I must say, that was one hard funeral. Although show me an easy one.
Being a keyboard player in our business doesn't give me the opportunity to really get to "know" other keyboard players, as we don't see each other on the same bandstand. But back in the old days of two bands at "Bais Ruchel", "Armory jobs" or "BJC" was really the only time I got to see other kbd guys at work. In those days I did get to see Ira on the bandstand while we took a break while they were playing, and his eyebrow going up, when he heard a funky harmony, or a chord from the guitarist that was a "little outside" was all he ever did to show disagreement about something. He was open minded to what ever was being played on the job as a learning experience. There were actually a bunch of jobs in those days that we got to play together while he was on drums. I was not as seasoned a player in those years and really spent some time "finding myself" (musically speaking) while playing a wedding. I was especially conscious of this while playing with Ira because here was a keyboard player finally on the same job with me. I remember him rolling with every rhythm pinch I sent out, as well as a grin when he heard an interesting chord. After all he sold me my first "gig" keyboard. The ole Yamaha YC-20, made popular by Suki Berry in the 70's.
With so much of the stupid musical politics that would go around the bandstand, I don't believe I ever heard any of it involve Ira. He played the chair of "rhythm section support" well to keep fellow musicians and vocalists alike, comfortable.
We have to do more than reminisce. We have to implement the character traits, spoken by the "levaya" and from stories that people talk about, into our daily lives where applicable.
A "fixture" of the Negina organization may be gone, but let it not be forgotten.Shloimy Ash writes:
For me working with Ira was more than a wee bit stressful. Between the fact he was a drummer as well as the fact he was used to Shmoo K, being a drummer on a bandstand with him was sometimes more than demanding.
But he never got angry, frustrated yes.
Angry as in losing it never
And while every time I rushed or dragged got me a look, every time my fills landed straight on, or my triplets worked, he turned to me with a nod or a smile.
Talk about making me feel like a "made man."
I also remember how he drove up with Rona & the kids on a Sunday and spent the afternoon sitting in our wading pool surrounded by his then very young kids.
It was sefira so he was off, didn't have to rush off to a gig.
He just sat in the wading pool "shepping" being around his kids.
Simple stuff like that is what made him happiest, he wasn't into the "flash" he just enjoyed being comfortable playing with his kids and talking/playing music. Whenever we spoke (in retrospect not as often as we used to) I was always struck by how happy and complacent he was--with everything going on in his life--he was essentially a down to earth person in a business where most people were simply down on everyone.
I remember one gig with him, when his asthma kicked in, he had Arkady take over on keyboards and the two of us finished the gig while he relayed songs/sets via a number of kids (in between taking breaths on his nebulizer).
Afterwards he refused to take the full scale since he spent most of the gig literally on his back--he judged from the overall wedding (it was in Vishnitz Monsey and had only a 3 piece band) that the people couldn't afford to pay much and didn't feel right taking their money without having worked for it.
For a few years after we had a falling out we didn't speak professionally--but we stayed in touch personally--because that was his demeanor--after all, who said business and personal had to intermingle?
I tried getting him up to the Homowack every so often--but as much as he needed the rest, he'd only go with his kids and their schedules often conflicted.
My favorite Ira story was when Shmuel Wasserman took us all to Pumpkins on Nostrand and Church in Brooklyn, to hear his teacher Michael Carvin who was performing with Bross Townsend and one other jazz great who's name escapes me.
After one very sizzling set by this trio of jazz masters, Ira turned to us and said in all pseudo seriousness "yeah that was nice, but I'd like to hear how they play Ve'Omar in Aperion on a Sunday in June.
While the business he was an "instrumental" part of has gotten more cut throat (ok ok competitive) I'll always remember him as a gentle soul, solid keyboardist and more solid mench.
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