Apr 15, 2011

Eddy Flenner

A few reminiscences about Eddy Flenner, my first real jazz teacher - As far as I know, he was the “go-to guy" for saxophone lessons in Portland, Oregon, from approximately the 1940s through the 1970s. I was a music major at Portland State University in the early ‘70s, and the department sent me to Eddy for lessons. At my first lesson, Eddy asked me what I’d like to work on. I replied that I’d only had classical lessons up until then, so I’d like to work on improvising. Eddy said, “So, Peter, what do you think a jazz player needs to know?” I fished around for an answer for a few minutes. Then Eddy said, “Chords and scales, Peter. Chords and scales.” Eddy could get right to the point.
Another memorable succinct quote of his from an early improv lesson: “Don’t play the root.”
Sometimes I’d show up for a lesson, and Eddy would give me a dollar and say, “Go up the street to the Diamond Head (that was a coffee shop) and get us a cup of hot blood.”
He’d worked as an arranger in the Big Band years. He and a song plugger, as reps for a publishing company, would sell the latest tunes to the band leaders. Eddy would arrange a chorus of the tune in the style of the band to help make the sale. For example, if it was for Tommy Dorsey, he might write it with a trombone lead. Here’s a story he told me: One time, when he was just starting, he wrote up an arrangement that had some B#’s in the sax parts - correct spelling for the harmony he was using. The band tried the arrangement, and screwed it up. The leader didn’t buy the tune. So the piano player, an older guy, took him aside and said, “Look, kid, how many of these guys do you think have ever seen a B#?” The point of the story was, write parts in a way that is easy to read, regardless of what is strictly “correct.”
There was the time that the Ellington band was in Portland. This was in the last years that Duke led it, in the early 1970s. Harry Hilliard, the repairman at the shop where Eddy taught, told me that Harry Carney, Duke’s bari sax player, was going to drop by to say hello, and I should meet him. I had a bass clarinet in for repair; Carney could check it out and see if it worked OK. I had a rehearsal that I thought was important, and didn’t understand what an awesome offer this was, so I made the rehearsal instead. I have been kicking myself about that ever since. But I still have the bass clarinet. Carney said it played OK.
Eddy had a Charlie Parker story. Bird was in Portland for a gig - this must have been 1952 or so - and the local musicians told him he should go meet Eddy. So Parker stopped by Eddy’s studio and they talked saxophones. Eddy had an Albert System clarinet sitting on the counter that he’d been messing around with. Bird spotted it and said that he’d always wanted one of those. So of course, Eddy gave it to him. Parker took it back to New York, and sent Eddy an autographed picture with a thank-you note. Eddy said, “He was a short guy - even shorter than me! He had these stubby little fingers...”
Eddy turned me on to Marcel Mule, Plas Johnson, Friedrich Kuhlau, Eugene Bozza, and Rudy Wiedoeft. I'm still working on those chords and scales.

Update 1/25/17 - Eddy was also the teacher of Kenny Hing, who went on to play with the Count Basie Orchestra for 25 years. Here's a post on Kenny.


  1. cool stories. still trying to learn the B# lesson and how to avoid the root, among other things. fwiw, we need more bass clarinet in the world!

  2. I just want to thank you for this blog. I Googled my father: Eddy Flenner today as it would be his 100th birthday. It made me smile to read the stories that were so typical of the man I remember. Although he has been gone (40 years this Nov.) I think of him often and love him no less today than when I was young. I am 63. I still miss him and this article was a great way to connect to him. Thanks. Catherine Flenner Krause

    1. Catherine, Thanks so much for this message. Eddy was a great guy, and a great teacher. I owe him a lot. I'm in the middle of my teaching day now. I'd toast him with a cup of coffee, but I'm already at my caffeinated limit. Happy Birthday, Eddy!

  3. I met Eddy when I went to my first lesson at age 8. I had a C Melody sax that my mother borrowed from my uncle. My parents wanted to see if I was serious and had any talent before spending any money on a real horn. After a few months with Eddy, my mother asked him if I had any talent. He told her that I had a "natural mouth." He felt that I could go as far as I was willing to work at it. He was right.

    My favorite story about Eddy centered around my 8th grade graduation. There was a talent show and I wanted to play something. Eddy suggested Jimmy Dorsey tune I'd never heard of (but you probably have) called Oodles of Noodles. It was a bit over my head when we started, but not too far. He always knew exactly what I was capable of. We worked on it together for several months, with him playing a boom-chick piano accompaniment. On the big day, we took our place in front of the students and their families, none of whom had ever heard me play, and Eddy started the intro. He played it faster than we had ever practiced it. A lot faster. It scared me to death, but I was more scared of folding altogether, so I just dove right in. Bottom line is I nailed it dead bang. Best I ever did with that tune.

    But that's not the punch line. On my next lesson, he presented me with a hand-written transcription he had made from a recording of Alfred Gallodoro playing his own arrangement of Oodles of Noodles and we started working on it. If you ever seen or heard that version, the jazz riff in the middle has almost no notes that are below F above high C. They are almost all faked with embouchure. And that is when he introduced me to the hemidemisemiquaver, which was everywhere in that piece. I never quite mastered it, but I came pretty close as I recall.

    I studied with Eddy for another 5 years or so. He became much more than my teacher. He as a father, a confidant, and even a pal. He was the first person who treated me like a person more than a kid, and I loved him for it.; I still do. Thanks for this page and for allowing me to remember Eddy with the depth and color that he so richly deserves.
    Ned Johnson

  4. Ned - Thanks for the comment, and that great story!

  5. How wonderful to hear these remembrances of my Dad. I am so grateful for the stories of his imprint on so many lives for his extreme talent and his wonderful gift of sharing that with others. It is so good to hear how loved he was and still is. Ai would live to hear from anyone who has a memory of my father as I was just barely 22 when he passed and never really got to know him .. adult to adult. I know he touched many lives and the stories are great. I am think of making a memory book and these stories will definitely be included. If any of you would like to participate and spread the word...it would be a blessing to his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren I am not musical but the genes we presses itself in writing, art, teaching and language throughout his descendants. Thank you so much...I am ever grateful for the gifts of sharing his memory.
    Catherine Flenner Krause :)

  6. I'm so glad you are here to tell these things to, Catherine, and that you want so much to know them. I could probably talk about Eddy non-stop for half a day or more. I would like to share with you my last time with him in 1964. I was a freshman at University of Portland, and had been taking lessons from him for college credit that year. At the end of the year I asked him to have lunch with me at the coffee shop at the end of the block from where he had his studio.

    I knew I would not be taking lessons any longer because I was going to school out of town, and I wanted to say good-bye and thank him (again). But I also was at something of a crossroads in my life, and I wanted to get his input on whether I should consider pursuing music as a career.

    Basically, he tried to talk me out of it, not because I wasn't talented or accomplished enough, but for other reasons I could not have anticipated. For one thing, though I had taken clarinet lessons from him many years before, it just took up too much of my time while I was still studying sax. I had never even tried flute, or tenor, or "fish horn," as he liked to call it. He told me that the studios in LA were full of players that were just as good as I was, but also played at least two or three other woodwinds. What's more, they could sit down and read just about anything put before them.

    I knew when I heard this that I had no business even thinking about continuing in that direction, because there was no way I would be willing to duplicate the kind of time and dedication that I had applied to alto sax on those other instruments. It just wasn't going to happen. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure he was right.

    On the other hand, by that time I had developed a serious interest in guitar, and ended up studying classical guitar for several years. When I was in my mid-20s I spent a few years making a living as a guitar/vocal single. Oddly enough, my years with Eddy prepared me well for that shift of direction. Though I haven't played sax for a long time, I still play guitar almost every day, and have even performed a few times in the recent past.

    It pleases me to know that at least some of the money we paid him for my lessons all those years found its way into your life and the lives of your family. I'm sorry that neither of us had a chance to know him, as you put it, adult-to-adult. I know how much I would have liked to do that, and you must want it even more. But we can share what we have, and that ain't chopped liver, as they say. :-) Thanks again.

  7. Wow...Wow..Wow! Thank you so much for these postings. I feel the link to my dad as you speak. Anytime you feel like remembering something online is welcome as I would like to put together a memory book, including these stories. To hear the influence of music, the guidance of a friend and how highly you thought of him, like a father is truly "music"to my ears. There IS so much I desire to know. I was surprised when I GOOGLE his name. Many articles and pictures, but of course my favorite is the one titled:THE LEGENDARY EDDY FLENNER. I even found a copyrite for a song called: MY Mother Never Told Me. How I would love to get that musical number and hear it. I am going to pursue that...even if I can only procure the sheet music. It is always nice to know that you have touched someone's life...but usually never get the opportunity. Hearing these comments is like that....like he is still here in the hearts of those who cherished him as I do. Thanks again

  8. Ned, thanks! That is another great story! Catherine - I put up a short post to see if any other students of Eddy's might have a story to share. I have a few more thoughts, which I'll write up soon and post here.

  9. I took lessons from Eddy for just two years, in the early 1970s, when I was a student at Portland State University. Eddy had a studio at Petert’s Music (1001 SW Morrison, according to Google). It was downstairs; there was another teaching studio or two down there, as well as Harry Hilliard’s instrument repair shop. Harry was older than Eddy. I don’t know for sure, but I got the feeling that Eddy had known Harry for quite a few years.

    Ned, I’m sure that the coffee shop up the street that you mention was the Diamond Head. That was where Eddy would often send me for a couple of cups of “hot blood.”

    I took lessons mostly on tenor sax, and for a while on bass clarinet. We also spent a fair amount of time on arranging. The arranging part was great for developing my grasp of theory, though I lacked the patience for writing up charts (we had to do it all by hand in those days, before computers). Eddy was definitely a theory guy, and gave me a great foundation. As you can see from my blog, that’s a strong interest of mine. I had a couple of excellent professors at Portland State at the same time, who taught theory from a classical angle (Robert Crowley and Tomas Svoboda), but Eddy gave me the jazz musician’s perspective.

    When he played along with me on a sax exercise, he generally played his King Saxello, a type of soprano sax (pitched in Bb, like tenor and bass clarinet). I guess he was a little bit of a collector of historical instruments - he had an octavin too (pictures on Google images, writeup on Wikipedia), and then there was the story about Charlie Parker and the Albert System clarinet (in the above post).

  10. (continued)

    I took lessons from 6th to 12th grade, but that teacher was a classical clarinetist, not a saxophonist, and not a jazz player. I was a dedicated jazz listener, and played tenor in the jazz band, but was a clueless improviser. After high school, I did play in some rock and soul bands, but played solos by ear. Eddy was the right teacher for me, at the right time.

    The first tune that he had me improvise on was “Out of Nowhere.” He accompanied me on piano. (Ned, I remember the “boom-chick” style you mentioned - he called it “arranger’s piano”). I was just winging it, playing by ear. The next student, a way more advanced player, was waiting for his lesson. After we finished, Eddy said to him, “Did you hear that, Dennis? That was pretty good, for a first try!”

    This was a great moment for me. It gave me confidence, and motivation to keep working. I remember similar “validation” moments from two other teachers, around the same time, that encouraged me to believe that I was on the right track. One was when John LaPorta auditioned me for a jazz workshop at Portland State - he had me improvise a Bb blues (again, I was just winging it), and then told me that I had a good ear for this kind of music. The other moment was when Professor Crowley recommended me for a part-time job teaching theory to kids at the Community Music Center. Those were valuable moments. Now, whenever I can, I try to give my students the same kind of positive reinforcement.

    As a teacher, I of course use materials and techniques that I picked up from my own teachers. A fair amount of my classical sax teaching repertoire was first introduced to me by Eddy. There’s a basic “circle of fifths” exercise that I adapted from what Eddy had me do, that I invariably assign to every jazz student.

    The first time Eddy explained jazz theory to me, he played piano while I looked over his shoulder. He played Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are,” while giving a running commentary on the theory devices that Kern was using. I was pretty green at that point, and didn’t really follow. He’d get to a clever point in the harmony, and say, “Look at that, Peter - slick as a whistle!”

    As time went on, and we checked out more tunes, I began to realize that I was hearing the same terms over and over again (like “two five one,” or “four minor”). It all began to fall into place. Now, I often do the same thing with my students - that is, give a running commentary on a tune’s harmony, knowing quite well that a lot of it is going right over their heads, but trusting that they will come to see how the pieces fit together. I usually explain that process to them, up front.

    These are all fond memories. I was fortunate to run into Eddy when I did. Both his specific knowledge and his teaching style have certainly influenced my own. In fact, from time to time I find myself telling some “Eddy stories” to my students, both for entertainment and for their instructive value.

  11. It is so interesting for me to hear your stories, Peter, because your experience with Eddy was from such a different perspective than my own. I was just a child when I met him. You were older. Eddy was my first music teacher, but not yours. I was a blank slate for him to write on. He added to what was already on yours. I never focused on any particular genre, whereas you were pursuing jazz. This list goes on.

    But there was also common ground between us, too. First, there was Eddy himself. I recognize him in everything you write, as apparently you recognize him in my stories. While our time with him did not overlap (I last saw Eddy in 1964), he had the same studio at Petert's with both of us. Also, you were right about the Diamond Head. That is the last place I saw him in the Spring of '64.

    Reading and writing here has caused me to think lately about him and what music was for me during my years with him. I remember my first lesson like it was last night (and my lessons were all in the evening for the first...I don't know how many years). He guided me through "Charmaine" and sent me home with the music. My next tune was "Peg o' My Heart" followed by a string of increasingly more demanding pop tunes from the '20s, '30s, and '40s. By that time I had an alto sax and was getting comfortable with the instrument. Then it was on the the harder work of exercises. The first one I remember by name was the Dix Huit Etudes by Marcel Mule. We did not use them all. Eddy, though I didn't see it then, moved me through dozens of etudes and pieces much like a sculptor or painter would develop a work of art. He gave me pieces through which to develop the next logical dimension of my technique. If he sensed I needed more speed, he would give me something that required more speed than I had. If he wanted to expand my ability with key signatures, he would point me to something that had more flats and/or sharps than I had ever tried to play. This wend on for over a decade almost non-stop.

    He tried to teach me theory very early on, but while I was able to memorize things like cord structure, I really had no idea how it fit into anything else. That I didn't learn until I studied guitar and could play actual chords. The theory itself had to wait even longer, until I was in my early 30s and studied with great teacher who decades later became a close friend. Hal Malcolm. He finally taught me all those things that Eddy tried to when I was just two young.

    The other two things that Eddy was never able to help me with were sight reading and improvisation. I still have little more than an armed truce with improvisation, but I did manage to achieve some measure of mastery in reading my freshman hear in high school.

    At that time I took dance band at seven o'clock every morning (M-F) the whole school year. The teacher was Chuck Bradford, who was a friend of Eddy's and Hal's, too. They played a lot of gigs together I later learned. In Chuck had collected an impressive array of stock arrangements of big band tunes, and he knew how to use them. Every morning we would sit down and sight read something by Count Basie, or Benny Goodman, or Glen Miller, or more modern composers like Marshall Brown. We seldom actually practiced any of them. We just read them and the next day moved on to another one.

  12. (cont'd from above)

    Needless to say, I was buried for the first several months. It was heart breaking for me, because, thanks to Eddy, I was a prodigious player for a 14 year-old. But I had to read through things and familiarize myself with them before I could play the spots off them.

    Long about Spring break, however, it all started coming to me. By the end of the school year, I could read just about anything put before me, the first time, and right. Eddy was very proud of me, even though it took someone else to bring it home.

    Catherine, I want you to know that what I remember most about your dad was what a kind, generous, and patient man he was, not to mention one bodacious musician. Even after I began to develop some real chops, he could still blow me away when he picked up a horn, any kind of horn, and play it with more dazzle than I could have imagined.

    Pete, I hope you can attract some other former students here to participate in this conversation. It would be a real joy to hear more and more stories. As Catherine has said, it helps to flesh out the picture of this wonderful man in ways we never knew. And it's all good. Very, very good.

  13. Peter and Ned,
    thank you so much for your kind words about my father. The stories are fabulous and I can feel the presence of his very essence! Yeah, words and poetry are how the music gene manifested itself for me. I love hearing how well remembered he still is and when Peter's story used the words: "slick as a whistle" I laughed out loud for how many times I heard him say that...but had kinda forgotten about it. Another of his classics was: "Let's get this show on the road!" This was the family favorite for getting everyone to get going. When Ned spoke of night time lessons...I thought about what a treat it was to ride along with my mother to pick him up down town. I am so happy to hear of all his knowledge that he shared. He was a self taught natural. He ended up teaching at two Colleges without a degree while continuing private lessons. Every Sunday the EDDY FLENNER QUARTET would assemble at our house...many of those tunes are my favorites.
    Recently my sister and I attended the Glen Miller Orchestra concert at the Schnitz. It was Sunday morning all over again. I was blessed to be given an appreciation for good music and good food. Whenever my siblings and I attend a movie we all come out commenting on the music.. My foot is always tapping to the beat as I learned all during my childhood. I am very lucky to have recordings of The Providence Hospital Band that he directed....and his actual voice as he read the jacket of the VAUDVILLE album.
    My father did touch so many lives and I sure hope others come forward with more stories. Again, I appreciate your posts.
    To both Peter and Ned: I imagine you both have albums /cd's (old habits die hard) so can you recommend your best one that might reflect those lessons? Actually I do like records...that swooshing sound is part of the music experience. Quality sound is great...but albums take me back to the day.
    You guys are fabulous to give me the gift of sharing your personal stories!

  14. Catherine, it’s a pleasure to recall these stories, and very interesting to hear your own recollections! To answer your question about albums: Eddy was into sax quartets, and I think he did some arranging for that instrumentation. He gave me a cassette tape of some sax quartet pieces - I recall that there was some Tchaikovsky, arranged for four saxes, also a version of Rudy Wiedoft’s “Saxophobia.” Wiedoft was an early sax recording artist, a virtuoso in a sort of ragtime style. There’s a youtube clip that is pretty close to the arrangement that I recall, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOPC_kJz0Us.

    Eddy talked about the LA studio scene. He mentioned a friend of his, who worked in the studios, and had a filing cabinet full of pre-written music for all sorts of movie needs - for example, fog/prison break music, etc. He mentioned to me, as he mentioned to Ned, that LA studio players could play anything, and get it right the first time. That wasn’t exactly to caution me not to go into the studio music business; I think we both knew I’d end up teaching. Anyway, one studio jazz guy he liked was Plas Johnson (famous for playing the sax part on “Pink Panther”). I went out and got a couple of Plas Johnson albums, and played them over and over. great stuff. There are a bunch of his clips on youtube; here’s one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9FVQVVbjUY

    Eddy dug the French classical saxophone approach. He turned me on to Marcel Mule, the major classical sax figure in the first half of the 20th century. Here’s a clip of Mule playing one of the pieces that Eddy had me attempt (I didn’t get too far on this one): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe4QCxOYrOs&list=PLrtz0PeO55KE_Tedn2YVewjxdL9c3Ufzs

    Regarding that story about my first improv attempt on “Out of Nowhere” - If I sounded at all coherent, it was because I had listened over and over to Charlie Parker playing that tune. One of the records I had was this version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsDr9vGxNKk. You’ll recall the story about the time Eddy met Parker, in my initial post.

    Finally, I have one self-produced CD of my own group. I’d be glad to send you a copy, if you send me a personal email with your mailing address. You can reach me at: peterspitzer@earthlink.net. It’s Brazilian Jazz - not exactly the stuff that I worked on with Eddy. But there are some originals on there, that owe something to those theory lessons.

  15. I must say that I feel just like Peter, Catherine, about enjoying your recollections, too. It seems that we all saw different sides of Eddy, and none of them represents him aw well as all taken together.

    The first several years I was with Eddy were at the old Burke Hoyt store next to the Greyhound bus terminal on 5th Street (I think). At first my mother would drive me there and go to the cafe on the corner for coffee while she waited for me. When I was a little older, I took the bus down and she picked me up afterward. We often went to that coffee shop after my lessons and she would grill me about what I had learned. Sometimes she would meet me at Eddy's studio and ask him how I was doing.

    She was a musician herself, or had been. She was in a Brahms quartet in college and still had her violin, though she never played it. So she could talk to Eddy with some understanding. I think she loved him almost as much as I did. We were together so long that he was like a part of our extended family.

    When I was about 12, it became clear that I had outgrown my first alto and was ready to move up. My parents decided that my Christmas present that year should be a new horn. The question was which one? Eddy was still with Burke Hoyt, and he talked Eddy Burke into letting me take home the two horns on my short list for a long weekend to decide which one I wanted. One was a top of the line Conn, and the other was a Selmer. As luck would have it, I had a bad cold, so it was hard for me to play and even harder for me to hear the difference between the horns. But in the end I chose the Selmer and was never sorry in the slightest. It cost around $500, which in 1957 was a HUGE amount of money. One reason I chose it was because Eddy played a Selmer Alto (and clarinet, too, as I recall). I wanted to be just like him, and not just musically.

    I also remember going to the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus at least once and watching/hearing Eddy play in the band. They always called on him when they came to town.

    He was indeed fond of Marcel Mule. He never gave me any of his solo pieces to play, but I did get many etudes. His other favorite was Alfred Gallodoro, whom I have already mentioned. Look him up on YouTube. There are lots of pieces there. Unfortunately, the one I would most like to hear is Oodles of Noodles, which I have not yet found. The only time I ever heard anyone (other than myself) play it was when Eddy first intorduced me to it. It was the first time I ever heard him have to stop and pick up again in the middle of a tune. It was indeed a real challenge.

    Probably the thing I remember most about him as a sax man was the precision of his playing. Even simply running a C scale, the interval between notes was so precise that I could scarcely believe it. Many years later I heard myself playing something with nearly the same precision, In that moment I knew I had arrived. I could play something that for nearly a decade only Eddy could play. His shoes were too large for me to fill, and I knew it.

    (continued below)

  16. (continued from above)

    At his recommendation I bought albums by the Gerry Mulligan Quintet, whose alto player was Zoot Sims. I loved that a lot. I also had albums by Bobby Dukoff. I think his favorite jazz alto player was Paul Desmond, He just couldn't get over the softness of his mouth. I first became aware of him with the Brubeck tune Take 5, and always thereafter tried to emulate that sound.

    One of the proudest days of my young life was when Eddy asked me to join a reed ensemble he put together from his stable of students for a concert at Lewis and Clark College. We played a medley of movements from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. I must have been about 10 or so at the time, and I think the youngest one in the group.

    The phrase I remember most from Eddy's repertoire "it lays right under your fingers." He used this to describe a tune or passage that looked difficult, but that was actually easier than it looked. He was always right, too. :)

    Thank you both again for sharing your experiences of a man who was one of the key human components in my early life. I feel so blessed to be reminded of those time in such a heartfelt way.

  17. You guys are so cool to share the many aspects of my father. I am learning so much I never knew and all thanks to you guys. I never knew who his favorite artists were, who he knew and his whole musician persona. I am grateful beyond words for you taking time out of your busy days to share.
    Being a key human component in my life...A memory pops into my mind regarding the precision you spoke of. He had insisted I learn a language as he thought I had an "ear" for it. He quizzed me once a week on the current French lessons. With his gentle, but insistant perfectionism was how he guided all of to bring out our best. ...as I am now understanding he taught his students as well.
    Later in life he studied Japanese as he was quite intrigued by their culture. He mastered that language and was learning to write Japanese script as was his way. He made a couple of trips their one with my mother and one with a guy who had Co invented a key extension or something that was to be presented in our Portland Sister city, Sapporo. He was presented with a framed script of some song that was written in his honor. I later had it translated to something like: the music is a song as is a mountain casting it's shadow to the valley where the birds are singing making all the people happy. (very loose translation). It was symbolic of his life.
    I have checked out the You Tube for the artists he admired...great stuff. I will be seeking out more for purchase due to you turning me on to their music. All a good listen. Again I will be forever grateful for resurrecting my dad so to speak.
    Peter, I would love to receive a copy of your music...Brazillian sounds fabulous! I will contact you personally for that info. Thanks again a million X a million. These last few days of communicating have been quite fruitful for all. I am so glad I happened onto your blog. It was meant to be. Although much of the musical jargon is above my non musical head..I recognize some of it.
    I am so pleased to learn the names of instruments he played (Selmer) and so on ...I really only knew he played sax and clarinet and of course piano....but not much more...as most of his instruments were sold upon his death or donated.
    I will continue checking back to see if anyone else has joined in the " Flenner Fest" I have enjoyed myself thoroughly. It has been a glorious time here with my father's students.
    Great thanks,

    1. Hi Catherine, I found an interesting reference to your Dad in an old issue of "Saxophone Journal" magazine. In the 40s and early 50s, he taught a kid, Kenny Hing, who went on to become a member of the Count Basie band. Kenny is retired now, living in Oregon - Canby maybe, but I'm not sure. Here's a link to a blog post I just wrote up:


      All the best!

  18. I took clarinet lessons from Eddy for several years through 1961. A highlight was playing bass clarinet in a 12 or 16 piece sax ensemble playing a medley of Armed Forces songs. We played at a place at 33rd and Knott. Anyone else remember that?

    1. Dave - Thanks very much for the comment. 1961 was definitely before my time, of course. While I'm writing here, I'll just mention that I got an email recently from a lady in La Grande whose husband currently has Eddy's library of sax quartet charts. According to her email, a quartet including some of Eddy's former students was formed in Portland in the 1970s; they had the library. The group continued, with some personnel changes, until 2013. My correspondent's husband was with the group at that time - he commuted from LaGrande to rehearse. When that group broke up, he inherited the library and brought it to La Grande, where he formed a new sax quartet. It's nice to know that Eddy's arrangements are still being enjoyed!

  19. I was a student of Eddy Flenner in starting in the mid 60's and learned clzrinet and saxophone with him. One of the thing that stands out as a memory was his love of Japan and studying Japanese. He arranged some Japanese songs and we played them at a Shinto temple in Portland which was in a converted church. The upstairs had the red lacquered wood work for the temple and after we played we had joined the audience for a spaghetti feed. He was always turning me on to great music and it really impressed me how playing music was gateway to see the and understand the world.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Yes, I remember Eddy's interest in Japan. One time he was making me a cassette tape to play along with and practice improv, and as I recall, what was on the tape previously (or maybe on the machine) was a recording of a dinner conversation with his hosts from a trip to Japan.