[Dixielandjazz] "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood"

Nancy Giffin nancyink at ulink.net
Fri Feb 28 10:33:11 PST 2003

"And now for something completely different":

Children's TV icon, "Mr. Rogers," died yesterday. May he rest in peace.
Among the many things he introduced to children: JAZZ PIANO as background
for every show, for 33 years straight.

>From today's SF Chronicle:
AP Reporter Justin Pritchard once asked Mr. Rogers if he ever got mad, if he
ever felt like smashing something in anger. "Oh, I don't lose my temper, but
I get angry." Justin asked how he dealt with his temper, to which he
replied, "Through the piano."

Edited from misterrogers.org:

With the support of bassist Carl McVicker and percussionist Bobby
Rawsthorne, classical jazz pianist John Costa served as music director of
MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD for 25 years until his death in 1996. (Michael
Moricz replaced him.) Costa chose jazz arrangements to underscore and bridge
the activities in the NEIGHBORHOOD. Jazz has a timeless quality and allows
for improvisation. 

Fred Rogers grew up with the popular songs of the 30's, 40's, and 50's. He
was a Presbyterian minister, but his bachelor's degree was in Music
Composition. "When you learn music or participate in it in some way, it is
that much more meaningful." Rogers believed that music's power to express
feelings and to communicate is for everyone. "It's the one art we all have
inside, " he says. "We may not be able to play an instrument, but we can
sing along or clap or tap our feet..."

The ideas for his songs come from many sources. When a little boy asked one
day, "What do you do with the mad that you feel when you feel so mad you
could bite?," Rogers turned that question into a song. Recalling his own
childhood anger he says that he was only allowed to express his feelings by
playing loud on the piano, which had a calming effect on him. He encourages
children to find ways to manage their anger. "Music is my way," he says. "Of
course, it's a way to say that I am happy as well."

Over the years, Mister Rogers introduced children to a wide variety of
singers and musicians, including Tony Bennett, the Empire Brass Quintet,
clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, Zydeco musician Queen Ida, jazz saxophonist
Eric Kloss, and many others.

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