Summer Update

It's been quite a busy summer; soon the breezes will be cooler and the days a little shorter as another school year begins. It's an interesting place to be in for me because soon I will be totally, completely done with school (to the surprise of many, I'm sure). None are happier about this than my wife, but barring any catastrophes this part of my journey will come to a close.

The reason for this nostalgia has to do with a big piece of news - I have received my first commission as a composer. My alma mater, the University of the Cumberlands, is in its 125th year. In celebration my friend and teacher David Threlkeld is assembling an alumni jazz ensemble and yours truly has been commissioned to write for it. This would be exciting enough on its own but is made even moreso because of the affection I have for the school.

My first forays onto the campus of then Cumberland College were to partake in the swimming pool. As a youngster I spent my summers in Williamsburg, Kentucky at my grandmother's house and I loved every minute of it. She signed us up for swim lessons at the school - I remember being in awe of the columned buildings and freshly scrubbed brick. I think my going to Cumberland was always a dream of hers, no one in my family had ever been to college and if I went there she could keep an eye on me.

I started my freshman year of college at Cumberland College in August of 2001; I was incredibly arrogant (as most 18 year olds are). Prof. Threlkeld (or as we call him, T) was amazingly patient with me. He was the first teacher of mine to take the attitude that we were exploring and discovering on this journey together. His own abilities and knowledge never made him cynical. I remember being in his office while he showed me some Michael Brecker tracks I'd never heard before. You would swear he was hearing them for the first time as well. His enthusiasm was contagious.

When I came back to Cumberland in 2007 I had been burned by my own ego and in the process of rebuilding things I had torn down out of pure selfishness. T welcomed me back on the journey as if it hadn't been interrupted. He took me under his wing as an arrogant, obnoxious 18 year old and helped me rebuild when I came back as a man humbled by the world. For that I will be forever thankful.

A lot of who I am is because of the school, the place, and the people I met there. I can't wait to return in the fall.

- Bob