De Sayles Grey Sextet

De Sayles Grey Sextet



My training was first in classical music and later I studied jazz, therefore my approach will be two fold in nature.

During my apprenticeship at the Boston Conservatory, I was a clarinet major. Attilio Poto was my teacher who also conducted the school orchestra. I remember he was always particular about tone quality. Man, he would stop me every measure or even every beat if he was not satisfied. It had to be right! Whenever I perform today I have other musicians who will compliment me on my tone. I played in the school orchestra. We performed symphonies by Hayden, Mozart, Mendelssohn and all of the Beethoven symphonies. Also we performed excerpts from operas such as: La Forza del Destino, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra, La Traviata, and more.

I studied theory with Minna Hall. She told me that I had a talent or gift and at times would be kind enough to say it in front of the whole class. I am grateful for that experience because if set the stage for something later in my life.

Dean Greslen taught me Italian. What a nice guy! He had a lot of patience with me because my Italian was not that good. He would say, “De Sayles, you’re doing great!” You could really speak Italian and they would understand you.” Well, he was right. One day I went to Rome as a tourist. I saw the sights and the Italians did understand my limited efforts to converse. I cannot speak Italian that would require more time in Italy. However, I was encouraged and inspired by him.

I was encouraged and inspired the whole time I was at the conservatory. Since then I took a serious interest in jazz, and perform on the baritone saxophone. I have toured with The Temptations, played with the Cecil Taylor Ensemble; The University of Pittsburgh Jazz Ensemble, traveled to Switzerland with the Doc Holiday Band, played with the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra and later formed my own group, The De Sayles Grey Sextet. I was a university professor; I authored a book entitled, Acknowledgement: A John Coltrane Legacy.

My Sextet is my life now. I’ve composed over 30 original jazz compositions and over 25 arrangements. Exactly what was it that Minna Hall saw in me? Could it have been an early manifestation of a composer? In support of one’s own artistic life, I consider mine was fulfilled which had its beginnings at The Boston Conservatory. With my training in jazz and my training in classical music… I believe I have the best of both worlds.