‘Why we joined the union’

Volume 116, No. 11November, 2016

Michael Gennari

michael-gennariAs a bassoonist and woodwind doubler I decided to join the union in order to expand my network and open myself up to new opportunities. In college at New Jersey City University back in 2007, I was able to make music with some of NYC’s best doublers, and due to my time there, I can proudly claim ten years of solid bassoon, clarinet and saxophone experience under the guidance of Broadway’s greatest reed musicians. My musical goal in New York City is to find work playing within the reed sections of pit orchestras and big bands as well as in the horn sections of the next great ensemble. As a bassoon doubler with solid improvisational technique on all my woodwinds I find myself standing head and shoulders above most doublers and among the upper echelon of musicians. I’ve had the honor of performing in jazz ensembles, orchestral situations, and rock/pop settings alike and do my best to create a happening musical experience at all times. My recent gigs have been performing in parades throughout the summer for many different celebrations in New Jersey as well as the boroughs of New York City. I’ve found a niche for myself providing ornamented bass lines on the baritone saxophone for many town festivities as well as playing saxophone in my 1950s group Reminisce! My knack for improvisation, music theory and performing in a rock medium truly comes in handy when performing these outdoor gigs that entertain the masses. These performances all require a distinct knowledge of specified standards that can be called at any time, and must be performed correctly with no rehearsal. As a musician born in the late 80s, after a great deal of American culture and music has come and gone, I find my musical challenges to be on an existential level. Namely, how does one keep reinventing the use of saxophones and woodwinds in such a way that can be relevant during a period where less and less focus is placed on the use of live musicians as opposed to more easily produced musical products? As a musician in a postmodern world I find that my job is not only to provide musical entertainment but to regain the concept that live music is a shared form of expression and communication that we can all revel in. Only when we convince our audience that art is no longer a spectator sport, can we truly grow together and regain some of our lost glory as a country. Finally, what’s my principal instrument? This is a question that I get a lot from fans and other musicians, and I can never find the definitive answer that satisfies them. I started on clarinet back in third grade under the guidance of Elliot Stern, and from there I learned to pick up bass clarinet, all the saxophones, and then eventually, bassoon and flute. I’ve played classical clarinet, jazz saxophone, orchestral bassoon, wind ensemble bass clarinet and reed books of all numbers and sizes. I work my hardest to fit seamlessly into any reed section, to support my fellow musicians in any way possible, and when I get called to improvise I make sure I play from the ears, the head and the heart. That is truly the principle of my musicianship and my purpose in this universe.