Friday, January 1, 2010

... In With The New

New Year's Day has turned into one of those crystal-perfect days, sunshine with no precipitation of any sort, just chilly enough to make one reach for a jacket, lots of light coming from all the windows in the house instead of all the electric lights... the sort of day one lives for, the sort of day one hopes for on a holiday. Call me seasonally affected if you want; I'm happy when it's sunny.

We spent a good deal of the morning working our way through Stella's rather sizable collection of recordings of klezmer music. It makes me feel like dancing (no, I don't), or playing tuba (no way), or dragging my childhood clarinet out of its case to attempt some of the instrumental leads in those klezmer dances (but I've already confronted my diminishing ability to do that, in the previous post). So I sit and tap my foot like any idiot enthusiast who never picked up an instrument in his life. But that's OK; I had a good two decades working with Isabelle Ganz in one of her numerous groups covering various aspects of the Jewish literature, in that case, Sephardic music, the music of the diaspora. I had a good ride performing that literature, and I can scarcely complain now if a few formerly working parts don't work as well. Fortunately, we live in an era when a CD or an .mp3 file can bring me Andy Statman and crew, so the music is neither gone nor forgotten.

And in a way, that's the point, for an aging musician who performs music in some specific historical tradition: the continuity, the preservation, the ongoing spinning of the creative threads that originated in a bygone time, transcend the details of when or why I decided to hang up my axe. There are plenty of younger, healthier folk with axes they clearly know how to use at least as well as I ever did. No performer ever carried a tradition by himself or herself; no tradition ever carried itself without a critical mass of involved performers. Someone will do this. That's very important to me. And if my hearing holds up, I can continue enjoying the music without expending the effort... how's that for a lazy man's attitude?

May 2010 be your best year yet, and the first of many good years.


  1. Here's wishing you a very happy new year Steve

  2. Mmm, nice post, Steve. I enjoyed it greatly. I sometimes think of picking up my trombone and playing a few notes. I wait, and the thought goes away. Of course, I only played it in highschool. I think I know where it is.

    "May 2010 be your best year yet, and the first of many good years."

    Wishing the same thought to you.

  3. jams, thank you... and a very Happy New Year to you!

  4. OWL, many thanks and good wishes to you as well. Samantha did fine... in addition to her usual toys, treats, etc., she received what every cat must dream of: an order from the vet to gain a bit of weight, and a prescription for some apparently very tasty canned food. At this rate, she'll gain that weight in no time; meanwhile, she begs for dinner several times a day. :-)

  5. Happy New Year you guys! "klezmer music" Love it!!!

  6. And a Happy New Year to you, mandt! I spent decades playing a different part of the early Jewish literature (ironically, I'm not even Jewish, though I wouldn't mind being so) and fell in love with it. Try Statman. Try Izzy Ganz, if you can find her stuff still in print. The music is infectious, and what you catch is much more pleasant than H1N1!



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