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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Keitho presents: The best and worst of 2009.


The Best

1) Arizona Cardinals play in their first Super Bowl and almost pull off the upset!

2) Barack Obama sworn in as our 44th president

3) All of Sarah Palin's hijinx — that gal is gold!

4) Mets go 2-1 vs the Reds to open the 2009 season!

5)  Earth declares war on the moon.  We discover that there is water there.  No casualties.

6) My first trio CD, Lost In Queens, is picked up by TCB Montreux label. 

7) Curb Your Enthusiasm

8) Wife turns 50 but I was still a spry 48. (until August)

9) Lots of  hilarity and good music with the Johnny Avino group.

10) Still able to go through airport security without a full cavity search.

and now….

The Worst

1) Yankees win their 27th World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies.

2) The Yankees. It''s my blog; they get on twice.

3) Barack Obama is a  major disappointment on foreign policy, health care reform, and civil rights.

4) The Mets injury plagued nightmare of a season.

5) The Mets off-season

6) The financial sector. Socialism for the banking industry yielded six figure bonuses for the very people who ruined the economy yet unemployment remains at an obscene level.

7) Lady Gaga is considered an artist yet Hank Mobley, Sonny Clark, and Lee Morgan remain in obscurity.

8) The government’s  continuing over-reaction to terrorism, yet inability and unwillingness to effect any change through foreign policy.

9) Joe Lieberman

10) I never got a dinner

2:49 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Pro Bowl is a funny name

What, only the 50 or so players that compete in this sham of an allstar game are pros?  The rest must be amateurs.  My friend has informed me that this year, in order to garner increased ratings, the Probowl will be shown during the off Sunday between the Championship game and the Super Bowl.  After all, you can't have the Probowl competing against such February blockbusters as Battle of the Network Tractor Pulls, and Great Lapels From the 1970s.  

In order to protect my friend's identity I am using state of the art name scrambling software.  Don't try to figure out his name -- it will be next to impossible.   J**f MaZz3i actually thinks that players competing in the Super Bowl will participate in this game.  Can you believe him?!  Peyton Manning is going to risk an ankle sprain and jeopardize the chance to win his second Super Bowl ring?!  I think the fact that J**f has a song dedicated to him (Keith Saunders Trio: track three, "Lost In Queens" TCB 29302)  has caused his head to swell and his usual expert judgement to falter.  We'll give him a pass this time since a little birdie has told me that his Triscuit supply has run dangerously low.
Come to think of it, Colts coach, Jim Caldwell, might want to rest some of his stars during the second half of the Super Bowl to preserve them for the 2010 season.  Then they can get a fresh start on another 15-1 season.
12:03 am est          Comments

Friday, December 25, 2009

Triscuits and tragedy: Taping foibles in an apocalyptic world.

A few days ago my buddy and  went to see the new Viggo Mortenson movie, The Road.  This movie depicts a man's effort to protect his child in a post-apocalyptic world.  The theater was next to a supermarket so before going in we loaded up on snacks -- Triscuits and Pepperidge Farm cookies.  We were watching the film and I have to admit to feeling a little guilty as I reached for a Triscuit during the scene where they stumbled into a basement full of starving people held captive by cannibals.  Is that worse than making out during Schindlers List?    

Being a huge sports fan I have had quite a bit of experience taping games to watch after coming home from a gig.  Like many a well-intentioned taper, I have had my share of mishaps, not the least of which is being told the score before having a chance to have viewed the game.  I will detail a few of the more notable gaffes  in my next post.  For now here are a few hypothetical taping foibles inspired by The Road. 

The first can be recounted in one sentence:  You set the VCR to channel 2 instead of 3 right before the apocalypse. 

 Here's another one:  You're out of town on business on the night of the apocolypse, but you realize that you have correctly set your VCR to tape the Mets game.  The next day you think to yourself, "This is great; I'm one of the only humans left alive -- no one can ruin the game by telling me the score."   On the way home, however, you meet a cannibal, but because he has already feasted on the entrails of his nosy mother-in-law, he let's you pass.  You can barely contain your glee and you say to yourself "Oh baby, I am golden!"   Suddenly, just as you are almost out of earshot, the cannibal calls out to you, "By the way...the Mets won in the bottom of the 9th on a Reyes inside the park homerun!"  

11:05 am est          Comments

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Festivus: A holiday for the restuvus.

In keeping with the holiday of festivus I will commence with the airing of the grievances:

1) Goldman Sachs and their ilk destroyed the economy yet their employees received seven-figure bonuses.  In all my years of being a jazz musician -- over  30 --  I have received exactly one bonus....for $25.00.  And I loved it!

2) My pattern of baldness.  I have just enough hair not to want to shave my head, but little enough that even Ansel Adams couldn't make me look good in a photograph.

3) I never got a dinner.
4) Where were the cougars when I was 18?!  God damnit! 

5)  I lack a good ice cream scooping technique.

6) Too many chords in original Milestones.

7) Not enough chords in the second Milestones.

8) I'm sick of George Winston style tinkly piano chords used to denote pathos in movies.
9) Where are the nude jazz clubs?

10) Not enough humor in ballet.

12:03 am est          Comments

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hit Dat Shit

Here follows the allt time classic moment of our nine year Jet Bue stint.  Only the names have been changed to protect the deviant.  For this post I will be playing the role of Blanche Dubois. 

This happened fairly early in our run --  I'm going to say that the year was 2004.  We were on a break and as was our wont were having our lunch at the Jet Blue food court.  These gigs were long and in the early days there were quite a few of them in a brief period of time so you can imagine that there was a certain amount of down time needing to be filled with witty repartee.

We were eating and to pass the time I was telling the fellas about one of the tap dancing tours I had done years earlier.  I used to play for a rhythm tap group named Manhattan Tap.  I still do, as a matter of fact, although gigs are far and few between these days.

I don't exactly recall the anecdote.  I think it had to do with the time we were delayed at the Toronto airport and the boarding agent let me sing "People" over the public address system.  It was a good moment in my life and I thought it might bring some joy to my Jet Blue bothers hearing about it. 

I was telling them the story when all of a sudden I began to notice a low, guttural sound emanating from the person on my left.  I looked around and I saw that it was the sax player; he was talking, almost to himself, in a low, rhythmic, insinuating voice that was quiet, but steadily growing in intensity:  "...did ya hit dat shit?  Did ya hit dat shit?  Did YA  HIT DAT SHIT?!"   At the same time his hand was balled into a fist and he was pumping along in short bursts along with his mantra.

We all looked at him at once.  "What are you talking about?!" I asked him this but we all realized what he was talking about.  Once he heard tap dancer and woman in the same sentence he automatically assumed that this must be a sexcapade.  For him, there was only one direction an airport/tap dancing story could go, and this was straight to the bedroom.  He must have vicarously put himself in the story and was working himself into a fenzy.

Needless to say, 'Hit dat shit' became an instant catch phrase.  You have to say it with the same intonation that he used -- feral and lascivious --  or it loses effect.  Whenever we have a gig the call goes out:  "We're going to hit dat shit!" 



12:54 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

If you are a musician, the chances are that you have a dozen or so tunes in your repertoire that you only play for three weeks out of the year in December.  Sometime around the 1st you'll be scraping the rust off of "Winter Wonderland" and "Let It Snow"   By the 24th you'll be ready to kill the next person who asks for "Chestnuts."  What can you say?   Christmas songs are a necessary evil in the wacky economy of music.  They're not so bad, really.  A little "I'll Be Home For Christmas" never hurt anyone, and even Bird and Diz played "White Christmas."

We all have our regular Christmas gigs -- the party at the Johnson's in Huntington or the corporate fete at the Rainbow Room.  Whatever.  The past nine Decembers have found me playing in a jazz quartet in the Jet Blue terminal at JFK.  It began in 2001.  People were still nervous about flying so soon after September 11th and Jet Blue had the idea to put jazz in the terminal so as to put their customers at ease.  After all, what spells relaxation like be-bop?  Piped in Perry Como?  I think not. 

The first few years that we played, a Jet Blue agent would take us through a side door that skirted the edge of the tarmac so that we could avoid going through security.  Those were the halcyon days.  After the TSA became more firmly entrenched, they insisted that we go through security along with the other passengers.  They never really knew what to make of the bass and the keyboard barely fit on the belt.   To top it off the regular passengers who were rushing to make their flights were usuallly upset with us for slowing down the line.

I always wondered if anyone missed their flight due to our drowning out the P.A. announcements.  For the most part, however, people seemed to enjoy the music and they were especially thankful to have us during the long delays.  

One year the TSA was extra paranoid so they assigned a guard to us, as if we were a security threat to the airport,  That year we could not go anywhere in the terminal unescorted by our guard.  In fact, if one of us had to go to the bathroom we all had to go together.  It was like a goddamn chain gang.  Remember the Woody Allen movie when the chain gang escaped from prison?  That was us.  Fortunately the standards have been relaxed in the past two or three years and we are no longer on the jazz chain gang, although we still have a guard assigned to us.  He sits by the bandstand reading a newspaper.   I believe that if anyone really wanted to steal a saxophone or a cymbal it would be a fairly simple matter.  The guard is there to watch us, not our instruments.

The first year we did four gigs.  We were such a success that they increased our work load to six the next year.  The best was the year we did 13 gigs!  That was a nice chunk of change.  This year is a recession special:  Two gigs.  We'll be there on the 20th and 24th; spreading joy and mayhem throughout the terminal.  If you happen to be taking a flight out of Jet Blue and you spot four knuckleheads shuffling off to the's us.        
12:06 am est          Comments

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Addendum to seance-gate

Mazzei informs me that while Elizabeth was being brought back from the 18th century, I was playing in pitch darkness with sheet music!  And now you know....the REST of the story.
5:09 pm est          Comments

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Golden 5

I'm thinking back on my salad days of living in New York City.  It was the go-go 80s and like many of my musician brethren, I often found myself in dubious situations.  I would come home from a gig all upset, so much so that I could hardly concentrate on watching the late January Knicks games on TV from the west coast.  

My friend Jeff came up with a good device to cheer me up.  He referred to these gigs as the Golden 5 -- he even had them listed on a blackboard in his attic. This way there was a barometer as to just how bad a gig was.  To crack the golden 5 it would have to be pretty bad, otherwise it would slip away into oblivion never to be remembered.
This was twenty years ago; the blackboard has long since been erased and I can't recall all of the Golden 5, although I'm pretty sure that Princess Pamela, from my previous post, was one of them.  Following, however, is a recounting of one of these 5 foibles of folly. 

It was a cold winter night in the year of our lord 1989 and the call went out for a pianist to accompany a choral group in Cos Cobb Connecticut.  I answered that call, put on the blue suit, and headed Northeast to a date with destiny.   Jeff drove because in those days I lived in Manhattan and didn't have a car.

We arrived to find an innocent enough looking choir setting up for some kind of church function.  They instructed me when and what I was to play and everything seemed normal.  That is until I took a break.  We were in the pantry trying to figure out if we were going to make it home in time to see Dave Letterman's anniversary show.  I'm thinking it was his fifth anniversary but if Jeff is reading this his memory may be better.  All of a sudden we heard some commotion coming from inside the tabernacle.  Is tabernacle the right terminology?  I'm a Jew, damnit, I don't know from such things.  Until yesterday I didn't even know that Job was pronounced Jobe.

Once again, I digress. We noticed a certain murmuring "Ohhhh....ohhhh....  we call on the dead...we call on Elizabeth.  Speak to us Elizabeth!"  These wackos were having a seance!  Now they had our attention and we proceeded to watch the woman who had hired me transform into 'Elizabeth' and in the process shake down these good church goin' folk for all the spare change they had.    

And now the rest of the story:  A month or so later they hired me to play at a church somewhere on the East side of Manhattan.  Shortly after arriving I encountered the seance lady in the hall.  I was in plucky kind of mood so as I passed her I smiled and said "Hi Elizabeth!"  Let me tell you, she shot me a look that would have melted lead.  Needless to say that was the last time I worked for them and they entered the Golden 5 with a bullet.
2:11 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


A warm welcome and a hearty g'day to ya.  Crack open a kangaroo beer, put a shrimp on the barbie and...wait, I just remembered -- I'm not Australian.  So you found your way here to Keitho's site and by now you're probably wondering, where the hell is the content?  What did you expect, pole dances?  I'm working on it!  Give me time.  I'm a pianist, not a web designer, damnit!  
What's the deal with musician's salaries?  We haven't received a cost of living increase since the beginning of the 20th century. (thank you, TR!)  The few times I have had the nerve to ask a club owner for a raise I've been made to feel like Oliver Twist.  More?!!  

My favorite was 25 years ago.  I had this gig in the East Village at a joint called Princess Pamela's Little Kitchen.  Pamela weighed in at about 250 and was a surly blues singer who verbally abused her customers, but since it was the '80s the yuppies who came there loved it.  They were like, "Thank you maam, may I have another?" 

But I digress.  The gig paid $20.00, however being that it was 1985 that actually paid for 21 rides on the MTA.  I had recently moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan and the commute was considerably longer so I had this idea that I would ask for a raise. A $5.00 raise. I had to go through channels via the bass player who was the boyfriend of Pamela. "Let me get back to you on that," he told me after our gig.  

Three days later I get a call from him: "We're not working this week."  Sadly it was just me who was not working.  That was how they fired me!   

I have since gone on to bigger and better endeavors, increasing my average salary by as much as five fold.  What a country!  

That's it for post number one.  Leave me a comment and let me know you're out there and in return I'll keep on supplying you with scintillating content.  Good day.

5:15 pm est          Comments

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