[Dixielandjazz] "Stardust" and keeping it light

Charles Suhor csuhor at zebra.net
Mon Aug 4 13:22:16 PDT 2003


Hey Charles,

You older guys should be thankful you get request for the above tunes, I know
I am, because they still happen to be great tunes and enjoyed by multiple
generations of music listeners and dancers. If we would all take the time to
inject some real feeling into the tunes and play them as if we just learned
them, the audiences would certainly be a lot more supportive of all of us....

You are of course correct with the statement that some of the responses from
the musicians are indeed Snooty. But if you are being paid or expect to be
paid for playing music and entertaining people, then you damned sure should
be a lot less snooty and play whatever the Hell they want to hear, Believe
it or not They are the boss LIKE IT OR NOT.

If you don't want to play what they want to hear then stay home and play what
you want to hear or go find a job with someone who wants to hear only what
you wish to play....

Oh well enough reality today, back to dreamin bout old useta bees....

Hey, Tom--

Lighten up. Nowadays I'm glad to get requests for "Stardust"--it's been
"out" so long, it's refreshing to do it again. I play drums on weekends
with a vintage swing era band, and every time we play "In the Mood" (every
gig) I wish the request had been for something else. But it's still fun to
try to give it both a worthy rendering and a personal kick.

In grasping the moral high ground by implying that I'd run through
"Stardust" without feeling and be unresponsive to requests, that I should
hibernate in the living room, I'm a disgruntled has-been, etc., there's
huge presumption, at best. Many of us bring offerings to the list in a
spirit of both inquiry and fun, so it would be cool not to be drawn into
combative responses.

Below is another bit of humor on the topic of requests that I got today
from a fellow old-timer in New Orleans. I hope you can enjoy it (or not)
without escalating it into an occasion for a self-serving tirade.

Charles Suhor


Dear Bandleader:

We look forward to your performance at our daughter's wedding.  If you don't
mind, we would like to request a few of our favorite songs.  If you could
play these at some point during the reception, we'd be grateful.

Any Keith Jarrett composition from his solo series.  Please have it for the
ensemble and none of the 4/4 songs please.

Mahavishnu Orchestra,"Dance of the Maya," and please have the guitarist
play John McLaughlin's solo from the live performance Nov. 16, 1972, at
Chrysler Arena.  My wife and I were at that show and we particularly liked
it.  If you find it too difficult, you can leave out the feedback.

Any of John Coltrane's duets with Pharaoh Sanders.  I understand that their
use of atonality is not everyone's cup of tea, but all our guests love high
register tenor saxes.

We thought a little Stravinsky right after the toast would be nice. We
particularly like the "Infernal Dance..." or whatever it is called, from
"The Rite of Spring" (second version of 1932).  If you want to use the
sheet music it's OK.  We like a tempo of about quarter note = 93 (Ozawa).

Then for the "life candle" lighting ceremony, please play Frank Zappa's "The
Grand Wazoo."  If you want to play it in the original key of Bb, that
would be fine, but my cousin Janeene would like to sing the baritone sax
solo. You may have to play that part in another key -- she has kind of a high

When my daughter throws the garter, could you play just a little of
Varese's "Ionization"?  It's such a cool piece, we think it would go over
really well.  Much better than "The Stripper."

And for the Bride & Groom's first dance, please slow things down a bit by
doing Barber's "Adagio For Strings."  It's so much better than "We've Only
Just Begun" or "The Anniversary Waltz."  When my wife and I join in the
first dance, could you please segue to Thelonius Monk's "Ruby, My Dear."
That's in honor of my
wife's grandmother whose name was Ruby.  It would mean so much to the family.

Thanks very much for all your help.  We'll certainly be happy to
recommend your band to all of our friends.  By the way, the gig pays $350 for
the group, and before you leave, please feel free to ask the caterer for a
sandwich and a soda to take with you.


The Bride's parents

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