I believe we are born with certain destined abilities that will either become our vocation or our avocation. In my case, music became an avocation for me.
From my earliest memory, our player piano was the beginning of my love for music. At the age of six, piano lessons, and at 11, clarinet lessons. Rebelion came somewhere around the age of 13, with the purchase of an accordion I bought secretly. Learning to play the polka tunes I heard on my Father's 78 records was easy for me.
High School graduation came at the maturity of the Korean War. With several of my high school buddies, I joined the army. Playing the clarinet in our company band and later, playing the accordion with a small group while stationed in St Louis, was good a passtime for me.
Once a civilian, I attended night college while working a paying job. At that time, playing Mom's new Hammond became my life. Dad took the lessons that came with the organ and sister Dolly enjoyed playing popular tunes. Mom and I just ear played whatever we could remember from the piano days.
In 1960 the first date with my wife Dorothy included an organ concert. She will not let me forget it to this very day.
Theatre Pipe Organ music became something I had to try, and in the early 1960's I joined the NYTOS. I made my way to a local theater where there was a Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ being restored. Watching the skilled folks play that Pascack Theatre Mighty WurliTzer helped, and soon I was enjoying regular visits to play the Mighty WurliTzer. In the later 60's the GSTOS chapter was formed and I joined in to help form the charter.
Nelson Page and Bob Miloche changing lightbulbs in one of the chandeliers at the Lafayette Theatre.
Becoming attached to the Theatre Pipe Organ, I got married and became a father of two fine children. In 1970, I custon built a three manual Electronic Theatre Organ in the basement of our home. Income from overtime pay while completing my 26 year career as a police officer helped.
In 1983, I decided to get my first computer and keyboard, then junked the three manual instrument, which I later learned was a BIG mistake. A simple system was no end for me. I had to try to make it sound big and pipelike.
In 1986, I MIDI'ed six Casio CZ101's and two Korg EX800's together and programmed them to sound somewhat pipeish. It was done on the Commodore in 1986 before "velocity" was a
By 1999, I was searching the internet for any kind of Theatre Organ data. There was nothing out there so I decided to emmulate some Band Organ tunes and stick them on line. With the help of Frank (Grandpa) Schroeder, I met "The Duchess", Anne Rider, who designed The Theatre Pipe Organ Page. This page grew and grew due to requests for me to sequence all sorts of music. Seems like folks were hungry for home grown MIDI files, and Frank and I were pretty much IT!!!
This is Tom Stehle, the curator of this magnificent machine, one of New York's finiest instruments. Tom was recorded on the same day Eugene made his recordings. It is interesting to note that all these tracks were made using a Samson Zoom H4 digital audio recorder.
Eugene Hayek sent in some recordings he made on the magnificent 2/11 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffurn, New York. This is perhaps one of the finest two manual WurliTzers in the country. Though it only has one chamber, the sound is incredible, with unlimited bass in the Pedal.
Always Playing time = 2:38, file size = 2.43 MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
We downloaded some MIDI files that Eugene sequenced. At Walnut Hill, we have all kinds of MIDI processing hardware and software. Below are the results of what happens when Eugene's MIDI files meet Walnut Hill's studio crew.
This Future MidiTzer is my old imitation organ where lots of synthesizer work was done for my site. I hope to someday incorporate those bottom two keyboards into the Yamaha HX-1 system using the MidiTzer whenever Jim and John develope it for a four manual. John Tay and I have a lot of sampling to do. He lives close to me here in New Jersey.
I now see the work of three fine folks who have created a new way to create and hear good organ music: Jim Henry's Miditzer, along with John Tay and Bruce Miles' SoundFonts. These men and the Walnut Hill website are a dream come true. In use for me is the recent purchase of a Yamaha HX-1.
The audience had already caught the bus home by the time I got the camera out, but you can see the Miditzer I play through our newly aquired Wersi MIDI organ.
This is one nice sound using John Tay's SoundFonts. Going through the new Berrhinger powered mixer we bought, it sounds terrific. Surprisingly, my old Compaq laptop is doing a good job now with the SoundFonts and Miditzer.
The Center Street Combo
Eugene, Nancy and Aldo of the Center Street Combo.
On February 7th of 2007,Eugene Hayek sent us some recordings of his new group, the Center Street Combo. He had this to say about the performance. We quote him in blue text below:
The Mighty MidiTzer will be used with my new Center Street Combo group. Nancy, our lead singer is 85 years young and a real star, having recorded with Helen O'Connel. Aldo, my tenor Sax guy (who is 77,) played with Bob Eberly and has sixty years of playing experience. So, it's an honor to be able to back them up in our very active schedule of venues all over northern New Jersey.
Embracable You Playing time = 3:37, file size = 3.34MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec
A newly-formed group of seniors calling itself the Center Street Combo made its debut at a recent luncheon dance at the Northwest Bergen County Senior Center in Midland Park - and from the looks of all the couples and line dancers taking to the floor and others singing along, it met with great success.
Organist and leader of the group, Eugene "Don" Hayek, tall at 6-feet-4 and ramrod straight at age 71, said that he had invented the group when singer Nancy McGeady and tenor sax player AIdo Palmerini learned he was looking to form a local group. McGeady was singing for the Center's tap dance programs and Hayek was working audio for them. He learned about Palmerini through the sax player's son.
Aldo Palmerini on sax got the Center Street Combo going at the Northwest Senior Center in Midland Park. The threesome gave it a go and, after several weeks of Tuesday practices, they were ready to for their first gig. The afternoon show began with a few slower melodies, which showcased McGeady's smooth and mellow vocals.
"Doesn't that voice make you feel like you stepped back in time?" Center director Tricia Arslanian asked as several people at a nearby table nodded.
But then the tempo picked up and soon several people were bouncing to a rousing rendition of Beer Barrel Polka. A cha-cha was announced and then another.
"I love to dance, but I don't really have confidence," Ron Romeo said as he swung his partner around more expertly than he was letting on. "I sure have the interest, though. I do a lot of country dancing."
As the Center staff walked around with cookies for everyone, about a dozen energized line dancers left their tables for the dance floor. They weren't going to let a few bad hips and knees get to them, they said. Someone said he had "two left feet", but that didn't seem to be the case with many who were swinging and swaying to the Center Street Combo.
The Center Street Combo was also enjoying this aftemoon, especially Mister Hayek, a retired police sergeant from Ramsey who has belonged to the New York State Organ Society for 44 years and had brought several of his organist friends along to watch him play. He was beaming.
"Don't put my name down, but I used to be a well-known singer and Don was my recording engineer," one man whispered to this reporter from the sidelines. "I worked the Copa. I was on the same program with Duke Ellington"
Eugene had this to say about the above news clip. We quote him in blue text below:
I'm sending you a news clip about our showcase performance at the Center last Wednesday. Several of my old friends called it the best article they ever read concerning public anouncements. It's all God's work, my friend, and I just follow the lead.
Our director, Trisha, has booked us for March 21st and then every other month thereafter. The MidiTzer has become so popular that when they hear those sounds, they stop talking, swoon, and then up on the dance floor they go!
On March 23rd of 2007, Eugene sent in five more tunes that were done by the Center Street Combo. He had this to say about the songs. We quote him in blue text below:
These five tunes were the fanale to a great show at the NW Bergen Senior Activity Center. The loud voice belongs to one named Lorraine Dienno, who spoke into the mike asking for more line-dance tunes due to her not having a partner to ballroom dance with. Oyyye
On December 22nd of 2005,Eugene Hayek sent in three songs he recorded at the console of his Mighty MidiTzer Style 216. We spoke with him about the recordings and this is what he had to say. We quote him below:
I've been working hard to get my MidiTzer sounding like a real Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ. I hope these recordings will give you an idea of what I'm after.
This is my first MidiTzer recording and just two computers are being used on these three tunes. Nothing but John Tay's SoundFonts are used, and each recording gets a little closer to what I'm trying to achieve.
On April 2nd of 2006, Eugene sent us two more cuts from his Mighty MidiTzer. These are representative of the major work he has been doing as he builds one of the most massive installations we have seen to date. This new set up uses five computers, each one running a copy of the MidiTzer.
Spanish Eyes Playing time = 2:33, file size = 2.37MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
Swanee River Playing time = 2:12, file size = 2.05MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec.
Reworking Old Material With New Gear
On April 10th of 2006, Eugene sent us six more cuts from his Mighty MidiTzer. Folks have been asking him how he does his recordings on this incredible setup. We quote him in blue text below:
Here are some new WMA files. I wrote a blurb to answer a few questions about how they are being created. A couple visiters to Organmusician.com wrote me. Here's the blurb:
The Ashley Miller Lerner and Lowe tunes I played in long ago, then edited them in Notator, then ported them to PC. Same with the Bill Irwin tunes. No IR reverb is used. The system uses six computers, five of which are running copies of the MidiTzer. Number six is used just to record. One MidiTzer uses two soundcards with John Tay's SoundFonts. It is the one I play to.
Four audio channels plus a subwoofer are in close. The rest of the 16 audio channels are in chambers built on either side of the console. Number five MidiTzer
All the other SBLive! cards use Creative's reverb in varying amounts, but the 'original' sound is always set at 100%. Chorus is used sparingly to greater effect a multirank sound.
Recording is done live in the room using two vintage AKG 451 condenser microphons hooked into an M-Audio preamp phantom powered direct box, then into yet another Dell P3 SBLive! audio in. All computers use a minimum of 256MB of memory. The double soundcard Dell uses 512MB.
Lately, Eugene has been running his VTPO using the TASCAM Gigastudio Orchestra progam ans a sample playback engine in MidiTzer and has achieved astaoundingly realistis results. Below are some songs he submitted on August 28th through September 2nd of 2008 using this technology.
Paint The Town Playing time = 3:07, file size = 2.86MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec
Always Playing time = 2:29, file size = 2.28MB, bit rate = 128KB/sec