Monday, April 09, 2018

Marvin Dahlgren has died

Someone sent me the following note today:

My friend, Marv Dahlgren, the great percussionist, and drum book author, has passed on to his celestial reward, at 92 years of age.

I visited Marv a few months back in the hospital, and he learned his time was not long.

Besides being the longtime percussionist with the Minnesota Orchestra, and author of the yearly re-printed techincal drum set bible, "4-Way Coordination," he flew Corsairs off carriers for the Navy in WWII, fighters for the National Guard, and taught stunt flying as a sideline throughout his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra. He also launched Dahlgren's Drum Shop, on 10th Street in Minneapolis, and it was premier shop of its kind, akin to Roy Knapps in Chicago and Frank Ippolito's in New York.

Marv taught percussion at the University of Minnesota in the 60s-80s, and later, at McNally Smith, in St. Paul. Many of Marv's students went on to professional careers in music (hence, the Twin Cities is lousy with really good drummers!).

On the drum and percussion scene, Marv befriended Elvin Jones while authoring "4-Way Coordination." They became friends when Marv took a practice pad set to New York and had Elvin display his mastery with broken triplets on it. Near the back of "4-Way" are some solos directly taken from that experience. Whenever Elvin was in town, Marv and Elvin would get together (Once, in the 70s, at the Longhorn Bar, where Elvin was appearing, he was on a bad turn with his drinking, and refused to play until Marv showed up to tell him things were okay). These two were as far apart in their personal makeup, but loved each other dearly; testimony to both their characters and their love of music.

Marv's percussive passion in jazz was as a vibraphonist. And he played with his own groups in Twin Cities jazz clubs throughout his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra.

A personal blessing for me is that Marv, later in life married my aunt Joanie, and their marriage was the stuff of romances. 
Marv was as classy as a man gets, yet had no arrogance or guile. He was a percussive obsessive; and once, at a lesson, I asked him how to play a certain figure. "Actually, I do it 16 ways."

"Just show me one, okay Marv?" I responded.

What a mind.

Salut' my friend. We drummers have all benefited from your rotations on this mudball we call Earth.


We all know him as the co-author of 4-Way Coordination, but he wrote a ton of other things that are just about as challenging. I reviewed a few of them here.

UPDATE: Here he speaks about his experiences as a fighter pilot:


1 comment:

Lynnette Christen said...

Marv was my mom's 1st cousin, but unfortunately I did not know how well-known he was, nor about his service time. He was just my mom's very nice cousin. I always loved the conversations we had. My question is, do you know where this conversation about the Corsairs was recorded? I wish I would have known more about Marv for a few reasons, but I know my husband would have loved to speak to him about the planes & his time in the service.
Thank you, Lynnette(Thompson)Christen