Lawrence University award-winning composer and baseball lover Fred Sturm has combined his two loves in a musical tribute to Hall of Fame pitcher Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige.
The Baseball Music Project is releasing “Don’t Look Back,” a newly commissioned work written by Lawrence’s director of jazz studies and improvisational music that pays homage to the legendary pitcher and Negro Leagues superstar and some of his most celebrated quotes.
Named in honor of what is arguably Paige’s most famous line — ”Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” — the work is being released July 7 in conjunction with what would have been Paige’s 106th birthday.
Wisconsin musician Woody Mankowski provides the vocals and plays saxophone on the piece and is accompanied by Lawrence Conservatory of Music faculty members Bill Carrothers, piano, Dane Richeson, drums and Mark Urness, bass.
“Don’t Look Back” is Sturm’s most recent contribution to the BMP, which is part symphony concert, part musical American history lesson. Sturm’s “A Place Where It Would Always Be Spring” made its world premiere with legendary Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek serving as narrator. A 16-minute, nine-movement tour de force inspired by prose and poetry about baseball, the piece was written in 1994 for a commission by five American symphony orchestras.
“Add Satchel’s joyful swagger, humor and down home wisdom to the greatest pitching record in baseball history and you get the stuff of an American icon,” said Sturm, who serves as artistic director for the BMP. “I worked my favorite Paige quote into the song’s lyrics: ‘Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.’ That falls somewhere between Mark Twain and Yogi Berra.”
A 1973 graduate of Lawrence, Sturm was honored with DownBeat magazine’s 2010 Jazz Education Achievement Award and was the 2003 recipient of the prestigious International Association for Jazz Education and ASCAP Commission in Honor of Quincy Jones. His works have been performed by ensembles worldwide, printed by eight international publishers and issued on four recording labels.
Conservatory of Music
Lawrence University, "Don’t Look Back: Composer Fred Sturm Pays Musical Tribute to Baseball Legend Satchel Paige" (2012). Press Releases. Paper 384.