Jazz News & Notices

JazzErie Scholarship Winner: TIMOTHY PUGLIO

Puglio stars at Next Generation concert, heads for Messiah College.

Already a mensch!

* Check out Timothy's joyful effect with baritone saxophone great Bruce Johnstone, and the Misery Bay Big Band in the video below.  This was on May 22nd, the occasion of his award, at JazzErie's Next Generation concert at General McLane High School.  Puglio on tenor shared the spotlight with Johnstone on "Stay Loose With Bruce."  (Video courtesy of Kathy Thumpston, Timothy's band director at Bradford High School.)  We inadvertently included some marching band footage after the concert.  Just click in the upper right corner of the video to quiet the sound while you read the rest of the article.


* Thompston describes him in glowing terms, citing his "work ethic and perseverance.  He was well along in his musical development when he came to high school.  He was the first freshman to play in the pit orchestra (for school plays and musicals.)"

* "He's passionate about music and has an interest in lots of kinds of music, though jazz is his true love.  He plays in every ensemble in school and is a member of two community groups, the Twin Tier Community Orchestra in Bradford and the Allegheny Alumni Band in St.Bonaventure, NY."

*And more!  With friends he met at District Jazz Festival competitions, Timothy plays in self-directed a saxophone quartet. "Both the baritone and alto players (who live in the Erie area) are monster players," he exults.  "Getting together for rehearsals is a chore, but worth it.  We played out once at a coffeehouse in Fairview, but mostly we do it just for fun."

* Timothy also has a jazz sextet with friends from school: the Birch Street Band ("because three of us live on Birch Street.")  The band includes sax, trumpet, guitar and rhythm. "Our pianist  also composes, so we play a mix of originals and standards.  We practice every week and have played at two graduation parties and for Senior Awards Night."

Roots and training.

Timothy's parents encouraged their son's musical interests but neither are musically inclined themselves.  An older brother and sister "took piano lessons but weren't very interested."  Timothy's brother teaches biology and chemistry at an area high school, and coaches the football team.  Sister lives in Hoboken, NJ.

So how come you developed your jazz chops?

"I started on clarinet in 4th grade.  In 5th grade they needed a tenor player so I tried it and liked it.  Our teacher, Mr. Mike Grady, had us practice improvising on a Bb blues, and he wrote an arrangement where we soloed in every concert."

More improvising.

I didn't get so much experience in improvising in middle school, though we played some interesting big band arrangements.  Then when I got to high school, Ms. Thumpston had us practice improvising every session.  We started playing written blues licks, then she had us improvise -- first two bars, then four bars, then more -- as part of our warmup.

"I played in the high school jazz band and soloed in 10th and 11th grades.  Then I soloed in District jazz auditions."


"Dr. Bill Stowman, who was a leader for the District Band in my sophomore year, chose me as Lead Tenor for Band I for the District.  I was scared -- but I got two solos in the concert. Dr. Stowman and I have kept in touch since then.  He is on the faculty at Messiah College, and I loved working with him.  That's how I decided to attend Messiah.  They have a very fine music program." (Ed. Note: a visit to the Messiah website, with video samples, backs up this claim.)

District and other adventures.

"Bruce Johnstone performed at one of the District concerts and I loved his playing.  I never imagined I'd get the chance some day to play with him.  When I got on stage with him last week I was terrified.  But I loved it."

"I've been participating in District every year and have played music groups at school.  I play flute in the pit orchestra, alto saxophone and clarinet in the two community bands, bassoon in our concert band and tenor with the jazz band."

Hopes and plans.

"I'm going to be majoring in Music Education at Messiah.  I want to teach -- I'd like to teach in college if I can.  And I want to continue to play.

"At school I had the opportunity to conduct the wind ensemble.  It was a great experience.  I want to analyze how to communicate my ideas, and how students react -- to understand the effectiveness of ways of teaching.  To see the big picture."

(Sounds like a dissertation to me!)

Interview by Dick Thompson


May 28, 2013