I am proud to present to you my friend and local and national musical legend Mr. Sanford Feibus. Sanford has been an active member of the local musical community scene on the Olympic Peninsula for years now. Read on for some great information Mr. Freibus has provided me about his varied and accomplished career.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, he plays all the brass instruments, is an Army veteran, and current member of the Olympic Express Big Band. https://olympicexpress.wordpress.com/about-us/.
His youthful influence was his vaudevillian mother, an excellent piano and organ player, who played background music for silent movies. He earned a Master’s Degree in music education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and spent the majority of his life as a public school music teacher in the Arizona high country, including Tuba City. He played French horn in the Army Band and directed the Army’s Fort Belvoir Men’s Chorus.
For ten years he directed the Sequim Community Band. Currently he performs on trumpet, trombone, and tuba and plays with the Peninsula College Jazz Ensemble and The Olympic Express Big Band. His mother believed in discipline, as Sanford told me, “she smacked me with a hanger or any weapon at hand when I wanted to play ball outside instead of practice. In her eyes, practicing music was the most important aspect of my life.”
Some of his best work has happened here on the Olympic Peninsula, after moving here to retire, or so he thought. Besides directing the Stardust Big Band previously, he found a lot of satisfaction from directing the Jazz in the Olympics youth band, including summer camps at Camp David on Lake Crescent, that were international in scope. He still teaches a few private brass students, but with a slightly different twist: no charge for the lessons, but each student will do an hour of yardwork after their lessons.
Steve: Sanford, I have known you now since 2005 when I first started playing in the Stardust Big Band with you. Having two independent Big Bands in this area to me is quite a feat. How do you explain this phenomenon?
Sanford: I can’t explain it completely, but the support for music in the schools, surely must have an influence.
Steve: Rumor has it that you possess the gift of perfect pitch. A curse or a blessing? I jest a tad, but how important do you think “ear training” is in developing as a musician?
Sanford: I think ear training is a constant component every time a note is played. A student’s first teacher is obligated to encourage critical listening while playing anything and everything.
Steve: Now that the professional travelling big band era has passed, how has that affected apprenticeships for the new generation of musicians wishing to play big band jazz or even small band jazz?
Sanford: Big band jazz is alive and holding its own here on the Olympic Peninsula as evidenced by three local big bands, Stardust, Olympic Express, and the Peninsula College jazz group.
Steve: I know of many fine musicians from Pittsburgh. Ahmad Jamal (aka Fritzie Jones), Eric Kloss and many more. The geography of Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas is somewhat similar to here. Does this explain your love of this area? Western Pennsylvania has many rivers, lakes and rolling hills, such as we have here. Maybe a reason for retiring in this area?
Sanford: Wow, this is the toughest one to answer. We moved from the Pittsburgh area to Arizona, teaching and playing for over thirty-five years, mostly in the High Country where the terrain is similar to here, but much cooler. Living here year-round is pretty comfortable and its beauty is unsurpassed.
Steve: Who did you listen to and admire when you were growing up?
Sanford: It was Louis Armstrong and a whole slew of jazz piano artists including my Mother who was my first piano teacher.
Steve: If you could change one thing in music education what would that be?
Sanford: Great question! Since implementation doesn’t seem to be a part of the question, I would elevate music in the schools to be required, same as classes in reading , math, and the others.
Steve: In “Pittsburgh-ese” what is Jumbo? (ha).
Sanford: I think, if memory serves me well, slices of baloney from a jumbo roll were known as jumbaloney, or jumbo.
Steve: It’s my extreme pleasure to have met you and call you my friend. We will continue playing together until the crick rises. Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Sanford.
(Steve Swanson is a Port Angeles resident and professional trumpet player who has worked with many top performers including: Buddy Rich, Lionel Hampton, Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Temptations, Four Tops, Frank Sinatra, Gladys Knight and many more). He currently is performing with the Peninsula College Jazz Band and the Olympic Express Jazz Band and teaching privately in Port Angeles, WA. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )