Sunday, July 13, 2014

William Shuman: En Avant

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter.
-Jessamyn West

Stage 72/The Triad presents EN AVANT! An Evening with Tennessee Williams-an acclaimed play about the creative forces and demons behind the genius of playwright Tennessee Williams, written and performed by William Shuman-with performances set for August 12-September 2nd (Four consecutive Tuesday Nights, all at 7PM).

EN AVANT! An Evening WITH Tennessee Williams began as a love letter to the genius that was Tennessee Williams and evolved into a play that affectionately, but honestly chronicles the life of this admittedly "wounded" man.
EN AVANT! An Evening with Tennessee Williams was first produced in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and has been presented subsequently at several other venues in Florida.

It was presented in New York City as part of the Abingdon Theatre Company's Sunday Series and in Rosarito Del Mar in Baja California, Mexico.Over the past three plus years, actor and playwright William Shuman-working with renowned director Austin Pendleton and other extraordinary theater professionals-has created a work that is both entertaining and enlightening.
 For four performances only, audiences will come to better understand Tennessee Williams, the man and the artist. 
Theatergoers will glimpse the impact of his family, follow the development of his early works, come to know his most important lovers, and sense the immensity of his demons.

Tennessee Williams has intrigued and inspired William Shuman from the moment he opened a copy of The Glass Menagerie in preparation for his initial foray into the world of the theater.
He began to wonder what it was that made this writer so different from the other great writers he had read or seen. William looked at his photos and was instantly struck by his infectious grin and the unmistakable twinkle in his eye. On February 25th 1983, the flame of life of America’s greatest playwright flickered and died. And over  the past 31 years that light that shone so brightly has inexorably dimmed.
Tennessee Williams was American Theatre for much of the 20th century. And though many of his master works continue to be produced, the legacy of the man himself is slowly being lost.

Not if William Shuman has anything to do with it.

He will be bringing Tennessee, the man, back to New York audiences on August 12th with his one man show celebrating the man, En Avant.Being a southerner myself, I am a huge fan of Tennessee's.
I even did a term paper on him in high school.
A profound understanding of the human condition lives in the dialogue of his characters and in the verses of his poetry and it is through examining the life that produced this dialogue and these verses that we can fully appreciate the great gift that was Tennessee Williams.
In anticipation of William's upcoming show, we sat  down recently to discuss the road that has led him to this point.

William is currently starring in Martin Halpern's No Moves Back at The Spiral Theatre Studio, directed by Paula J. Riley, which closed Monday, June 30th.
William is both an actor and a playwright. William Shuman made his NY stage debut in 1977 in Charles Dyer's Rattle of a Simple Man, having first appeared on stage in Boston as the Gentleman Caller in Northeastern University's production of The Glass Menagerie.
That was William's very first introduction to Tennessee Williams.
Since then, William has dome a number of stage performances in New York including Ionesco's The Bald Soprano, Terence McNally's Witness, Charles Dizenzo's The Last Straw. William is a founding member of The Abingdon Theatre Company in NYC which produced his play, The Most Important American Playwright since Tennessee Williams and held readings of several of his plays including Retirement Tango, Taking Selma’s Car, Seat of Knowledge and the Hibaku Piano.
He also produced one performance of En Avant as part of their Sunday series.

His short play The Lift has been presented at several venues. His screenplay Practice, Practice, Practice was optioned for production several times and his episode of LA Law was misplaced by its executive producer.
 William received a BA in English and Economics from Boston University and an MBA in Marketing from the Wharton School but left the corporate world to pursue a life in the theatre.
William did not do a whole lot of acting through the '90s. He had a family to raise and support. He came back to acting in 2009.
In 2011, he played Dr. Martin Dysart in Equus. He played the Narrator in the Rocky Horror Show.

He did two roles in t. s. eliot's Murder in The Cathedral. His writing started to evolve culminating with his theatre piece celebrating Tennessee Williams. It was first produced in Ft. Lauderdale. The date was 11/11/11! Interesting side note in terms of numbers.
William made his stage debut on 7/7/77!   
Recently, William did a production of It's a Wonderful Life where he got to play Potter, the nastiest human being on the planet. That was a stretch for William because he normally plays nice guys. What truly makes William happy is knowing that he has impacted someone's day or their week. (He is not arrogant enough to say their life!). When he hears them laugh, when he can feel that they are moved from the stage, either as an actor or standing at the back of the theatre and he sees their immediate response to his words as a playwright. What he loves about theatre never changes.
That is its ability to impact people on an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual way.

What William loathes about what theatre has become is it's reliance on "celebrity". He finds the entire "cult" of celebrity to be abhorrent.
He feels that it wasn't always that way in the theatre. Of course, film and television has always been celebrity driven.
It can't help but be celebrity driven. If you know of someone or have an opinion of someone, you are more apt to respond to that person in one way or another. It seems that today's Broadway producers desire to attract a television name to their productions. The rise of the so called reality television has also impacted that. When we have people in "Louisiana" following these Duck Dynasty types and influencing our elections, that's a problem.
Why does William perform? "There is a myriad of reasons." One is to try and make a living. There is nothing wrong with that! Even more importantly is the satisfaction that William gets from the work.
It is always the work that is important. Reviews are nice. Standing ovations are nice. The work, in itself, is the reward. That...and a couple of bucks!
Tennessee Williams began keeping journals when he was twenty-six years old. Shortly after he started, he would end his journal entry with the French phrase, En Avant, which means forward or onward. Later in life, he also signed his letters with En Avant.
It was really his motto. He got "kicked in the balls" a lot. The reviews for Battle of Angels were such that he wanted to climb into a hole and not come out for some time. Later in life, his audience and reviewers turned on him.
He always felt the need to go forward. Not only was it Tennessee's motto, William has adopted it as his own.
William grew up in a middle class home. His dad was a physician. His mom raised four kids.William has two sisters and a brother. One brother is a world class pianist. His sister is a successful cellist. She was a physician's assistant and now a jewelry maker. He has a brother who is out in Chicago. He loves to play the trombone and loves to sing Karaoke. 
Neither of his parents could sing. In fact, his mother had "one of the worst voices on the planet." She loved to sing anyway. William won't even discuss his dad. What influenced William in terms of the arts and the creative world actually came from his father. He had an incredible sense of what is silly.
Now, William's girlfriend cannot stand his sense of humor because it is very silly and he is prone to try and make people laugh.
The family has evolved from non performer parents to children who love to get up in front of people.
If William had not pursed theatre, he thinks he would have been a fishing guide in the Bahamas or the Florida Keys.
Back to En Avant!, William last performed it in January of this year. He did three performances in Davie, Florida. Click HERE to see an interview with William.
The text of En Avant is fairly well set. He continuously makes minor adjustments.It is a very simple set design, but he makes minor adjustments and tweaks every now and then. He is constantly striving, as an actor, to make more impactful choices.
A favorite memory of the show for William took place when he did the show in Rosarito del Mar, Mexico. It was a community theatre in the truest sense of the word. They involve the community. They did five iconic scenes from Tennessee Williams' plays as the first act. The artistic director is a friend of Williams and also a wonderful actor/director by the name of Craig Schaefer. At the top of Act Two, he said, "Now, that you have sampled these plays, meet the author."
After each of the performances, William held a symposium taking questions from the audience as Williams talking about the process. He has done that a few times. He will not be doing that at The Triad.

At least there are no plans to do that at the time of this interview. I asked William what he considered to be the lowest point of his career.
He said there are the usual aspects that all artists face. Allan Moyle, film director, who did Times Square and Pump Up The Volume, wrote a screenplay called Love Crimes.
They did a public reading of it. Two actors were asked to go forward with the project. The first was John Malkovich. The other was William!
Allan couldn't raise the money and he sold the screenplay.
William's part was cut out.
He's not sure that he wouldn't have been hired anyway because Allan wasn't doing the hiring.
That is probably one of his biggest disappointments in terms of his career. That, and those times in which William felt he could not get hired.
The first word that pops into William's mind when I mention Tennessee Williams is poetry, the lyric beauty of his writing is uppermost in William's thought's. Running a close second is the portrait of this deeply wounded man.
However, he persevered. His last major work was produced in Chicago in 1981. It was called A House Not Meant to Stand. Tennessee had problems dealing with the cast. He left rehearsals to go to Key West and returned for the opening. He had a suite at one of the Chicago hotels. He had to vacate the suite the morning after the opening because some bigwig had it reserved. 
Director and producer Greg Moser was concerned because Tennessee had a tendency to hurt himself some evenings and not be able to get up early the next day. Greg was pleasantly surprised the next morning at 9AM when he came by Tennessee's room. Tennessee's bags were outside the room already packed.
Greg opened the door and Tennessee was sitting at the table with a portable typewriter, which he always used and would always send out for one wherever he was. He never used an electric typewriter. Greg said to him, " Tennessee, we gotta get going." Tennessee looked up and said, "Not now, baby, I'm woikin'""
Gregory Moser wrote the forward to the published edition of A House Not Meant to Stand.
Theatre is such a diverse thing. From William's recent role in No Moves Back in The Spiral Theatre Studio, which is essentially a rehearsal studio converted into a theatre that seats 85 people to a 2500 seat venue in a Broadway house.
There is such an immense spectrum. In some ways, today's theatre is doing very well. Money and/or the lack thereof is the bane of everyone's existence.
The Abingdon Theatre Company which William has great reverence for, Jan Buttram, artistic director, is a very good friend and William knows first hand how they struggle for money. 
The Abingdon Theatre does really great work. They are presenting NEW American plays constantly.William, as do I, tends to look at Broadway primarily as a tourist institution.
There are very few really good new plays being produced. William mention's Harvey Feinstein's recent new critically acclaimed and Tony nominated (but short lived) Casa Valentina as an example.
It closed after a few weeks on the boards.
William, himself, has not attempted writing a full length play since En Avant! He does keep writing, and he attempts to write ten minute plays. That tends to keep him sharp.
There is also a place for them.
It would be wonderful if this led to making a living on an ongoing basis.
William actually has several full length plays. One, he would like to do some rewrites on. He has done readings of these. They are still in the formative stage.
The most important lesson that William has learned in this business takes us right back to Tennessee's motto, Keep going. En Avant!
The phrase "Illegitimi non carborundum" may look like Latin, but it doesn't exactly translate to "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down."
Carborundum is actually the name of an extremely hard mineral (silicon carbide) used for grinding.

The phrase originated during World War II and is attributed to British army intelligence. It was later adopted by US Army general "Vinegar" Joe Stillwell as his war-time motto.
Illegitimi suggests illegitimate, but it really has no meaning in Latin.
I asked William what his biggest vice and greatest virtue are.
William is 71 years old. When he was 30, he never thought he would make 40!
He thinks they may be the same thing!
William believes his single-mindedness, when he sets his mind to something, he will go through hell and/or high water to make it happen. He admits that the flip side of that is he doesn't always have a sense of when it is time to abandon the ship. He says that he is a really boring person when it comes to vices. He has been in a monogamous relationship for thirty-four years. He drinks one glass of wine with dinner. He doesn't smoke.
Tennessee's greatest virtue was his elastic poetic mind and his ability to see things in many different dimensions and the beauty of his writings at the same time. One of his contemporaries, Arthur Miller, was a wonderful playwright, but did not have the poetry of Williams.
O'Neill was a little earlier but is still considered a contemporary. Although he wrote brilliantly, there is something so poignant and powerful above the lyric content of Williams' writing. He described himself as a "wounded man, badly bandaged, a monster among angels or perhaps an angel among monsters...a box of questions shaken up and scattered on the floor." He needed the booze and the barbiturates to get through the day and it destroyed him ultimately.
William is looking forward to the upcoming four performances at Stage 72 at The Triad. There is a POSSIBILITY of additional performances at Baruch College in the early autumn.
There are a couple of other theatres interested as well. There are negotiations currently in progress for a couple of theatres upstate. There is also a theatre in Florida which is looking good for next spring for a run of four or five performances.
The show itself is 70 minutes and self-contained.
It is inexpensive to produce. It is very easy to move.
It is perfect for an upscale educated audience. It would also be perfect for high end cruise lines.Because of Tennessee's iconic stature in the gay community, this should is perfect for some of the upscale gay cruises as well. That is another area that William is attempting to break in to.
I asked William if he thought he was a pretty good student. He believes so. He has a degree in economics. He has a degree in marketing. He got bored very fast with the corporate world. He would rather fend for himself as a cab driver or try and make a few bucks as an actor and a writer than to ever go back to that world. He lived for a while on "option" money. He wrote a screenplay called Practice, Practice, Practice. It was optioned on four separate occasions, each time for varying amounts of money.
It's a lovely story about a failed executive who leads a group of Bowery bums and street musicians to play Carnegie Hall.
Aging in this business for ALL is a challenge.
William says that if he had a chance he would be younger. That being said, he embraces what is.
He gets up every morning and knowing he's alive because everything hurts!
William considers himself very fortunate. He is in relative good health. He does have Type 2 Diabetes which is under control. He tries and lives a "sane" life physically. He loves the perspective that being 71 gives him.
He loves the ability of being able to look back and see things as they really are, not as the way that one hopes they will be. William tries not to be cynical, even though that can certainly seep in. William looks forward to TODAY and what it holds. He also looks forward to tomorrow but he is more interested in today.
It is no surprise that Tennessee is William's favorite playwright by a very long stretch.
Although he considers Albee a great playwright and he loves much of his work and Tony Kuchner is an amazing playwright.
If you look at the breadth of the work, Tennessee wrote more than forty full length plays, fifty one act plays, fifty three published short stories, two books of poetry, a book of essays, two novels, two original screenplays. William admits he may have missed one or two here. The fact that his works are so consistently brilliant, it didn't always work...there are some huge failures there. His work is just so stunningly beautiful. Tennessee's favorite play is also William's favorite, and it is very rarely done, Camino Real.
As a writer, William would consider Tennessee a role model, as a human being, probably not.
When it comes to role models, William immediately thinks of his dad. Beyond that, he hasn't thought about role models in a long time.
William's dad was a general practitioner. We now call them internists or primary care physicians.
At age 48, he felt that the parade was passing him by. So he took a residency in radiology and became a radiologist.
He was willing to take that risk. William also has that gene. He left a $50,000 a year advertising job to purse something that "made no sense at all' from a financial or realistic point of view. He is a much happier human being as a result of that decision. His friends are all in or from the theatre and they have so enriched his life. His closest friend for over twenty-five years was the great actor John Spencer. The man that influenced William into becoming an actor was a man by the name of Lenny Baker.
Lenny was a year younger than William. William was fifteen when they met at a Boyscout camp. Baker's career was cut short by illness. His final television performances were in 1979, and he died on April 12, 1982. The official cause of death was listed as cancer.
He had won a Tony Award for the musical, I Love My Wife. He was a wonderful actor and a good friend.
These two men were role models because of their dedication to their craft.
I asked what note William would like to end this blog on and he threw me a curve ball. He said he has such a fondness for food. That is one thing that impacts everyone's life!
In closing, please note than En Avant! IS a play, not just a biographical sketch. It has a dramatic arc. It deals fairly substantially with the family, the seminal work, the loves, and the demons of this most amazing man. For more info CLICK HERE.

Thank you William Shuman AND Tennessee Williams for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,


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Monday, June 23, 2014

Ron Aprea: John Lennon/Beatles Jazz tribute album on the horizon!

Ron Aprea is a jazz saxophone player.
He arranges, composes, produces.

He has played with world class musicians including people like Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman, Tito Puente and a host of other great jazz bands and musicians. He has toured and done festivals in France, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival event at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. His wife, Angela DeNiro,  is also a jazz singer. He has produced three albums with her. He has his own production company where he takes on other artists and produces them. He also has his own recording studio.
I began the interview by asking Ron makes him happy and what makes him unhappy.
He said there are a million things that make him happy. He is happy when he wakes up in the morning! He is happy to be doing what he loves doing, playing music, and especially creating good music with good musicians.
He is happy to see his kids grow up and his grand kids as well.He also has a wonderful wife that makes him happy. She supports him one hundred percent. What makes him unhappy? Not performing as much as he would like to at times.
Sometimes, political situations make him unhappy. For the most part, he tries to stay away from negative thoughts. He focuses on the positive things like his music.
That keeps him from having bouts with unhappiness. All in all, he's a pretty happy guy!
Why does he do what he does? For all of the above reasons. He loves performing. It is a major thrill for him to be up on a stage and seeing people being cheered on by what he does. He also loves the idea of being creative. He is in a very creative end of the music business, primarily in the jazz world. It is always changing. It is always growing and expanding. He is always searching and looking for new avenues. He is still learning, as well. The process is part of what he loves as well.
Ron's parents were not artistic although there was music on both sides of his family. On his mother's side of the family, they all had good singing voices, including his mom. On his father's side of the family, there were some musicians. His mother use to take Ron to theatres, one being the famed Paramount Theatre. These were the days when there were many live stage shows.

His mother did love music.
They would see many of the great bands live on stage. He remembers thinking as a kid, "That's what I want to do."

It's hard for him to imagine what his life would have been like if he had pursued a different path. He did love sports and was a baseball player when he was younger.
If he had not gone into music, perhaps that is the path he would have followed. He also loves to make things, so being a carpenter is another possibility.

In 1974, Ron did an album with John Lennon, which was an unusual project because Ron had been primarily in the jazz end of the business. He had been
on the road with Lionel Hampton and a few other jazz bands, including Woody Herman. Ron came back to New York and a friend of his, Steve Madaio, a trumpet player, called Ron. They were just chatting away about current events and what was going on in the music scene.
In the middle of the conversation, Steve said to Ron, "By the way, what are you doing tomorrow? We are doing a recording if you're interested." Ron said, "Sure!"
They continued small talking. Before they hung up, Ron decided to get some information about the session. Ron was thinking it was going to be some little "demo thing". It seemed as if it was going to be some insignificant thing. Ron said, "By the way, whose recording?" Steve said, "Oh, John Lennon." That was the way it started. Ron went into the studio the next day and met John Lennon. They started putting tracks down for his Walls and Bridges album. This was the fifth album by John Lennon, issued on 26 September 1974 in the United States and on 4 October in the United Kingdom.
Ron and John became friends. Ron says that John was a super guy and very easy to work with.
It was a fun project. They had five horns! The other horn players were all jazz guys with the exception of tenor saxophone player Bobby Keys, who was more of a rock musician. Robert Henry 'Bobby' Keys is an American saxophone player, and has performed with other musicians as a member of several horn sections of the 1970s. The other horn players were Frank Vicari (tenor sax), Howard Johnson (baritone and bass sax) and Steve Madaio (trumpet).
Julian Lennon was on drums on Ya Ya. 
During one of the breaks, Ron was photo copying some of the lead sheets. John didn't have musical arrangements; he basically had lead sheets. They were making up lead sheets to make up the various parts of the album. Ron was making copies so everyone would be on the same page. John walked into the room and sticks his face in the photo stat machine and hits the button.
Photostat of Lennon's face!
Two photo stats of his face come sliding out of the machine. John hands them to Ron and says, "Hang on to these. Some day they will be worth a lot of money." Ron didn't think much of this moment other than the fact that John was going to go blind! Those lights were so intense. Ron rolled them up and stuck them in his case and didn't realize what an important gift that was until a day or two later. It occurred to him that this was really cool. Ron put it in a frame and put it on his wall where it still hangs today.
The reason for this current project is to create an album and dedicate it to John Lennon. The album will consist of tunes he co-wrote or tunes from the Walls and Bridges album. One of those songs is Whatever Gets you Through the Night. This song along with the album won Lennon a Grammy, the only Grammy he ever won. Walls and Bridges received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. During the recording of Whatever Gets You thru the Night, Elton John bet Lennon that it would top the charts.
Walls and Bridges
Walls and Bridges had a popular ad campaign (created by Lennon) called "Listen To This ..." (button, photo, sticker, ad, poster, and t-shirt).
Walls and Bridges would be Lennon's last album of original material until 1980's Double Fantasy, though a follow-up titled Between the Lines was planned for late 1975.
Walls and Bridges was first re-released on vinyl in the US in 1978, then again in 1982, and 1989, on Capitol.
Walls and Bridges was released in a remixed and remastered form in November 2005 (though four of the original tracks: Old Dirt Road, Bless You, Scared and Nobody Loves You were not remixed).
On Ron's upcoming album, he will be "jazzing up" Lennon's music. The tunes are gorgeous and Ron is being respectful of Lennon's original intent. This is a fun project for him. All in all it will be a tribute to John Lennon/the Beatles. It is something that Ron has wanted to do since his friendship with John in the early Seventies. He has finally gotten around to doing it. To make this happen, he is using Kickstarter.
So far, it is going very well, so Ron is excited about that.
I asked Ron to share his favorite memories of John Lennon.
The first thing that comes to Ron's mind is how kind John was. This may be to his detriment, but he was also very "open" with total strangers. He would say hello to everybody. In the middle of the night, after the sessions, John would be walking back to his apartment and Ron would be going to the train station through the streets of New York City. There was a lot of crime in those days. It was much worse in 1974 than what it is now.Ron was always afraid for John, but John didn't share that fear. He seemed to enjoy shocking people by saying hello to them. He would wave to truck drivers and kneel down and talk to homeless people. He was always so kind to everybody.
I asked Ron what the lowest point of his career was. He was at a loss for words. He says he really doesn't dwell on that. Like any profession, there are ups and downs. His happiness is based on how well he is playing. As long as he
Lennon's "Little Big Horns"
feels comfortable, as a musician, he is cool.
He is usually pretty comfortable, so he doesn't feel that he really has any real lows worth talking about.
What does Ron think of the state of the music industry today? "I think it's a mess!" It's in bad shape for whatever reasons. The record industry is experiencing real challenges. Recording studios are shutting down. In general, it is mostly downloads now.
CDs sales are not really happening as often anymore. The recording business, as well as the industry as a whole, is going through a tough time right now.
Ron is shooting for early October for a CD release date. Nothing is completed yet. All the arrangements have been done.
Ron cannot wait to hear these arrangements. Ron is using the horn section and the string section and the rhythm section as similar as possible to the ones used on Walls and Bridges. Ron spent six months going through every song from the Beatles/Lennon catalog. He then whittled that down to twelve. Then he did the arrangements. He had such a great time with this entire process. It is time consuming, as well, but time well worth spent. The music is done, now it's time to start recording!
I asked if he had a favorite song on this album. They all are!
He can't pick one. He already picked out twelve that he loves. It is like having twelve kids. He loves them all. When they are recording, one might "explode", and that might become his favorite. He has produced enough albums to know that that changes from phase to phase. In the writing phase, you have a favorite. Then, you go into the recording studio and that produces a different favorite. By the time it's done and you're mixing it, the one that emerges is the one you least thought would.  
The most important lesson Ron has learned in this business is to treat people nice. It is important to have support and have friends. Ron has seen just the opposite in this business and he simply treats others the way he desires to be treated. That is a lesson a lot of us should really learn.
I asked Ron to name his biggest vice and his greatest virtue. He had vices in the past that he has gotten rid of like smoking. He also may have run around a lot when he was younger. He doesn't know that he has any vices
Art Blakey
at this stage of his life.
His greatest virtue is his passion. It shows up in his music and he thinks that comes across. He did an album last year that was a tribute to Art Blakey. Born in 1919, Art Blakey began his musical career, as did many jazz musicians, in the church. The foster son of a devout Seventh Day Adventist Family, Art learned the piano as he learned the Bible, mastering both at an early age.
Art was a hero to Ron when he was growing up, a great jazz drummer. Most of the critics talked about Ron's passion in that album.
All that has been covered in this blog reveals the secret to longevity in this business. Be respectful to your peers and people, in general. Get work wherever you can. Don't lose your passion. When the business is going bad, you can't lose your passion for the music. Hold on to your passion. Separate the music from the business. Ron has been able to do that. Stay in shape. Keep your "chops" up. Hold your own among the crop of musicians that surround you. Stay fresh and continue to grow because you don't want to be looked at as an "old timer".
Stay on top of today's music scene. Ron tries to keep his music fresh by staying in touch with "what the young guys are doing."
Ron's professional schedule right now is OK. He feels that it could be better. He has been fortunate enough to forge a great relationship with New Jersey's famed jazz club, Trumpets. They have been encouraging him to bring his big band there. He has always had a passion for big bands. He has an amazing library of big band music. He has been making appearances with his Count Basie Tribute show at Trumpets one Sunday a month and they have done very well. In addition to that, he has been freelancing. He has some summer jazz festivals and concerts coming up. Again, it is not as busy as he would like it to be but he tries and stays active.
I asked if he considered himself a good student. He said absolutely! He is studying all the time. He also teaches privately. They also keep him fresh. He learns from them, as well. He is constantly being reminded of the basics because of his teaching.
Elvin Jones
He also loves watching the kids grow. He also loves exposing them to the greats, such as Charlie Parker.
Ron will be 75 in October. There are advantages and disadvantages to being that age in this business. Sometimes, these younger guys think you have to be good simply because of your age! The major advantage for Ron is that he has a rich history. As mentioned earlier, he has played with many of the greats. He has shared a bandstand with people like Elvin Jones, a jazz drummer of the post-bop era, Frank Foster, an American tenor and soprano saxophonist, flautist, arranger, and composer, Frank Wess, tenor saxophone, flute, Woody Herman (mentioned before). Ron has been fortunate. That never goes away. He loves sharing that history with the next generation. 
Ron's love of music covers the gamut from Mozart in the classical field to Harold Arlen in the pop field to Duke Ellington in the world of jazz. 
Frank Foster
His number one role model is Frank Foster. He was a great friend. He met Frank back in the fifties when he was a kid. Ron was sitting in front of the Basie band and Frank was already an international celebrity on tenor sax with the Basie band. They met at Birdland and stayed friends for almost six decades. Frank was not only a great sax player, he was also a great arranger and composer. Later, when he left the Basie band, he was a great bandleader. Ron also played with Frank's band. Frank was Ron's tutor. 
He taught Ron not only about music, but also about the business and about life in general. 
He was the closest thing to an angel. He was a great friend and a great guy. 
As of this writing, there are ten days left in Ron's kickstarter campaign. Anyone desiring to contribute or support this John Lennon project should go HERE and it will be very much appreciated by both Ron Aprea and myself. 
  
Thank you Ron Aprea for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,


Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!



I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!


If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at Richard@RichardSkipper.com.




NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!




Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
              

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!




Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!





Be sure and get Julie Budd's latest album and catch her at The Dix Hills Performing Arts Center on July 25th
Julie Budd’s latest CD They Wrote the Songs is ready for purchase  http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/juliebudd




Would LOVE to see you! Bring friends! It’s going to be star-studded party!
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I now have over 1,000,000 readers! Talk to me about sponsorship opportunities!
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
Richard Skipper Celebrates
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY