Pencils and Saxophones

In Brad Linde’s three years at Georgetown Day School (GDS), he released six new albums, toured the country with his quartet Team Players, and developed his big band despite the closing of Bohemian Caverns. Simultaneously, Linde has revitalized the high school jazz program by pioneering trips to festivals in Boston, North Carolina, Dallas, and New York.

When asked how he balances his career as a musician with teaching, Linde responded that “it is less of a balancing act, and more of a way of life.” His two careers complement and build on each other.

“I’m passing along to my students the real life lessons and connections I received from a career as a jazz musician and presenter,” says Linde.

Linde’s connections with other musicians have continuously bolstered the jazz curriculum. He has brought in Pulitzer prize finalist Wadada Leo Smith, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Ran Blake, legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz (who played at the Kennedy Center the same day he ran a workshop at GDS), highly acclaimed drummer Allison Miller, and Grammy-nominated Matt Wilson. Each of these opportunities resulted from Linde’s past work as a musician: He played on albums with Konitz, Wilson, and Miller, hosted Blake while he was a curator at the Atlas, and met Smith at a jazz and creative music workshop.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to learn about improvisation and jazz from the architects of the music by studying and playing with them and I want that experience for my students,” says Linde.

Linde’s jazz career also provides advanced students with invaluable behind-the-scenes experience with professional ensembles; high school students have played with Linde’s big band, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra (BCJO), and opened for Team Players.

More surprising, however, is the effect of teaching on Linde’s musical career. Although he jokingly claims that he “was more famous before [he] came to GDS,” Linde says that his teaching “actually gives [him] more time and freedom to focus on music.”

Linde noted that, prior to teaching at GDS, he found himself doing the “kind of work to pay bills.” Although he now plays less than he used to, Linde gets to “play the gigs [he] wants.”

Furthermore, his teaching and music-making blend: when Linde brought in Ran Blake, he “got the incredible” experience of performing one of his compositions with him and Ricky Ford. When he hosted Matt Wilson, the two collaborated as part of Wilson’s Honey and Salt project.

Linde notes that for him, teaching has always been a part of his life: “It’s strange. I wanted to be a teacher even before I played the saxophone. Teaching is something I do even when there is no gig.”


The BCJO will be playing at the DC Jazz Festival at the Atlas on June 11, and Team Players will be releasing their 3rd album (Smells Like Team Spirit) followed by a tour in July with the Xander Davies Quartet, kicking off on Monday, July 16, at Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society in Brookland, DC.
By Xander Davies’19

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