Category Archives: The World of Flute

about flutes, playing the flute

Matt Eakle Comes To Arcata

The great flute player, Matt Eakle, is coming this Saturday to the Arcata Playhouse, with his band. Matt has been playing with the David Grisman Quintet for over 20 years, and has recorded with Jerry Garcia, and many others.

I just had a fine conversation with him, and we will meet at his show. In 1997, The David Grisman Quintet played at the Van Duzer Theater, on the night that I had my first Arcata gig.  Right at show time, the power went out all around the area. I was playing at what used to be Cafe Tomo, currently Mazottis.  They were about to close the place, but we started playing acoustically, so they put out candles, and we made a party of it.  DGQ played on as well.  It takes more than a power outage to stop a band!

This will be a great concert, with or without electricity.    It’s a rare thing to hear flute playing at such a high level.   Catch Matt and his band if you can!

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On the Subject of Vibrato…

One of the rites of passage for a flute player, is the mastering of vibrato. How to do it, when to use it, the speed and width of it, all that kind of stuff. “Stuff”… now that’s not a very classical term, is it?   Well, it’s a perfectly fine jazz term, I say.  My earliest vibrato I had no control of… it was because I was performing for my teachers, and I was nervous!  My lips were quivering!  My teacher, Phyllis, tried her best to show me how to do it, to no avail.  Then, I went to a masterclass with Julius Baker in eastern Washington, for a week. Mr. Baker was, for many years, the first flutist in the New York Philharmonic. ( He has since passed away )   Eight hours a day, masterclasses were held. Wonderful flutists from all over, would play, and be critiqued by Mr. Baker. One young  16 year old woman played, I don’t remember what piece, and Mr. Baker, looked in awe, as she soared to the heavens. After she played, he commented that the piece simply could not be played any better. I wish I knew her name.   Someday, you may see the group photo on my site. There were at least a hundred of us.  Anyway, back to the subject of vibrato… though I really didn’t play much while at the masterclass, when I returned to Seattle, and played for the first time, I had complete control of vibrato. I had gotten it by osmosis, by immersion, by a simple twist of fate.

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Paul Horn & the Seattle Flute Society

I was a founding member of the Seattle Flute Society, which has been going strong since the early eighties. They used to see my name in the paper all the time, and once asked me to do publicity for them. We would bring in various luminaries of the flute world, including Sir James Galway, Ransom Wilson, Michel Debost, and many others. Once, the great Paul Horn came to do a masterclass. He had a play along tape, and was trying to get the all-classical flutists to lighten up and jam! I waited until last to play. “Forget the tape, let’s just play”  I said to Paul. WE WENT OFF!!! Wherever Paul went, I was right on his tail!   What fun it was to play with one of the finest flutists around.  True freedom!   After we played, the other flutists said “Oh, that’s what he does!”  I had been kind of a “Spy” at the other, classically oriented  masterclasses, listening, but not playing, so a lot of the other flute players didn’t know what I did.

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