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Weekend Soundtrack

"Blues for Big Scotia"

Bill Radke

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My dad, the "jazz hater"
(Courtesy Mark Kaufman)
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This is the radio show that asks you: What's the soundtrack to your weekend? When you want to get into a space that's all your own, what song do you keep going back to?

You've been sharing beautiful stories of what art can do for us -- your tastes are all over the place. This Weekend's Soundtrack gets us in the mood for tomorrow's holiday. Mark Kaufman listens to us in Silver Lake, Ohio. The soundtrack to his weekend is "Blues for Big Scotia" by Oscar Peterson.

Bill Radke: Mark, what is it about "Blues for Big Scotia" that makes it your Weekend Soundtrack?

Mark Kaufman: Generally, when people think of the blues, they think of, perhaps, more traditional blues and somebody singing about sad scenes. But this absolutely put a smile one my face -- and the first time I heard it, I knew there was someplace, somewhere in the world where everything is right. And it happened to be in that recording studio at that time.

Radke: What is it about this tune that struck you so much?

Kaufman: Well, it was actually my first exposure to jazz. My mother was a pianist and she wanted to make sure that I learned piano and study piano. And of course, that meant studying classical music. But one day I just happened to hear this, and it was an epiphany. It changed me forever and I knew that I would probably play classical music all my life, but jazz was going to be a part of my life, both playing and listening, after that.

You've been listening to this tune for, what, 40-plus years now?

Probably, about 45 years, yeah.

How has it changed for you over time?

I also think of my late father a lot when I hear this song.

Why do you think of your father?

My dad, as wonderful a man as he was, was kind of a musical Neanderthal. He listened mostly to elevator music and he was quite content with that. And what he thought was jazz, was that kind of music that he always hated. Well, one day he had stopped over my apartment and I happened to have this song on. And while we were talking about things completely unrelated to music, I noticed that my dad's foot was just going right up-and-down to the music. So I sort of snuck the conversation back over to jazz and he reiterated his position. He said, "Oh, Mark you know, I just don't like that kind of music" and then he paused and said: "But this is good." And I said, "Well, dad, this is jazz -- this is jazz" and he said something to the effect of "No this couldn't be, because I like this." And so that moment when my father discovered that maybe he was a jazz fan sticks in my mind... And it's just one of the things that evokes memories of this terrific man who raised me.

Why did that mean so much to you that your dad embraced jazz?

Our fathers are our, sort of our gateway and our guide into the adult world. And this was something that I was able to actually give back to him. He was an intelligent man, he had just a terrific heart -- but this was something that I was able to sort of hand back. And there really isn't much that we can do for our parents, and what we can do for our parents is just a cup of water in the ocean of what they do for us. But this will always stick in my mind as something I was able to give him, a little bit.

Well, this has been a pleasure, Mark. Thanks a lot for sharing your Weekend Soundtrack.

Thanks for having me on.

More stories from our Weekend Soundtrack series


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    By zz Karl

    From bellevue, NE, 07/06/2008

    What a wonderful expression of our humanity, the music, the man and the family and how they relate. We don't ask to be born and just by our very existence we give back to our parents. I'm guessing the father felt he received much more than he gave that son.

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