Like many of you, I felt compelled to include some thoughts here. Specifically, I wanted to mention three ways in which Alan Fetterman, of blessed memory, influenced my life:
1. While there were certainly more talented performers than me in his department, Mr. Fetterman continually raised the bar for my composing and arranging skills. At the end of my sophomore year, he demanded not one, but two full jazz band orchestrations - deliverables that I had neither been trained nor tasked to produce before (particularly at the age of 15). Up until this time, Mr. Fetterman had either written or arranged these himself or paid professionals to do the same. ??
To my dismay, and at the beginning of each subsequent semester, the number of arrangements and compositions increased. Despite my protests and an ever-increasing workload in other classes, myriad stage band/musical theater performances, and weekly UM School of Music Lessons/Classes - he would hear nothing of it. He simply demanded more and better arrangements.
??At the time, the workload versus the reward seemed so disproportionate. Why on earth he demanded so much extra work from me was never really clear - until many years later in my life.
2. Mr. Fetterman used to continually chastise me (and others) that “we had our heads in the sand” with regard to the music that we listened to.
Admittedly, my classical piano training was counterbalanced by Rock, Fusion Jazz and Top 40. ??But Fetterman knew better: I was missing out on the greats including Miles, Coltrane, Bird, Tatum, Monk, Mingus, Blakey, Dizzy, and Armstrong. ??
Mangione, Meatlof and Maynard didn't cut it with him. He was a traditionalist and while he never sat me down and hipped me to the masters, he let me know that I would have to shed by listening to (and not just performing) the real deal.
??To this day, I am not only studying, but I am producing records of some of the more obscure gems by the great performers and composers of his day. I think Alan Fetterman would like that.
3. Now, as a GRAMMY Producer/AFM Engineer/BMI Composer, I get it. Though he seldom smiled or had a good word to say (at least to me), I know that I'm the better for it.
Because his legacy of governing oneself with dignity and pride courses through my veins on a daily basis. My watchwords: ”Deeds - Not Words” are a direct descendent of his “Early Is On Time…” moniker.
Perhaps I happen to (pardon the pun) “mix” a bit more light and laughter into my daily studio routine than he did. Maybe with his office door closed, he actually exhibited a lighter side? I hope for his sake, he did. We must have driven him crazy at times.
All of this notwithstanding, I am fairly comfortable presuming he would have agreed that “being pleasant never hurt anyone in the music business”. ??For that lesson, I'm grateful.
Rest in peace, Mr. Fetterman. ??
Your passing is a fitting "fine" to a life that touched so many. ??
Jazz Band I
Keyboards, Arranger, Composer