Prez Sez  Sept/Oct 2021

Happy fall! With the start of the new academic calendar, we are starting our new season of, sadly, online concerts and hoping that by this spring the pandemic will have abated to the point where we can do an in-person event.

As we have learned in the past 18 months, however, one of the benefits to having lots of indoor time is that we have time to practice, time to get organized, time to watch videos, and time to collect our thoughts.

Three weeks ago, I played back-to-back Saturday gigs for the JB Duke Hotel, and I had found out about it four weeks ahead of time.

So what do you think I did? I went through all my gig material, much of it printed-out edited versions and arrangements of pop, bossa nova, and a few songs from musicals (such as If I Only Had a Brain*) and Latin dances. I cut out the slow pieces because they wanted up-tempo selections and went through and re-edited everything — 116 pages.

But, you see, I had the time!

I am especially excited about an arrangement that I started eight years ago that still needs work: a remarkable pop masterpiece by Christopher Cross called Sailing (lyrics). Do you remember this “cool vibe” tune? One icy winter night in upstate New York in the early ’80s, I was needing a bit more stimulation than the cuisine at the Pizza Hut where I was could offer. (If I had been in a Thai restaurant, I wouldn’t have needed it!) I was amazed to see Sailing on the juke box and proceeded to play it three times in a row.

If you like Sailing, check out the amazing Feel Flows, a newly remastered two-CD collection that came out four weeks ago, containing two “sleeper” records by the Beach Boys: Sunflower (1970) and Surf’s Up (1971), with 31 additional songs, fully produced. Most are revelations of the fine quality of the writing skills of all six Beach Boys, even Mike Love!! Helping to create and being around the genius of Brian Wilson’s music had obviously paid off.

Anyway, it is nice to have time to listen, and we have lots of fine listening planned for TGS members this year.

* See the bonus score in the music selections for my arrangement of this movie classic, originally by Harold Arlen and sung by Ray Bolger and Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.

My arrangement is dedicated to TGS member and my friend and student Len White — who is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at Duke University — in celebration of his winning (along with Dr. Anthony Fauci) the 2021 Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges.

“Prez” Randy Reed