Monday May 17, 2010
Last night I attended the memorial for John Bunch at St. Peter's in Manhattan. I was asked to say something about John, and as usual I walked away wishing I was capable of actually expressing what I'm feeling. So here, for those of you that care, and for myself is a more thoughtful and hopefully better expressed sentiment.
There is a line of lyrics from "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men" by Tom Wolfe and Fran Landesman that says: "All the sad young men - choking on their youth - trying to be brave - running from the truth" that pretty much nails the confusion hidden by bravado that I remember being my 20's and 30's. In the midst of all that angst and posing, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with John Bunch. John was a lifeline, always there to take hold of, always there to trust, always instructive, and always accepting.
Sure, there were times the frustration of dealing with my cloth ears and over fed ego drove John to use the index finger of his right hand to punch out repeatedly the "right" melody note. But some how he never gave up on me. People like that don't happen every day, and now I look back there were many in my life with the patience and friendship John expressed so freely. John just seemed to always be there, and now he's not. I don't know if there are words that truly describe what I'm feeling, I just know I was damned lucky to have lived and worked with men like John.
Friday February 12, 2010
At the age of 89, my father looked up from the obituary section of the newspaper and said: "That's what happens when you don't die, everyone around you does." He put the paper down and never read another obituary. The last week has forced me to consider the depth of my old man's revelation.
Jake Hanna, my dear friend, confidant, inspiration and Rock of Gibraltar in so many of the bands I played and toured with passed away in a Los Angeles hospital today. Jake was followed that evening by yet another dear friend, cornetist, and character Tom Saunders who died peacefully in his sleep that same Friday night.
I met and began working with Jake Hanna during the late 1970's with the Concord Allstars. The influence Jake had on me, musically and personally is just too deep to put into words now. He was always the life of the party, and his sense of swing and truth were always there to ground and balance any band or idiotic young cornet player he worked with. I just sort of felt Jake would always be there, swinging and joking and calling things the way he saw them.
It'll be a more confusing world without him.
Tom Saunders and I took to each other immediately. Tom was another of the world's one of a kinds, who always played from his heart, and found humor in just about everything. We cornetists don't get to spend much time together as a general rule, I suppose one of us in any band is enough ego for most people to handle, but on the few occasions Tom and I did get to play together we always had a ball, and there was always something to laugh about, usually our mistakes.
Goodbye my friends. It may be more confusing and certainly less fun in this world without you, but I don't know what I would do without the time we spent together to guide me.