After 40 years at its helm, Don Glasgo will retire this spring as director of the Hop’s Barbary Coast Jazz Band–but not before a fantastic final year that includes guest artist double-headers in the fall (October 22) and winter (February 10) shows.
Former and current “Coasters” were eager to share their thoughts about the lasting impact Glasgo and the Coast experience has had on them. Here are a few:
Vaughn Halyard ’81, CEO and Executive Producer/Director, StoryLounge Film Music and Entertainment:
“I was blessed to be at Dartmouth during what I call the Appleton/Glasgo Dynasty. Don and Jon [Appleton] were pivotal in ways that framed and continue to guide me through my creative and professional life. As the Barbary Coast drummer I played a book of work like no other that I had seen tackled by other schools or many professional ensembles. It was dynamic, improvisational and eclectic in ways that expanded creative inspiration and adventure. Plus it was fun as hell. We played with icons such as Dexter Gordon and were witness to the early career launch of Pat Metheny.
“I am lucky to have leaned heavily on those experiences. Working with Don and the Coast enabled me to meld a truly eclectic jazz/funk improvisational environment with high technology that informed my development as a producer. We have worked for a diverse portfolio of artists including Jimmy Jam, Prince, Lucas Film, Janet Jackson and multiple albums and tours with Stevie Wonder.
“It is key to understand that improvisation is a strategic art where seemingly disparate passages must ultimately organize themselves back into the ensemble. The Coast influences did not stop at music as I continued to apply creative, strategic and improvisational thinking as a producer/director and media executive in equally diverse professional postings at IBM, Sony, Columbia, Disney Studios, Stevie Wonder Productions and finally in our boutique firm, StoryLounge Films.
“I will never say that one could not re-create or improve on the dynamic of the Don Glasgo period and the ever adventurous Barbary Coast. I would say this to those that follow, Enjoy the outstanding creative foundation established by Don.
“Go forth, play hard and don’t screw it up!”
David Silbersweig ’82, chair of Department of Psychiatry and Institute for the Neurosciences at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s/Faulkner Hospitals, describes his current musical involvement as “active listening…occasional playing,” and writes that his time in the Coast was a “life highlight” that imparted a “lasting understanding and love of jazz.” Working with the great jazz artists Sam Rivers, Dave Holland and Slide Hampton were peak experiences.
The Coast “was my community/group at Dartmouth…The caliber and integrity of the music was extraordinary, thanks to Don. I learned a ton and had a blast, also thanks to Don, who was expert and down-to-earth at the same time.”
Laura Iwan ’93, Th’94, a fuel cell engineer in Vancouver, Canada:
Iwan currently plays in a jazz combo and a traditional German/Swiss village band, and substitutes in various big bands and orchestras. She played with the Coast for all five years of her bachelor’s of engineering program.
“Compared to my straight-ahead traditional high school jazz bands, the Coast was free, refreshing, eye-opening and sometimes confusing. The first guest artist I met was Sun Ra, who forbid me from taking a solo in his pieces, because ‘girls should not play trumpet.’ Despite and because of his [Ra’s] unusual approach to life and music, Don guided us to ‘listen and learn.’
“Don did not stick to or ‘preach’ a certain style of playing, rather he encouraged us to emulate and embrace a wide variety of jazz styles and incorporate what we liked into our own personal styles. Even now, I sometimes find myself using licks from Barbary Coast guest artists, such as Lester Bowie and Don Cherry.
“I always felt that Don encouraged, supported and believed in me, which helped me believe in myself, experiment and become a better musician.”
Kabir Sehgal ’05, is a corporate strategist for a global payments firm, a best-selling writer (his first book, Jazzocracy: Jazz, Democracy, and the Creation of a New American Mythology, was published in 2008) and a Grammy-winning and Latin Grammy-nominated producer of albums with Arturo O’Farrill, Ted Nash, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, Gabriel Alegria, Gregorio Uribe and others. He recently completed writing his first opera.
“Don Glasgo changed my life for the better. When I arrived in Hanover, I thought I knew jazz. But Don opened my eyes to various types of jazz: free jazz, rock jazz, and my now favorite, Latin jazz. He taught me about clave and syncopation, and how to groove even when you’re not swinging. Because of Don, I was awakened to another cultural tradition, one that has played a significant role in my life.
“Don brought so many influential jazz members during my time with the Barbary Coast, like my collaborator Arturo O’Farrill. At Dartmouth, Arturo and I formed a strong friendship, and he is one of my dearest friends today. I have produced Arturo’s last few records, including one that was recorded in Havana. Every time I put out another Latin jazz album, it’s an ode to Don, for putting me on course to experience this amazing art form.
“One of the best things about Don is his good humor. He is quick to laugh, and I always looked forward to Coast rehearsals. Every member of the Coast had tremendous respect for Don’s prowess and virtuosity as a musician, and also for his leadership. Even though most Coasters don’t go on to be musicians, know that Don had a seminal influence not only on my life but so many young men and women. It’s fair to say that Don taught a generation of young men and women to become leaders who know how to harness their creativity. We all studied in the Classroom of Don: the best preparation for leadership that I’ve ever received. Congratulations, Don, on your retirement. You are and will always be a shining example of Dartmouth at its very best.”
Tyne Freeman ’17, the Coast’s vocalist for the past three years, says Glasgo has been a friend and mentor from her first term on campus. “I recall entering Dartmouth my freshman fall, unsure of whether I would find spaces to explore and grow musically. The Barbary Coast was the first group I auditioned for, and it has provided some of my most treasured moments here. From the beginning, Don has consistently supported and encouraged me. He connected me with Walt Cunningham within my first few weeks on campus. Walt was organizing a campus-wide showcase called “Igniting Unity,” and Don believed in me enough to send Walt a YouTube video of me singing. This subsequently provided my first opportunity to sing in Spaulding Auditorium, and set me on track to receive many more performance opportunities over the next few years. The fact that Don went out of his way to help me forge that connection meant a lot. In general, his kindness, humility, and humorous nature have made my experience so pleasant and memorable.
“Don is consistently considerate and understanding, and I appreciate his calm temperament. It’s been a joy to sing under his direction. I also appreciate his meticulous emails after each show. He always sends out a detailed message — complete with show highlights and thoughtful reflections — to the entire band after performances. I often forward them to my parents, telling them how kind he is, and how uplifted I am by his encouragements. He also served as my advisor for a project I completed during my sophomore spring. Because of his recommendation and support, I was able to receive the Peter D. Smith Arts Initiative Grant, and record a charity album. The album was released in support of the Global Village Project, which is a school for teenage refugee girls.
“I aspire to pursue music professionally, and the Barbary Coast has provided invaluable experiences and connections. Throughout my time in the group, I have connected with many of the visiting artists we collaborate with. I treasure these relationships, and have stayed in contact with many of them. Coast also had the opportunity to tour in Cuba this past spring. Don and many other Hopkins Center staff members worked hard to bring the tour together. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
“I can’t imagine the group being led by anyone else, but the foundation Don has set ensures a bright future for Coast. His dedication to the ensemble over the past 40 years is nothing short of inspiring. I’m grateful to have been in the group under his leadership throughout my time at Dartmouth. It’s hard to believe that three years have flown by, and we are both on our way out. The Barbary Coast has provided a space for artistic evolution, along with the growth of meaningful friendships and interactions.”