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Photo by Lynn Redmile
July 23, 1958|
Fair Lawn, New Jersey, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, writer, educator, museum director|
Loren Schoenberg (born July 23, 1958) is a tenor saxophonist, conductor, educator, and jazz historian. He has won two Grammy Awards for Best Album Notes. He is the founding director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem.
In the late 1970s he played professionally with alumni of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands. In 1980 he formed his own big band, which in 1985 became the last Benny Goodman orchestra.
Early years and education
Schoenberg was born on July 23, 1958, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, where he attended Fair Lawn High School. His father worked for the New York Telephone Company. His mother, a children's librarian, began teaching him the piano when he was four and then found a neighborhood teacher for him. In the early 1970s, he became a jazz fan through the music of Benny Goodman. He saw musicians perform at nearby venues, talking to them afterwards, and was sometimes invited to perform. He received informal piano lessons from Teddy Wilson, Paul Shaffer, and Hank Jones. In 1972, Wilson took him to a jazz performance at the Waldorf Astoria, where he met Benny Goodman. During the same year, he began volunteering at the Jazz Museum in New York City, meeting more jazz musicians. At the urging of Ruby Braff, he took piano lessons from Sanford Gold. At the museum, he met Benny Goodman again while working on an exhibit about Goodman. At fifteen, he began teaching himself the saxophone, inspired by Lester Young.
In 1976, Schoenberg entered the Manhattan School of Music. In school he changed his concentration from piano to saxophone. He got a job playing saxophone in Eddie Durham's quartet. Playing with Durham, one of the original members of the Count Basie band, gave him opportunities to work with Eddie Barefield, Al Casey, Roy Eldridge, Panama Francis, Jo Jones, Sammy Price, and Jabbo Smith. In 1979, he produced a Charlie Parker and Lester Young tribute at Carnegie Recital Hall, arranging the songs, gathering the musicians, and performing with them. The concert included Joe Albany, Eddie Bert, Herb Ellis, Mel Lewis, Howard McGhee, and Dicky Wells.
With Benny Goodman
In 1980, Schoenberg received an unexpected call from Benny Goodman. The clarinetist intended to donate his collection of historical jazz arrangements to the New York Public Library. Schoenberg was known for his interest in history and in Goodman's music. He left the Manhattan School of Music to work on the collection, which were to be divvied out to the library in annual installments. A few years after he began, Goodman stopped donating his arrangements to the New York Public Library. He hired Schoenberg as his assistant, and later as his manager. Goodman died in 1986. His will stipulated that his remaining arrangements and recordings be donated to Yale University and his favorite back brace to Schoenberg. Schoenberg was chosen to appraise the Goodman Archives. Yale hired him to help curate the collection and to compile a nine-CD box set of unreleased recordings.
Loren Schoenberg Big Band
Schoenberg formed the Loren Schoenberg Big Band, a repertory group devoted to performing the more obscure classics of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, though it eventually performed new works as well. The band performed at major venues, including the Blue Note, Michael's Pub, and Carnegie Hall.
In 1984, the Loren Schoenberg Big Band released its first album, That's the Way It Goes, followed by Time Waits for No One (1987), Solid Ground (1988), Just A-Settin' and A-Rockin ' (1989), Manhattan Work Song (1992), and Out of This World (1999). Schoenberg recorded S'posin ' in 1990 with a quartet and has recorded with Benny Carter, Jimmy Heath, and John Lewis.
In 1985, Schoenberg's band formed an association with the New York Swing Dance Society and began providing accompaniment for the organization's events. Benny Goodman asked the band to perform with him on the PBS television special Let's Dance Already, which became Goodman's last televised performance.
Conducting and directing
In 1986, Schoenberg joined the American Jazz Orchestra, where he remained until 1992, playing tenor sax and later following John Lewis as its musical director. He has conducted the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. In 1988 and 1989, he conducted the West German Radio Orchestra for a series of concerts, performing the works of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington for audiences in Cologne. Also during that period, he led, with Mel Lewis, a band for third stream jazz musician Gunther Schuller in Japan. In 1993, he was musical director for the International Duke Ellington Conference. Pianist Bobby Short hired Schoenberg as his musical director and saxophonist in 1997, a position he retained until Short's passing in 2005.
National Jazz Museum
Schoenberg is Founding Director and Senior Scholar of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. In June 2003, he and his National Jazz Museum in Harlem All-Stars band performed at the White House to raise awareness about the museum. The band played with Herb Jeffries, a 92-year-old baritone singer and an original member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Schoenberg's writing on jazz has appeared in The New York Times, The Lester Young Reader, The Oxford Companion to Jazz, and Masters of the Jazz Saxophone. In the summer of 2002, his first book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Jazz, was published with an introduction by Wynton Marsalis. Schoenberg wrote, "What makes jazz music different from country, classical, rock, and other well-known genres is its basic malleability...The great majority of it is not, as many believe, spun out of the air as if from some ephemeral, phantom spider, but is rather a highly organized and (unfortunately) spontaneous set of theme and variations."
He has won two Grammy Awards for his liner notes. In 1994, with Dan Morgenstern, he won a Grammy Award for Best Album Notes Louis Armstrong: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 1923–1934, a boxed set of rare and essential recordings. In 2005, he won a Grammy for Best Liner Notes for The Complete Columbia Recordings of Woody Herman and His Orchestra & Woodchoppers (1945–1947) for Mosaic Records.
Radio and television
From 1982–1990, Schoenberg hosted a weekly radio show on WKCR, where he played old jazz recordings, interviewed musicians, produced documentary specials, and broadcast live performances. In 1984, he became a co-host of Jazz from the Archives, a radio show on WBGO run by the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University.
In September 1998, he participated in a television program filmed at the White House with President Clinton, featuring musicians Wynton Marsalis, Marian McPartland, Billy Taylor, and David Baker. He served as an adviser to the PBS documentary Jazz by Ken Burns. Also that year, he became host of a radio program on Sirius satellite radio.
In addition to his duties as Founding Director and Senior Scholar of the Jazz Museum, Schoenberg is on the faculty of Juilliard's Institute for Jazz Studies, The Hartt School, and Barnard College. He has taught at the New School, the Manhattan School of Music, William Paterson University, SUNY/Purchase, the Essentially Ellington Band Director's Academy in Snowmass, Colorado, The Juilliard Evening School, and Long Island University. He has given lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Philharmonic. Schoenberg is the Program Director of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Jazz Colony summer program.
- 1986 That's the Way It Goes (Aviva)
- 1987 Time Waits for No One (MusicMasters)
- 1988 Solid Ground (MusicMasters)
- 1990 Just a-Settin' and a-Rockin ' (MusicMasters)
- 1990 S'posin' (MusicMasters)
- 1992 Manhattan Work Song (Jazz Heritage)
- 1999 Out of This World (TCB)
- 2006 Black Butterfly (CD Baby/THPOPS)
- Marian McPartland & Friends – 85 Candles: Live in New York, (Concord)
- James Williams – Jazz Dialogues Vol. 1–4
- Bobby Short – 30 Years at the Cafe Carlisle
- Benny Carter – Harlem Renaissance
- Benny Carter – Central City Sketches
- Jimmy Heath – Little Man Big Band (Verve, 1992)
- American Jazz Orchestra – Ellington Masterpieces
- American Jazz Orchestra – Tribute to Jimmie Lunceford
- Benny Goodman – Let's Dance
- Doc Cheatham/David Murray/Allan Lowe – Mental Strain at Dawn
- All Music
- Down Beat Artist's Profile Archived 2006-11-17 at the Wayback Machine.
- Parisi, Albert J. "Fond Memories of the 'King of Swing'", The New York Times, October 1, 1989. Accessed July 23, 2016. "'Everybody I knew as a kid was into rock bands and heavy-metal stuff, but it just didn't do anything for me,' said Mr. Schoenberg, a 31-year-old Fair Lawn native...Over the years, besides studying music at Fair Lawn High School, Mr. Schoenberg managed to enter what he described as the Goodman 'inner circle,' made up of musicians who had worked with the artist in his heyday."
- "Who We Are | National Jazz Museum in Harlem". jazzmuseuminharlem.org. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
- "Loren Schoenberg | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
- "Loren Schoenberg". www.lorenschoenberg.com. Retrieved 20 October 2016.