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Jazz faculty member tours with Michael McDonald

patrick coil and michael mcdonaldWhile a lot of people may be decking the halls or dashing through the snow this time of year, one College of Music faculty member and alumnus is spending his time on stage with Michael McDonald, left, as part of his “This Christmas” tour. Associate Professor of Jazz Patrick Coil, right, who joined UNT faculty this semester, says he’s no stranger to the holiday performance, joining McDonald for the 12th year as keyboardist. Coil, who also has toured with Amy Grant and Vince Gill, as well as jazz greats Woody Herman, Carmen McCrae and Ernie Watts, met McDonald through a fellow musician in Nashville. He says the tour, which wraps on Dec. 22 in Florida, is going great.

How did you end up touring with Michael McDonald?

Coil: As well as living in Denton, I have a house in Nashville. That’s where I’ve been living for the last 20 years. Mike (McDonald) was living in Nashville at the time, and he and the band had some type of benefit come up and needed a keyboardist. Another musician recommended me, and I went and played for him. Then the position came open, and I got the gig, so I’ve been doing it ever since.

How does it feel to tour with so many accomplished musicians?

Coil: I love working with great musicians. I guess that’s one of the things that makes this so much fun is that the bands I get to play with are made up of really talented people, so that tends to make things a lot easier. It also tends to bring out the best in yourself. So, I enjoy that a lot.

Are you afforded a certain level of creative freedom?

Coil: With guys like Mike, I pretty much have a free reign as far as what I get to do. That’s not always the case in some music. With some people, you have to play exactly the parts that were on the record and duplicate the recording. With Mike, he’s a little bit more about letting the band do what the band does best. That’s what I like about this. My favorite artists and producers are those who let you have a lot of say creatively.

 How has touring with so many different bands influenced your teaching style at UNT?

Coil: Jazz was always my first love, and that’s why I’m so glad to be back at UNT. My teaching style is that I’m teaching jazz first, but I’m trying to teach jazz as a pathway to any style of music anyone wants to play. Jazz is such a demanding art form as far as improvisation and theoretical knowledge that if you can master that, you can pretty much go in any direction you want. As long as you stay true to the style you’re playing, I feel that this gives students that much more value as musicians when they go out in the world. The good news is if you make a living playing music, you’re doing what you love, and you can still play jazz.

You seem to be living proof that the process works. You have been quite successful playing a variety of music genres.

Coil: I don’t know that I’m living proof. I have been very fortunate, and the older I get, the more I do this, the more I appreciate it every time I go on stage. It’s been a good ride so far, and I’m still going.

—Courtney Taylor, news promotions

(Courtesy Photo)

Posted on: Wed 16 December 2015

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