Jazz Band director looks back on program’s growth

Irving still has
big plans for
DMC program

Carlos E. GonzalezReporter

Del Mar jazz band director David Irving has been teaching at the college for 42 years.
Del Mar Jazz Band director David Irving has been teaching at the college for 42 years.

The new addition to the music building is about to be complete and the students, as well as the faculty, couldn’t be happier.

The new building will not bring in more music programs but will give the music department the chance to finally expand and breathe. Programs such as the concert band had to practice in the Retama Room on the second floor of the Harvin Center before the new addition. So much has changed with the music building as well as the program, and there is nobody else on campus who has been more involved with music than Jazz Band Director David Irving.

Irving is entering his 42nd year at Del Mar College. He has seen the changes and improvements with the program even before he signed on with Del Mar.

When asked what changes he has seen with music, Irving said, “Not many changes have affected the curricular; we still offer the traditional courses and majors we have throughout the years.”

The Fine Arts Center, located on East Campus, was actually smaller. Students who have seen the new addition don’t know that before then there wasn’t a Wolfe Recital Hall. The back hallway that connects to the Drama and Fine Arts building was the latest addition.

Irving remembers when he was in high school performing on a small stage where Wolfe Recital Hall is located, before it even existed. Before he joined Del Mar, Irving said, there was no Jazz Band in the music curriculum, along with classical guitar and sound recording technology.

“I am the one that had the first Jazz Band actually put in the curriculum to take for credit,” Irving said. “Before that it was a bunch of guys who would get together after class and work up a Jazz Band.”

You can say that Irving is one of the founding fathers of the Jazz Band at Del Mar College.

“Before I got on the faculty here, a bunch of jazz musicians from here actually started the Texas Jazz Festival,” Irving said. “It all took place late at night and was extracurricular back in those days.”

Irving was brought up in jazz from an early age, listening to all kinds of players and bands growing up. He later on got more involved with jazz when he was a teenager entering high school. One of his classmates, Joe Gallardo, a great jazz trombone player, would invite Irving out to play along with him and the jazz group.

“I guess you can say he was an influence but was never a mentor or somebody that pushed me into it, he just gave me a couple of avenues to explore,” Irving said.

With his experience and love for jazz, it is no wonder that Del Mar came to him for the position for Jazz Band director.

Irving’s goal when working with new students every semester is to make them good jazz readers.

“It’s different from reading classical music,” he said.

It’s no wonder that Del Mar College liked what Irving did with the jazz bands, but they first started him off working part time.

“It keeps happening over and over … starting with a brand new band and turning it into something that sounds really good,” Irving said of his most rewarding experiences of his four-decade career at Del Mar.

In the 1986-87 school year, the Jazz Band raised money to take a trip to Europe, where they played in some major festivals such as the North Sea Festival in Holland and the Montreux Festival in Switzerland.

“That was probably the most spectacular achievement, but I wouldn’t call it the most rewarding,” Irving said.

What he really likes about his job are the people and the music.

With all the years Irving has put into the Jazz Band program, he would really like to see the course continue to grow in the future, making more courses available year-round.

Irving knows Corpus Christi is not really known for jazz, but he would like for it to become the next great location for upcoming musicians.

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