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San Diego Pops Features Gary Herbig as Soloist

On July 9 and 10, Gary Herbig was an alto sax soloist, with the San Diego Symphony. This word-class orchestra is celebrating its centennial this year. The concerts were held harbor side at East Embarcadero Park with yachts anchored stage right and fireworks for the finale each night. This pops concert was a '70s theme with Kool & the Gang headlining. Veteran Local 47 studio musician and Billboard Top 10 contemporary jazz artist Herbig was featured on three extended symphonic instrumental arrangements, which allowed time for Gary's trademark pop/rock improvisation.

They were Donna Summer's smash hit "Heaven Can Wait," which Gary actually recorded with her; Charlie Fox's theme for Aaron Spelling's hit TV series "The Love Boat," for which Gary was privileged to do countless sessions; and the huge dance hit "Disco Fever" from the movie "Saturday Night Fever" with John Travolta.

The pops conductor for this concert was Matthew Garbutt, who is the tuba player during the regular season and a former student of the late great Hollywood tubist Tommy Johnson.

During previous summers, Gary has also worked with San Diego Pops conductor Marvin Hamlisch. Gary first met Marvin doing sax solos on the score for the movie "Three Men and a Baby" at Paramount Studios, Stage M.


Montana Shooting Star

Veteran L.A. reedman Gary Herbig leads this eclectic program of original songs, bringing a comfortable mainstream radiance to the forum. With different bands in his line-up, he's paired double bassist Luther Hughes with drummer Paul Kreibich, double bassist Pat Senatore with drummer Alex Acuna, and electric bassist Dan Dean with drummer Mike Jochum, while he and pianist Stu Goldberg drive the session with passion. Others sitting in with the seasoned saxophonist include bassist Reggie Hamilton, guitarists Jay Leach & Laurence Juber and vibraphonist Tom Collier. Everyone puts up a good solid front in support of Herbig's latest CD release.

The album's title refers to Herbig's birthplace. From a family of professional musicians, he grew up on a 40-acre ranch

at the foot of Patte Canyon in Montana, where he studied clarinet and joined the musician's union at age 14. After attending the University of Montana on a clarinet scholarship, he arrived on the L.A. jazz scene in 1969, working with local bands and doing studio work. There aren't many bandsmen around who can sit down with you and discuss their experiences with the big bands of Don Ellis, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Gerald Wilson, Buddy Rich and Percy Faith. Herbig is one of those guys, however, who'd rather play the music than "toot his own horn." Fortunately, he did receive an honor last year: a lifetime achievement award from the University of Montana.

Herbig and pianist Goldberg put a heartfelt touch into this session that makes it smoke like the blues. Herbig plays flute, soprano sax, alto and tenor in a program that ranges from straight-ahead jazz to Latin and contemporary. His sidemen get plenty of solo time, while his flute and saxophones bring a welcome shine to the session. There's something here for everyone. Herbig's album is available at or by mail from Gary Herbig, P.O. Box 530, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.


Standing Ovation for 'The Lords of the Reeds'

Veteran Local 47 clarinetist Steven Piazza (L.A. Phil, L.A. Opera Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony) and conductor of the 100-piece L.A. Wind Ensemble is pictured above with saxophone soloist Gary Herbig. Steve is humorously telling Gary that "the left hand goes on top."


On Sept. 27, 2008, saxophonist Gary Herbig appeared with clarinetist Steven Piazza to a sold-out concert audience in Woodland Hills, where they received a standing ovation.

Many other Local 47 musicians have appeared as soloists with the nationally and internationally acclaimed L.A. Winds. Recent Soloists have included Ron Barrows and Charles Davis (trumpet), Ray Frisby (xylophone), Sunny Hilden (vocalist), Helen Goode (clarinetist), Mike McGuffey and Chris Tesdesco (cornet), Jim Self (tuba) and Bob Joles (voiceover narrator). Soloists slated to appear later this concert season are David Pinto (piano), Alex Iles (trombone) and Susan Greenberg (piccolo).

Rhombus Records recording artist Gary Herbig has played second oboe/English horn in the L.A. Winds for eight seasons, originally joining as a last-minute sub for the England/Scotland tour.


"I am very grateful for the marvellous classical music experiences I've had under Maestro Piazza's baton!" says Gary. A Billboard magazine top-ten jazz saxophonist, he has appeared opposite jazz legend Miles Davis at the Montreaux Switzerland Jazz Festival, and onstage at the Pasadena Rose Bowl for the Playboy Summer Jazzfest. As a clarinetist, flutist and saxophonist, Gary has been the soloist on probably more TV theme songs than any jazz musician in history: "Cheers," "Home Improvement," "Roseanne," ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Showtime at the Apollo," "Knots Landing," "The New Dating Game," etc.

On Oct. 30, Gary returned to Las Vegas for his second appearance on the "Dennis Bono Radio Show." He played for over 1,000 people in a casino/show-room, which was broadcast on KUNVFM 91.5 and KZNT AM 720 and re-broadcast five times in 12 States.


Montana Shooting Star

Saxophonist-flutist Gary Herbig has flown under the radar in recent years — his last release was in 1989 —but he's kept plenty busy. Best known for his stints with Tower of Power and Elvis Presley, this talented reedman has probably played on more TV theme songs ("Cheers," "Rosanne," "Home Improvement") than any jazz musician in history. Herbig claims that he practices more than any musician he knows. That woodshedding pays off with this outstanding collection of original tunes, most of which are bop-oriented.

Except for two country-tinged confections evoking Herbig's native state of Montana, the mainstream jazz here is fast, furious, and superbly executed. Herbig shows tremendous versatility on flute, tenor sax, alto, and soprano.

His eclectic compositions incorporate bebop, post-bop, Latin jazz, R&B, and samba.

Pianist Stu Goldberg is an equal partner, whose finger-flying calisthenics jolt the straightahead numbers into overdrive. A rotating cast of 10 musicians accompanies Herbig and Goldberg, including drummers Alex Acuña and Paul Kreibich, vibraphonist Tom Collier, and bassists Luther Hughes and Pat Senatore.

The opener "Gary's Song" is a graceful Latin vehicle showcasing Herbig's masterful flute playing. The bluesy "Sherman Oaks Shuffle" is a rousing romp with revolving exchanges between Herbig, Goldberg, and Collier. On "Samba Trane" and "Mo Trane," Herbig discharges torrents of sound on different saxes while interpreting the same Coltrane-inspired composition. The title track and "Pattee Creek" are two lush pop-jazz creations with a heartland vibe featuring steel guitarist Jay Leach and acoustic guitarist Laurence Juber.

Montana Shooting Star is simply one of the best jazz releases of 2007. Hopefully Herbig won't wait another 18 years to record his next one.
Ed Kopp

A note from Gary:
 In paragraph one I meant to say, "I've been taught to always try and outpractice my  competition".
This is no reflection on Journalist Ed Kopp, who is a consumate professional!

Montana Shooting Star

O's Notes: Herbig deals a winning hand playing straight ahead, Latin and contemporary jazz. He breathes new life onto the jazz scene with all new originals. They open with "Gary's Song", a Latin flavored number featuring Gary on flute and Tom Collier on vibes.

  Gary switches to sax on "Sherman Oaks Shuffle", a swinger! The rhythm section changes configuration through the set. We heard strong performances from Dan Dean (b) on "Bird 'n Rhythm", from Alex Acuña (d) on "Samba Trane"  & "Mo Trane" and Stu Goldberg (p) throughout. We also liked "Cat Daddy" with Pat Senatore on bass and Gary wailing on sax.  "One For Annie" was cooking before Herbig eased up on the last two tracks with a more relaxed smooth character.

Reunion band revives the don Ellis sound

by Don Heckman
Special to The Times

Don Ellis can still pack a room. Nearly three decades after his premature death at 44, there wasn't a seat to spare for Monday's performance of his technically demanding but irresistibly entertaining music at Charlie O's.

The 18-piece Don Ellis reunion band, consisting of former sidemen and younger enthusiasts, was led by keyboardist Milcho Leviev, a close associate whose roots in metrically complex Bulgarian music gave him a leg up on the offbeat time signatures Ellis favored. But Leviev, like Ellis, knows how to present demanding music in communicative fashion, and his humorous between-songs comments, combined with his encouragement to the crowd to occasionally clap along in five- and seven-beat rhythms, added a warm, participatory element.

Given the relatively short time span of a nightclub set, there wasn't a lot of time to dip deeply into the vast archive of Ellis' music. But Leviev highlighted the program with three classics: the quirky


juxtaposition of New Orleans music and funk in the 7/4 "Pussy Wiggle Stomp," the klezmer-tinged (before klezmer became a familiar style) "Bulgarian Bulge" in 33/16 meter and the ever-appealing, 5/4 "Indian Lady."

Each was a sterling display of Ellis' almost casual mastery of big-band writing, framed within complex rhythms that nonetheless emerged in foot-tapping fashion. And the demands on the players, especially given limited rehearsal time, were significant.

To their credit, they responded with great enthusiasm. The soloists - especially drummer Dave Crigger, handling the difficult task of propelling a large ensemble through shifting arrays of rhythm; saxophonists Fred Selden, Ann Patterson and Gary Herbig; trumpeter John Daversa; and the ever-inventive Leviev-were as commendable for their articulation as for their imagination.

The missing element, of course, was Ellis, whose sets were enlivened as much by his extraordinary trumpet playing as by his music. But that music is still very much alive, very worthy of repeated hearing.

And one couldn't help but wonder why a major Ellis revival still hasn't taken place-beyond rare events such as this one. Even a brief exposure to Ellis' music reveals the fascination of its technical demands, its timeless musical appeal and his as yet-unacknowledged importance as a jazz innovator.




Montana's 'Shooting Star' Releases New Album

Hollywood Studio Veteran and Billboard Top Ten jazz artist Gary Herbig (left) delivers a consignment of his CD "Montana Shooting Star" to Rhombus Records president Thom Terisi. Rhombus Records will provide national promotion and national distribution for Herbig's latest solo effort, for which Jules Chaikin served as musical contractor.



June 2007

Herbig: Union 's the Only Way to Go!

Local 47 ( Los Angeles) woodwind player and Top Ten Jazz artist Gary Herbig received a lifetime achievement award front the University of Montana April 8th. More than 1,000 people attended the event and many thousands of dollars were raised for fine arts scholarships, similar to the four year scholarship Herbig received in 1966.

"It was an extreme honor to me," says the modest Herbig. "The university has always been very important to me and my family." His mother, father, aunts, and uncles were all union musicians and Herbig says weekend jam sessions in his living room were a regular part of his childhood.

Herbig, an AFM member since age 14, saw his first two solo albums reached the Top Ten on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts, his second CD receiving "Pick of the Week" honors. The Montana graduate has since gone on to compile an impressive list of solos, which can be heard on television and in movies. Herbig played his clarinet for the theme of hit TV show Cheers.



Other shows such as Happy Days, Three's Company, and Home Improvement occupy that list, as do a score of movie solos including the end credits to Romancing the Stone, which Herbig calls one of the highlights of his career. Other film work includes Three Men and a Baby, Back to the Future, and Back to the Future Part II, to name a few.

He says his father, Philip—a trumpet and bass player, as well as a union carpenter—taught him about the importance of the AFM. "He used to say: `Son, the union is the only way for a working man. There's protection in numbers and you'll have a pension to retire on!' Boy was he right! My uncle Harold Herbig is the current president of AFM Local 498 in my hometown of Missoula , Montana ; location of Robert Redford's Movie The River Runs Through It. Believe me, union is the only way to go!"

"I absolutely encourage every young musician to join the American Federation of Musicians," Herbig says. "I have been a member since I was 14, and the union has always protected me and provided me with a wonderful pension. If we didn't have the union, wed all be playing mariachis for tips in a hat."

These days, along with playing his instruments, Herbig mentors young musicians. His advice for career success: "Never be anything more than a social drinker. And always out practice your competition."


By Heidi Dvorak

Still Playin' it Clean

Gary Herbig Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

Local 47's veteran woodwind player and Billboard Top Ten Jazz artist Gary Herbig received a Iifetime achievement award from the University of Montana on April 8. The award was sponsored by the School of Fine Arts and is titled "Odyssey of the Stars." Actor Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker) was the original honoree several years ago.

Gary attended University of Montana from 1966 to 1969 on a clarinet scholarship and ultimately played clarinet on "Cheers" for Paramount contractor Carl Fortina and composer Craig Safan.

Among public institutions of higher learning, U of MT ranks fifth in the nation for Rhodes Scholars produced and was voted "most beautiful campus" by Rolling Stone magazine and "most recreationally gifted" by Outside magazine.

Missoula. Montana, the location of Robert Redford's "The River Runs Through It," now boasts the world's largest children's theater.
Co-founded by Gary's childhood friend, former Seattle Opera baritone soloist Don Collins, the Missoula Children's Theater now travels to 1,000 cities and 12 foreign countries annually, with a self-supporting budget of $13.5 million.

Music education is a state law in Montana, and consequently Missoula has four symphony orchestras. The All-City High School Sym­ phony, founded by Gary's uncle Harold Herbig, a U of M and Eastman graduate and president of AFM Local 498, has never played high school transcriptions or arrangements, only original symphonic works by the masters. There is also the U of M Orchestra, Orchestra of the Rockies, and the Missoula Civic Symphony, which just celebrated a 50-year concert series finale, with trumpet soloists Doc Severinson and AIan Vizzutti, another Missoula native.

Gary's first two solo albums reached the Top Ten on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts, the second CD also receiving "Pick-of­the-Week" honors,


which garnered him an international debut at the prestigious Mon­ treaux Switzerland Jazz Festival in July 1998, opposite jazz legend Miles Davis. His latest solo effort, "Montana Shooting Star," earned him a spot in last year's Playboy Jazz Festival

The U of M Film and TV department assembled a documentary film about Gary's stu­dio career. Besides "Cheers," his TV theme credits as a soloist include "Alf' — Alf Clausen; "Roseanna" and "Home Improvement" — Dan Foliart; "Knots Landing" - Jerrold Immel; "Showtime at the Apollo" (on NBC following "Saturday Night Live") - Barry Fasman; "The New Dating Game" — Chris Boardman: "The Bold and the BeautifuI" — David Kurtz; "Fortune Dane" (Carl Weathers — Apollo Creed from "Rocky"); "Cagney and Lacy" (with Ernie Watts); "Three's Company" (end credits) — Michael Lloyd productions.

Record solos include "Some Guys Have All the Luck" — Rod Stewart; "On the Radio" — Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder producer; "She Works Hard for the Money" — Donna Summer, Michael O'Martian producer; "She's Like the Wind" from "Dirty Dancing" — Michael Lloyd prod.; Barbara Streisand "The Broadway Album"; Kenny Rogers "What About Me" — Sir George Martin (Beatles) prod.; Kenny Rogers, "Share Your Love," - Lionel Richie prod., David Benoit "Coconut Highway," — Don Grusin prod., "Northern Lights" — Dan Siegel as well as Barry Manilow, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Johnny Mathis, Phoebe Snow, "Freeflight" with Jim Walker - Stanley Clarke, prod.,"Whistling Midgets" (with Ernie Watts), Dan Dean and Tom Collier, Diane Schurr, "Pilot of My Destiny," "Paul Cipriano" (Cip's son) — Barry Fasman, prod.

Movie solos include "Romancing the Stone," "My Stepmother is an Alien" (with Kim Basinger), "Back to the Future I" and "II" — Alan Sylvestri, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" — Thomas Newman, "Three Men and a Baby" - Marvin Hamlisch, "White Knights" and "St. Elmo's Fire" — David Foster, "Barbarians at the Gate," "Fatal Instinct," "Honeymooners," "That Darn Cat," "Once Upon a Crime" - Richard Gibbs, "Police Academy I, II, III and IV" — Robert Folk;

The first year he played in the Academy Awards Orchestra with Bill Conti, he had a featured solo with Denise Williams on "Let's Hear It for the Boys" from "Footloose" - Dean Pritchford.

More than 1,000 people attended the lifetime achievement awards concert and many thousands of dollars were raised for fine arts scholarships, like the four-year full scholarship Gary received in 1966.

Every few months Gary flies home and brings new music and teaches free master classes at the university and the three high schools. He strongly encourages his students to be social drinkers only, to not abuse alcohol and to avoid drugs at all costs.


If You've Never Heard
Gary Herbig, You Don't Watch Movies or TV


It is no secret that Montana has produced its fair share of world-class musicians. We've got opera singers performing in Europe and singer-songwriters in Boston and a dude in Pearl Jam, not to mention a wealth of stay-at-home artists who keep life interesting in western Montana.

But even among all those success stories, it's still hard to think of a homegrown hero with a resume as impressive as that of Gary Herbig.

He has played saxophone, clarinet, flute and other wind instruments on more than 1,000 records, from pop chart toppers like OIivia Newton John's "Physical".and Donna Summer's "Bad Girls," to jazz records by legends like George Duke, Herbie Hancock and George Benson. Herbig has toured with a few names you might recognize as well: people like Elvis Presley and Tower of Power.

If anything, he's been even more ubiquitous in Hollywood productions. He has performed on the soundtracks of literally hundreds of movies, and on myriad TV shows.

Remember "Cheers"? Remember the theme song, played on clarinet over the end credits? That was Gary Herbig playing.

If you ever watched "Knots Landing," or "The Young and the Restless," or "Rosanne," or "Home Improvement," or the Academy Awards, you probably heard Gary Herbig blowing a horn. These days he can be heard every week on the WB's "7th Heaven," which recently became the longest-running family drama series in television history.

It's not an exaggeration to say that if you've listened to music anytime during the past 30 years, you have probably heard Gary Herbig — even if you didn't r ealize it.

Last week, on his way to record music for an upcoming episode of "The Simpsons," Herbig chatted on his cell phone about how he got to where he is -and why he keeps coming back to Montana.
" It's like being a ball player; it doesn't matter where you're from," said Herbig. "What matters is that I practiced more than anybody else."

That said, Herbig is quick to mention the Missoula teachers and musicians who inspired him and urged him on. Indeed, Herbig seems less interested in talking about himself, or Hollywood, or his career, than about the people he remembers from his days growing up in Missoula.

He recalls his old elementary school band teacher, Roy Lyman, who was the first to put a clarinet in his hands: "He was unbelievable." And his uncle, Hal Herbig, who taught him in high school: "We had the finest high school symphony around." There was Eugene Andre, and Frank Diliberto ...
"I loved every thing about my experience growing up there," recalls Herbig.

Even as a young musician growing up near the mouth of Pattee Creek, Herbig was clearly something special. By the time he was in junior high school, Herbig was already playing with the UM jazz bard, then known as the Bluehawks. He joined the musician's union at age 14, and has been a card-carrying member ever since. In high school, he played s ix nights a week at the Top Hat. He earned a full scholarship as a clarinet player to the University of Montana.

Soon after graduating from UM, Herbig moved to Los Angeles, where he began studying with Bill Green, a prominent studio musician.

When he wasn't taking lessons, he was practicing about 10 hours a day, as Herbig recalls.

And then, his first break came. Green was scheduled to record parts for the soundtrack to the Burt Reynolds movie, "The Longest Yard." Green managed to get Herbig a spot in the orchestra as well.

Apparently the sessions went well, because within a couple months Herbig was making a good living in Hollywood as a studio musician. The most important connection came when Herbig met Carl Fortina, a contractor with Paramount Studios.

"He booked me in there four to six times a week, and introduced me to every composer in Hollywood," recalls Herbig. "He really helped put me on the map more than anybody else."

On the map? Heck, by the late '70s, Gary Herbig was all over the map. Pull out a record from the late '70s or early '80s, or check the credits of the next film you watch from that era. If it had sax, flute, English horn or clarinet on it, there's a good chance it had Gary Herbig on it.

Ask him about his most memorable experience, and he's quick to answer: the two tours he did with Elvis.

"The first song we would play was 'CC Rider,' and as soon as Elvis came on stage, there would be so many flashbulbs going off we couldn't see the music, and people were cheering so loud that we couldn't hear each other playing," recalls Herbig.

"There were 14 musicians and 14 singers on stage, and we had to just watch the conductor or else we wouldn't be able to stay together. Also, we had to be prepared at any moment to flee out the back door if the crowd went berserk. That never happened, thank God."

Ask when he was most nervous about a gig, and he names a different experience: performing an on-camera duet of "Let's Hear It For the Boys," with singer Deniece Williams, at the Academy Awards.

But Herhig pulled it off. He always pulled it off.

You don't need to ask anyone how Gary Herbig played at sessions. The fact that he got hired at the next session was proof enough of his skills.

"Baseball players hat .300 and make millions," says Herbig. "Studio musicians have to bat a thousand all the time, or we don't work."

That's why Herbig is adamant in his message to aspiring professional musicians: Don't drink, and don't do drugs.

"I've known and seen a lot of musicians go down the tubes on that stuff," says Herbig. "It can ruin it all, so easily."

Over the past couple years, Herbig has been coming home to Montana more frequently. He hopes to retire here, eventually, if he can ever extricate himself from the gigs that seem to crop up every day.

In the meantime, he swings through town when he can, where he fills his schedule offering free lessons to students at the University of Montana's music department.

"I got a scholarship and I can never repay the university for that," says Herbig. "There's never enough I can do for the University of Montana; where would I be without my education?"

This time through town, Herbig will not only be teaching students, but will also perform in concert with the three UM jazz bands. The program will feature a range of jazz, rhythm and blues, and Broadway standards (notably including Quincy Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova," better known as the "Austin Powers" theme).

Much of the music will be performed from charts arranged by friends of Gary Herbig's, which Herbig purchased and donated to the university.

According to UM jazz program director Lance Boyd, Herbig's generosity has been a boon to the university's jazz program and its students.

"He has really rubbed elbows with some of the best, so he has become a great mentor for the students," says Boyd. "I think now he's reached the point in his career where he really genuinely wants to give back. We're just really fortunate to have him."



December 2004

Gary Herbig Performs with the San Fernando Valley Symphony

Alto saxophonist Gary Herbig performed with the San Fernando Valley Symphony, under the direction of James Dominc. The concert was held at the Pierce College Performing Arts Center in Woodland Hills. The San Fernando Valley Symphony has been around for many years and Domine has been its conductor for 25-years. Domine wrote a piece that was premiered on this night, Concerto Quasi Improvvisando, written in three movements that featured Herbig's marvelous also sax.

The composition had a bluesy, urban feel, incorporating jazz, blues and rock in a more contemporary style. I have known Herbig for many years; He's a marvelous musician who hails from Missoula, Montana. He comes from a musical family and started on the clarinet in the fifth grade. At 14, he joined the Musicians Union and began working. He attended the University of Montana on a clarinet scholarship and came to Hollywood in 1969. Herbig's list of credits is extensive; as a studio

musician he has played on Cheers. Knots Landing, Young and the Restless. Roseanne, Home Improvement and 7 th Heaven.

He has toured and recorded with such artists as Tower of Power, Lee Ritenour, Scawind, David Benoit, the Percy Faith Orchestra, Harry James, Don Ellis and Elvis Presley, to name a few.

Herbig has two solo albums on the Head First label, one in 1988 titled Gary Herbig and Friends and Lovers, which reached the Top Ten on the Billboard charts. He's also involved in teaching and goes back to his home town in Montana every year to perform.

The concerto Quasi Improvvisando is done in three sections. The first section, allegro assai done in a shuffle 4. The addition of a drummer playing full set was added to the orchestra, along with bass and guitar. This was a high-energy piece done in a contemporary style, incorporating blues, jazz and rock. Herbig got all over his horn with fast runs, arpeggios, soaring in the upper register of his sax on a wild and exciting excursion. There were two thrilling cadenzas at the end. The next section was andante mesto, done in a slow 1 2/8 feel, showing off Herbig's more sensitive side, while still in the contemporary genre. There was a very pretty cadenza at the end of this section. The third movement allegro vivace, was still in the same style with a heavy rock beat, done at a lively tempo. Herbig played the theme beautifully and at times the piece went into 5/4 time. Herbig was in complete control at all times and the audience responded with thunderous applause. Bravo to Herbig for a superb performance.

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