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Richard Toensing (1940-2014)—“The Oak Doesn’t Grow as Fast as the Squash”

Richard Toensing

As in his music, Richard Toensing (1940–2014) embraced the challenges of teaching with his simplicity inside complexity. He had an indelible ability to be engaging, stringent, rigorous, and nurturing all at once. He was well known for his integrity, his delightful wit, and his zero-tolerance policy for what he called “that bull-hooey ego nonsense that gets in the way of hard work and real life.”

Charlie Haden (1937-2014)—One of the Greatest

Charlie Haden and Carla Bley

Death sucks, not for the person who dies—it’s mostly a rational solution—but for the people who live on with the absence of a favorite living, breathing creature. There is a creepy scrawled note on my desk with “call Charlie” crossed off. For the past few years, we had been talking about making another Liberation Music Orchestra album.

Remembering Seymour Barab (1921-2014): Composer, Cellist, Friend

Seymour Barab playing the cello

I probably met Seymour in New York City sometime in the mid 1940s. Even then, Seymour made quite an impression as he walked into a room—a large, cheerful man swinging his cello at the end of his arm. As a musician, Seymour was remarkable to work with. Seymour could articulate and explain the structural intent of a given piece of music, and his playing was void of vanity.

Mary Rodgers (1931-2014): A Woman of Many Talents

MaryRodgersHeadshot

After having toiled in the fields of Golden Books, television, and commercials (my wife can still sing you her Prince Spaghetti TV jingle), Mary Rodgers’s first breakthrough work was Once Upon a Mattress. By the time I worked with her, she had pretty much pushed Mary the composer to the back burner. But there were several of us who didn’t think the composer should retire completely.

New Music USA Awards $311,000 to Artists

New Music USA(waveform)

New Music USA has awarded 57 projects in its second round of New Music USA project grants. We received 1,174 project requests this round. Those numbers are humbling, but also inspiring; these submissions only capture a glimpse of the overwhelming creativity resonating throughout the United States today.

Memories of Horace Silver (1928-2014)

HoraceSilver

Horace Silver (1928-2014) wrote great tunes that have a way of improving you harmonically and rhythmically if you play them frequently (or every night, in my case). He also liked very fast tempos, and if you weren’t on top of it you’d get rolled right over.

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