If you’ve been watching this space in recent weeks, I’m really sorry. Life has been happening fast. Blog posts have not. Look for a separate item soon that will gather some highlights from the past two months or so.
What I want to talk about now, in case the photo here hasn’t tipped you off, is Laurie Frink, whose death on Saturday came a shock, if not exactly a surprise, to a lot of people.
I spent a good portion of Monday speaking with musicians who were close to Frink, as background for this Times obituary. But I didn’t need their testimonials to know how much she meant to those who knew her, perhaps especially her students. A little over a decade ago, I shared an apartment with one of those students, Jesse Neuman, and heard a ton of stories. I also heard Jesse’s daily practice regimen, as prescribed by Frink. For a while, it was like the soundtrack of my life during daylight hours.
I thought of that immediately when John McNeil, laughing ruefully, told me about the time a plumber (or was it an electrician?) came over to his apartment while he was practicing a Frink routine. McNeil’s wife answered the door, and the guy said, “Oh, is your son learning to play the trumpet?” She chuckled and said yes, to which he replied: “Whew, that’s brutal!”
I’m going to devote the rest of this post to some transcribed comments from my conversations, since the obituary was too brief to allow for more than a choice quote or two. But before you read on, please see the beautifully touching tribute that Jesse posted on Sunday. He was the person who let me know that Frink had passed, and he was the first person I called.