My Musical Equipment Closet

An opinionated collecton of short reviews of saxophones and woodwinds and the accessories which they require.

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Location: Santa Cruz, California, United States

"Other cultures are not failed attempts at being us. They are all unique manifestations of the human imagination and the human heart." Wade Davis

Monday, January 15, 2007

Three Tenor Players Lost

A little off topic, but . . .

My friend Larry Schlect died last week. I've known him since he was 16 and played in my dad's big band in Santa Ana in the early sixties. When we were put togeether in the reed section of Big Band 2000, we rediscovered each other and became pretty good friends. He had lived in Las Vegas for 20 years or so. He played with lots of folks, notably Tom Jones and Sy Zentner, and accomplished most of the goals he'd set for himself musically. He combined keep professionalism with the ability to shake off every slight, because, after all, the music is what matters. This was a point he taught me by example. There are always side deals going on around a group of musicians, pissing contests, simple career squabbles, professional discourtesy. Larry's response was hey, I've been through worse than this, and I can state that none of this matters. It was a simple yet profound lesson in life as a musician.

He never complained about anything, even though he was working at the state hospital at the time to get certified as an aide (which he did) so he could qualify for a government pension (which he also did). He had cancer, and no one knew it until his death.

Michael Brecker died Saturday from a blood disease which gave him leukemia. With his brother, he started tearing up my world with Dreams and Horance Silver's album "In Pursuit of the 27th Man". He worked harder in the practice room than anyone, ever, and his reward was effortlessness on the bandstand or the recording studio. Brecker was everything that every tenor player wants to be: famous, booked three years in advance, and capable of any flurry of notes over any chord change.

Michael Brecker taught me that you simply have to put in the time. If you want to play something on a gig, you have to have played it in the practice room. I'm still learning that lesson.

Finally, Harvey R. Cohen died yesterday in Woodland Hills, California. When I moved to southern California in 1979, Harvey's was the first rehearsal band I played in. He had me even though I showed up iften covered in blue ink, hastilly cleaning up from my job as a printer. Harvey didn't play in his own band, but rather conducted his pieces. We all knew what was going on here, Harvey was auditioning for Hollywood, and we were fine with that. Long-term frinedships arose from that band. When I recorded my little big band ( under the tab Listen), Harvey dusted off his tenor, adding significantly to the proceedings. In late 1979 if memory serves, Harvey was rushed to the hospital with chest pains. He was 28 years old, and had bypass surgery. Over 30 years later he succumbed to heart disease. Harvey taught me that personalities feed a band and the conflicts between those personalities are what makes a great band. He taught by example that reconciling conflicts under the greater goal of the music is doable and worth the effort. He taught me this by putting me in with someone I'd fallen out with when I played with Stan Kenton's band.

Rest in Peace, gentlemen. You will be missed.


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