Thursday, July 8, 2010

Motown Mountain

Most people are unaware of the music I listen to at home, in the car, etc. As I have noted in a previous post, I do not own an iPod. In my apartment, the music is rarely on, unless there are people visiting. In truth, people are maybe a bit surprised when I tell them that most of my listening choices gravitate towards the classical. (Yeah, I like what I do.) Yesterday afternoon, in preparation for a NEA grant, I spent most of the afternoon listening to performances of the past season -- equal parts pleasure and pain.

But my children (and most of my friends) know of my passion for a certain type of music which I could not get enough of growing up in the Bay Area -- R & B. When I got a new train set as a kid, I played Smokey Robinson's Tears of a Clown over and over again, one play for every eleven revolutions of my nifty N-gauge trains.

When my sister received Songs in the Key of Life for Christmas, I 'borrowed' it over and over; I couldn't get enough of it. (Years later, as a mellophonium player in the Disneyland All-American College Band, we played Stevie Wonder tunes that made my heart soar.)

Down the street from where I grew up lived a man who managed Sly and the Family Stone. His son, Junior (guitar), another friend, Brian (bass) and I (drums - my first instrument) played our Stone favorites in my side yard. (Much to our neightbor's chagrin, the garage didn't have enough room.)

Yes, the Taxman and Norwegian Wood figured in there, somewhere along the way. But no one, no group, could compete with Earth Wind & Fire. For me, they were the apogee of anything pop, rock, soul, jazz and R & B. The orchestrations, the harmonic adventure, the soaring vocals, the extended jazz riffs - - these guys had it all.

So, for my last concert at Talcott Mountain as Mus. Dir. of the Hartford Symphony. . . it won't be Beethoven (admittedly, another passion), not Bach, Handel and Vivaldi (to this date, certainly the most memorable of the performances I have done in Simsbury over the years), not even some of the wonderful all-Tchaikovsky programs we did early in my tenure. . . . . no, instead it will be SPECTRUM: rhythm and blues as good as it gets. I must say that I could not have asked for a better way to go.

See you all Friday night!

2 comments:

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