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Monday, December 13, 2004

Ed Wasserman's Memorial Service

Ed Wasserman died in late October; his memorial service occurred on December 5, 2004. Ed was 76 years old, I believe, but I have only known him for the past 4 years or so. By all accounts, Ed was a remarkable person - first generation American, son of old Bolsheviks that emigrated to the U.S. from the Soviet Union, a hard-working psychiatrist and an old "leftie" from Hyde Park in Chicago. But I knew Ed as a harmonica player.

About ten years ago, Ed closed his private psychiatric practice (but still worked part time helping inmates in the Indiana prison system). He then signed up for the Chicago Blues Harmonica classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. The instructor for these classes is Joe Filisko, a world-renown harmonicist and harmonica craftsman. I met Ed when I joined the same class about four years ago. He had attended Joe's classes religously for ten years.

Ed's memorial service was at the United Electrical Union Hall on the west side of Chicago. It was a medium-sized hall - probably had a capacity of 150 people. The place was jammed. About 20 of Ed's fellow students from the Old Town School of Folk Music attended, and we played an old Gospel tune called "You Got to Move." Now, I love the harmonica, but 20 harmonica players trying to play the same tune in unison generally doesn't lead to an outstanding muscial experience. This time, however, we beat the odds and produced a haunting sound that generated an emotional response from Ed's gathered friends and family. Here was another example of an important human ceremony that became more intense by the addition of music.

I might have some more to say about Ed Wasserman.

Mr. G - 12/13/04

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