Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Navy Musicians Lexicon Update

As quickly as I update the Navy Musicians Lexicon, more contributions arrive, some from shipmates, some from the direct pipeline that funnels inspiration from on high. Wherever they come from, I've added them to the Lexicon, which you can read here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Skating Rink is Closed

As I flipped through the NMA Leger Lines and read Treasurer Cecil Strange's plea for members get up off their wallets and pay their 2008 dues, I thought about the skaters.

The skaters were the guys who got away with doing the least, who made life hard for everyone. While we were in training, the skaters conserved their spit and hoarded their polish, and the whole squad flunked inspection. We found skaters in our bands, too; they were the guys who didn't woodshed their parts, causing long, grueling rehearsals for everyone.

Yup, I told myself, it's a helluva shame we still have to put up with---

Wait a minute, I said as a tingly feeling crawled up my spine. I found the checkbook, looked through the register for "Navy Musicians Association" and--and nothing.

I'd forgotten to ante up for 2008. Sure, I'd made a mental note a few weeks ago to write the check but, instead, I'd been skating.

I took care of the problem right away. I not only wrote the check, I used the form in the Leger Lines to register for the June reunion in Memphis. Finding myself on a roll, I got on the phone and reserved a room at the Memphis Marriot.

Having done all this, I feel like a new man. So it with a renewed sense of honor that I say: Square yourselves away, you slimy, skating maggots--last man to pay up scrubs the urinals in the Marriot men's head.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Special Bands, Special Rules

The U.S. Navy Band and the Naval Academy Band had a tremendous allure for fleet bandsmen, who spent their off-duty hours locked in practice rooms in hopes of, one day, being accepted into one of the "special bands."

Others looked down on these groups. "Special rules" and "special privaleges" held little attraction for hardcore fleet MUs.

Well, there's certainly something special about the Naval Academy Brass Quintet. Have a quick listen to some of their live performance in this video.

Did you notice the broad, full sound, richer and more robust than the sound of most brass quintets.

Did you also notice the group has six players, slightly more than the number found in most brass quintets?

I always thought it was superior musicianship that made the special bands superior. Now I see that it's really special math. Imagine the bold, brassy sound of a seven-man Naval Academy jazz quartet. I'll bet they have to build special extensions on stages to hold an entire Naval Academy sextet.

I wonder how many MUs they schedule for a solo piano gig.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Name the players

Here's a clip of the School of Music Faculty Lab Band playing "Eli's Coming" in early 1986.

I was just leaving SOM for Japan at this time, and don't recall the concert. In fact, I hardly recognize any of the performers. This may be because I'd been too busy concentrating on the physical requirements for Advanced Course students: hiding your head, covering your butt and watching your back.

Army Specialist Bill Maley is the trumpet sololist, a fine and talented fellow. The announcer is another soldier, Charlie Ross, who worked on the third deck in Instrument Repair.

And I recognize the leader, Navy Chief Warrant Officer Larry Gatewood. Oh yes, I certainly do. Yep, I remember him.

But as for the rest--any ideas?