March 23, 2023
Who is Robert Como?
Robert Como, otherwise known to the student populous as “Mr. Como,” is, to no one’s surprise, a teacher at Morton West. He was born in Addison, and was raised in Oak Park. He currently teaches American History, formerly teaching its AP counterpart, AP US Government and Politics, and AP Microeconomics. Initially coming to Morton to pursue an administration role, his motivation behind teaching is simply enjoying it. By taking a class of his, it is very clear he is interested in the topics he teaches and wishes to spread this appreciation and understanding of them to others.
In his free time, Como is an avid reader. Although he reads an exceptionally general swath of literature, he has noted that he seems to flip flop between reading fiction and non-fiction for large periods of time. His non-fiction reading list typically consists of economic, philosophic, and historical books. Inversely, fiction also holds a huge place in his heart; when he was younger, he had a spell where he would mainly read Shakespeare’s works. He emphasizes that reading is a skill, but not a burden. When the topic of reading is excited, he tends to hearken back to the words of one of his college professors: “You can read the first 40 pages of a book and stop reading. At that point, the main themes and concepts have been introduced, and you can decide to drop it.” With this mindset, he encourages others (and himself) to go back and reread books you’ve read before.
After initially going to college to pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician, he realized that he was, “good but not great,” leading him to pursue other career paths. Upon graduation, he began pursuing a political science degree, and then attended law school. He worked at a trial firm for two years before deciding he didn’t enjoy it, and promptly quit. Due to his unique circumstances, IIT gave Como every aptitude test they had. One of his highest scores, or his greatest matches, was being a teacher. He initially took the job with the intention of transitioning to administrative work, but has continued to teach due to his passion for the job. When asked for his motivation and how long he wished to continue, he stated that he wishes to teach, “as long as it’s interesting.”
During our interview, Mr Como noted that his favorite band in high school was Deep Purple, an English rock band that initially formed as a psychedelic rock band and grew to be recognized as one of the three main bands responsible for heavy metal, alongside Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Furthermore, he enjoys classic rock and the more experimental fusion-jazz inspired rock of the early to mid 70s which incorporated brass instruments. On that note, when asked for his favorite musician currently, the closest answer he felt appropriate was Chick Corea, a jazz pianist who was influential in jazz-fusion’s birth. He is an extremely influential jazz artist, winning 27 Grammy Awards, creating many songs considered jazz standards, and appearing alongside other influential artists on landmark albums, such as Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, considered one of the best jazz albums ever released and partly responsible for the aforementioned genre of jazz rock. While his work isn’t exclusively jazz fusion, the influence of the genre, such as explicitly incorporating elements of the genre and its progenitors in his compositions, it is undeniable that it has greatly influenced said work.
When he was eight, Como moved into Oak Park. When he walked through the front door and into the dining room, he noticed a large piano. His interest in it lead him to beg his parents for piano lessons, which eventually worked. These lessons lead him on a path of interest in music, which he continued into his middle school and high school career, where he also learned how to play percussion instruments: namely drums. When he was in the eighth grade, Como was enrolled in an Champaign music camp, where he met Wayne Burghardt, who would grow to be one of his closest friends and bandmates. Burghardt, a self-proclaimed composer of classical symphonic music, and Como both write and compose their own music, alongside their friends and bandmates. Burghardt’s website, http://wburghardt.com, claims that the original Dead City Planners had written over 50 songs during their initial run. Over the years, these songs have been remastered, reinterpreted, and played under different monikers and related bands. Continue reading to see some of these bands.