Dave’s Blog: Mixtapes – A love story

By: Dave Orrett, School Director Ah the lost art – and it certainly is an art – of making a mixtape is one lost on a generation that needs only drag and drop to make a mix. Where is the love, passion, blood, sweat, and tears in just moving a song from one digital file to another? Those “mixes” are just playlists held captive inside a computer. Do you remember John Cusack in the movie “High Fidelity” describing the art of the “perfect mixtape”? Spending hours or even days to finish it? Naturally the amount of time we spent felt to us a perfect reflection of how strongly the message was we were trying to convey. Now the songs had to have a theme (“You broke my heart into a million pieces I hate you” was as common a theme as “I would like to get to first base with you”) but it was not nearly good enough to just take a bunch of love songs and throw them on a tape. They had to tell a perfect story as though all these bands got together in the studio to make a concept album based solely on your feelings for the boy who sits behind you in science class. I can picture myself in my room with albums strewn around me. I’d be spending painful minutes stopping and restarting a song in the hopes of hitting the red button at the perfect time to make sure there were no chunks or hisses. Or could the hiss become a part of the mix? The debate was: If there wasn’t enough space between songs did it feel too frantic or did it just symbolize the constant flow of passion you felt for the recipient? What about too much space? Was that slow and boring or a metaphoric symbol of the silence in your relationship? And of course there was the whole “Side A / Side B” element. Perhaps ending side A with a bit of melancholy only to put the infamous “recovery” song to bring your mood back up to start Side B (Which subtly meant “there is hope yet my new love!”) Remember when finished how you’d painstakingly, and in the neatest writing you could muster, write the track list on the impossibly small card that came with the cassette? You’d use your micro penmanship to squeeze in the long...
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Personal Memories of Jazz Legend: Dave Brubeck

By: Dave Orrett, School Director What do you know about Jazz? I remember being asked that question at age 14 and thinking: “In all honesty, not much.” Then again there was this amazing rhythm stuck in my head. It had not the usual four, but five beats per bar, and it was so catchy it just wouldn’t leave my easily distracted teenage imagination alone. The song I learned was called “Take 5” by saxophone player Paul Desmond of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. To me the song was like my own little secret; a great song surely few people knew and I learned it frantically (it wasn’t easy) so I could play it and help it get out of my head and into my little musical life. Naturally once I started playing it I realized not only did others know this famous piece of jazz, but that it was also one of the most influential and commonly played instrumental songs of all time. Next came “Blue Rondo a la Turk” based on a street rhythm which was so exciting to play I could hardly wait to practice it. I remember loving the feeling of knowing I could, with my own hands, play something so epic and rhythmically exciting. My then clumsy fingers resisted for months but at last it was mine! I recall being in Winnipeg a few years later and having the chance to hear him play live and of course I took it in an instant. The visual that followed has stayed with me ever since. I can still picture the audience cheering as the then 80 or so year old Brubeck walked oh so slowly across the stage with the aid of a walker looking fragile and weak. It seemed to take forever then he finally sat on the bench. The audience held its breath, afraid perhaps the slightest motion would cause this poor frail man to fall over. And then…..his hands began to fly. Music exploded from his piano with the virtuosity of a young man. The last laugh was indeed his! Although I was sad to hear of his recent passing, I also felt so happy to know he had lived such a long and influential life. Thank you Dave Brubeck and your quartet for opening my eyes to the world of jazz, for opening my ears to the most exciting rhythms I had ever...
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