With all the nonsense coming out of the White House these days, the only people I can talk to who make sense are musicians.So I had lunch yesterday with Alan Lindgren and Larry Brown. We three collaborated on a few albums, under the name the Joy Circuit, back around the turn of the century. And of course Alan was there for almost all of my 40 years with Neil Diamond. One conversation topic that came up was Reinie Press. Alan declared that Reinie was the finest bass player he'd ever played with.
"Everything," he said, "his sound, his intonation, his reading, his improvising. Reinie was the perfect bassist." I couldn't disagree, and neither could Larry. There are lots of fine bassists in LA, but Reinie stood alone.
Here's how I met Reinie: In 1970, I had just moved to Los Angeles from Indiana, and I was trying to become established in my new home town, trying to be a working musician (yes, that's an oxymoron). One way to do that was to substitute for other, busier musicians on occasions when they needed a night off.
One such subbing gig for me was for sitting in for a fine pianist named Byron Olsen, who was then playing keyboards in the onstage band for the musical “Hair” at the Aquarius Theatre in Hollywood.
When I arrived for my first run-through visit, I met the bassist and conductor for the Hair band, a genial young man named Reinie Press. The two of us were destined later to become busy in the studios, and we did record dates together many times. One day early on, he invited my and my wife to lunch so we could meet his new wife. Linda, it turned out, had met Reinie when she was in the cast of Hair. We enjoyed a lunch at Art’s Delicatessen, got acquainted over a lengthy afternoon chat and put each other in our address books.
By 1975, I was a pretty busy studio dude, and after recording a couple of albums with Neil Diamond, I was invited to meet with Neil to talk about joining his touring band. I knew a couple of others in the band—the leader and drummer, Dennis St. John, was an early acquaintance, I had worked a bit with Richard Bennett and King Errisson.
I wan't sure if I wanted to go on the road, and asked some of my studio pals. They told me I shouldn't do it, that I would lose all my studio work. But I was foolhardy, and said yes. (It turned out they were right—I did eventually lose my studio work. But, eventually, so did they, and I was still in the comfort of a very happy family band.)
When I got to the first rehearsal at a studio on the Paramount film lot, I was happy to find that Linda and Reinie were there as well. The band was great, the music was exemplary, the audiences were ultra-friendly, and we all spent a jolly 40 years on the road together.
Linda somehow became pregnant during one tour, and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl they named Daisy. Daisy grew up on the road, and was “home-schooled,” mostly on tour, with an entire band of Auntie Mam types to give her life lessons as only musicians can give. As she got older, she took on various lobs on tour, including as my intern for my somewhat daily newsletter, the PBI, a task which she did expertly.
Daisy and I bonded even more due to our shared interest in new music. That is a term for classical music with added fun,
Years later, and with many adventures in between, Daisy Graduated from the Manhattan School of Music, and established herself in New York as a bold interpreter of experimental classical music in the US and Europe and the principal singer at Brooklyn's famed "House of Yes."
Reinie and Linda retired from touring just before our 2015 tour, and although we missed having the Presses to kick around, I found myself working with Daisy on a very special project. The result of that project is about to, as they like to say these days, drop. I’ll be posting a lot about that very soon.