I was sad to learn of the passing of Marv Dahlgren last week. I was fortunate to see him last year in the audience for a jazz show by a couple of his former students, Phil Hey and Dave Hagedorn. They made a point of introducing him and the whole audience gave him a standing ovation.
What can be said about his influence on the drumming community? Marv was a beloved percussion instructor who authored and co-authored many influential books on drumming including 4-Way Coordination, Accent on Accents, and Drumset Control.
Marv was the former principal percussionist and assistant timpanist for the Minnesota Orchestra. In addition to the albums he has made with the orchestra, Marv has also recorded with Cat Stevens and Leo Kottke and has performed on many jingles. Marv was also known as an excellent mallet player and performed on vibes with his own jazz group in venues around the Twin Cities.
Marv taught at the U of MN for 35 years; St. Olaf College for 20 years; McNally -Smith College for 26 years and Augsburg College for 9 years.
He has performed as a soloist with the MN Orch and played with many of the legends of Jazz including Oscar Peterson and Doc Severinsen.
Here is Leigh Kamman interviewing Marv in January 2001.
Dahlgren, Marvin D. Age 93, lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, passed away at his Roseville home on Friday, April 6, 2018 while in hospice care. Remaining independent almost to the end, his was a life lived to the fullest. He will be greatly missed. Marv leaves a legacy of achievements that is hard to sum up in a few words.
He was an iconic figure in the local and national music scene, both as a consummate orchestral and jazz performer and as a teacher and clinician. His career included a nearly 50-year tenure as principal percussionist and assistant timpanist with the Minnesota Orchestra, teaching positions at various universities, and appearances as a drummer and vibraphonist with local and national jazz greats.
He was a soloist with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Dallas Symphony, and has many recordings to his credit. Marv was also the owner of a drum shop, author of numerous well-known drum method books, and composer of jazz tunes.
In addition to his musical activities, Marv spent 20 years in the Navy, first in active duty as a Corsair fighter pilot during WWII and later in the Navy Reserve. Flying remained his passion even after he retired as lieutenant, and he went on to teach acrobatic flying in his spare time.
Marv touched the lives of countless people, not only through his many talents but also with his engaging personality and pleasant demeanor. There was always a twinkle in his eye, a story to be recounted, and a joke to be told. He had a generous spirit, giving freely to multiple charities and chairing and/or organizing hunger relief benefit projects.
Marv was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Ida Dahlgren, sisters Lorraine (Lilja) and Eileen (Ctibor), his wife Joan, and his stepson John Stieger. He is survived by his former wife Betty, son Todd (Chris), daughters Lisa (David Maguire) Dahlgren and Lynn (Nicholas) Fergusson, stepson Tom Stieger, stepdaughters Connie Stieger and Mary (Brian) Feist, eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and multiple nieces and nephews.
A musical Celebration of Life is planned for Sunday, June 17 from 1-5pm at the MacPhail Center for Music, 501 S. 2nd Street, Minneapolis. His final resting place will be at Fort Snelling in honor of his military service. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to one of the following organizations: Second Harvest Heartland, MacPhail Center for Music, American Heart Association.
I wanted to write a quick recommendation for a couple of drum books I use as an alternative to Ted Reed’s Syncopation.
If you’re a jazz drummer, then you probably know why this book is so popular and how it can be used. If you don’t, Alan Dawson will do a much better job of explaining than I do, so I recommend getting his book, The Complete Drummer’s Vocabulary. His exercises that use pages from Syncopation as a foundation are legendary and I spent a lot of time practicing them when I studied with John Ramsay at Berklee.
Having been through Syncopation so many times, my teacher recently recommended two books by Louis Bellson that are excellent. I’m surprised I had never owned either of them until now. One is in 4/4 and the other handles odd time signatures.
I recently started practicing Latin patterns and working out of the book New Ways of Brazilian Drumming by Sergio Gomes. I’ve also been working on Latin independence exercises while reading from the Ted Reed Syncopation book and playing those patterns with my left or right hand.
I quickly got tired of listening to a straight click while practicing and instead of programming the various clave patterns into my drum machine or computer, I searched for an app and found one that’s perfect!
The interface is brilliantly simple and gives me everything I need. Tempo adjustment, several different patterns, the ability to invert the clave from 3:2 to 2:3 and an option for low or high pitched claves.