Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

April 19, 2006:

Jazz Quartet

Left to right: Alan Bergman ’58, Tom Artin ’60 *68, Ed White ’56, and Pete Blue ’57.

Alumni regroup to jazz it up

The Princeton Jazz Quartet: Almost 50 years after their graduation, four jazz players have united to form a quartet. A couple of them hadn’t seen each other since Princeton, but now they get together regularly in Manhattan to rehearse — and pal around.

On campus in the 1950s, they never played together as a quartet, but they all played with one another at some point: Tom Artin ’60 *68 played trombone, Pete Blue ’57 piano, Ed White ’56 bass, and Alan Bergman ’58 drums. Almost every weekend, they played jazz at parties around campus or at eating clubs.

After Princeton, they went their separate ways: Blue became a pianist and musical director on Broadway. Artin became the bandleader at Eddie Condon’s in New York, and now leads the TomCats Jazz Aces. Bergman is a music-industry attorney, and White has retired from his work in international development with the United Nations.

A year ago, almost on a lark, Artin asked Bergman for help in rustling up a group to play for the variety show “This is Princeton” in Richardson Auditorium. Luckily, Bergman was still in touch with White and Blue. “We enjoyed ourselves so much [at the show] that we decided to keep playing together,” says Artin. White bought a new bass, Bergman bought a new drum set, and they got themselves booked for a once-a-month gig at the Princeton Club of New York. (For dates go to www.pjqjazz.com.) With the help of the Alumni Association, they recently located Dick Lincoln ’57, who will play vibraphone at their next gig at the PCNY, on April 18.

In their Princeton days, they played mostly Dixieland numbers, but now they have a wider range and a broader style. Today, says Bergman, “We play with more maturity, focusing on the essence, instead of trying to play so many notes.”

Before last year, White had not seen Artin or Blue for about 50 years. “It’s funny,” he says, “when you first see each other, you say, ‘My God, we look so different now.’ But as time goes on, after you’re reacquainted again, you don’t notice any difference at all.”

By Dugald McConnell ’93

Dugald McConnell ’93 is a political producer at CNN in Washington, D.C.