The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. E-mail letters to Allegro@Local802afm.org or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words.
When ‘sharing’ is stealing
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article for Allegro called “When Sharing Is Stealing” (see www.bitly.com/when-sharing-is-stealing). In it, I described how my jazz technique books were being copied and bootlegged by an unscrupulous user whose screen name was “Hoo Tubes.” He was using a legitimate Web site (www.Scribd.com) as well as his own site to pirate my music books, costing me thousands of dollars in lost income.
After lots of investigating, I finally tracked down the real name and e-mail address of this user. I sent him an e-mail, letting him know that I was prepared to take him to court. The next day, he took down his own site.
Please remember that so-called “copyright activists” who think that all “information should be free” are actually harming individual artists like myself.
Mine was a small victory for the moment, but there are millions out there who pirate our music and books without any concern for the consequences.
Those who want to know more can e-mail me at BebopYo@aol.com
Remembering Sonny Russo
In 1986, trombonist Santo “Sonny” Russo (1929-2013) and I were roommates on a cruise ship while playing with drummer Bobby Rosengarden’s band. In a tiny cabin, you get to know somebody quickly. Sonny had a long list of major credits: a slew of major big bands in the 1940s and 50s, innumerable “name” singers (most notably Frank Sinatra, with whom he toured for two decades), the “Tonight Show” band, many Jerry Lewis telethons, a host of jazz gigs, etc.
Sonny was a terrific human being – warm, constantly upbeat – with a legendary sense of humor.
He also was an undersung great player. While playing with the Sauter-Finegan orchestra in the 1950s, Sonny was heard by conductor Fritz Reiner, who was so impressed by him that he asked Sonny to audition for the Chicago Symphony. (He never did.)
A famous story: one night an irate listener accosted the Sauter-Finegan band with: “Why don’t you play something we can dance to?” Sonny immediately replied: “Why don’t you dance something we can play to?” That was the summation of an end of an era of music.
Bach’s cello suites
This is in response to the story in the March issue about whether or not Anna Magdalena Bach was the actual composer of J.S. Bach’s cello suites. The story was written by Martin Jarvis, a professor of music at Charles Darwin University in Australia. As part of the story, Prof. Jarvis refers to Pablo Casals’ experience with the cello suites. I would like to salvage Messrs. Bach and Casals from our highly-decorated Darwinian.
Casals found the copies of the suites in a stack of secondhand music located in a music store in Barcelona. He said, “My attention was suddenly arrested by some unaccompanied suites of Bach for cello. I forgot entirely the reason of my visit to the shop and could only stare at this music which nobody had told me about. Sometimes even now, when I look at the covers of that old music, I see again the interior of that old and musty shop with its faint smell of the sea. I took the suites home and read and re-read them. For 12 years after that, I studied and worked every day at them. I was nearly 25 before I had the courage to play one of them in public.” He never doubted their authenticity.
Compositions by Anna Magdalena, had they existed, would have been cited for comparison by Prof. Jarvis. We know that she copied parts of her husband’s cantatas and participated in two music books with him. In a letter to his friend Georg Erdmann, (Leipzieg, 28 Oct., 1730), Bach says that he could form an ensemble within his expanded family, “particularly since my present wife sings a good, clear soprano.” No mention of cello suites.
Henry Foner: still inspiring
HENRY FONER, a man in his 90s, who all his life has loved unions and music, is one of those amazing labor leaders who seem to belong to another generation. (I hope that isn’t true). From 1961 to 1988 he was president of the joint board of the fur, leather and machine workers union, an activist union that campaigned for many progressive causes.
He continues, even now, writing, organizing, and making music. His relationship to Local 802 has always been strong. For a while, as executive director of Bread and Roses, I had my office in the Local 802 building. Henry visited all the time. He said the building itself made him happy because he felt he heard music whenever he walked in.
Henry played in a band with his brothers called Suspended Swing, given that name because all four brothers were victimized by the Rapp-Coudert committee and were suspended from their jobs for political activity.
Labor Arts, an online gallery by, for and about labor culture, just published Henry’s songs and poems, “For Better or Verse.” They’re wonderful. You can find out more, read the songs, and order the book at www.LaborArts.org.