The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CV, No. 10October, 2005


To the Editor:

I invite members of 802 to join me in a project.

Since around 1990 or so I have been doing interviews, mostly with rhythm section players — including Ray Brown, Percy Heath, Milt Hinton, Ray Bryant, Louis Hayes, Vernell Fournier, Bill Crow, Horace Silver, Jimmy McGriff and over 30 others. When musicians pass on, there is some consolation in knowing that we have a few ideas in their own words about how they pursued their craft. And when young musicians sit down to discuss their ways of creating a groove today, this can also be very valuable information about the human spirit for us to hold on to tomorrow.

So I want you to join me. Grab a fellow rhythm player and converse: interview each other! Some possible questions: “Where does a good groove come from?” “How do you create a groove?” “Let’s talk about a specific rhythm section.”

You can talk to each other about interaction and relationships. How do drummers and bassists lock in? Who does a pianist zero in on?

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with people about the Basie rhythm section, the Oscar Peterson trio, the Ahmad Jamal trio, a Miles rhythm section, a Monk rhythm section, the difference between one drummer’s cymbal tap and another’s back in the day. But there are wonderful discussions to have about the great rhythm sections of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and now!

Send me a copy of your tape interviewing an elder or conversing with a “partner in time” and I’ll pay for a transcription of it. Contact me at

— Charlie Keil
The writer is an ethnomusicologist and author, most recently, of “Bright Balkan Morning: Romani Lives and the Power of Music in Greek Macedonia,” published by Wesleyan University Press.


To the Editor:

It was stimulating to read Jeff Schiller’s letter opposing Local 802’s support for Mayor Bloomberg’s Hudson Yards stadium project in the June issue. It’s refreshing to again see discussion of the local’s political stances in Allegro. How unfortunate for Local 802’s membership that my immediate negative reaction to President Lennon’s advocacy of that misguided project had been denied publication in our journal.

Despite the Central Labor Council’s endorsement of the project, it was clear that a football stadium at a site without “tailgating” was a loser. The CLC represents many building trades unions, who mostly see such projects as jobs, jobs, and jobs. I pointed out that the labor council had, back in the Cold War era, promoted constructing a Staten Island port facility for nuclear-powered vessels — which would have made our area a prime target for ICBM’s!

However, after I retired in 1993 from 802’s presidency, the local’s Public Relations Department had suffered the loss of a brilliant analyst of local politics. Unfortunately, her successor’s only experience had been in the employ of the Central Labor Council. Since then, our local didn’t seem to have the benefit of completely objective advice.

So in June 2004 I wrote a (perhaps too long) letter to our Executive Board opposing President Lennon’s espousal of the Hudson Yards stadium project and asked that it be printed in Allegro. I never received an answer. And it never appeared in Allegro.

I think it’s great that Allegro is now, once again, printing dissenting opinions. One of the Members’ Party’s platform planks back in 1982 urged opening our union journal’s pages to membership input. In fact, its political newsletter was entitled “The Musicians’ Voice.” Let’s hope that our union’s newspaper — and its leadership — again returns to encouraging open discussion about any and all issues affecting musicians.

—John Glasel
The writer was president of Local 802 from 1983 to 1992.

Local 802 Replies: On June 6, 2004, John Glasel submitted to Allegro a very long piece about his opposition to the Hudson Yards Plan. (The original story was 1,197 words, which Glasel later edited down to 732.) On June 30, 2004 Allegro replied to Glasel in an e-mail, stating, “In keeping with Allegro’s policy, we would be happy to print your remarks as a letter to the editor of 300 words or less, in the following issue.” On July 25, 2004, Glasel responded, declining our offer to print his views on the Hudson Yards Plan under the same guidelines afforded all 802 members in this column’s open forum — a 300-word letter to the editor. Therefore, when Glasel writes that he never received an answer from Allegro or 802, he is wrong. Further, the action to support the Hudson Yards Plan was not the president’s decision alone — the members of the Executive Board spent many hours debating the relative merits of such a decision. In the end, the board voted its support, feeling that the advantages far outweighed any perceived disadvantages. In fact, through our relationship with the mayor’s office, 802 was instrumental in securing the future affordability of Manhattan Plaza for our members and other performing arts union members. As chair of the Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Committee, 802 represented the broadest and largest labor coalition on affordable housing. And, finally, regardless of the plan’s defeat, we have gained valuable currency as a result of our participation in this issue.


To the Editor:

I am writing on behalf of Angel Rangilov, who is a musician in need and who has earned the respect of the jazz community. Angel has urgent need of a job as a working musician and the loan or gift of a trombone in any repairable condition. He is also in need of a day job, assistance or even advice. I am pleased to receive mail or phone calls on his behalf at 51 East 42 Street, New York, NY 10017 or (212) 682-8552. (I’m an attorney and a friend of many members of Local 802 and the AFM. I wrote “This Business of Music,” published by Billboard Press.)

— Bill Krasilovsky


To the Editor:

I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank Local 802 for the Anne Walker Memorial Scholarship. I have devoted so much time to my studies at Ithaca College and look forward to two more successful years and incredible student teaching opportunities in the future. Many local musicians saw the article in the June Allegro and I was even contacted by a professional horn player in New York City to perform in a wind quintet symposium as a result of the article. Your generosity and support is helping me accomplish all of my dreams and more. Thank you so much!

— Jenna Troiano