Sunday, March 06, 2011

Mr. Smoothy

It's the fifties in New Jersey and I knew what I was in for, another drive to visit my Uncle Bill! I'm like only 9 or 10 years old and just starting trumpet lessons, but I knew I'd have to sit in front of those enormous Fischer speakers and listen to ancient scratchy recordings of Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra! "Now Philip, I want you to sit here and listen to this!"

My brother and I badly wanted to go outside and play in the huge back yard that had a homemade wooden double bench swing that my grandfather built himself to occupy his mind while my dad was in the army during the War. We loved that old swing! But no. We sat obediently in my uncle's den as he played cut after cut of his beloved trumpet hero. He loved that smooth romantic playing, and he would watch me in vain hoping that he might ignite some spark of interest on my part. I'm certain he concluded that his trumpet-appreciation efforts were wasted. How's a kid that age going to appreciate record playing? All we wanted was to play space ship on Papa's swing, but he tried.

My great grandfather, I was told many times, played first trombone in Sousa'a band. With every visit to uncle Bill I would hear stories of his fabulous playing. Spivak and my great grandfather had similar styles so they said. He was quite the eccentric, my great grandfather, but his amazing playing excused his behavior, but that's another story. (See Spivak's "Hop, Skip and Jump.")

Anyway, here is a nice sample of what my brother and I failed to appreciate at the time. This one is entitled "Stardreams" by Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra. The music is from another era for sure, but his approach and expressive legato are still to be admired. I like his comfort in the upper register. Those weren't high notes. That was home.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Wonderful story! And what a great recording! Really enjoyed listening to Stardreams!