I met Nathan when I was an undergrad. I was invited to the Ravinia Institute, right outside Chicago, and they were doing a youth all-stars kind of program where we all got together and wrote music. Nathan was one of the lead faculty members. I remember him being such a nice man, and he had stories for days. He would always talk about the Paris Reunion Band. He would talk about Woody Shaw all the time, about the quiet fire that Woody had. But that’s partially because I would ask questions about Woody. I was really into his playing at that time, and Nathan would give me those records and let me check out some of their bootleg recordings.
Later on, when I’d moved to Pittsburgh [and started teaching at Duquesne University], I would ask him for advice in academia. We began talking more when I asked for his blessing to revive the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. He was the founder of that band, and I asked his permission to revive it after more than 20 years. He said, “By all means, go for it.”