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March 8, 1999 - March 21, 1999
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The City College Jazz Band Swings


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By Nino Padova
Guardsman Staff Writer
Published Mar. 8, 1999


A quarter of a century ago the jazz world laid to rest one of it’s most revered pioneers. That very same year the music department at City College gained one of its most influential instructors in respects to the art form.

1974 marked the end of an era with the death of composer/pianist Duke Ellington. 1974 also marked the dawning of an era at City College with the arrival of new stage band coordinator and all around jazz aficionado, David Hardiman.

Much like big band leaders Ellington and Bassie, Hardiman presents himself as a man with the same elegant disposition, and an astounding sense of candor. Hardiman posseses the qualities of a true jazz man, always sharply dressed with a slight tilt of the head, indicating an air of musical aristocracy. His eyes manifest the depth of his knowledge.

After meeting him for the first time, one gets the impression he’s been around, that he’s been there, done that.

During his 25-year tenure at City College, Hardiman has instilled a level of respectability to its jazz program that extends deep into the community, a community saturated in jazz history. His unmistakable influence has helped develop the jazz studies at City College into a credited curriculum. Over the years, students from ages 18 to 80 have had their chops, timing and sight reading improved with the help of Hardiman’s instruction.

In addition to coordinating both the Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon stage bands, Hardiman teaches courses in "Jazz History" and a jazz-rock improvisational workshop, the latter of which gives students instruction on the techniques of improvisation in the styles of rock, jazz and blues.

Every year Hardiman focuses on training the stage bands for the Pacific Coast Collegiate Jazz Festival, the equivalent to the Super Bowl in the big band college jazz world. The festival is held at the University of California at Berkeley every spring and functions on a competitive level using a rating system of evaluation. City College is usually awarded a first or second division rating.

The stage bands also perform live concerts on campus each semester. Furthermore, Hardiman has brought his student musicians to play charity shows for the elderly patients at Laguna Honda Hospital and at Thunder Road, a drug treatment center in Oakland.

Hardiman, who started playing music in his home town of Indianapolis at the tender age of 8, also leads a side project called The San Francisco All Stars Big Band. This 19-piece big band can be seen playing Duke Ellington and Count Bassie tributes throughout the Bay Area with Hardiman serving as the conductor/trumpeter.

About the prospects of both playing and teaching Hardiman explains, "It’s a good balance for me. It keeps me from burning out of one or the other. With teaching I can maintain a strong economical base which allows me to do other things."

Every January, Hardiman takes part in the International Association of Jazz Educators convention, an annual event that brings people of the jazz world together for clinics, workshops and talent searches. As a member, Hardiman networks with some of the most renowned jazz musicians in the country and on occasion brings them to jam with his stage bands.

Tuesday night band drummer Mick Berry exclaims, "It’s amazing the guys he brings in here. We get to play with guys like Eddie Henderson and Michael Wolfe. These guys are some of the top professionals in the world."

According to his students, Hardiman’s classes provide the perfect environment for aspiring jazz musicians. His Tuesday evening stage band class consists of mostly local semi-pro musicians who come together for three hours a week to exchange phone numbers and practice their sight reading.

Saxophonist Peter Gordon, who can be seen around the Bay Area with the Bohemian Club Big Band and his own project, The Peter Gordon Quintet, says, "I’ve been coming here for four years mostly to keep up my reading. Hardiman is the man, he knows everyone in the jazz community."

Jazz journeyman for 50 years,alto saxophonist John Handy, of the band John Handy With Class, has known Hardiman since he moved to the Bay Area in 1971. He states, "The students and the music department at City are lucky to have a player of Hardiman’s caliber. He brings practical experience, knowledge and patience into the classroom," and Handy added, "People like Hardiman are important in the passing on of this art form."

Hardiman has a series of Duke Ellington tributes in the works that would be performed on and around the centennial of his birth, April 29. The project would be student interactive and would involve students from Junior High School on up. It entails panel discussions, swing classes given by the dance team and, of course, live music from the SF All Star Big Band (check Guardsman for more details).

In only the way a gentleman could, Hardiman cleverly avoided the question of his age. One could hardly tell from his vivacity and uncanny trumpet wails that he began teaching during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second term. When asked about plans for his retirement Hardiman answered, "Eventually within the next ten years." With a resurgance of swing permeating pop culture over the last couple of years one can bet that City College’s maestro still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

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Copyright 1996-1998 City College of San Francisco. All rights reserved.  Articles by Guardsman staff writers are copyright by The Guardsman, a student-run publication of the Journalism Department of City College of San Francisco.  Material supplied by the College Press Service is used under license from that organization.  Material reprinted from City Currents is used with the permission of the Public Information Office, City College of San Francisco.