The Contemporary Oboe Doubler

Interview with Rick Heckman & Dan Willis

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This video interview with Rick Heckman & Dan Willis offers rare insight into the world of the double reed doubler. Rick & Dan discuss the nature of what today’s oboe doublers encounter on the job and offer solutions to performance problems. They also describe what they emphasize in their practice routines and demonstrate how they warm-up the oboe. Brief audio examples of their oboe & saxophone abilities are provided before and after the interview.

I met Rick in the early 1980s when we played together in a chamber group. Like myself, he had been a saxophone student of Joe Allard and was a serious student of his woodwind doubles. We became friends instantly and have remained so for over 30 years. His affinity and gift for oboe/English horn has enabled him to become a first-call doubler both on Broadway and in the studios. He is also an excellent teacher of the woodwinds.

Dan and I became friends during the Broadway run of Victor Victoria. Since that time, I have had the pleasure of working with him in studio and orchestral situations. In addition to being a wonderful doubler on all of the single reeds and oboe/English horn, he is also a top-notch jazz soloist and composer. Dan joined me earlier this year in working on my upcoming CD, Contrasts, and contributed flawless saxophone work in the sax section and as a featured soloist. Like Rick, Dan is a devoted music educator as well.

About the Artists:

Since relocating to NYC from his native Pittsburgh, multi-instrumentalist Rick Heckman has become a mainstay of the NYC studios and Broadway musical theater. He is a veteran of over 30 Broadway shows and hundreds of studio dates and movie soundtracks. He has been prominently featured on recordings of Barbra Streisand, Jewel, Audra McDonald, Linda Eder, Dawn Upshaw, among many others, and was also recently heard on the soundtrack of the TV show “Smash.” He has performed in concert with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole and with every major orchestra in NYC. Rick trained at Duquesne University and the Manhattan School of Music. His principal teachers were Joe Allard, Nestor Koval and Elaine Douvas. Rick is currently working at the Broadway show, “Allegiance.”

Dan Willis is one of New York’s most active and versatile woodwind artists. A native of Buffalo, NY and a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Dan studied oboe with Richard Killmer and had additional studies with Ray Ricker, Ray Wright & Bill Dobbins. Since relocating to NYC, he has performed with a wide variety of artists including Michael Brecker, Roland Vazquez, John Hollenback, Liza Minnelli, Wynton Marsalis, The Birdland Big Band, etc., and had numerous Broadway shows. He has recorded five solo CDs for which he has received several Grammy nominations, received a NEA Study Grant, and is currently the reed player in the Tony-award winning Broadway musical, “Kinky Boots.” Dan can also be heard on hundreds of jingles, soundtracks and recordings and is working on his next CD–The Monk Project.


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