****** Musician's Meanderings******
Steve Hashimoto's Journey Journal – News From the Trenches – 07-27-2003:
A few words, if you'll indulge me, about a couple of the recently departed.
Lenny Pirani, the pianist who left us about a month a half ago, was from the
bebop generation. He treated jazz as art music and didn't have much truck with
"pop" music or the appurtenances that go along with it -- he was one of those
guys who owned an electric keyboard because it was a necessity, but not a
welcome one. Most of the gigs I played with him demanded the keyboard, but the
few times we got to play one with a real piano he was happy as a clam.
Regardless of what instrument he was playing, he played beautifully. We were both
members of Guy Fricano's band, and we both got fired often enough that that became
a bond of sorts between us. The music business changed to the point that Lenny
wasn't able to work enough to make a living and he had a family to support,
so for quite a while he had a day gig as a CAD (computer-assisted drafting)
artist. Eventually various health issues he had prevented him from gigging at
all, but I'd still see him occasionally, and he retained his love of music. At
his very moving memorial service I discovered that he'd had a (to me, at least)
secret life as a church choir director, and that the majority of the people at
his service were church acquaintances. He had obviously affected quite a few
lives, very profoundly, and had been, in his quiet way, a true ambassador of
the jazz life to these straight folks who, every one, said that Lenny was quite
simply the best musician they'd ever met or performed with.
Rick Levy, who passed about a month ago, was a saxophonist as well as a
technician -- for many years he had a thriving electronics repair/sound
installation business. Rick was beset by many demons, unfortunately, and in the '90s was
finally forced to close his company. He wasn't gigging very much either, so I
lost track of him. His son is the amazingly gifted Eric Levy, and the last
time I played with Rick was a Brian Duke gig, with both Rick and Eric. Rick was,
rightly, very proud of what a player his son had become -- Eric is the finest
legacy that a man could've asked for. I heard on the grapevine that in the
last few years Rick was getting his shit back together and I had hopes of working
with him again. We had played many gigs together, one of them at least
becoming one of those legendary bad jobbing dates, and no matter what weird things
may have gone down in Rick's private life, we always had fun on the bandstand.
And finally, my good friend Steve Barra, lost to us last week. As many
friends have written to me over the past couple of days, no matter how grim the gig
may have been Steve found a way to maintain his humor, and everyone else's as
well. He was a very good drummer, singer, and (despite his protests) vibes
player. More important to me than his musical skills, though, was the fact that
he was absolutely a stand-up kinda guy. He hired me once to play for some
family function of his, and a lot of his old neighborhood friends were in atten
dance. It was obvious that Steve still maintained his connections to most of them,
as he maintained his friendship with members of the bands that he and I
played in long after those bands had dissolved. He knew about his illness and the
seriousness of it for quite a while and didn't tell anyone because he didn't
want anyone to fuss -- there wasn't anything anyone could have done about it
anyway. The last time I saw him (ironically, the first thing he did was to inform
me of Rick Levy's death), he was still standup -- he insisted that he was
"doing ok" and he promised that we'd have lunch regularly until he couldn't
anymore, but I'm sure that he knew that the end was very near. He leaves behind a
beautiful daughter, and quite a few sad friends.
Not a lot of laughs this week, sorry about that. Sometimes life's like that.
This week Steven Hashimoto will carry on at:
SUN. 7/27: at BROOKFIELD ZOO, 6-8pm, with The Dave Flippo Trio (Flippo, piano
and vocals, and Steve Magnone, drums). Open to the public.
WEDS. 7/30: at HACKNEY'S, 126th and LaGrange Road, Palos Park, 8-10:30pm,
with The Brass Tracks Big Band. Special guest this week: Guy Fricano.
THURS. 7/31: at THE AVENUE ALEHOUSE, 825 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park,
8pm-midnight, with The Steven Hashimoto Quartet (Neal Alger, guitar; Joe Valentino,
drums; and a player to be named later).
FRI. 8/1: as always, at THE GREEN MILL, 4802 N. Broadway, 1:30-3:45am, with
The Green Mill Quartet (Barely Winograd, bari sax; Bob Long, piano; Rick
Shandling, drums) for The After-Hours Jam Session.
SAT. 8/2: at THE LAKESIDE CASINO, Osceola, Iowa (!), with The Rat Pack Show
(Tony Ocean, Jack D'Amico and Lonnie Parlor). Stay tuned...
SUN. 8/3: at THE GREEN MILL, 4802 N. Broadway, with poet Marc Smith and The
Pong Unit (Mike Smith, guitar and dulcimer; Dave Flippo, keyboards; Ted Sirota,
drums) for The Uptown Poetry Slam. And after that over to Simon's Tavern to
celebrate Heath Chappell's wedding!
My August is a tad slow on offnights; I could use some gasoline money. Call
me at 708-222-6520 to discuss this important matter.