Composers, Musicians & Their Music

#1
I'll Never Smile Again,
Today, May 23 was the anniversary of Frank Sinatra's debut at the Paramount theatre in New York City introducing that all time Classic, 'I'll Never Smile Again' with Tommy Dorsey's band and the 'Modinares doing the vocal background. And why do I remember this date? I will tell that unusual drama at the end of this Commentary after I laud the composers, and singers and great musicians who have made life a lot more romantic and often have eased our pain of loneliness when no medicine could. This generation has yet to discover the really great Swinging Saints of the 20th Century; the Classical Music that influenced our American dance and, I believe, influenced our culture in a very positive manner.
Out of curiosity, I was looking through my past commentaries in Dance Forum to get an idea of what subjects the members of Dance Forum were interested in. Of the 37 commentaries, I found 'Duke Ellington's Party' with only 14 views against other less important subjects receiving 200 to 650 views. If I can turn anyone onto the great music of the 1930' to the 1950's, I feel I will have done a greater service then with all my other 36 commentaries. I'm not foolish enough to think I can do this with 'persuasive words; that would be impossible, but I can do two things with the written word that might help exposed dancers to more danceable and more melodious songs that can tell an infinite variety of 'Love Stories" within only three (3) minutes.
Today's music is disconnected from the lyrics, there is if any, a weak melody, the tempos are usually frenzied well above the danceable tempos of the great majority of dancers to enjoy. And the musicianship of the composers and of the majority of musicians in Southern California is B- College Level. How do these so called modern day composers get away with it?
When Disco dancing pushed out the big band musicians, be there was no place for a serious musician to hone his talent, and so for several decades we lost one of the main schools for musicians to practice and improve. Most musicians here in Southern California work a couple of nights a week, if they are lucky, and at $60.00 a night, they have to work days to make ends meet.,
As for 'Song Writers' there is no money in writing anything except, Rap, Hip Hop, Regu and anything that DOES NOT require professional musicianship. So the best we dancers can expect is mostly warmed over songs of the past by musicians who can't blow a complete riff without cacaphonizing the harmonic relationship to the original melody.
If you want to hear and dance to mesmorising music, just for starters, check out this short list of composers of the late 1930' to the 1950's:
JEROME KERN & OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN, JOHNNY MERCER, IRA & GEORGE GERSHWIN, COLE PORTER, CARLOS JOBIN, BOB RUSSELL & DUKE ELLINGTON, JIMMY CHESTER VAN HEUSEN & SAMMY CAEN, FATS WALLER, JULE STYNE, ROGERS & HART, LIONEL HAMPTON, AND THE LIST GOES ON.
The Classical music of BEETHOVEN, MOZART, WAGNER, CHOPIN, VERDI, BACK, AND BRAHMS is still ALIVE AND ENJOYED BY THE WORLD, AND OUR CLASSICAL POP MUSIC OF THE 1930-1950'S IS STILL AMONG THE GREATEST POPULAR (POP) MUSIC EVER WRITTEN. IT ONLY HAS TO BE REDISCOVERED BY TODAY'S DANCERS TO BRING IT TO THE ATTENTION OF BANDS WHO WANT THEIR DANCE FLOORS FILLED!
About the May 23, drama at the Paramount, I mentioned in the beginning of this commentary; Dom Giello, myself and a couple of teenage friends playing hooky from high school to see Frank Sinatra sing, were in this long line waiting to buy our theatre tickets. Out of the clear blue sky, Dom who is only 5'3" says, "Hey Joe watch this." As a six foot cop in uniform is strolling our way keeping patrons in line, Dom steps out of line in front of the policeman and lays a haymaker on the cops jaw and sends him sprawling. We ran away like lightening that day, but we did return the next day to see a miniature Sinatra perform from our upper tier balcony seats. That's how I remember Frank Sinatra's debut at the Paramount with Tommy Dorsey and the Modenairs as he introduced "I'll Never Smile Again".

Black Sheep d.lanza@netzero.net

Copyright 2003 by Joe Lanza. Do not duplicate in whole or in part without the consent of the author
 

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