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42 2 Music Becomesa Profession, Gabea Pro Interlochen—June 1947 Well, when I won the contest I was surprised. I never expected to. I don’t expect anything, anyway. And I was in shock, I guess. Then, later on, I just realized, hey, you know, you’re going to the mainland. You’re going to Michigan, to the famous Interlochen music camp where young aspiring musicians go in the summer. And they still do. I got my things together and went to the airport. I think it was early or mid-June, right after school was over, and I flew to San Francisco and then to Chicago. And somebody met me from the Lions Club, a representative . Then this gentleman brought in a young fellow to take me around Chicago. I had a whole day and night in Chicago. And this young fellow knew a lot about jazz. He asks me,“Gabe, what would you like to do in Chicago today?” I say, “You know,” I told Bill, this guy’s name was Bill, I said, “I’d like to hear some good jazz.” So, “Oh, I got just the place. Charlie Ventura’s playing at the Sherman Hotel in the Panther Room.” I said,“Well, let’s go!” He took me down there and I was thrilled, because in the group was Shelly Manne on drums, Kai Winding on trombone, and I don’t know who the piano player was, or the bass player. But Charlie Ventura was playing and I was thrilled. I even got a picture of that, from the nightclub: Charlie Ventura, me, and Bill. And I was seventeen, so it was my first experience really hearing something on the mainland. Then the next day I hopped on a train, my first train ride, from Chicago to Interlochen, Michigan. Well, we stopped in Traverse City, way up north, near the top of the state, and then took a bus right into Interlochen. And it was into a new life for me, because I never expected to become a musician before being a part of this music camp. I still wanted to be a cartoonist for Disney. Then I had eight weeks of wonderful experience. Eight weeks, man, June to August. I played in the band, and we played in big groups and small groups M u sic B e c o m e s a P r o f e ssi o n , G a b e a P r o • 43 and a lot of classical music. There was always something happening. There was ballet. There was symphony music and string ensembles. And being that I was a jazz player, you know how the jazz guys always find out who’s the jazzers. And us kids, we were fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, somehow we’d find out who’s the jazzers around. So I got to meet other musicians who loved jazz. At that time jazz was not found in Interlochen, so we’d go in the back, in the forest. There was a big forest with cabins behind the camp, and we’d jam there. I laugh when I think about it. So we were jamming between classes, because we had, well . . . Morning. A typical morning, we’d get up, get breakfast, then we’d go to class. I had a harmony class. Something like that. Then I’d study clarinet with a teacher. And then in the early afternoon we’d break for lunch, then we’d have band. I was in the band, and every Friday we’d compete for first chair. Boy, there were some tough players, and I’d always get booted from second to third to fourth chair. Every week. Second chair, third chair, fifth chair, man. Get booted back, because we had to sight-read, and this one cat, man, was so good. He can read about anything you can put in front of him. Play the heck out of it. And beautiful tone. And a girl who played second chair, the most beautiful clarinet tone I ever heard, until today. Wow! And, like I say, every Friday we’d be challenging each other. I gotta laugh because I was put back and forth, but I never got to first chair. I got close. I got second. One time. Well, anyway, it was a great experience. Then I hung out with the jazzers. A guy named Keith Moon. Later on he got in the Stan Kenton band. Trombone player...


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