FOREWORD by Bobby Shew
I really enjoyed this book on Snooky, Conrad, and Al. I have an interesting relationship with all three of these guys. I took Al's chair with the Terry Gibbs Big Band back in 1968 just after leaving Buddy's band where Terry heard me play and called me when Al left. I had already met Al a few years earlier when I was with Woody's band (1965). We had done some serious "hanging" in those days. It was a thrill and intimidating to even TRY to do what Al did but I tried and ended up just playing the book the way I could from my own point of view.
During the many years I played lead for Louie Bellson, I had Snooky standing next to me on the 2nd chair for around 7-8 years. I tried to pass him a lot of parts but Louie wanted me to be the voice of the section and also Snooky preferred to NOT play too many of the parts. I did manage to get him to do a certain amount just so I could learn from standing next to him. We also played together on Bill Berry's band, the Juggernaut band, and Gerald Wilson's band. My wife referred to the two of us as "YOUNG and FOOLISH"!!!
During my years of studio work, I ended up on the Nelson Riddle orchestra. Shorty Sherock was playing the lead book when I first got there to play 2nd. Shorty's chops were starting to fail him in his elder years so I was soon moved over to lead, Gozzo's old chair. Whew, talk about PRESSURE!!! I just did the best I could. There were some times that Nelson looked over and smiled after a particular chart and he even commented a couple of times that I reminded him of Gozzo ....here and there!!!
So, each of these three monster players created a path that I fortunately ended up following and in their shoes a bit. Looking back, it was quite an experience to "follow" them. Very humbling, to say the least. They were without a doubt the three most important lead players in the history of this music.
I wish you good luck with the book. I'll certainly tell my students and friends about it.
It's even got jokes!
Cartoons drawn EXCLUSIVELY for the book by the amazing Steve Wiest