Unique stories of our graduates
Music was always a part of Doug Beavers’ life, but it was his decision to attend Los Medanos College that opened the door to a successful career in music and ultimately a Grammy® award. His grandfather, Luis Rovira, was a popular Spanish clarinetist who toured South America with his orchestra. Both of Doug’s parents were quite musical and encouraged him to explore music.
It was, however, in fifth grade that a pivotal opportunity influenced Doug’s future calling. His music teacher had played trombone in her college marching band. She would bring her trombone to Doug’s class and if one behaved, you were allowed to play the trombone. When Doug’s turn came along, he was a natural, playing with the wisdom of years of experience.
One thing led to another, and eventually Doug was playing trombone in the Antioch High School advanced jazz band. He also participated in the annual Jazz Fest held at LMC, where hundreds of Bay Area high school jazz students are critiqued and mentored by veteran jazz musicians and instructors.
Doug, however, was never supposed to be a musician. He was quite good in math and science, and was headed to be an electrical engineer. Still, music was becoming a much more serious aspect of his studies. As he completed his senior year, he won a Distinguished Senior Award that included a college scholarship. He didn’t do well on his SATs though, and decided to stay close to home to get his academics in order.
Doug chose Los Medanos College where he proceeded to flower. He was able to open up more and had a good group of friends. Of course, he was enthusiastic to get involved with LMC’s music program. He played for the concert band early on, and by the beginning of his second year, he was Lead Trombone for the LMC Jazz Ensemble.
“John Maltester, the LMC Jazz Band Director, instilled a strong work ethic in me, encouraging me to develop to the next level. He was always available and was a great counselor. He opened my eyes to musical literature, an area new to me.“
It was John who advised Doug’s parents regarding the purchase of his trombone. This key purchase has proved to be wise advice. Doug still plays the same horn more than 12 years later and anticipates playing it for a long time to come. Doug explains, “As you get better playing, you don’t have to change horns. You just develop playing the same horn better.”
Another LMC faculty member who influenced Doug was Mike Zilber, who led a studio ensemble focused on jazz improvisation. Mike would say, “Being a musician takes as much work as a doctor, if not more.” He impressed upon Doug what is really meant to be a musician, what the real world of the career was like. It was he who encouraged Doug to consider going to New York. He felt it was a key experience for someone who was considering becoming a professional musician.
“If I hadn’t had these two teachers and the inspiration they encouraged, I don’t know if I would have become a musician,” Doug said, as he recalled his days at LMC.
Doug, however, was headed off to UC Davis next with a full scholarship and a plan to study electrical engineering. As fate would have it, before he started, Doug was playing better than he ever had. He had just won an award at the Pacific Coast Jazz Fest, and won a scholarship to a jazz camp in Seattle. When he was driving home along Highway 4, taking the Loveridge Exit in Pittsburg, he said to himself, “Maybe I could really do this!” He made up his mind right then and there that music was in his destiny.
He talked with his parents about this change of plans, and they were quite supportive. Since his mother’s father was a musician, and two other uncles were in his band, it had been a way of life in the family. All had been trained at the Barcelona Conservatory.
With this new-found confidence, Doug applied and was accepted to Cal State East Bay (Hayward), home to a premier jazz program. While there, Doug thrived and earned his bachelor’s degree in music. He then headed off to New York, and studied jazz trombone plus additional studies in studio arranging and orchestration at the Manhattan School of Music.
As Doug’s skills and experience grew, so did his reputation, and he was invited to work a number of bands, not only performing, but also composing and arranging. One pinnacle experience afforded him the opportunity to transcribe and re-arrange some classic pieces for renowned latin pianist, Eddie Palmieri. Doug earned a Grammy® award for co-arranging and performing on Eddie’s “Listen Here” in 2006.
He has completed several symphonic commissions, including a Frank Sinatra tribute with the Florida Orchestra and a selection featured by the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra in a concert with Rosemary Clooney. This concert was recorded as The Last Concert (Concord), and was released posthumously in 2003. The live album earned a Grammy® nomination, one of four that Doug Beavers has received in his career to date.
Doug's first CD, "Jazz Baby", features a 24-piece big band playing popular children's songs. It received wide acclaim when it was first released in 2008. His second album, "Two Shades of Nude" (Doug Beavers Productions), was released in 2010, and acknowledged with exceptional reviews by Audiophile Audition and allmusic.com, while rising to #33 on the national charts for radio play by JazzWeek. Doug has participated in the annual LMC Jazz Fest, where he had an opportunity to give back as a mentor and judge for the performing middle/high school jazz bands. Doug firmly believes in the process of supporting young musicians. He heard amazing young soloists perform and helped decide which of them would get scholarships to attend LMC after they graduate from high school.
He also performed with the LMC Alumni Jazz Band under John Maltester, his former professor and mentor. Doug had the opportunity to direct the Alumni Band in playing a piece he composed and dedicated to Maltester, a pivotal mentor and source of inspiration for Doug at a critical time in his budding career.
For several years, Doug joined the LMC Music Department as adjunct professor, while also teaching at Cal State East Bay. He recently moved to New York City where he is helping to shape the Harlem School of Urban Music and Recording Arts. As program director, he strives to enable urban students of NYC to study urban jazz, salsa, hip-hop and rock through a program of formal music training.