Music of Broadway and Tin-Pan Alley

Trombone player with backlight and trombone.

For Sarasota Music Club’s January performance, the musicians were Michael Treni on trombone, Al Dominguez at the piano, and Cameron Kayne on bass. Treni was the leader and spokesperson for the group. His experience as a teacher at Berklee College of Music and in the public schools of New Jersey showed as he introduced each number with a brief history of its background, giving dates and shows in which the music first appeared.

A few of the titles were “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Tea For Two,” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” along with and twelve others, all very familiar. They ranged in composition date from 1911 to 1957, the approximate dates of the prevalence of Tin Pan Alley activity. So the program was an educational tour, basic information, followed by the music. Treni spoke well, but was having a hard time playing trombone on this morning. A lot of musicians, especially those that are used to performing in the evening and sometimes into the early morning hours, do not like mornings. Treni was having one of those mornings, although his skill and innate musicianship broke through. Dominguez was solid, but the piano was not miked and was frequently overbalanced by the others. This hall tends to “eat up” acoustic instruments and voices, as Treni found when he tried talking or playing without the mike, even on a trombone.

The bassist, Cameron Kayne, was the highlight of the Trio, astonishingly good on what would seem to be an awkward instrument. His string bass was miked, sometimes to the detriment of the balance, but his playing was so brilliant I did not mind. A tall young man, he draped himself over the instrument, his hands frequently extending beyond the end of the fingerboard as he explored the extreme high end of the range. A member of the really fine US Air Force jazz band, AirMen Of Note, he exemplified the quality of the many service bands in Washington and around the country and beyond as they “show the flag” at military and PR functions. He also demonstrated the quality of the musical education available at schools and colleges all over the USA.

Sometimes I hear the question asked “Will good classical (or jazz) music survive in the future?” As long as young people like Kayne are coming on the scene, my answer is, ABSOLUTELY! Our Sarasota Orchestra is a good example. Here we are in an out-of-the-way small city, with an orchestra that astounds. As I listen to recordings of the major orchestras of fifty years ago, I realize our SO matches that quality level today , along with dozens of other groups that used to be second- or third-tier groups. The SO today compares well to the NY Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra of yesteryear, and the distance between them and us today is much smaller than ever before. There are more orchestras (and jazz bands) than ever before, and they are better!

Fortunately, there are organizations like the Sarasota Music Club all over the world that help identify and train young musicians, and support the local groups that perform music at such a high level. Congratulations, and Thanks for your 90 years of support and encouragement, SMC!

dalejensen, 2022

[Editors note: All future Sarasota Music Club performances are scheduled to be held in First Presbyterian Church of Sarasota’s Sanctuary, a better venue for musical performances than Fellowship Hall.]