Blue...all Phil Mattson arrangements. Wish I knew were I could find the complete Little Girl Blue. That was fun to sing!  

18 Jun 2008 @ 19:10 by EJ Hinojosa @ : Recordings
Hello! My name's EJ Hinojosa and I'm a student SWCC, where Phil teaches now. I study with Jason Smith as well. As a student out there in the Southwestern pocket of Iowa, I've had plenty of opportunities to browse through a lot of recordings of Phil's groups from the past. These recordings, however, only go so far as VoicesIowa, Vocalogy and the PM Singers. There aren't any cuts of The Fanfairs. I came across one cd (yes, I said, "cd") of the Fanfairs but it was from a year when Jason and Vern were running the group. I'm really interested in hearing recordings of the group singing Phil's arrangements. It's sort of a matter of understanding my "musical heritage" as one of Phil's students. I hope that makes sense, otherwise I might just sound crazy. I

If anyone can help me out or otherwise point me in the right direction, I'd really appreciate it!

GOD Bless!  

18 Jun 2008 @ 23:44 by Quinty @ : I can't help you
unfortunately, but those are the kind of comments artists make. In order to find their own routes and voices.....  

20 Jun 2008 @ 11:10 by jazzolog : Roy To EJ: Network
I've heard from Roy Turpin, EJ, and he says he'll contact you soon. No need to wait though, write him if you like. He's among the most interested of Phil Mattson's alumni in establishing contacts and even reunions. Maybe it's time for a Fanfairs All Stars!  

22 Jun 2008 @ 19:18 by Tina Kiszla @ : Hey Roy - Old Recordings
Where did you get them? I would love to hear The Way You Look Tonight. That scat solo is my all time favorite. I also miss hearing Angie sing "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered". Anyway, I was just wondering...  

23 Jun 2008 @ 05:20 by Roy Turpin @ : Old Fanfair Recordings
I found a cassette tape that I had Harn Soper of The Music Annex dub for me when we were doing the final mix down of Stretching Out recorded in Studio A. From what I remember, Phil had planned to do another Fanfair album but the recording quality from Studio C was less than expected. Anyway, it has Birdland, several versions of The Way You Look Tonight, Moody's Mood For Love, an older version of I Hear Music, I Get Along Without You & the very end of Little Girl Blue. I also found a cassette of the Hal Leonard/Studio PR demos we did for them which has A Train, Wee Small Hours Route 66, a number of Kirby Shaw & Dave Barduhn tunes. The quality is not great since it's from cassette (lots of tape noise) but still the essence of the arrangements are there along with Phil's amazing piano, Joe Caploe's drumming & Rick Stephens amazing bass playing. If you have a complete copy of Little Girl Blue or other Fanfair outtakes, I would love to get copies of them.

I also have all the Fanfair albums converted to mp3 & I'd be happy to send them to you. I can make copies if you provide me with your mailing address. Too bad I don't have any recordings of Angie singing Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered. Maybe we could request it from her? I always desired to have live versions of Sweet Lorraine, Indian Summer, Fool On The Hill & the Chico State concert where we did all of the Boss Brass/Puerling arrangements but sadly don't have a clue if any of those were recorded.

If any non Fanfair alumni want copies I will be happy to provide them for the cost of materials & mailing.  

8 Jul 2008 @ 23:36 by Roy Turpin @ : Phil Mattson Celebration
Word from Tina's coorrespondence with Phil is below:

The "Reunion" is almost certain to happen. We're getting into the final planning stages now.

The dates are July 3-5 2009. Here in Creston.  

9 Jul 2008 @ 13:49 by jazzolog : Creston
is sorta halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Looks like we've got about a year to figure out whether or not we can get there---although I never sang with any of these guys. Hmmm, will Creston still be there in a year? Heh heh.  

9 Jul 2008 @ 17:15 by Roy Turpin @ : Will The Real Creston...
Hello Richard:
Creston, Iowa just outside of Des Moines is where Phil Mattson lives, where SWCC is located & where we will celebrate him.

I expect that Iowa will be here in a year because the continents don't change that quickly. I know because I am a 5th generation San Franciscan & have survived 50 years of lots of rumbling under my feet. Baring any huge event like magnetic pole shifts, the Mississippi River changing course or Colorado becoming beach front property I plan to be there!

When your voice is your main instrument then as Bobby McFerrin puts it you're your own Walkman.  

9 Jul 2008 @ 20:16 by jazzolog : The Blind Staggers In Iowa
My sister-in-law lives in Iowa and, as I recall, the whole place nearly floated away a couple weeks ago. And isn't there some kind of humongous faultline wiggling its way down from Illinois? However, Roy, I applaud your efforts to plan something so far in advance. I hope somebody records those wonderful voices coming together again!  

10 Jul 2008 @ 04:48 by Roy Turpin @ : Clarification
Glad your sister-in-law is fine & still living in Iowa. I believe the area flooded in places but I'm glad to say that they did not float away. Iowa has experienced only minor earthquake activity since the United States obtained control of the State under the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Illinois & Missouri are a different story reporting hundreds of 4-5 mag earthquakes in the past 100 years.

Tina contacted Phil Mattson by email & Phil clarified the dates. I am passing them along to those who might be interested here. I am hoping to bring a portable digital recorder with me as I am sure there will be many opportunities for all of us making beautiful music together. I hope we can get the word out to folks who might be interested.  

16 Jul 2008 @ 09:11 by jazzolog : Outtakes And Demos
Roy generously has sent out a CD of Fanfairs material he mentioned in his comment June 23rd. Of course the music is wonderful, but it's particularly interesting since apparently some of these students were invited into the PM Singers whose first album is what started all this writing in the first place. I'm in the process of creating a new article which I hope will spread the news of Roy Turpin's proposal for a reunion of Phil Mattson singers next July.  

16 Jul 2008 @ 20:42 by Roy Turpin @ : Proposed Reunion Clarification
I am glad you received the CD of Fanfair outtakes from 1981. The reunion you speak about has not been planned yet. Sara & I talked about getting a west coast reunion this summer. The reunion for Phil Mattson's retirement I heard about from Tina & is scheduled for next July in Creston, IA. I had nothing to do with this either in proposal or planning. I will do my best to attend.  

19 Jul 2008 @ 06:02 by Tina Kiszla @ : Retirement !?!...
Somehow I don't see Phil retiring, but who knows? As the time gets closer, we'll have to get the word out.  

25 Jul 2008 @ 21:26 by Andrew McKay @ : Retirement?!
Hello everyone, I'm from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. 12 years ago I also was a student at S.W.C.C, School for Music Vocations in Creston, Iowa. It's great to see and read about how everyone wants to celebrate Phil's retirement! I wish that I could attend the celebration and show my appreciation. I'm sure he'll continue to do arrangements in his retirement. At least I sure hope he does.  

25 Nov 2008 @ 09:43 by Roy Turpin @ : Reunion Update Info
Anyone wanting more information about the Phil Mattson celebration July 4-5 next year can check out Phil's website. It will be held in Minneapolis after the completion of the 2009 Phil Mattson Jazz Camp.


26 Feb 2009 @ 10:46 by jazzolog : The Phil Mattson Reunion!
Roy Turpin is an alumnus of the Phil Mattson jazz choir approach to singing, and he sends along this joyous news~~~

Hello Richard:

Thanks for your continuing updates about the music scene & for your ongoing blog.
Just wanted to give you a heads up that the Phil Mattson reunion is definitely
on. We have been in contact with former Fanfairs, PM Singers, members of
Voicestra, The Bobs as well as lots of vocal groups where Phil impacted the
vocal jazz. Some of these people will be in attendance. You can find out more
about the reunion by going to:

I am definitely going to be there & hopefully with video camera & audio
recording equipment in hand. It will provide an opportunity to get some folks
on tape who have been busy raising their families. Hope you are well.
Roy Turpin

And here's Phil~~~


31 Mar 2009 @ 02:03 by ANGIE SKIERKA @ : FANFAIRES

31 Mar 2009 @ 18:28 by jazzolog : That's Mother OF Theresa
Sorry. But Angie's comment did give me a start. By now Roy Turpin has replied no doubt by email. He wrote to me too, and identified Theresa as one of the Fanfairs who sang with him in 1980. It's wonderful how these fine artists are getting together again!  

29 Sep 2009 @ 07:10 by Roy Turpin @ : Phil Mattson Vocal Jazz Reunion
Anyone interested can see of Phil Mattson's 2009 July reunion here:


29 Sep 2009 @ 09:58 by jazzolog : Thanks Roy: Requires LogIn
Anyway, it's not so much SEEING it: I wanna HEAR it! I hope somebody recorded a bit of this celebration.

I've resisted FaceBook so far, having done my bit with social networking on the Internet. However, my wife has a password---to follow our daughter's adventures at Warren Wilson College. I'll have to find out what it is and take a peek.  

4 Nov 2010 @ 21:06 by Roy Turpin @ : 2009 Phil Mattson Reunion
The reunion was a success & had people in attendance from all over the US an a few from out of the country. There were recordings of the event by Phil though my desire to get them met with difficulties due to potential copyright violation. Some of the sessions were recorded on my iPhone & somewhere there is a DAT tape of the entire evening concert. It was an amazing experience to sing with some people I had net seen for 25 or more years. Phil gave a few mini workshops on the philosophy of song which was incredible. There were break out groups galore, blues jams, a percussion ensemble. 2 days of fun with about 100 people. We learned Ellington's sacred choral music & there were groups from all of Phil's former students as well as the PM Singers.  

6 Sep 2011 @ 19:46 by Jim Reeder @ : Fanfairs and Gonzaga with Phil
I sang with Phil at Foothill in 1980-81 and followed him to Gonzaga in 1981-82. What memories. At Gonzaga we were called Veritas. When Phil left to start the Phil Mattson school, I entered religious life. Great to hear from names I haven't heard from since I left. I would love to hear how the reunion went.  

5 Apr 2012 @ 22:30 by Roy Turpin @ : Jim Reeder :-)
Hi Jim:
I was looking through these old logs and came across your post. Wonderful to hear you were in Veritas. There are a number of us on Facebook connecting about the Choir and Fanfair days at Foothill. The reunion was really incredible. We sang lots of jazz, had clinics, shared meals, sang some more and had a really great concert. Some of it I recorded on my iPhone so the quality is not very good. Phil recorded it but due to there being several professional groups getting the recording out to everyone would not be economically feasible. Hope you are well and wonderful to stay in touch.

20 Oct 2013 @ 00:17 by Mike Mattson @ : Stretching Out
Hey Richard and all,
I'm Phil's oldest son. Sang w/ the Veritas group @ Gonzaga. Totally agree that Stretching Out should be re-released. Fun to see familar names here - some I know and some by reputation. Mike  

Your Name:
Your URL: (or email)
For verification, please type the word you see on the left:

Other entries in
2 Nov 2008 @ 11:55: Sing Out The Vote
21 Jun 2008 @ 11:14: My Piece Of The Pie
16 Mar 2008 @ 11:12: Hope
30 Jan 2008 @ 10:27: Making The Best Of The Toxic
25 Nov 2007 @ 11:18: A Mournful Thanksgiving
1 Aug 2007 @ 13:19: A Year Without Tagliabue
8 May 2007 @ 08:58: Death Of A Bebop Wife
10 Mar 2007 @ 13:08: I Am The Middle Class
22 Dec 2006 @ 09:54: Christmastime's A-Comin'
24 Jul 2006 @ 12:23: The Hi-Lo's I Presume

[< Back] [jazzoLOG] [PermaLink]?