Last weekend I posted a list of my top 10 bands. One of the groups that I listed was the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and I commented on the fact that even though many people would not consider the Dorsey Orchestra a jazz band, it was through listening to them that my interest in jazz was sparked and provided me with entry into the diverse musical world that is jazz.
During my high school days, my musical interest could probably be summed up fairly well as middle of the road Easy Listening. Then one Christmas, I received the album Perhaps Love, an Easy Listening album by operatic superstar Placido Domingo, and featuring the title duet sung with John Denver. Musically, this remains the most significant album I’ve ever owned. In hearing Domingo I came to understand to a small extent the wonders that a human voice can achieve. More than that, this album played no small part in my decision, a few years later to take singing lessons, something that even though I don’t do much singing anymore, still helps me out when I have to sing.
Much like saying that the Dorsey band was not a good exemplar of jazz, many critics would suggest that the Perhaps Love album was not a good exemplar of opera, and in one sense they’re right, because it doesn’t fit the genre at all, but it did open my eyes to the glories of the human voice. The one thing both Dorsey and Domingo did for me was they encouraged me to explore deeper into the styles that their music, in the form I first heard it, hinted at. This was a gift to me that went far beyond the actual music itself, and my life is richer because of it.