Remembrances of music industry friends.

Larry Abel—A Musical Mensch!

On December 27, 2016, the music industry lost one its great artists and most ardent supporters, Larry Abel. Larry was 83 when he passed and is survived by his wife Shelley, sons Curtis & Steven, grandchildren Hudson and Chloe-Kate, and sister Sally. Larry was more than just my friend: he was a symbol of what was good about the music industry and humanity. From the first moment that I met him, I felt that I had met a friend and found someone who cared about music as much as anyone I had ever encountered and demanded that every job be treated with great respect and dignity.

I met Larry Abel in 1995 during the early stages of the Broadway production of Victor Victoria. I had been hired by a well-known Broadway contractor for the first time and was to play the lead reed book. Since this was the first time in many years that big Hollywood money was being invested in a Broadway show and because Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews were directly involved in the production, everyone was quite nervous. There were several additional important industry people involved with the production including Henry Mancini, Leslie Bricusse, Frank Wildhorn, Ian Fraser, Rob Marshall and the great Billy Byers. Continue reading 

Al Block—One of the Good Guys

On August 15, 2015 we lost Al Block, one of the wonderful woodwind doublers of the twentieth century who was 89 years old when he succumbed to pneumonia. Al had a distinguished career having played with the Sauter-Finegan Band, Benny Goodman, Boyd Raeburn, Artie Shaw, Raymond Scott, among many other big bands. He also participated in several legendary recordings including the Miles Davis/Gil Evans Sketches of Spain and Charlie Parker and Voices; played in numerous Broadway shows including the original productions of West Side Story, Gypsy, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, La Cage Aux Folles, etc; and was regarded as one of the better flute doublers of his generation. Al’s career was a successful one but not radically different from many of his New York colleagues who came along during the last great heyday of the music and recording industry in the 1950s/1960s.Continue reading 

Remembering Joe Allard

I studied with Joe Allard (12/31/10—5/3/91) intensively from 1971—1978. I believe I would have never had a career in music if I had not studied with Joe. While I could move my fingers pretty nimbly on clarinet and saxophone when I met him, I had no clue whatsoever about sophisticated and elegant music making at the time or how to play with line, regardless of musical style. Joe changed all of that for me. My first lesson was on a Friday night at 9pm at his Carnegie Recital Hall Studio. (I was his last lesson of the day and he had more energy than I did as an 18 yr. old!) I figured I would impress him by playing the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto. After a minute or so of playing, he said: “Let’s hear Mozart.” I thought, what have I gotten myself into?” Continue reading 

The Genius of Tom Nyfenger

Remembering Tom Nyfenger
Originally Published April, 2011
The New York Flute Club Newsletter

It has been 29  years since we lost Tom Nyfenger. His passing left a void in both the world of performance and in music education. It is not often that a world-class player is also a world-class teacher but Nyfenger was precisely that! He was that rare bird who could play at the highest musical levels possible and could also explain and defend every note in his interpretations based on sound musicological and physiological truths. Blessed with a phenomenal ear for hearing pitch and harmony, great inner rhythmic sense, enormous theoretical knowledge, and a brilliant technique, Nyfenger could detect any weakness in a student’s musicality. In addition, his pianistic ability allowed him to play the keyboard parts to any flute sonata or concerto and he would often demonstrate improvisational skills that would result in accompaniments to a single-line work at lessons. (He would often create piano parts for JeanJean Etudes or Telemann Fantasias on the spot.) Continue reading