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Wed, Jan. 22

Letter: Mel Zelnick stood tall in the world of music

Several hours after learning of Mel Zelnick's death, I entered a business and heard a familiar tune. I asked the man behind the counter what he was listening to, but I already knew the answer: Benny Goodman (and of course, his exceptional band).

I mentioned Mel's passing to him, and he shook his head. I quoted Mel to him as saying that "Benny Goodman was the best (he) ever played with."

After talking about how Benny could play the "stick" better than anyone, the man behind the counter shook his head, smiled, and said, "That is the music of my generation."

I do not think I ever explained it to my co-workers when I insisted on doing a video about Mel, but here's what I probably should have said: Mel Zelnick had a major hand in defining the music of an entire generation.

Heck, almost all of my generation knows "Sing, Sing, Sing," where Mel tears it up on the drums.

All music aside, I do not think many realize that Mel also embraced black musicians decades before the Civil Rights era began.

While I know Mel lived with a bit of regret about a temporary falling out with Benny, I also know that one of the great highlights of Mel's career was burying the hatchet in the name of true friendship.

I got to talk to Mel for only a few hours, but I learned a lot during that time.

Thanks for everything Mel. You made our world a better place.

John P. Kamin


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