Archive for the ‘Musical Interludes’ Category.

Look Of Love

As bad as I am about keeping up with current events here, I still hold it out as a more durable repository for my life events than Facebook (which I enjoy for its immediacy and instantaneous dialogue).  But there are some events that have a more permanent effect on me, and, at the risk of backtracking and cherry-picking, I’m going to recount one here.

Sometime in 2014 at a fund-raiser for Rainbow City Band, we purchased the opportunity for Mrs. Perils to sing with an affiliated jazz band I play trumpet in (Purple Passion Swing Band).  She selected a song from back in the days when we were courting, The Look Of Love (not because of nostalgia for me, she just liked the song and it was in our book).

We rehearsed it several times with the band, but didn’t know exactly when the opportunity would arise to perform it. Then it happened that the jazz band would perform after a formal Rainbow City Band concert, and that would be her opportunity to do the song.

The venue was dicey, a high school auditorium attached to the performance hall where RCB had played its concert, but the audience was almost totally RCB players, and it was sort of a VIP after-party.

When Mrs. Perils walked out for her number, she was wearing a sorta-little black dress, and was much appreciated by certain quarters of the audience.  A trombone player in my jazz band turned to me and asked, “Does she always look like that?”.  I shrugged noncommittally (well, she doesn’t wear that get-up around the house).

The effect on me of the performance was odd.  On one hand, I wanted to just listen to her sing; on the other hand, I had to devote most of my attention to playing trumpet in her backup band.

I think we both did well.  I had given my Canon S1-IS to someone to record the number, but he couldn’t make it work, so he switched to his iPhone, so the sound is not the best, and there are quite a few aural artifacts.  But there she is, my chanteuse, singing to an appreciative crowd:

Moving On

Let’s shift the focus from Atlanta back to Seattle for a while, since I live here, after all (but we’ll be shifting back to Atlanta shortly, but for other reasons).

Somehow, I have myself playing in 4 musical groups, taking up the evenings Monday - Thursday for rehearsals. This is certainly excessive for a trumpet player of middling talent who’s not getting paid. It all started 4 years ago September when I joined the Rainbow City Band with Tuesday night rehearsals; then a guy I was taking trumpet lessons with said a community band he was playing with in Shoreline on Thursdays needed trumpet players, and I thought, why not, since going somewhere to play real music was preferable to creeping down to the basement to practice scales; then a couple years ago, I was offered the opportunity to sit in with RCB’s Purple Passion Swing Band, which rehearses Monday nights. I grew up with my dad’s Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Harry James records (I’m a child of the 40s, after all, even if it was only the last 2 months of 1949), and getting the opportunity to play music from that genre was irresistible.  Then a woman in the Thursday concert band who plays in a symphony orchestra said a couple pieces they were playing needed an extra trumpet this quarter to play Elgar’s Enigma Variations, and there went my Wednesday nights.

It’s fun and challenging, but Friday night, with no organized rehearsal, begins to look like safe landfall for the Wreck of the Hesperus.

I’m still working full-time as an accountant/accounting software consultant and mostly enjoying what I do.  I have a nice set of clients who are amenable to my jeans-wearing faux-eclecticism, and they’re all good people doing good things.  I spend a majority of my time these days with this manufacturer/distributor of goods to the outdoor industry (can you believe that I’d have an affinity for such a place?).  I still do work for my client in Milwaukee, a supplier to the construction and DIY industry who has weathered the vicissitudes of the Great Recession, as well as my clients in two of the four major food groups (wine and pastry), and consult with an interesting company that builds elaborate and creative signs for malls, resorts, airports, etc.

Increasingly, people are asking me how long I plan to work.  From the questioner’s standpoint, it’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask a 64-year-old, but each time, the question jars me, mired as I am in a self-image of a much younger man and a self-employed status that brooks a lot of financial uncertainty.  People who have a defined benefit plan or are working for a single employer have to confront this question as a matter of course, as a response to stimulus from HR.  If I’d stayed with my first post-college employer, the Big 8 accounting firm Ernst and Ernst, I would probably be in possession of multiple emails apprising me of this and that, and requiring decisions.  I remember receiving a notification from the E & E pension system a few weeks after hiring on with them in 1972, something to the effect that I would be eligible to retire with full benefits in October, 2014.  2014!  I’m sure I rolled my eyes and probably denied the possibility that I’d even be alive in 2014.  And now, here I am staring down both barrels of of that unimaginable future (except the part where I’m a beneficiary of the E&E pension system).

I like what I do well enough to keep doing it, and I like my clients and find them interesting, so I’m not planning on a sudden devolution to a life of budgets and waiting for the Social Security to hit the bank.  But if I thought I could, I’d forget with alacrity whether it’s the debit or the credit that’s supposed to be toward the window.

Autumn Adventure in Atlanta

Mrs. Perils and I returned to Atlanta a couple weeks ago to attend the LGBA (Lesbian & Gay Band Association) annual conference.  The conference is an occasion for musicians from member bands to congregate for an intense, but convivial, long weekend of music-making and fellowship.  Our Seattle-based Rainbow City Band hosted the conference in 2011, and we put nearly 300 musicians on the stage of the McCaw opera hall with awesome results.

When I saw that the 2013 conference would be in Atlanta, I leaped at the opportunity, as my baby brother lives in Alpharetta and I knew that my mom would be living in the area after we moved her down there from Ohio.  Ever since I joined the Rainbow City Band, I wished that my mom could attend a concert.  In fact, for a lot of my life I’ve experienced events like plays or concerts at least partially through the lens of “my mom would really like this” or, if I were a participant, “I wish mom could hear this”.  Of course, she’d heard us play with the TBDBITL OSU alumni band, but she’d never been able to hear my Rainbow City Band, and I thought that the Atlanta LGBA gig would introduce her to my late adult brand of music-making.  However, the onset of her terminal disease made this a remote possibility, and she died two weeks short of our performance.

Since all the arrangements had been made and tickets purchased, and because my brother and SIL were still willing to sacrifice their ears to the concert, we journeyed to Atlanta to participate.  It was a great decision.  My attraction to the Rainbow City Band, beginning with my first rehearsal, was its spirit and love of music, and the euphoria attending the Atlanta rehearsals and impromptu gatherings was infectious.

The weekend was pretty ambitious, as we were playing 11 pieces for a symphonic concert, plus 4 numbers for a marching band performance in the Atlanta Pride parade.  We arrived on Thursday afternoon, and had a music rehearsal that evening. Friday brought two more concert band rehearsals, then a marching band rehearsal in the evening.  Saturday morning, we had another concert band rehearsal, and returned to Georgia Tech for our evening concert.  Sunday morning we walked to the start of the Pride Parade in lovely weather and played for vociferous and enthusiastic crowds along the parade route.

Here’s a video I made from my SIL’s iPhone recordings of our concert, plus a recording I made of a marching band warmup:

And here’s a link to a page where all of the music we played can be heard.

While the busy schedule preoccupied me, and I was gratified that my brother and SIL seemed to genuinely enjoy the concert, I still had to reckon with the feeling of playing to an empty chair.  My mom would have loved this concert, my heart aches that she didn’t get to hear it.  I play the video and still want to call her to hear her reaction.

Later in the weekend, my brother and I went to our mom’s apartment to retrieve some items that required some heavy lifting.  It was so strange to go back to that stillborn domesticity, at once so familiar with the furniture of our childhood and the juicer I’d used to entice her waning appetite during my recent visits, versus the otherworldly absence of her resilient spirit.

I’m thinking it’s not over.  I’ll be playing to that empty chair as long as I play music.

Playlist

Here’s a podcast with all of our RCB 2011 marching music, recorded at band camp a couple of weeks ago.  The recording was made in a cavernous room with no acoustics, during our last session on Sunday, so lips are a bit tattered and the sound is what it is.  Still, I think you can tell how much fun we’re having with this.

The theme is Dance Party, and our music director tried to make selections from the last 4 decades:

Gonna Make You Sweat
Ladies’ Night
Holiday
I Gotta Feeling
Land of a Thousand Dances
Copacabana
Four Minutes
Soul Bossa Nova
YMCA
You Dropped A Bomb On Me
Hey, Baby

More about band camp later.

Band Geeks Only

Some recordings of our parade music from band camp.  They’re a long way from the Sheherazade of our spring concert!  Percussion is way over-emphasized in these due to the room where we did the recording, but it’s OK by me because they bring it righteously.  We’re a little light in some areas (we march about 45, half the size of our concert band.  And only one clarinet?!  Calling Mrs. Perils…), but I hafta say, in my unbiased opinion, the trumpets ride into each song like the damn cavalry.  You really have to be a band geek to play more than one or two of these, or else you want multiple 80s-era flashbacks.  I’m posting them mostly for my marching-band brother, and maybe my mom.

I think these are going to be really fun in the parades we have scheduled this summer.  As we practice marching through the neighborhood near our rehearsal space, we pick up a camp following of kids and adults as they come out of their houses in slack-jawed amazement (and maybe annoyance), and then follow us gleefully from block to block.  I like to think we’ve given them a little ray of sunshine in this extended spring of gloomy weather.

Jai Ho, the theme song from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Interesting mixture of Indian rhythms and motifs and pop-song refrain.

Pick Up The Pieces. Your Average White Band.  Nice trumpet breakout in the middle:

Mas Que Nada, a sultry samba.  It’ll be summer here sometime… I first heard this in college by Sergio Mendes/Brasil 66. We do a drill routine during the 16-bar percussion feature:

Let’s Groove - Earth, Wind & Fire.

Bad Romance, Lady Gaga. Not an 80s song.

Don’t Stop - Fleetwood Mac:

Soak Up The Sun - Sheryl Crow:

Americans We - Henry Fillmore. Just to show you we can play a straight-on Fourth of July march. And follow the dynamics now & then:

Gimme Some Lovin’:

Mickey:

Drumline cadence when we’re marching, not playing.  You really have to be a band geek to listen to this:

Segue

(Ed: Looks like this got stuck in my Wordpress queue and never got published.)

It’s hard to comprehend, but I’ve run out of April here in Seattle.  Tomorrow I head for Milwaukee for a week; on Friday, I fly to Atlanta to attend a Microsoft software extravaganza called Convergence; on the following Wednesday, Mrs. Perils will join me in Atlanta, and we’ll fly on to Myrtle Beach, SC for our annual family reunion at the Litchfield resort.  When I get back to Seattle, it’ll be May.  2010.  The lilacs, just budding now, will likely be gone.

I continue to play my trumpet.  The Rainbow City Band has entered its summer “marching season”.  I was wary at first, because what I liked about the band was the quality of musicianship and the challenging music we have played in our concert incarnation.  The “marching” rehearsals have sorta disabused me of this wariness, as the director has carefully chosen pieces to perform, and breaks us down and makes us play them with a high level of musicianship.  He avows that we’re a “concert band that marches”, a theme that I like.  A sampling:

  • Jai Ho - the Bollywood-ish theme from Slumdog Millionaire.  It’s an interesting mix of Indian meter and American song standard, and the rhythms are challenging.
  • Soak Up The Sun - I have always liked Sheryl Crow
  • Let’s Groove - Earth, Wind & Fire is great outdoor music
  • Mas Que Nada - a little Brazilian touch to offset the funk
  • Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band

What I think is happening here is, we’re reprising our director’s salad-day soundtrack.  We’ll perform in several parades during the summer, and I’m thinking it will be a lot of fun.

I’ve also been whoring around with another community concert band on Thursday nights that plays more standard fare like Oklahoma, Music Man, etc.  Not as demanding as 1812 Overture, to be sure, but amiable, and I find it preferable to lace up and play with a group than schlep down to the basement to practice.  And I continue to take a lesson now & then, and play trumpet trios with my teacher and another of her adult students.  We may do a recital later this summer, if we can settle on 4 or 5 of the gaggle of stuff we’ve been experimenting with.

Out Like Soggy Wool

After a premature warm spell that got everything blooming and budding early, our weather has been drippy and chilly for two weeks or more, and the light in the evening is often the only sign of progress in this stillborn spring.  I think it’s driven me to “cocoon” a bit - there have been a couple of days lately that I didn’t leave the house at all.

The NCAA basketball tournament may have had a lot to do with that.  At first, when Ohio State was playing, I felt compelled to watch, both their games and, of course all the others, because you never know which of the other teams they might end up playing; then, after OSU bowed out in the Sweet 16, it became merely an excuse to dally.  Since all the games are now available via online streaming, I could sit with a game on one of my dual computer screens, pull up a spreadsheet on the other and tell myself I was multitasking.  Didn’t even need a “boss” key.

The license to sloth ended Monday night with a thrilling championship game, however, and I need to get out & get active a little more.  I’ve been barely maintaining: biking to the gym every second day but, other than a leisurely 12-mile kayak trip a week ago, the bulk of my other exercise has been walking to restaurants.

I’ve had a chance to process the videos Mrs. Perils took of my band’s From Russia With Love concert.  Here are my favorites, not necessarily in that order.  My camera records sound nicely in stereo, but likes to normalize extremes, so these sound better at higher volumes than lower:

Stravinsky’s Infernal Dance and Finale from the Firebird.  Relentlessly driving, then a gorgeous horn solo before the finale.

Shostakovich 5th Symphony Finale:

1812 Overture.  Sprawling with thematic ebb & flow, 15 minutes long.  Amusing when Mrs. P figures out where the “cannon” is coming from:

The whole concert here.

OK, I’m going to go act on my assertion above.  Still drippy & cold, but it’s a downhill ride to the gym.

Let’s Put Up The Tree, Already

At practice last night, we exchanged our TVLand music for the first burst of music for our holiday concert on December 20. The two pieces we sight-read were pretty challenging, and I think that brought us out of a post-concert daze.  One of the pieces was a movement from Gustav Holst’s Winter Suite.  It features antiphonal fanfares from the trumpets, and we experimented with placing pockets of trumpet players in various places around what will be the stage.  It was really exhilarating.  If you go here, there’s an icon you can press to hear the piece (note: that’s not our band).

I’m usually pretty late getting down with the holidays, as my slap-dash gift-giving attests, and look with disdain on the desperate cacophony of holiday commercials that seems to start right after Halloween.  But, after this last practice, my head is in December already.

Also, I finally pieced together photos and video from the OSU band reunion in September here.  It’s taken me a while to get used to the Mac multimedia stuff, iMovie and iPhoto.

Concerted Effort

My Rainbow City Band had its fall concert Friday night.  The theme was TVLand, and we played music from several decades of television shows.  You wonder what kind of petri dish that earworms incubate in?  Look no further:

  • Muppet Show Theme
  •  Star Wars Through The Years
  • West Wing
  • Brady Bunch
  • Olympic Fanfare
  • Mission Impossible
  • Golden Girls
  • Sitcom Medley

We had a “technical rehearsal” at the concert venue the previous Tuesday, in order to get used to the tighter seating, its effect on what we could hear, and to coordinate various announcements and multimedia.  I was a little worried, as it seemed our numbers only sounded good the second time we played them, and there were some technical glitches that I didn’t think actually got fixed.

I was also a little dismayed that, at that point, we’d only sold 150 of the 300 seats in the hall.

Not to worry on either count.  We had a surge of walk-up business, and had to turn a lot of people away.  And, once the curtain opened and the baton came down, we were very tight and focused.  I was thrilled with the entire enterprise.

There was one moment of peril on the night of the performance.  During intermission, the people preparing for an Archie and Edith Bunker skit discovered that no one had bought beer, which apparently was a featured part of the skit.  I volunteered to run up the street and buy a can, and off I went.   As I was running at a dead flat sprint out of the convenience store on the corner of Broadway and Madison with a pair of Budweiser tallboys dangling from my hand, I passed an idling SPD squad car, and my skin started to crawl.  I’m pretty sure that it was the tux that saved me.

The ‘Bones Join In The Battle Of The Saxes

Another gem from band practice tonight, as our director exhorted us to blend and be aware of each other (with a sly grin):

“I want you to listen closely as you insert yourselves into each other’s parts.”

Mouthpiece is still lodged somewhere south of my duodenum.

Also, as a sort of maturation of the metaphor our director used in this post, notes that people have that are particularly exposed have come to be referred to by the shorthand “bikini notes”.