Ya Do What Ya Gotta Do

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

The title of this post may as well be the title of my working life. The next stop on my journey to pay the bills was a wholesale electronics distributor on 45th St. in Manhattan between Broadway and 6th Ave. called Portnoy's. The owner, Abe Portnoy had been a musician at one point in his life. The proof was the saxophone mounted on the wall of his office where I had my interview. It was a good reminder for me to keep my eyes on the prize.

Oddly enough though, even this job led to some musical projects and excursions. While working there I met the son of a successful professional jazz sax player who played flute and sax himself. We got together at my apartment to play some jazz and work on an original I wrote for him called Kinetiscope. I also got talked into trying to form a band with the guys in the Portnoy's warehouse who were all from El Salvador, but unfortunately knew very little about music. I ran another round of ads in the Village Voice which got me some work writing transcriptions, a few auditions, some arranging and piano rehearsals with a fusion sextet in Soho, and an arranging/piano gig with a funk/soul vocal group whose lead singer unfortunately ended up missing rehearsals due to being incarcerated at Riker's Island prison. I also played with a guitar player and a sax player I met while commuting on the Staten Island Ferry.

I continued my education by taking a course in Arranging and Production at a school run by Paul Simon's look alike brother Eddie, who was summoned to listen to my Herbie Hancock and George Duke audition selections. After that I signed up for a weekly music curriculum of theory, ear training and piano being offered by a DMA and local composer who had studied with Roger Sessions. I was also starting to consider whether I should pursue teaching so I took the New York State college proficiency exams in the history and psychology of education which could open that door for me.

Around this time I wrote and performed an original organ work called, "Oh What Light Of Hope" at a Christmas Mass, wrote a piece called Saxafras for the sax player I met on the ferry, and was starting to formulate some piano preludes based on books while continuing to develop material for my first musical The Skyladder.

I was learning that achievement and success don't necessarily mean the same thing.


Recent Posts

See All

Absence Number 4: Less Is More

"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." This quote from George Orwell's great and prophetic book 1984 embodies the principle and practice of creating confusion and undermining re

Absence Number 3: Reality

Does anyone remember album liner notes? In the not too distant past, before streaming when albums were king and you could hold an album or CD in your hand, recording artists and/or people designated

Absence Number 2: Your Face

The second song on The Presence of That Absence called I Can't See Your Face has nothing to do with the face masks most of us are wearing to combat the spread of the coronavirus. That's a coincidence

© 2018 Created by Robert Gans with     Contact Robert at