The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CX, No. 2February, 2010

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

Campaign needs grassroots support

In the January issue of Allegro there is an article introducing the Music Lives in New York campaign. The effort to promote live music approaches universal appeal to the members of Local 802. The beginnings of a live music campaign go back years to efforts of people like Bobby Shankin when he was an Executive Board member and some undeveloped concepts I tried to initiate in the Theater Committee in the 1980’s. None of these attempts got anywhere.

What we need is to create an energetic movement that simultaneously works top down and bottom up. Top down involvement from the administration of the union is essential, but it will not work without a bottom up effort from the members of the union. We can bring together members willing to actively participate in making Music Lives in New York a reality. We can and we should give the live music campaign our best. After all, it’s what we do.

–Ethan Fein

Remembering Torrie

Torrie zito gave my New York career the fastest start imaginable.

Soon after immigrating with my young family in September 1959, I called legendary arranger Marion Evans, who said: “Boy, did you arrive at the right time! Mitch Leigh has got Will Schaefer chained to a desk writing jingles, so he’s quitting. Torrie Zito’s coming here this evening. Can you bring some music to show him”?

Meeting Torrie led to a job at Music Makers. First he showed me his freshly written score, for woodwinds, French horn, trombone, tuba, and a rhythm section including vibes. While explaining film timing, Torrie showed how musical layout, melody and phrase writing led to cadences, then counterpoint, harmonies, and orchestral colors. As he patiently revealed every detail, the sheer musical scope blew me away, but there was no time for nerves. It was like a master class, except for our deadline, which meant delivering the score to Associated Music Copying Service, on 46th St., above a Mexican restaurant.

There Torrie introduced me to Johnny Knapp, Bert Kosow, Al Miller and others, all busily writing, but friendly. They were most respectful towards Torrie, knowing his high standards for the music he was creating. That evening at A&R studios, Phil Ramone engineered the wonderful sounding session, and then we all retired to Jim & Andy’s bar downstairs.

Later Torrie recommended me to jingle producers and several singers, including Jerry Vale, Julius La Rosa and Barbara Rankin. I’ll always remember his great talent and many kindnesses, from this gentle musical giant.

There’s so much more to tell about Torrie Zito, but it won’t fit into this short space.

My autobiography will supply readers with the full story, but so far the first draft finishes in 1963.

–Ron Roullier

Whose voice was heard?

I found no small irony in the Allegro headline trumpeting “Your Voice Is Heard” juxtaposed with the news that a mere 16.5 percent of union membership (1,655 people) had actually voted for union president.

Apathy notwithstanding, this is paltry. If the substantive issues in this election were important and contested enough for both parties to send out glossy info-packs to all 10,000 members, perhaps the union should put more energy into the pragmatic details of voting itself. Both parties claim the need to go beyond the core of active members and expand participation and representation. Greater enfranchisement might be a good place to start.

In-person voting is inconvenient for many (and why bother having two of the three voting stations within 3/4 of a mile of each other?) The absentee ballot process appears insufficient.

It would be worth the resources to mail ballots to all members or to set up a secure internet voting procedure. It can’t be that hard, and the results will certainly be more meaningful if more than 1 in every 6 members is voting.

–Sam Bardfeld