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Dr. Maury Deutsch: Transformational Teacher

This morning while exploring a file cabinet in my basement after an absence of 10 years, I discovered a series of books authored by Dr. Maury Deutsch, an esteemed former teacher of mine.

After leaving Manhattan School of Music after 18 months to play in Highland White, a rock and roll band with a recording deal, I still wanted to continue my education.

I knew everything one could know about jazz chords and basic improvisation thanks to David Sarrett, my brilliant guitar teacher who taught me weekly from 7 to 18 years old. .

I discovered the great jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille who taught me free jazz concept. I had seen him playing in NYC with Cecil Taylor. These guys were taking music into directions that were new and fresh and still remain so.

Dr. Maury Deutsch taught me everything else -- arranging, tonal acoustics, film scoring and musical psychology. At the time I knew little about his storied past. I just knew to meet him at his warm family apartment in Manhattan. We met in his small study and explored his multiple books of music theory.

Every lesson was a revelation. I'd go home and apply it to something. Dr. Deutsch was transformational. My first Guru, a genius guide who broke open my imagination by sharing his discoveries with me.

Dr. Deutsch decoded why music sounded the ways it does. He showed me how to compose music for emotional appeal by explaining tonal acoustics and how it impacts the psychological effects of music. We explored the overtone series and how to rethink chords in 7 parts. My imagination exploded with new possibilities, colors and hues.

He said that if you listened to the sound of the planets rotating around the sun, it would emulate the harmonic series. Stunning idea at the time - yet I could wrap my head around it and thought this guy is an incredibly wide thinker and my kinda guy.

At the time I was also teaching guitar and jazz ensemble at Five Towns College, I absorbed his teachings into my own. The opening to my own book, Jazz Improvisation for Guitar, is based on his theory of 7 chords and the overtone series.

Years later I found him in Wikipedia. I’m still looking for his books on Tonal Acoustics and Musical Psychology.

Wikipedia: “Dr. Maury Deutsch “is one of the most prolific and accomplished arranger-composers of his time, and in New York history. Deutsch was born and raised on the Lowest East Side of Manhattan, New York. Through his musical talents he was accepted to Brooklyn College at an extremely young age, but all those plans were put on hold when the war broke out. He joined the Navy, but was never in any combat because of his musical talent. He was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia composing and arranging for the Navy Orchestra, where he also played his trumpet. Deutsch lived in New York City, where he practiced and taught music from his home.

His students included Charlie Parker, James P. Johnson, Django Reinhardt and Roy Glover of the city cabaret orchestra. Roy developed into a talented music arranger, orchestrator and composer, studying with Dr. Maury Deutsch. Into both his performances and his compositions, he incorporated all the music of his life and his experiences, from Classical music to Jazz, Gospel to Blues, and even military.

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