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Educator, vocalist and multi-instrumentalistby Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2003 Todd S. Jenkins
John Prince, a titan of jazz education on the West Coast, died of pneumonia on December 13, 2003, at the age of 60.
Prince's first exposure to jazz came from his parents' love of dancing and big band music. In the early 60s he studied music at the University of Redlands, where Stan Kenton conducted annual jazz workshops. There Prince met his wife Corrie, and the couple's wedding in 1967 featured music composed by the groom.
Prince's career in education began in 1964 at Bellflower High School. In 1972 he joined the faculty of California State University at Long Beach, where he later established the West Coast's first four-year commercial music program. Prince was as gifted a teacher as he was a musician -- he was self-taught on ten instruments, trombone the foremost -- and built a tremendous legacy through the thousands of students he encouraged. Among the other schools that benefited from Prince's teaching prowess over the years were Excelsior High School in Norwalk, Long Beach City College, Santa Monica City College, L.A. City College, Rio Hondo Community College, and Cerritos College. Among his more famous pupils were vocalist Bobby McFerrin, bandleader/saxman Tom Kubis, altoist Gary Foster, and Latin jazz icon Poncho Sanchez.
John Prince was also an impressive composer who contributed to the books of Kenton, Woody Herman, and Doc Severinsen's Tonight Show Band. He is survived by his wife Corrie, son Jeff, two daughters, one grandchild, and two sisters.
Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.