Photo and Interview by Steve Korn

Someone once told me that band directors are born, not made.

When I was 14 I heard a recording of Count Basie & his Orchestra
playing “Easin’ It” and it changed my life.

The drums are the life-blood of all America music.

If I could do it all over again, I’d have gone in with Woody Woodhouse and bought an island in the San Juan’s 28 years ago.

Practice makes
you confident to convey a musical idea and as a result allows you to connect with someone in the audience.

When I look at where I’m at right now, I thank my high school & college band directors, in addition to having the best parents ever. They never missed one of my school concerts.

The piece of music that starts with simple phrase and is developed, knocks my sox off. People underestimate the importance of development.

Some of my best ideas come to me at 3:00AM.

My parents were (see #6)

Fear is the root of prejudice.

Motivation is the thing keeps me from starving.

As I get older, I’ve realized that I don’t know s**t.

The thing about swing is that it is a totally democratic endeavor.

In the big scheme of things, what really matters is that you love yourself.

I cried when I first heard the St. Olaf Chapel Choir (or The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) sing “What Sweeter Music” by John Rutter.

Music has taught me how to survive in a mad world.

People ask me what growing up in New Orleans was like.

Music is the food of life, so play on.

Right now, I’m thinking about what the Garfield Jazz Ensemble will play at the next festival.

Discipline is what requires you to focus.

I’m not a fan of Donald Trump.

Change is good, sometimes.

If I had my way, jazz history would be required to be taught as a part of US History.

I chose the drums because, they galvanize bands; no drums, no fire.

I’ve never understood people who hunt.

When I’m stuck I call on the masters that inhabited the earth before me.

Improvisation is the essence of all jazz music.

Less is more because Basie taught us it is.

More is more because you’re misguided.

If I had to choose between losing my sight or my hearing, I’d check out of here.

The thing that makes me nervous on stage is
when my band is not prepared.

When I’m playing well, it feels like everything is right with the world.

If I could have made a career on another instrument, it would have been the piano. I should have stuck with it.

Some musicians just don’t understand
that music should be a tool to connect with someone, not just for self-indulgence.

Your audience is the thing that keeps you energized.

I’m happy whenever I’m listening to Earth, Wind, & Fire sing: “That’s The Way of the World” on the CD Greatest Hits Live CD.

Teaching has been
THE most rewarding experience of my life.

I view my greatest achievement to be making an impact on young peoples’ lives, in a positive way.

The future of jazz is in good shape, provided it is nourished.

Leading Questions, Seattle Jazz

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Acox is THE BEST!

    Thank you for featuring him. Wonderful images!

  2. He has made a tremendous impact on our son’s, and our lives. We are lucky to count ourselves as his biggest fans. THANK YOU, Clarence Acox.

  3. Clarence Acox is the epitome of the greatest musician of this century, and yet, so modest. He is not just a great musician, he is a gentlemens gentleman, with a gift from God. He is so loved and respected. Thank you for your kindness toward him.

    Rev. Marlene Jones Taylor

  4. You absolutely got it right! Acox is a complex and caring person. He is as passionate in his love for sharing the gift of music as he is altruistic in his motivation.

    Well done.


  5. Clarence Acox is as good as it gets! Lincoln Center in NYC has Essentially Ellington; Garfield H.S. and the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center is Absolutely Acox!

    What an inspiration to years and years of great young jazz musicians. What a great gift he has given to the Seattle jazz community. Clarence, we parents of Garfield salute you and thank you. You have enriched our lives and the lives of our kids beyond measure.

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