MJRC Member Biographies

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John Pesci, May 2009


Longtime member John Pesci characterizes the spirit and tenor of our MJRC club. Through his love of music, his warmth, his generosity in sharing his home and music he serves to cement the strands of our membership.

John was an early member of the MJRC. Through the years his steady attendance, his service as trustee, and his hospitality have been very supportive of our organization. Each year John and Rena have opened their home for the annual MJRC picnic. Features of this annual event have been Rena’s food, and the great music playing from the outdoor sound system. Our kind of music. John built the outdoor sound system, featuring Klipsch speakers. The outdoor gathering area was built by John also with the assistance of his sons. The grandson, following the tradition of helpfulness, volunteered his food preparation services last year for our picnic. We enjoyed his food very much, and appreciate his undertaking the responsibility for its preparation.

John’s indoor music room is famous. Instead of a home theater he has a music theater. It features a custom-built sound system (built by John), with a phonograph built by him. He now has his entire music collection installed on tape. His collection is so extensive that he now no longer splices in additions as he did in earlier years. It takes a year for the entire collection to play. This is done automatically with his set-up.

The music room is the setting each third Friday of the month for an informal gathering of like-minded music lovers who bring their CD’s to John’s music room for an afternoon of listening.

When asked about “how “ and “when” he became interested in music, his response shares the memory of his older sister’s birthday party when he was ten or so. A victrola—the wind-up kind—and records had been brought to their house for the party. It was not picked up for a few days—just long enough for him to get hooked on music. This began his life-long love of music and the record collecting that is an expression of this love. His life in the Detroit area gave him access to many live music venues, and he took advantage of these opportunities to further his education in jazz and swing. Currently the Paul Keller Orchestra Monday night sessions at the Firefly in Ann Arbor are a favorite.

When asked about his music favorites, John now shows an even approach. John told me that “He likes a range rather than a single favorite.” Rena describes an incident from years ago that pictures his sister’s support of his love of music, and that gave him a “favorite”. From Detroit she called him in California and played the entire recording of “Disorder at the Border. This became his favorite. Think of the phone bill associated with her support at that time.

John and Rena are fond of music festivals. Sally Fee introduced us at a Chautauqua festival sponsored by the Allegheny Jazz Society. Our paths crossed again at Meadville. They are well-traveled in jazz festival circles. New Orleans was an early visit, followed by trips to the Midland Texas event, Florida, North Carolina, Las Vegas, many other venues and their favorite, Elkhart.

A longtime club member describes John and Rena this way: “The word generosity pops out. They are giving with time and effort, always in a good mood.”

I see a life richly lived.