Moon Landing

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On July 20, 1969 I was playing at a small chamber music festival on an island in Maine. After rehearsal, some of us had decided we should put a TV on the stage of our little concert shed to experience the landing on television. The set had a small black and white staticky screen barely discernible from the seats in the hall and so, after a while, I wandered outside. In the darkness of the Maine sky, the moon shone bright and clear. Looking up with eyes squinting I imagined I could see the Eagle landed. I thought I heard a distant smattering of applause. It must have come from inside the concert hall. Alone, I thought I heard the universe murmuring a brief bravo.


New Recording

Mika Stoltzman, marimbaist, and I are recording a new album! Steven Epstein, winner of 17 Grammys, is in charge of the sessions as producer and master of the most beautiful sound you can imagine. Hector Del Curto joins us on bandoneon and Pedro Giraudo joins on bass. The four days of recording include Bach's Chaconne arranged by Mika; Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue arranged by Mika and me for clarinet, marimba, and bandoneon; four more of Tom McKinley's Mostly Blues; John Zorn's Palimpsest written for Mika and me; and Piazzolla's Etude 5 and Fugue y Misterio.

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Every musician who ever experienced the outrageous gravitational power of Alexander Schneider has his or her own orbit-changing, life-affirming tales about their encounters with this wild keeper of the flame of music. If you can, try to talk to someone who knew him, find a musician who played with him, for him. Anyone whose life in music was forever changed and electrified by Sasha will have their own shocking and exhilarating story about him.

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Woody Herman's Thundering Herd

I first met Woody Herman at a jazz club on W. 52nd St. in NYC. It was dark in this basement lair though it was still late afternoon on the street. I’d been invited to “sit in” by the writer/critic/ drummer, George Simon. The band struck up “Bye, Bye Blackbird” and after I played George said, “There’s somebody I want you to meet.” We walked over to a table in the back and a dapper gentleman, well-dressed with a silk ascot, shook my hand and said, “I’m Woody Herman.” Oh, my god I thought, I just played a mediocre chorus on my clarinet for the leader of the Thundering Herd—one of the greatest big bands in the world!

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One of my earliest memories of playing the clarinet was using it to join the altos alongside my mother in our church choir. It was my father's idea (he sang tenor) to help the inner voices stay on pitch. And so I tried to blend in with the singers. Emulating the singing voice became a natural goal in creating my sound, my tone. Life is vibration.

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