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Tue, Oct. 15

Column: Toni Tennille still making great music

I can remember, as if it were yesterday, hearing the Captain and Tennille for the first time. The year was 1975, and it was during a television show in which they were featured in Hawaii. Toni Tennille, accompanied on the keyboard by the Captain (Daryl Dragon), was singing the lilting "Love Will Keep Us Together" - their first big hit and one that would soon soar to the top of the pop charts.

When the show came on, I was stretched out in my "easy chair" at home in a Sacramento suburb, while daughter Shannon - who was 7 years old at the time - was taking it easy on the family room floor. When the first strains of the song came on, she exclaimed, "It's the Captain and Tennille!" to which I responded with something like, "Who/What is/are the Captain and Tennille?"

Well, I subsequently came to know them as the most captivating musical duo of my experience. Among their other late '70s hits that climbed to near the top of the charts were "Shop Around," "Do That to Me One More Time," "Muskrat Love," "The Way I Want to Touch You" and "Lonely Night (Angel Face)."

And where are they now? Well, they recently moved to Prescott, where Toni will be singing a few songs as part of the free program this evening on the courthouse plaza that begins at 7 o'clock. Then she'll also be singing in some of the venues in the eighth-annual Prescott Jazz Summit of this Friday through Sunday.

"I don't know if you are aware that since 1984, in addition to Captain and Tennille," she told me, "I have been singing the 'Great American Songbook' with symphonies and big bands all around the country (" And "that is how I happened to meet Mike Vax," who is ramrodding the Jazz Summit.

Vax is a man who "has dedicated his life to music education for young people," Toni relates, and "he is also one of the most brilliant trumpet players I have ever heard. When he heard we were moving to Prescott, he asked if I would be part of the Jazz Summit, and I agreed. I am not accepting any fee for my participation," she added, "so Mike is going to set up a music scholarship, using what I would have been paid. I told Mike all I wanted was bottled water, a good sound system, and a chance to work with some of the great jazz musicians who come to Prescott for the event."

Incidentally, if you would like more background on the Captain and Tennille, there's all manner of information via Google at "Toni Tennille Prescott." A favorite site of mine is headed "Where are Captain and Tennille?" (but you know that!) and includes super videos of them performing "Shop Around," "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Muskrat Love." Enjoy!

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