Consistency,” says Bart Marantz. “Consistency on the playing as well as the arranging and composition areas. That’s what we’re all about.”
That may not fit the general public’s idea of a jazzman’s credo, but it’s worked for Marantz, one of the country’s most successful music teachers. As director of jazz studies at the Dallas Arts Magnet, he obviously knows the score. The school has produced, among many others, trumpeter Roy Hargrove for the jazz crowd and Edie Brickell of The New Bohemians for the world of pop.
“It’s my mission to get these kids free rides to college,” Marantz says, and the mission is being accomplished. His spring 1989 graduates were auditioned by such prestigious colleges as Oberlin, The New School, Northwestern, and Boston University. Last year, Roy Hargrove entered Boston’s Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship.
Marantz joined the jazz program at Arts Magnet in 1983 after teaching in Mississippi and Florida. Before he became a teacher, Marantz was a professional musician who quit the grind, he says, after converting to born-again Christianity. He views jazz as a discipline that will keep talented musicians from dooming themselves to dance halls and bars.
“I’ve lived in clubs,” he says. “It doesn’t make a difference to most clubowners about the artistry in the music being played. If the people aren’t dancing, they’re not sweating. If they aren’t sweating, they aren’t drinking. If they aren’t drinking, the band’s not playing. It’s a tough business, and who wants to be playing ’Proud Mary’ when they’re thirty-five?”