By Susan Cross
It's Saturday morning. I'm sitting here thinking about what has changed in the past year. A year ago on a Saturday morning, I would have been planning my day and then looking forward to going to see Leroy Cooper play with the Smokin' Torpedoes. By then, Leroy had become the main attraction of the band and played solos on almost every song. When Coop stood up from his chair and started blowing the bari, people would stand up and applaud when he was done and sat back down.
It really wasn't fair to the other members of the band who were also accomplished musicians. Before Coop joined them, everyone applauded after each musician's solo but eventually Leroy seemed to fill the stage and the anticipation of his performance became the highlight of each number. Jeff Willey was blowing his lungs out on the harp. Rob Mola was tearing up his git-ar. Tom Bastedo was blasting out the rhythm on his drums. And Mo Baker was thumping out the bass.
Looking back, it's hard to imagine the band before Leroy joined. There were several other sax players before him but nobody compared to him once he was established.
Once Leroy moved on to join the Josh Miller Blues Revue, the other members of the Smokin' Torps left, one by one, and the whole band took on a new flavor. It was like going from strawberry to pistachio; both were delicious but strawberry was always my favorite.
Tonight, there is no music up at Harry's. I'll go to my meeting of the National League of American Pen Women this afternoon and come home. Maybe my hubby and I will go to dinner and a movie. It's about nine months since he stopped performing on January 10 and passed away on January 15 but not a single Saturday night goes by that I don't miss the sound of his horn.