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.
NO SHEET MUSIC REQUIRED!
The leading club date bands from the 1950s to 1970s – such as Lester Lanin, Meyer Davis, Peter Duchin and others – engaged only musicians who were capable of playing all of the Broadway show tunes (past and present), commercial standards and popular songs of the day, faking the harmony parts without one sheet of written music in front of them. When a name act or artist would also be on the date with written orchestrations, the players were expected to play the parts flawlessly with only a “talk over” rather than an actual playing rehearsal.
On a club date in the early 60’s, I was engaged to play lead alto with a 15-piece band, using written orchestrations. Also featured on the date was The Great DeLage and Margaret, a well-known magician act. Each player received a 10×13 Conn music folder. The inside pocket contained the exact same sheet reproduced at right. Each sheet was covered with a transparent cover with an added note, “Do not write on my music.”
There was no rehearsal and the performance was perfect thanks to the club date pros.
REMEMBERING ISRAEL CHORBERG
Israel Chorberg was an inspiration to me as a young violin student in my early days in Uruguay. Israel was everyone’s mentor. Many years later, when he had become a fixture in the New York musical scene, he went back to Montevideo and organized an amazing months-long festival, giving work to all the native musicians and paying for it all out of his own pocket, including substantial wages to all the musicians. Stories of his generosity are legendary. I constantly meet musicians during my tours of South America who were touched by Israel Chorberg’s humanity and generosity. I was so fortunate to have heard him perform my early solo violin sonata several times in New York, always to perfection. Israel Chorberg will always remain in the minds and souls of everyone who met him. May he rest in peace.
[Editor’s note: see our obituary for Israel Chorberg in this issue.]
I remember Israel Chorberg as a delightful, smiling gentleman, as a wonderful musician, and as the father of my best friend, his only child Adriana Chorberg Sananes (we’ve been friends since we were both 11 years old). He was a person who made you feel good to be in the same room with him. He had a musician’s discipline, a sharp wit and fun-loving attitude. I miss him.
The passing of the wonderful violinist and musician Israel Chorberg (who I also knew as “Srulik”) is for me a very personal loss. We were both born in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. He was 12 years older than I. Our parents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and good friends. When I was 6 years old, he convinced my parents that I should study the violin instead of the piano. As I turned 9, he recommended to my parents that I should change teachers , and took me to play for Professor Ylia Fidlon, who was a pupil of Leopold Auer and Israel’s teacher at that time. He convinced Professor Fidlon to take me, in spite of my “wildness.” Often after lessons, Israel would take me to his house or one of the nice coffee houses in town for high tea. I always loved him and thought of him as my older brother. Throughout my playing and teaching career, he was very supportive, loving and understanding. The last time we spoke, which was 10 months before he died, he recognized me. He warmly and lovingly greeted me the way he did since I was a child: “Moishele, how are you?” I will cherish that greeting and our special friendship the rest of my life. I will miss you, Srulik!
The writer is the Rudy Professor of Violin at the
Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (Bloomington).
MEMORIES OF RICK CHAMBERLAIN
It was with a great personal sense of loss and sadness that I learned of Rick Chamberlain’s passing. He was my mentor, friend and colleague. He guided me through the intricacies of the New York City Ballet repertoire, from “Agon” to “Thou Swell” during my 30 years as a sub and he almost taught me how to swing. He was a tremendous jazz player who crossed over to symphonic playing with ease. He was dedicated to his students and the jazz festival he created in Delaware Water Gap. Always the optimist, he will be remembered not only as a unique musician but as a great guy. He will be missed.
[Editor’s note: see our obituary for Rick Chamberlain in this issue.]
LLOYD BUCHANAN, REST IN PEACE
Lloyd Buchanan, 88, a bassist and a member of Local 802 since 1945 died on Jan. 19. I met Lloyd when he worked with Walter Perkins and Hank Edmonds at the Village Door Supper Club in Jamaica, Queens, which was an important venue from the 1970s to the 1990s. Many famous jazz artists dropped in to play with the rhythm section, including Bob Alexander, Roy Eldrige, Arthur Prysock, Tom Browne, Count Staten and Doug Gould. Lloyd also played with me on some private gigs. Later, I learned that Lloyd had played with many of the greats, including Jerry Sears, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. Lloyd was a great bassist, a sharp dresser and a great person, whom I miss very much. He is survived by his wife Maria, children Patrice, Carol, Norman and Yvonne, and grandchildren Christopher, Camille, Haydea, Mason and Tanice.
A TRIBUTE TO FRANK MODICA JR.
I want to let fellow musicians know that my father Frank Modica Jr. passed away on March 15 at the age of 85. Frank was a member of Local 802 from 1949 to 1975. He was a trumpeter, but was best known as the agent of Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Chet Atkins, Harry James, Buddy Rich, Charlie Byrd and Dave Brubeck, whom he represented for over 40 years.
At age 13, my dad had already formed his own quartet. Five years later, he entered Juilliard, supporting himself by playing night gigs in dance halls. When the Korean War broke out, he joined the Army and played with the Third Army Band and the Sixteenth Army Field Band. Later, he earned a degree at Adelphi University, where he studied business and music. Frank next hit the road with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, which he also managed, before landing at MCA in 1957. There, he became an agent for Harry James, Charlie Barnet, Guy Lombardo, Nancy Wilson and Johnny Mathis. After the dissolution of MCA, my dad worked for the General Artist Corporation, where his clients included Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan.
In 1971, Frank formed his own company, Sutton Artist Corporation, which represented Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Diane Schuur, Charlie Byrd, Chet Atkins and Dizzy Gillespie, as well as Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughan. After Atkins’ death in 2001, my dad concentrated exclusively on his professional relationship with Brubeck, working with the legendary pianist until Dave’s health began to decline in 2011.
In 2012, Frank retired after 55 years in the music business. He is survived by my stepmother Chris, my siblings Carol and William, and my husband Jesus. My dad is also survived by his grandchildren Nicole, Vittorio and Frank and his stepchildren Chris, Frank, Bill, Lynett and Leah and their spouses and nine children.
FINDING MY FATHER
Seven years ago, Allegro published a story about my search for my birth father, whose name I did not know (“Searching for Dad” by Ann Wilmer). Now I know that he was a professional singer named James Henry Poché, who was born in New Orleans in 1930, and grew up there and in Baltimore.
My father later attended Peabody Institute and Juilliard. He was an operatic baritone who appeared on the Ted Mack Radio Hour and toured with major choruses. In his 20s he plied his musical chops. Then tragedy struck: his mother, trying to help out at an accident scene, was struck by another car and died. This happened in the hours after she and the rest of the immediate family attended one of his choral concerts at Brooklyn Academy of Music, in May 1958. James Poché tapered off from singing by his mid-30s, but one of his later choral engagements was with St. Bartholomew’s Church in midtown Manhattan. He lived his last 20 or so years first in Reno and then in Seattle.
Unfortunately, James Poché died in 2011, four years before I was able to meet him. An expert private investigator, an adult adoptee named Pamela Slaton, found my father and surviving family in March 2015. Since 1935, New York law has forbidden adoptee access to birth mother and father names. So I tried the genealogy sites www.familytreedna.com and www.23andme.com, which analyze genetic samples. However, matching turned up only distant relatives with common ancestors born in the 1800s.
After finding my aunt and uncle, Pamela Slaton contacted my aunt. Since then, aunt, uncle, and I have had great conversations by phone about my father and our family, and I plan to meet them soon.
Thank you for reading about my father, a fellow musician. If you knew James Poché, I would like to hear your remembrances. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.