The American Federation of Musicians, Local 6 (San Francisco), just held its second annual picnic for members and families today, on Labor Day of course. I co-chaired the planning committee and wrangled kegs the day of the event. After the event, several musician friends followed me home to help unload gear, transfer beer between kegs, clean out the jockey box, and so on. And then the fun began!
Ward Spangler, percussionist extraordinaire, sat down at my piano and started noodling. I picked up my flügelhorn, and we jammed. He noticed the “Kaddish” score on the piano’s desk and asked about it, and next thing you know, we were doing an improvisation together on Lev Kogan’s piece for solo horn. This is a long jam—about fourteen minutes—and at times Kogan’s melody will be hard to hear, but it’s there. Not bad for a pair of tired, sunburnt musicians who were coated in beer, both inside and out!
A kaddish for all the laborers whose suffering and even death led eventually to unions and the never-ending struggle to wrest basic dignity and humane working conditions from the grip of corporate greed.