So, on Tuesday morning I was sitting at the kitchen counter with my first cup of coffee while trying to fade into some sense of coherency. My usual routine is to sip coffee and scroll quickly through my emails and Facebook messages on my phone. Occasionally, something will catch my eye, and I will stop scrolling for a second to see if there is a message that I need to check out. On Tuesday morning what stopped me was a picture of one of my favorite musicians with the caption underneath the photo reading, “RIP!” “No!” I thought. “This can’t be true!”
Indeed, it was true. I sat stunned and saddened. My eyes welled up, and a tear rolled out. “A little more music has died,” I thought. The world will have to be happy with and appreciate even more what he has already shared with us, but the music that was still to be gifted to us is now gone. All of that beautiful creativity, musicianship, kindheartedness, and love passed with him.
The person I am writing about is Dave Samuels, a world-renowned vibe and marimba player. He is famous for being a member of Spyro Gyra as well as forming his own band called The Carribean Jazz Project. He also was half of the duo with David Friedman called Double Image, a remarkable mallet playing duo! I was fortunate to have heard Double Image perform live twice and will not forget the inspirational and passionate playing, especially their uncanny ability to communicate musically without saying a word.
By chance, I was in the right place at the right time many years ago and was privileged to have a couple of private lessons with Dave Samuels. Those moments are still with me as if they were yesterday. Most memorable were his kindness, patience, and lack of judgment. Even though my vibe playing skills were mostly self-taught and stemmed from marimba instruction I had been given up to that time, he did not criticize any of my techniques but instead and just began to teach me. After demonstrating and teaching me the “Samuels grip,” he shared his philosophy of how to approach the instrument. Those lessons with him were of such great value, not only to my actual playing skills, but also to my way of thinking about the instrument and teaching those skills to my own students.
An amazing musician, player and educator has gone way too soon. I can only hope that as his teachings have been carried on in my hands, they also will be carried on in the hands of my students.
So, here’s a toast to Dave Samuels: “As you now have gone to find a peaceful place to rest, please know that you will always hold a special place in my heart. You and the gifts of your music will not be forgotten.”
Just a thought …
To read more about Dave Samuels, follow these links: