October 11, 2016
Randy Newman Tributed by RMA
Composer reminisces with crowd of top studio players by Jon Burlingame
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif.—Nearly 300 of Los Angeles' top studio musicians honored Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman Sunday night at the annual Recording Musicians Association Night at the Bel Air Bay Club.
Veteran musicians contractor Sandy DeCrescent praised Newman as "the only composer I've ever worked with who has never gone out of town to score a session," leading to cheers and applause from the crowd. All of Newman's movie scores – including such classics as The Natural, Parenthood, Avalon, Ragtime, all three Toy Story films, Monsters Inc. and others – were recorded in Los Angeles.
"Like no one else, he really cares for the musicians," she added, saying she was "in awe of his generosity to all of us." She presented him with a 100-page book of reminiscences and notes of appreciation from many of them, calling it "a love letter to you, Randy."
Taking the podium to thunderous applause, Newman said, "I have always loved musicians, and if that shows, I'm glad. You're my heroes. I don't play well enough to be in the same room with you all... but I can write the stuff. This is one of the best orchestras in the world here."
He reminisced about his legendary musical family, including his uncles Alfred Newman and Lionel Newman (who ran the music department at 20th Century-Fox for 45 years) and how hard they could be on younger members of the family. He recalled writing dance music for Peyton Place in the 1960s: "It was crap, it wasn't very good," he admitted, and Lionel complained about it in front of the orchestra. "They were kinda rough in a lot of ways, but they were serious about music."
Newman is currently recording the score for Pixar's Cars 3. "The last sessions I did, I thought the orchestra was as good or better than I've ever heard it. I can't tell you how much you all have meant to me over the years. I don't know what I've done for you, but you've done a great deal for me. There's no place that I'd rather be, and this means, in a lot of ways, more than any Academy Award or Grammy."
Sunday night's event included an auction that raised several thousand dollars for RMA-LA's work as a player conference within the American Federation of Musicians. Among auction items were movie posters signed by Newman and John Williams.
©2016 Jon Burlingame