Sunday, May 28, 2006

Anniversary in Rhythm

My parents are having a big bash for their anniversary next weekend; I'm providing the band (that's the "private function in Sugar Land, TX" listing in the Upcoming Gigs section of the sidebar), so we were talking about details last night. One of the things I'd asked them was if they could remember the song that was played for their first dance, and I was surprised to find out that there wasn't one. I knew that they had been married in Mom's Baptist church, but even though it was Northern Baptist, not Southern (being in Ohio and all), a first dance was still evidently not part of their tradition. And then Mom dropped the bombshell: The one thing that stood out in her memory was that they really liked the music of Stan Kenton and his orchestra, and one of the musical highlights of their college days was when he came to their college to play a concert.

That's right--my parents got to see Kenton perform live.

All this time that I've been a jazz musician, and all the times that I'd played at a school where Kenton had donated his entire library of music (and had a rehearsal/performance hall named after him), and I never knew that my parents had actually seen him perform. From what Mom said, it was very common for big bands to go around from college to college giving concerts (much like Maynard does at high schools these days). It's also interesting to note that the college campus is the one place that's most responsible for keeping the big band tradition alive, except that nowadays, the students themselves are the players.

With the exception of my dad's recent involvement in church choir, Mom and Dad haven't been actively involved in music since they were teenagers, but now I have to wonder if perhaps the same little bit of genetic material that predisposed them to like Kenton seeped into me and grew to humongous proportions. (It's also possible that being a Kentonphile was very normal when they were in school, since jazz hadn't quite morphed from popular music to art form by then.)

At any rate, I'm officially jealous (after all, they may have gotten to hear the original "Machito")...and now I have to figure out if I can scale down something like "Peanut Vendor" or "Eager Beaver" for tenor, guitar, bass and drums before this Saturday.

This car has all the bells and whistles...and reptiles: A Kentucky rental-car customer was rather startled to discover a snake wrapped across the dashboard. (He thought it was a rubber snake at first, so he started to drive, but he realized something was amiss when the snake started to move.)

"Dad, I'd better buy my lunch at school today; the "hash" you sent with me yesterday didn't go over so well:" An elementary-schooler in Minnesota reached into his backpack to get out a folder; instead, out came one of the bags of marijuana that his dad had hidden in there. (Dad was busted, needless to say.)


Gary P. said...

That's right--my parents got to see Kenton perform live.

And all this time, they've never mentioned it? That's pretty funny. That'd be like my folks (who can't whistle in tune) telling me now "Oh yeah, we saw Maynard Ferguson with his Roulette Big Band while we were in college."

I have to figure out if I can scale down something like "Peanut Vendor" or "Eager Beaver" for tenor, guitar, bass and drums before this Saturday.

Invention for Guitar and Tenor? Kevin McNerney (nee Art Pepper)? Maybe something really poppish and accessible like City of Glass or anything from the Kenton Plays Wagner recording? Or the collaboration with Tex Ritter? So much material to choose from....

Kev said...

Actually, Gary, I found out that I have much less work to do than I originally thought, because Kenton's "dance book" contained standards that we were going to play anyway: All the Things You Are, I'll Remember April, How High the Moon, Love For Sale.

What was interesting about this was that Kenton didn't play concerts per se when they went to these colleges--they played dances. But what they found out was that a lot of the audience didn't actually dance, but they stood near the front and listened. The modern big-band concert was born, in a way. (My folks talked about being among the stand-in-front crowd, and a friend of mine who's just a little younger than my parents talked yesterday about doing the same thing when Kenton played in San Diego.)

Kev said...

"Kevin McNerney (nee Art Pepper)?"

Heh, I'd love to have a musical legacy like Art's, but I could do without the drug habit, jail time, maybe even the tattoos... ;-)