The Legendary Sax Educator
Joe Allard, a name synonymous with excellence in saxophone and clarinet instruction, left an indelible mark on the music world when he passed on May 3, 1991. A revered pedagogue, Allard held prestigious positions at the Juilliard School, the New England Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music, shaping the techniques and careers of countless musicians. As an accomplished performer, he served as the first saxophonist with the NBC staff orchestra in New York City and played with renowned ensembles including the Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. His influence permeates the saxophone community, and his legacy is carried forward by his notable students.
Among Allard’s distinguished students, two saxophonists stand out: Michael Brecker and Richie Cole. Brecker, an acclaimed tenor saxophonist, was known for his work in jazz fusion and won 15 Grammy Awards. He co-led the Brecker Brothers band with his sibling Randy and worked with music greats such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Joni Mitchell.
Richie Cole, another student of Allard’s, was an alto saxophonist renowned for his bebop style. Cole recorded over fifty albums in his career, including a fascinating tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” His unique interpretations of Bernstein’s melodies showcase the breadth of his skills and the depth of his musical understanding, attributes likely honed under Allard’s tutelage.
These exceptional musicians embody the teachings of Allard, demonstrating his pedagogical prowess and the profound impact he had on their artistic growth. Their careers speak to the enduring influence of Allard’s teaching methodology, which emphasized a relaxed and natural approach to playing the saxophone. This method has been adopted and adapted by saxophone educators worldwide, a testament to Allard’s lasting legacy.
Joe Allard’s contribution to the saxophone community as an educator and performer cannot be overstated. His teachings have shaped the techniques and careers of many acclaimed saxophonists, including Michael Brecker and Richie Cole. His influence continues to be felt in the music of his students and in the teaching practices of saxophone educators around the globe.