Sunday, October 07, 2007

And The Band Played On

What was on tv the other night? I don’t know; I was listening to this Chicago jazz band, a fairly quiet mainline group. There is much to be said for not having the television set on: it’s noisy, only 44 minutes out of each hour is program material, the shows are constantly being interrupted for commercials and announcements about other programs, and the bottom of the screen keeps telling us what’s coming up next, or next week, or maybe next year.

You don’t get that when you load your CD machine with discs. What you do get are several hours of whatever kind of music suits your taste for that evening. There’s no canned laughter, nor is there any predictable applause at predictable points (which I noticed when recording Oprah Winfrey’s show the other day), and there’s no wild applause when the host comes back from a commercial break. Why is that? What’s so exciting about another segment of the show starting up? Does it make us excited?

Meanwhile, in the background as I write this, a trombone is growling, a piano is holding the melody and a few muted trumpets are adding their two cents’ worth from time to time.

It’s the sort of thing our parents and grandparents used to hear on the radio every night, from hotels and ballrooms all over the country. NBC or CBS might have a hook-up and they’d listen to a band from the Meadowbrook in New Jersey where a guy named Sinatra has been working. Some dance band led by a Goodman fellow, not very well-received, has started playing hot stuff on his late-night radio shows as he moves around the country and it’s caught on in California. He might make it.


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