On Sunday, November 11, 2007 beginning at 8:00 p.m. Public Television will air The USAF 60th Anniversary: A Musical Celebration featuring The United States Air Force Band with special guests “The Tenors – Cook, Dixon, & Young” and “Empire Brass”. The brass quintet is noted for presenting works from Bach and Handel to jazz and Broadway. Similarly, the tenors are well versed in both the European and American musical traditions, so it’s no surprise that the broadcast will include American classics such as American Salute, Ain’t Misbehavin’, America the Beautiful, and a rousing full-cast finale of God Bless America.
I’m not familiar with the brass players but have read that all five have held leading positions with major American orchestras and that the ensemble plays over 100 concerts a year in major cities throughout the world. I am more familiar with the tenors. Victor Trent Cook received a Tony Award nomination for “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” Rodrick Dixon has been a featured performer in several roles with the Los Angeles and Michigan Opera companies, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and in Broadway’s “Ragtime.” Grammy Award-winning vocalist Thomas Young has appeared as a soloist in major concert halls around the world; he’s also created operatic roles for contemporary composers like John Adams and Anthony Davis. Their talents encompass jazz and blues (here’s a video clip) as well as the classics (here’s a video clip of Roderick)
I know of Cook, Dixon, and Young as “Three Mo’ Tenors,” so I wondered why the billing changed to read “The Tenors.” In an online Variety article published 9/27/07 I learned that
“The “Three Mo'” franchise was started by [Director Marion J.] Caffey with singers Victor Trent Cook, Rodrick Dixon and Thomas Young in the title roles. Producer Willette Murphy Klausner soon joined up, and the group received much exposure courtesy of a 2001 PBS showing. Performers and management thereafter split acrimoniously, leaving Klausner and Caffey with rights to the title; Cook, Dixon and Young still perform together in the three tenor format, presumably with more star power than any of the six tenors alternating at the Little Shubert.”
I have never been in favor of spin-offs, musical franchises and/or ghost bands, and while I’m sure that all of the tenors currently performing on Broadway and elsewhere as “Three Mo'” are very talented, I’ll stick with the originals of whom I’ve been fond ever since their debut in the summer of 2000.
Of course I also love the original originals – Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras – The Three Tenors with three capital Ts. Ay, Ay, Ay.