Philadelphia Teaching Studio

Introduction by John Mack*

Photographs by Laila Storch

Tabuteau’s studio was on the fourth floor, the top floor, of the Ludlow Building on 16th Street, not too far below Market. A lovely building, and so romantic to those of us who were there. I remember once going there in the dead of winter when it was really cold. The person we referred to as “Old John”—who was about 93 and operated the elevator—took me up to the fourth floor. I could hear the oboe grinding away, and it’s about a quarter of a tone flat. Tabuteau had this door with a frosted pane of glass in it. He had a key, I had a key, Old John had a key, nobody else. I go up and rap on the window. “Who is it?” “Mack.” “Come in!” I came in, and there’s Tabuteau sitting on this circular wooden stool, playing away like mad. He’s got his vicuna coat on, his scarf wrapped around his neck, he’s got his hat on, he’s playing away, he’s got snot coming out of one nostril all the way to the floor, and he says to me “Tell that SOB to give us some heat, for Lord’s sake!” I mean: the man was driven by demons. It was cold, he was freezing to death, but he’s playing away like mad.

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*Excerpt from: James Brody.  “John Mack — Still Spilling the Beans; an Interview with James Brody: Part 1.” The Double Reed, Vol. 39, No. 1 (2016): 80-108.

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