Tag Archives: Music

Jackpot! A Conversation with “Jazz Man” Gene Herrera


It is unimaginable to me to think of myself at 100 years old; yet, I met a man in August 2007 whose life blood runs through my veins, proving that it is indeed possible. Eugenio Herrera, born April 11, 1907, is my great-uncle, the brother of my birth-maternal grandfather, Ralph Conrad Herrera.

Gene and Ralph were born to Lawrence (Lorenzo) Herrera and Beatrice Lopez Herrera in New Almaden, Santa Clara, California. This was a mining town where all the residents were attached to the New Almaden mine. My family on both sides were quicksilver miners in New Almaden, some of whom died there. They moved to San Jose sometime after 1923. My grandfather and his family finally arrive at the permanent family home on South Third Street in San Jose.

Gene first married Rafaela Brandi and had a son, Robert. After Rafaela died, Gene married Concetta (Connie) Pagliaro and they had a daughter, Nancy. They were been married for well over 70 years.

Gene was a professional musician, playing the saxophone. His whole family was full of musicians. They even had their own band that played at a ballroom on South Second Street in San Jose. Gene played with all the greats in San Francisco, including Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Krupa, and many, many others.  I am proud to be a professional musician like my Uncle Gene, if in the different genre of musical theater.

He only stopped driving in the early-2000s in his mid-90s. He stopped because his hearing was going and he had chosen not to wear a hearing aid.

In August 2007, my husband, David, my cousin, Catherine and her young son, Pablo, and I, along with Pablo’s friend went to see Uncle Gene and Aunt Connie for an impromptu visit. It was amazing to listen to this amazingly alert, well-spoken man talk about a century of life.

He told us of the day when his grandmother died. When she collapsed, she landed on his tiny seven-year-old body. He related the stories of how his father wanted Gene to be stronger, so he insisted that he do manual labor. Gene was a sickly child during his youth and stayed close to the home. His family never really respected the fact that Gene grew up to be a professional musician, because they used to say he’s living so long because he never had a “real” job.

When he was playing in the 1920’s and 1930’s, times were tough, but he kept at it, eventually becoming the oldest-living, actively-playing member of the San Francisco Musician’s Union.

Uncle Gene and Aunt Connie showed us pictures of Uncle Gene at his gigs, including one of which showed Uncle Gene with the professional boxer, Max Baer. It was kismet, since I knew of a story in which my father, Floyd, used to sell ice cream to Max Baer in Sacramento during the 1950’s.

Our visit was a wonderful experience for me. On February 19, 2008, Gene’s sister, Marie Aiello, died at the age of 97. Uncle Gene was the last of his generation to remain, and at 100 years old, it was not likely that he would be around much longer, so I visited him as often as I could.

I am so grateful to have met him and been in the presence of my genetic and musical history. There were so many similarities between him and my Grandfather, Ralph, or Papa, as I called him. It was comforting and made me feel connected again in a way I hadn’t for a very long time.

Uncle Gene died September 25, 2010 at the age of 103.  I miss him terribly!

Songs of Winter, Songs of the Heart


When it is cold, people spend more time indoors.  As they gather, music seems to play a vital role in their quiet time, celebrations, and family cultures.  As Chanukah has passed and Christmas approaches, I’ve thought about this quite a bit.   My question is, why is music so important to many of us at this time of year?

Higher level animals make sounds as part of their communication systems.   These emanations are warnings, calls to their families and potential mates, and serve as locators.  Human beings developed the ability to create organized sounds through speech, and the rhythms became an important part of their communication process as well.  There must have been something intensely satisfying to the first humanoids to insist on recreating these sounds. 

Take a moment to close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Now, hum a little bit.  Do you feel it rumble in your chest, right near your heart?  Now, hum your favorite song for a few bars.  Are you transported to a higher level of happiness as you do this?  Most of us are.  These sounds surround our heart, fill our chests, and heighten our minds awareness.  They cause our bodies to produce a chemical reaction that gives us pleasure.

When we join together to sing or listen to music, the collective happiness grows exponentially.  Our voices, hearts, and ears are working together to unite us and remind us of the precious gifts we have.  If we do the same things we did earlier, only together, we will see how much better it can be.  Take someone you love, hold them, close your eyes, and hum a song you like together.  The intimacy is intense; the joy fulfilling. 

During the holidays, we raise our voices together in celebration of God’s promise and His gifts.  As the Festival of Lights shows us, we are sustained here on Earth through the miracles of resources we never imagined possible.  In Christmas, we find the birth of unimaginable love.   In one another, we are reminded of the same gifts.

So, this holiday season, join together to sing or listen to music.  Remember the hum of your heart and spirit as the music envelopes you.  May God bless you and keep you and your loved ones happy and safe this holiday season and throughout the coming new year.

Coming and Going


Students are funny little animals.  They burrow into your heart for a while and then, when they are ready, they scamper out into the world to make their way on their own. 

The best part is, though, sometimes they return to visit. 

Since beginning my classroom teaching, I’ve been blessed to have students who have been with me since seventh grade, graduated, gone to college, and moved onto their own careers.  They’ve gotten married, had children, and still, with everything else going on with their lives, they’ve chosen to return to check in on me and to let me know how they’re doing. 

I recently closed a show with a former student who is within a month of graduating.  When he first came into my class in seventh grade, he was a scrawny little kid with big eyes, more energy than an electric company is allowed to store, and a vivacity that is unmatched. 

For his senior project, he decided to do a benefit for the Sacramento Ballet.  He pulled together a gaggle of singers-dancers-actors to create a revue.  His cast was phenomenal. 

Every senior in his program is supposed to have a mentor in his process.  Originally, Alex Stewart, my former student, had chosen a very talented young man with whom to work.  For reasons not clearly understood, this fellow had to attend to his own family business out of town, leaving Alex to find another person to fill that role for him. 

Although I had stopped teaching at his school, he decided to call me to ask if I would mentor him and music direct the show.  I was between shows and I knew some of the cast he had selected, so I was more than willing to donate a bit of time to Alex and toward a worthy cause. 

Over the six or more weeks I worked with this terrific team, I had the best time and the show was a huge success.  Everyone was thrilled, particularly the Executive and Artistic Director of the ballet company, Ron Cunningham.  Because of Alex’s work and focus and the determination and talent of his cast,  his outstanding show brought in, in ticket sales, concessions, and matching funds, nearly $6,000 in profit to the beneficiary organization.

Alex is 18 years old.

The show, “At the Ballet: A Musical Revue,” was sold out both nights and the reviews were clear raves from every front.

This was an important time for me because I got to work with a very talent former student and his equally matched cast, and also got to be a part of a worthwhile cause.  What more can a fellow ask?

My little animal returned to the burrow for a time and warmed my heart once again.  Now, he’s focusing on returning to the outside world, ready to take on the theatrical world by storm… and he will!

Watching Art Grow


Adrian Bourgeois, Vocal Student, and James

This morning, I was giving vocal music lessons to my students at the Woodland Opera House. The young ladies range in age from 8 to 16 years old. They are well-disciplined, kind, talented, and very sweet to be around. I feel very fortunate to be invited to watch and participate as these young people grow in their art. 

Last week, one of my former high school students and current singing student, Adrian,  just went out on a national tour with his friend, Miss Ricky Berger.  He’ll be back in a few months. He had taken it upon himself to begin lessons again to improve his performance. He is now ready for this tour. 

It got me to thinking about a time when I was in eighth grade. I used to walk past this girl who, every so often, would doodle in her notebook. I’m sure she didn’t think a thing about her flowers, scribbles, and faces, but I loved what she drew. It was in 1972 that I became Shirley’s fan. Over the years, I stood on the sidelines watching my friend finish high school, go to college, get married, and have children. I’ve also seen time pass when her art took a back seat in her life. 

"Napoleon House" by Shirley Manfredi, 2009, Oil on Canvas 48"x60"

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to go to Pacifica, California, to attend Shirley’s art show, “Arts on Fire,” at the Sanchez Art Center. Since her art has returned as a major focus in her life, after her family, of course, she has been amazingly prolific. Her incredible oil painting hung in the show, “Napoleon House,” was based on a particular moment in a restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana, when she and her husband were there on vacation. 

The actual building, Napoleon House, was constructed as a place for Napoleon Bonaparte to live in the United States after he would have fled France; however, he died before he could ever see his American domicile. 

In addition to the tantalizing history, Shirley Manfredi’s painting is stunning. 

Although I was never too effusive directly to Shirley about her art when we were young, because she would just laugh and look confused at my appreciation for her creativity, I did, on occasion make a comment or two. It was the best feeling to congratulate her yesterday when she realized she was awarded a Juror’s Special Mention in the show. 

Shirley, Sharon, and David

Shirley’s sister, Sharon, who is the godmother to all my children and a beloved aunt, and my husband, David, were in attendance, as well. Shirley’s husband, Louis, and their children could not be there, unfortunately. 

It’s starting all over, I suppose. It’s 2010 and I’m beginning to watch a third generation begin their artistic process. It’s an awesome place to be, to be quite frank. 

To be in Woodland to see my students successfully audition for “Les Miserables – Student Edition” a couple of weeks ago, at Adrian’s last concert in Sacramento for a while last Saturday, and Pacifica for Shirley’s show on Friday,  really put my participation in art in perspective. I think, in many ways, I’m a cheerleader, of sorts.  I smile, offer my thoughts when invited to do so, and cheer when the accolades arrive for these students of various art forms. Some may believe I have more to do with my students success than I do. 

As I tell them so often, “I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but if you don’t do the work, then I’m just spouting hot air.  My job is just to share some thoughts and, then, watch art grow.”

Her Daughter’s Pink Trees


Some color PosterThere are a few moments in each person’s life that will change who they are.  RindyFest 2009! was one of those nights, I suspect, for many of us. 

Saturday night, October 10, 2009, was a convergence of many volunteer people and events… a synergy of art and action, electronic technology and spiritual electricity, deep longing and ebullient love.  People came together, all volunteers, to create a most magical night.  There were gospel and progressive metal musical groups, there were solo performers and a jazz ensemble.  There were photos and laughter and family and work all rolled into one evening.  There was even a recorded performance of the wonderful song, “Rindy,” that Rick, Rindy’s dad wrote and sang.  It was a delicious stew of focused purpose.  That purpose was to love Rindy Sumners and her family through arguably the most difficult time in their lives, Rindy’s death.

I remembered the biblical teaching in John 15:16-17, when Jesus said, “…whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you.  This I command you, love one another.”   Although there were people of many traditions who participated in and attended the concert and were thinking of Rindy and her family during this time, the call went out into the Universe to love our lost lamb from hundreds of voices.  They asked, each in their own way, that this memorial concert be the best it could be.  Our prayers and wishes were answered in abundance.

To think that only a month and a half ago, Rindy was with us, laughing and singing her own songs for us.  Now, we were assembled to sing our songs, and hers, for her.  We raised our voices in awe of the life that this twenty-one-year-old daughter of God lived.  We wept at the power with which her life and faith touched others. 

The images on the screen behind every performer reflected the many moments Rindy was thoughtfully alone and joyfully with others.  Her words rang out the clarion call for unity and forgiveness. 

Rindy, Rick, and Sandy Sumners

Rindy, Rick, and Sandy Sumners

At the end of the performance, that lasted three-and-a-half hours, and seemed to go by in twenty minutes, there was a story told that I would like to now share with you that demonstrates the very essence of who Rindy is.

After Rindy died as a result of injuries sustained during an automobile accident in which she was a passenger, on August 26, 2009, we held a memorial service for her at her church, the Mars Hill Church.  To our utter amazement, over 500 people attended that beautiful service. 

As we were making decisions about what to include in the memorial, we knew, of course, that Rindy’s music had to be a part of it.  One of the songs that Sandy, Rindy’s mom, decided to include was a piece entitled, “Pink Trees.”  It’s a gorgeous song with hopeful, lyrical imagery and melody.  In this piece, Rindy stood in genuine wonder of her own life.  Sandy felt compelled to decorate the hall with pink trees and flowers.  Sandy said over and over again that she didn’t know why it was so important to her, but she knew it was the right thing to do.

The truth is, the pink tree theme had become almost an obsession with Sandy.  She was grieving and we all decided to simply support her in this process to accomplish every goal she had for this day to honor Rindy, so pink trees were flourishing all over the building.  It was spectacular.

Rindy's gravesite, with the young tree in the center of the photo

Rindy's gravesite, with the young tree in the center of the photo

When it came time to select a plot for Rindy’s ashes, Rick and Sandy finally decided on a cemetery, Sunrise Lawn’s Chapel of the Chimes.  By the time that the arrangements were completed, Rindy had a blossoming cherry tree at her gravesite that would bloom in the spring with pink flowers.  This was yet another homage to the theme of pink trees that Sandy gently insisted upon.

When Netty Carey, a fellow student of Rindy’s from Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy, where I taught them both vocal music, came to me suggesting we put on a concert to honor Rindy’s memory, I thought it was a great idea.  Netty and I knew that Sandy and Rick had to be included in the planning so that it met their needs, as well.

A Forest of Pink Trees

A Forest of Pink Trees

From the beginning of the planning, Sandy returned to the pink tree theme that had been so incredibly vital to the memorial itself.   The lobby would be decorated in pink and the stage would have two trees with gorgeous pink leaves all over it. 

On Saturday, October 3, 2009, we were only four weeks beyond Rindy’s passing and the planning for this impromptu concert on October 10 was nearing completion.   At about 6:00 PM, I got a call from Sandy who was in tears. 

“James, do you want to go to dinner?”

“Sure, Sandy.  What’s wrong?”

“I have something important you need to see right now.”

“O.K.  I’ll be ready in ten minutes.”

With that, I hung up the phone, quickly got showered and dressed and Sandy was by to pick me up since my husband, David, was out at the time.

As we were driving, Sandy reached into her purse and pulled out a black book.  Before she opened the book she told me this story.

“This morning, I got up and all of a sudden, I felt this strong need to find Rindy’s black diary.  Now, you know, James, I have never read Rindy’s diaries before, and I haven’t even read them since she died. 

“As soon as Rick had gone this evening, I started immediately looking for this black diary.  She has diaries stored all over the house, so I really wasn’t sure where to start looking.  But, you know how Rindy and I are, so connected.

“I went up into the spare room, not her room, and opened a drawer and started rummaging around in it.  No diary.  The next drawer, only the second place I looked, I found the exact diary I was looking for. Isn’t that weird?”

At this point, I was simply listening.  The story was compelling, at least; overwhelming, at best.  The anticipation about what was in this diary was electric.

“I opened the diary and started reading,” she continued.  “Now read this.”

She showed me this page of the diary in Rindy’s own handwriting.  The previous pages were written on August 21, 2008, nearly a year to the day before she died.  The next entry was October 16, 2008, so this entry was inscribed sometime between those dates.

Rindy's Journal Entry in 2008

Rindy's Journal Entry in 2008

Sandy exclaimed, “That’s why I knew we had to use pink trees!  That’s what Rindy wanted.”

We were both in tears, realizing that her connection with her daughter had, indeed, not ended.  I reminded her of a conversation we had immediately after Rindy died.

Sandy was weeping as she said, “I’m not a mommy anymore.”

I told her that she was indeed still a mommy.  I said, “Sandy, now more than ever, you are given the responsibility to carry on your daughter’s legacy and to hear her voice when none of the rest of us can.”  Between Rindy and Sandy, the veil had always been so very thin.

She remembered that conversation, too.  She knew that she was doing exactly the right thing.

She said she wanted Rindy’s dreams to be fulfilled.

As the Consulting Producer, with this request, I went to Netty and Cathi Romero-Molay, the Technical Director and On-Site Producer for the show, to ask how to create the images we so deeply needed to see that day.  We figured out the process and finally, we were able to manifest Rindy’s dream.

This video is the result.

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The pink leaves that were falling created such a powerful moment for everyone in the theatre that there was a gasp.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. 

With that, the event was over and everyone felt as though they had been present at an important moment in Rindy’s and our lives. 

Rindy was never satisfied with,”some.”  She lived dynamically and fruitfully.  She sang from the deepest recesses of her heart.  She smiled with the inspiration of the sun.  She loved with the radiance of her faith in God.   Hopefully, this concert reflected those qualities that Rindy carried in such abundance.  At least, that was our intent.

We love you, Rindy, and pray that you have heard our songs of honor and joy for your rich and vital life!

The last photo of Rindy Sumners taken on the day of her accident.

The last photo of Rindy Sumners taken on the day of her accident.

__________________________________

For great websites presented directly to you, go to:  http://alphainventions.com/

RindyFest 2009! – Today!


RindyFest 2009

RindyFest 2009

Today is the free concert honoring Sacramento musician and friend, Rindy Sumners.  Rindy died on August 26, 2009 as a result of injuries she sustained in an automobile accident on Interstate I-80.

This free concert, seated on a first come, first serve basis, promises to be filled with an eclectic array of performers and an abundance of love for our talented and precious Rindy.

RindyFest 2009!

October 10, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Benvenuti Performing Arts Center

Natomas Charter School

4600 Blackrock Road

Sacramento, CA 95835

For more information, contact: Netty at (916) 595-9342, or James at (916) 201-1168

Performers include:

Man, Oh Man!!                                 

Adrian Bourgeios                               

Darnisha Taylor and the Mars Hill Church and Technical Team

Edward Nelson  

American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble   

CoverBand  

Too Much Fiction

Memento Mori  

The venue, an amazing new facility on the campus of Natomas Charter School, is being donated free of charge for this event, for which we are extremely grateful!  The Benvenuti seats 360 patrons and there will be an additional overflow space for those who also wish to see the event! 

We are fortunate to have this particular ensemble of professional musicians, from a variety of musical styles, who are willing donate their time and creativity to this important venture and everyone involved is so deeply grateful.  The professional companies and individuals who are donating their expertise, resources and manhours for this free concert are growing in number by the day.

Please feel free to print out this poster, graciously created and donated by Kathryn Young, as a remembrance of the day. 

There will be a table manned by Rindy’s close friends who will accept individual monetary gifts for the family toward the completion of the CD on which she was so ardently working before her death.  Although they are not affiliated with this concert, we thoroughly support their efforts.   We’ve been made aware that these gifts are not tax-deductible donations to any tax-exempt cause or organization.  They are simply individuals’ generous offer of assistance toward the realization of Rindy’s greatest dream.

We all look forward to seeing you at the concert.  Updates will again be forthcoming.

Some color Poster

“Jak Szybko Mijaja Chwile”


The commemorative days that Babcia and Dziadzia died, my father would lock himself in the kid’s room, as we called our family room, turn out the lights, pick up his bottle of Cutty Sark, and weep as he sang this song to his beloved parents until he fell asleep in the rocking chair. 

I never really knew why he would do this until just before I left home at sixteen-years-old.   Over the years, I learned that the lyrics talk about how quickly time flies, especially when one misses those they love.  It is a melancholy song of longing and sadness, while cherishing the memories of those that are no longer with us.

Floyd and Teresa Glica, David and Jim

Floyd and Teresa Glica, David and Jim

Most people laugh when I tell them of my Polish cultural, if not genetic, heritage because I so clearly do not look like I’m Polish.  What most people don’t know is that I attended the Polish mass at Our Lady of Częstochowa Roman Catholic Church in North Tonawanda, New York, when I lived there. I ate pierogi, golabki, kiełbasa, and chłopski posiłek.  I know that our name, Glica,  is supposed to be pronounced, “GLEE-tza,” and not, “GLEE-ka.”  I learned to play the accordion so that my father could enjoy my rendition of the Clarinet Polka.  And, I learned the words, and their meaning, to this music when I was very young.

I miss my father, as well as my mother and brother, today, so instead of just singing the music, which I’ve done, sans liquor, I’m remembering my father in writing and on video, as well.  

Dziękuję i miłość ty, Ta.  

Twój syn,

Jimmy

RindyFest 2009! Update


RindyFest 2009 jpgWe are proud to present the details for the upcoming free concert honoring Sacramento musician and friend, Rindy Sumners.  Rindy died on August 26, 2009 as a result of injuries she sustained in an automobile accident on Interstate I-80.

This concert promises to be filled with an eclectic array of performers and an abundance of love for our talented and precious Rindy.

RindyFest 2009!

October 10, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Natomas Charter School North Field

4600 Blackrock Road

Sacramento, CA 95835

For more information, contact: Netty at (916) 595-9342, or James at (916) 201-1168

Performers include:

Man, Oh Man!!                                 

Adrian Bourgeios                               

American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble   

Edward Nelson  

CoverBand  

Too Much Fiction

Memento Mori  

We are fortunate to have this particular ensemble of professional musicians who are willing donate their time and creativity to this important venture and everyone involved is so deeply grateful.  The professional companies and individual who are donating their expertise, resources and manhours for this free concert are growing in number by the day.

There will be a table manned by Rindy’s close friends who will accept individual monetary gifts for the family toward the completion of the CD on which she was so ardently working before her death.  Although they are not affiliated with this concert, we thoroughly support their efforts.   We’ve been made aware that these gifts are not tax-deductible donations to any tax-exempt cause or organization.  They are simply individuals’ generous offer of assistance toward the realization of Rindy’s greatest dream.

We all look forward to seeing you at the concert.  Updates will be forthcoming.

RindyFest 2009!


RindyFest 2009 jpgIt’s official!  RindyFest 2009! is up and running.   Through the generosity of people like Charlie Leo, Executive Director of Natomas Charter School, Ron Dumonchelle of MonkeyGlue Productions, and many others, we are certain that Rindy Sumners, our precious songbird who died so tragically on August 26, 2009 in a horrible car accident, will still find her voice through the production of her CD, on which she was so ardently working.

RindyFest 2009!

Where:  Natomas Charter School North Field, 4600 Blackrock Road, Sacramento, CA 95835

When:  October 10, 2009  5:00 PM

Check in periodically for updates as we progress in our confirmed list of performers! 

James’ Facebook Page

James’ MySpace Page

Always Producing


RindyFest 2009 jpg

There appears to be no possible way for me to escape producing something musical.   Since Rindy’s death at the end of last month, I have been contacted by another of my former students who wishes to produce a concert on Rindy’s behalf.  The decision has been made to call it, “RindyFest 2009!”  It will help defray to costs of producing Rindy’s CD. 

It probably shouldn’t surprise me that they contacted me to help.  I’m old.  People like old people around when there’s work to be done. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to participate, but it does make me smile that the good Lord, in his infinite wisdom, is insisting I continue to do what I’ve been doing for so very many years.   This is a good thing.

So, I’m off again to pursue more information, assistance, and guidance for this project.  It’s going to be a dilly, I can assure you.

Maybe you can help, too?