San Francisco Bay Area pianist and piano teacher Marilyn McClain attended Oberlin College for a time as an undergraduate, then much later obtain her BM (Bachelors in Music) in piano performance from San Francisco State University where Dr. Victoria Neve served as both teacher and mentor. McClain has lived in the Bay Area for over 25 years, and worked as the organist for several churches until her 2013 retirement. She has also performed as a soloist at a number of venues in the East Bay, and as accompanist for solo singers, choral groups and choirs.
Her favorite composers are Brahms (in the classical realm) and George Gershwin (in the modern period). She is primarily self-taught as a composer, although at a certain point, she took a couple of classes in composition at SF State. Most of McClain's compositions are songs; she wrote her first in 1980 to give the church choir she was accompanying some new material. Her two purely instrumental pieces in this documentary were written because we needed them - and because Hershell West is her husband!
McClain's greatest love is performing, or even simply playing the piano in her home for her own and West's enjoyment. She and West go way back. They met in Tampa, Florida, when West was a student there.
But although McClain's greatest love is playing the piano, teaching comes in as a close second. She has taught countless young people for over 30 years, kids from diverse backgrounds. She prides herself on being able to teach not only classical music but also jazz and popular music, since one of her most important goals is to help her students advance in the love of music. Her ability to communicate with them is enhanced by her degrees and years of work in education and in rehabilitation counseling.
Lee Waterman, a composer, jazz guitarist, and leader of the group Jazz Caliente, came to our attention because his composition was the winner in a music contest we lauched to make the musical score for this documentary more robust.
I had already heard him and his group play at a spot in Albany, but chose his composition not for that reason but because the music he submitted was exactly what I wanted for the film: upbeat jazz without vocals that set a specific mood without detracting from the action in the film, itself.
Waterman learned to play the guitar as a teenager after passing through a period of studying drums. His first love is Latin jazz, especially Afro-Cuban and Brazilian. Originally from New York, he has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the late 1980s, and founded Jazz Caliente in 1989.
His early mentor was guitarist and author Warren Nunes. Among Waterman's credits, he has played with well-known jazz saxiphonist John Handy; and opened for Tito Puente, Pancho Sanchez and others.
The other musicians who make up Jazz Caliente are: Melecio Magdaluyo (tenor & soprano saxiphone, flute, clarinet); Tommy Kesecker (vibraphone & marimba); Michael Wilcox (electric bass); Bill Belasco (drums); Michaela Goerlitz (percussion); and Rick Walsh (trombone).