August 2015 Archives

Big Band music and electric organ

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Peter liked a variety of different kinds of music. My impression was that among his favorite performers were the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, and several big-name jazz musicians. I know that he loved Pat Metheny; I went to a couple of Metheny concerts with him, and he owned at least a couple of the albums. He also liked Big Band music, including the Toshiko Akiyoshi–Lew Tabackin Big Band; he took me to one of their concerts once, probably in the early 1980s.

He had a couple of songbooks, but there was one Big Band songbook that I think he was particularly fond of. He had an electric organ—a portable electronic keyboard maybe three feet long and a foot deep, but I think designed specifically to sound like an organ rather than a piano—and he would regularly play songs from the songbook. He sometimes asked me to play along on my violin, which I was never much good at. Deep Purple, Chattanooga Choo-Choo, Stardust, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, Tangerine; I'm sure there were more, but those are the ones I remember most.

Another song just occurred to me, but now I can't recall whether he played it on the organ or just had a recording of it: "El Paso." It's not really much in keeping with the other kinds of music he tended to listen to, but I just learned that the Grateful Dead played it for many years; I wonder if their version was the one I heard as a kid. If I'm remembering right, Peter was the one who told me that Faleena's appearance to the dying cowboy at the end was just a hallucination, that she wasn't really there. But I may be mixing up all sorts of things. (And I always assumed her name was spelled "Felina" until now, which suggests that I may not have seen it written down in a songbook.)

...And now I wish that I had thought to tell him about the Cats & Jammers at some point. I bet he would've liked them.