Professor of Music Thomas Erdmann had an article published in the professional trumpet journal.
Professor Thomas Erdmann in the Department of Music had an article published in the March 2021 issue of The International Trumpet Guild Journal.
The article, “Dennis Dotson: The Strength of My Ear,” is about the trumpet legend and recently retired professor of trumpet at the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin Dennis Dotson.
While countless students have gone through his studio and on to highly successful careers in their own right, many of them were probably unaware of what a musical giant they were fortunate enough to have as a teacher. Dotson’s continuing career is the model upon which so many of today’s trumpeters aspire.
Raised in Rusk, Texas, Dotson studied at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College in Huntsville, Texas, leaving to perform in Houston before moving to Las Vegas, Nevada. For the next five years, he worked in the lounges at the Desert Inn and Sands Hotel, as well as the showrooms at the Aladdin, Caesars Palace, Circus Circus, the Landmark, MGM Grand and the Tropicana. In November 1974 he was offered the position as trumpet soloist with the Woody Herman Orchestra, staying with the bandleader for three years. With Herman, Dotson played in all 48 contiguous U.S. states, Canada, and many European countries, as well as all of the famous concert halls in those locations such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Royal Festival Hall in London, to list just a few.
When Dotson left the band he moved to New York City where guitarist Michael Bocian gathered Dotson, Paul McCandless, Joe Lovano, Billy Drewes and Ron Kozak to form the free improvisation ensemble Universal Language. While there, Dotson also performed and studied with artists such as Tom Harrell, Chuck Israels, Sal Nistico, Charlie Persip, Ken Werner and the Hungarian guitarist Attila Zoller.
Returning to Texas in 1980, Dotson found himself a first-call trumpeter working in Houston, Dallas and Austin before moving permanently to Houston in 1984. In Texas, Dotson worked with artists including, but not limited to, Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, Joe Henderson, Dave Liebman, Ellis Marsalis, David “Fathead” Newman, Bobby Shew, Marvin Stamm, Bill Watrous, and Kenny Wheeler. In 1989 Dotson accepted a position teaching Trumpet, Improvisation, Jazz Combo and Big Band at Northwest College in the Houston Community College District, and in 1997 accepted a concurrent position teaching Jazz Trumpet at the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. He left those positions in 2005 and accepted a position teaching at the University of Texas.
Dotson has performed at more than 20 jazz festivals worldwide, and given more than 40 clinics at many universities including Baylor, Texas Tech and the University of Tennessee. He has soloed with too many ensembles to list, but they include the Houston Symphony, the Houston Symphony Trumpet Section in recital, and the American Pops Orchestra. In addition, he was a member of the Louisiana Jazz Five and the John Adams Quartet, performing with each at International Association of Jazz Educators conventions. While he may have retired from formal teaching, he still maintains an active studio, accepts many solo opportunities with various collegiate and high school ensembles, and plays gigs in jazz clubs. Don’t make the mistake, however, of thinking Dotson’s done, for this road warrior post-colligate teaching is just the start of the next chapter.