Tuesday, December 14, 2004

richardson on record

My professor at UW had this album with the title "Richardson on Record," and it only exists as, surprise, a record. Apparently it's also one of the only recordings of the Monaco Sonata for Trombone and Piano, which is saddening as it is a really good piece. I have forgotten what other pieces are on it, but the thought of it still makes me laugh.

Always the last to catch up to the modern era, that one.

Up until my senior year, our lessons were taped on the World's Oldest Tape Recorder, covered in duct tape just like everything else in that office. The microphone was covered in duct tape. His mutes were covered in duct tape. Music was held together with duct tape. I once saw duct tape on the wall. Holding up the tin foil on the window.

And there was paper and mess everywhere. The file cabinets were overflowing with music, the walls had cartoons and Republican propaganda and random pictures of Bill and famous trombonists (well, maybe just Christian Lindberg), and there was just crap everywhere.

Can't forget the green carpet. And the stand extenders. That poor music stand was about to suffer from the most debilitating back injury known to stand-kind. The shelves full of tapes from students ranging back to 1985. The little note on the door that said, "Do you have your keys or are they in your winter coat pocket?"

And then one day Lau donated the Super Amazing Direct-to-CD Recording System and the Microphones That Must Have Cost A Fortune Because They Made You Sound Really Fuckin' Awesome.

But for some reason, the old tape recorded stayed there, like an old friend (or an old enemy, or an old someone whose eyes you want to poke out with a blunt object), gathering dust and more duct tape until the very end. It's like Bill couldn't bear to part with something that had created generations upon generations of creative clutter for him.

I can't imagine what it must have taken to clean that office out after he retired. I bet there's still duct tape somewhere in there, hiding, weeping silently for the Golden Days and dreaming of the time when Bill would come again and start a whole new era of things duct taped to other things.

And Richardson On Record is still floating around, apparently on restricted access in libraries nationwide.

Oh, but there's one other recording of the Monaco Sonata that I have at my disposal. It's by this little-known trombonist who was once a student of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and studied with the prestigious Richardson whose Record so haunts our libraries today. Just a mild-mannered junior recital, a little De Meij, a little Hindemith, a little hard-as-fuck tenor-bass duet by some hack named Charles Small.

Guess which recording my student, Jeremy, will be getting as a reference for his solo and ensemble piece this year?

I apologize in advance and in writing for having screwed up every single one of the high notes in the first movement and coming in dreadfully early in the third. Second movement doesn't sound too bad, though; too bad it's only two minutes long and contains all of seven notes.

Rest in peace, Bill's roll of utilitarian duct tape.