I’ve had a lifetime affinity for model trains and this was the layout/trains that I looked up to the most.
The ‘Gorre & Dephetid’ (say it, out loud) was an HO scale model railroad and the most famous of them all.
It featured amazing craftsmanship and was built by John (Whitby) Allen. The layout featured awesome scenery,
realistic building and people and superbly maintained rolling stock. Here’s a short video of John’s layout. More info here.
One of the most impressive persons that I’ve ever been exposed to is Isaac Asimov. He was a prolific writer
and thinker. Some of his wittiest comments and thoughts are collected here.
In my opinion, George Gershwin was America’s foremost composer of American popular music.
His consistent quality and diversity qualifies him for this position. His output ranges from
‘Swanee’ all the way to the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ with a detour to the American opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. I, myself, have
had the honor to play the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, with the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, as well as presenting an ‘all’
Gershwin concert using the ‘Orchestra Moderne’ a 16 piece chamber orchestra playing orchestrations that I created specifically
for the occasion. I also had another 10 piece orchestra called ‘Rhapsody’ that did outreach in the San Diego, CA area for
some time. In addition, I include Gershwin’s music in both my jazz and dance band ‘gigs’ whenever I can.
Some interesting facts about George can be found here.
Here’s a facsimile of the first page of the main theme of the Paul Whiteman version of the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’.
Louis Armstrong was probably the most influential jazz musician that’s ever lived. He was instrumental in making improvised
solos an important part of jazz music. He was the premier jazz soloist of his time and managed to consistantly produce stellar proformances
while playing in bands with far less proficient musicians. Early in his career, there were very few peers, notably Sydney Bechet, who could
match his excellence. He was mentored by Joe (King) Oliver and later became a major influence upon Coleman Hawkins. His ‘Wikpedia’ page is extensive,
informative and a wonderful source of information about Louis’ life, career and life style.
West End Blues is the perfect example of Louis’ early excellence in playing jazz.
West End Blues
Up a Lazy River is the first example of improvised, ‘scat’ singing and a primitive use of ‘jazz slang backgound comments’.
You can hear here that his band mates are not anywhere near his level of competence.
Up a Lazy River
Here’s an early version of Hoagy Carmicheal’s Stardust allowing Louie to shine with both a spectacular trumpet solo and one
of his iconic vocals.