The Sandner Blog

Ella Fitzgerald and Band

Movie Review – “Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things.”

I saw this documentary film last night, and I didn’t realize how rare an opportunity it was, since there are only a few screenings ongoing in the US. The film was produced in the UK, and has been showing in Europe since last year. It was emotional seeing and hearing Ella’s life and music unfold…

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Fes Train Station

Morocco Part 4 – Journey to Fes

In June, 2003 I travelled to Casablanca, Morocco for a 4-month gig at the Hyatt Regency. I’m re-posting the blog, a total of 6 posts, that I created and posted during the course of the gig in 2003. During my time there I was able to travel a bit, even though I played 6 nights a week in…

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Wedding belly dancer

Morocco Part 3 – Moroccan Wedding

Last night I went to a Moroccan wedding reception here at the hotel.

 Nourandine, a front desk manager, invited me to his cousins’ festivities.  When I got there after work at about midnight, the party was just beginning as the bride was being carried abound the room on an ornate elevated platform accompanied by the sounds of a raucous traditional sounding band consisting of long brass horns and drums.

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Morocco Part 2 – Play It Again and Again Steve!

It’s getting a little more comfortable playing at the Casablanca Bar at the Hyatt Hotel. As Time Goes By, “The Song,” gets played every night. I went out Friday to the marketplace in the old walled section of Casablanca—it’s nearby, almost across the street from the Hotel. I was looking for an electric coffee maker for my room.

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Morocco Part 1 – J’arrive!

The first thing that hit me was that the signs, as well as the conversations I heard, were in French and Arabic—no English!—at the airport. The desert landscape outside the city reminded me of Arizona more than Illinois. There is a third-world feeling. At the hotel, the check-in was easy and most of the staff speaks some English. Lynn Hilton, the piano player who referred me to this gig, showed me around.

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100 dollar bill

The Hundred Dollar Tip

As a musician, receiving a tip of five 20s is nice, but there’s something special about finding a $100 bill in your tip jar. Sometimes it is to request a special song, or sometimes I’m asked to play longer. The most fun is to have a $100 bill in your tip jar at the end of the gig and not know where it came from!

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Producing My First Jazz Recording

In June, 1989 I had the opportunity to produce my first recording session. I already had some experience as a hired session musician on commercial jingles, yoga chants, and songwriters’ demos. I had the idea of producing my own session singing and playing with jazz musicians performing blues standards.

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Caribe Lounge

I was geeky and very naïve, but slowly learning. I played all the jazz and pop tunes from memory, so I was easily able to watch the dancers. Boston’s puritanical laws allowed only limited nudity, no bare nipples. But when the dancers turned their back to the audience to make costume adjustments, we could see pretty much everything. A black dancer could spin her boobs in opposite directions (nipples carefully covered). Amazing!

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With Max Gail Sr., In Michigan

I met musical agent and businessman Max Gail, Sr., in November 1971, after driving through a snowstorm to get to his Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, home for an 8am appointment. He was looking for a piano player who could sing.

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With Judy Roberts In Chicago and Arizona

I first saw Judy Roberts perform at the Back Room on Rush Street, Chicago, in 1975. In those days, Rush Street was crackling with entertainment, and Judy had one of the premiere Chicago bands. She sang and played an electronic keyboard, and her quintet had a hip jazz fusion style. I remember the musicians in…

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