The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CVII, No. 10October, 2007

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters published here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. Letters must be 300 words or less. Send them to Allegro, c/o Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036, or e-mail Mikael Elsila, the editor, at


This letter pertains to last month’s “Beat on the Street” question: are musicians “artists” or “workers”?

To the Editor:

When I work, I’m told what to play, how to play, when to show up, what to wear, when to go home. Sometimes they even tell me when to breathe! I have mortgage payments, car payments, tuition payments for two kids in college, health care issues just like many other working people. I have many things in common with building trade workers. They are concerned about health care and money. Their bosses are in the union, their jobs are temporary, and their unions face many of the same problems as ours do. I think I might be a worker.

David Schneck


To the Editor:

Recently I have noticed a disturbing trend here at Local 802 which can be characterized as “Just Say No.”

People seem to think that a totally negative position is a way to get an advantage in a negotiation.

Being completely negative has some attractive qualities, which include a sense of ideological or moral purity, a feeling of standing up for oneself (“Fuhgeddaboutit”), being tough, and a feeling of sophistication.

It’s fairly easy to portray people who say “Yes” to anything as being naive or conciliatory.

In real life, compromise and open-mindedness can lead to more advantageous results.

Any absolute position makes it impossible to think on one’s feet and react to changing situations as they evolve.

“Just Say No” is a dead end.

I urge our membership to support more flexible and intelligent approaches to solving problems.

Ethan Fein


This letter concerns the passing of the jazz pianist Sal Mosca; see obituary on page 16.

To the Editor:

My father, Sal Mosca, passed away on July 28. He was beyond category and beyond label.

An early fan of stride piano, Sal studied and practiced until his music was informed by a wide range of styles and approaches. His single defining concept was improvisation.

For Sal and the pantheon of acknowledged musical greats of his generation, improvisation became the definition of jazz, a genre which itself suffers from a surfeit of often misleading and confusing labels.

Sal has been described as a bop, post-bop, and cool jazz artist. None thoroughly apply.

Sal is unique in that once he settled on improvisation as his guide, he let his personality drive his music regardless of consequence. To know Sal personally one can understand his music. To know Sal’s music one can begin to understand the man.

Sal could be simultaneously complex and simple, serious and playful, social and secluded. Once he decided that what he felt as an individual was the most precious thing he owned, he never feared presenting that individuality in the purest form he was able to muster. A technical master of his instrument and the elements of musical composition, Sal could express himself without technical limitations and so all of his music is organic and undiluted by worldly considerations.

As such, Sal may be remembered most by what his music does not contain. There are no artifacts or commercial motives. There are no concessions to popular style. There are no underlying messages and no hidden agenda. There is no compromise.

Sal’s music is not for dilettantes. Only those seeking incredible music for its own sake and those steeped in the technical background of musical creation can and will appreciate what Sal has left behind. Others may best be left to pursue music correctly defined by labels.

Steve Mosca