Congratulations to the Egyptian people whose quest to remove the yoke of dictatorship was successfully realized today.
Much respect to those who stayed the course when the road was blocked with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to the young people who forced action to change the trajectory of their future, to the military leadership (undoubtedly not young) who showed unusual forbearance and wisdom, and to the international media who kept relentless pressure on the Mubarak regime.
This glorious hour speaks to the timelessness of the human desire and quest for freedom, equality and for dignity. This moment, in a far away land and in another time, speaks yet again to the greatness of the American Constitution, the Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, and to the insight of the Founding Fathers and the debate around democracy that attended their deliberations. It brings into focus the struggles of our own country to better realize the ideals which undergird our way of life.
Struggles which include a bloody and defining Civil War, life and death fights for enfranchisement of the excluded, and of course, the travails of the American Negro whose non-violent Civil Rights struggles are so clearly resonant in this relatively peaceful revolution. And though we continue to work through kinks in our democracy, we have surely received a eye-opening, spirit-lifting boost from the recent happenings in Tunisia and now, and no more significantly, Egypt.
Jazz is always on the side of freedom, always on the side of equality, always on the side of human dignity. It came from people who were slaves and therefore, keenly attuned to ascendant changes in the fragile harmonies of the human spirit.
From Buddy Bolden's first revolutionary notes, to Bix Beiderbecke's decision to play this music in spite of his family's disrespect of 'nigger music', to Benny Goodman's historic integration of his band (before baseball), to John Coltrane's 'Alabama', jazz musicians have always known—-when YOU are free, I become more so.
Here is our recording of Warmdaddy's "Egyptian Blues" :
Blue gray skies that engulf all that you see or think or even dream.
We are truly on the road. Two back to back 'through-the-nighters'. 7 hours ago in the beautiful Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha we were embraced by a warm and extremely inviting audience.
The cats responded by playing all kinds of stuff I had never heard. Joe played something on the blues that came from the recesses of the Scottish ancestry (so far back and forward it found the DNA strain that connects us all).
Printup crooning with the plunger, Ryan blessing us with a fiery and well constructed solo, Vic, Vince, Ted on the flute, Sherman with those biting Shermanic lines of harmonic sophistication dipped in Alabama souse, (so many and much I have to make myself stop retelling it).......the rhythm section..yeah, everybody came to play.
Just 15 minutes ago (it is now about 6:15 am), Boss Bragg was in a dead sleep and I was trying to find a comfortable angle in my seat. Frank hit patches of black ice on the road (I-80 outside Sidney, Neb.) that sent the vehicle skidding all over the road. He was dancing with the steering wheel in vain search of traction as gusting wind joined ice in trying to help us plunge into the gully on the right side of the road.
This was a rough stretch, 4 or 5 trucks were jack-knifed and all others were in single-file and blinkered. When you notice that yours is the only passenger vehicle on the road and truckers are pulling over. That's a clear signal. Not to Frank. That's a green light to him. Sure would be a shame us dying with Frank's beautiful photographic exhibit up in the House of Swing.
Boss Bragg gets up in the middle of the sliding and says,"Take your foot off the brakes. Don't hit the brakes!" Frank, in the middle of his life and death scuffle, starts arguing, "I'm not hitting the breaks! We have down shifted AND have the 4 wheel drive on gotdammit! It's slick as a cat's ass out here." After the irresolute moments passed, we began to joke as people do when they're not quite out of a bad situation but past a very uncomfortable episode. "Frank, pull this motherfucker over! (When we tried, a truck cut us off).
Continuing down the road completely awake, we laugh about Frank and Boss Bragg finding the time and clarity to argue in the midst of extreme duress. Me and Frank tease Boss Bragg (who is normally very calm) about getting big eyes.
He says, "Hey man, I need to get out this vehicle for my knees."
He's about 6'4 and 3 something. These long rides are rough on the big fella.
Last night in the House of Swing in Rose Theatre.
2 and 1/2hr concert with Chick Corea. Him demonstrating all types of mastery of harmony, rhythm, the art of accompanying and of thematic development in improvised solos. Eric Reed with Mary Stallings in the Allen Room. The J Master holding forth with his trio in Dizzy's. People creating a warm and participatory vibe in all rooms.
Jam session 'till 2:30 with Chick, the J, Printup, Cone, Walter Blanding, Vic, Lew Soloff, Abraham Burton, and the great Willie Jones. J and Chick playing all kinds of stuff on one piano on the blues, Chick's wife Gayle (after singing the hell out of 'You're Everything' in the Rose) creating the proper vibe.
Jason Marsalis and Ali Jackson fall into a groove so deep on J's 'A Servant of the People', Chick gets up and plays cross rhythms on the crown of an available cymbal. Ali's dancing on Jason's snare and bass drum, Jason clacking and stroking on the low tom and ride cymbal and Chick calling the N.O. clave on the bell. People clapping on 2 and 4 and wanting to dance.
I asked Chick if he was tired at 2 am.
He said, "I'm not tired! This is the real stuff."
Yeah, it was.
This has been an inspirational week of rehearsing with the great Chick Corea. Chick is gracious, attentive and purely musical. He was instructional with astute technical adjustments as well as brilliant in his comping and soloing.
Concise, deeply intelligent, playfully interactive and coherent on-the-fly, we have thoroughly enjoyed this experience. Vincent, Ted, Sherman, Victor, Marcus, Ali, and Carlos came in with imaginative, well crafted, difficult and original arrangements (12 new ones including mine).
Our music preparation team, led by the unsinkable Kay Niewood, did its usual stellar and impeccable job.
J. Kelly sent me a message that sums up what our week was, "9,910 notes this weekend…it felt like a ton of work becuz it WAS a ton of work….nice job."
By nice job he meant himself because there were maybe 2 copying mistakes out of those 10,000.
Yeah, we work at JALC.
The band is looking forward to tonight.
We can't wait.
I always remember that Christmas meal: gumbo, some type of barbecue, and stuff that was not made for Thanksgiving.
I remember the day after Christmas when everybody was out with their new toys that would be broken in a week or two. You had to enjoy those fleeting moments of initial possession. Our family had enough brothers for opposing teams in all sorts of games. It was always Branford and Ellis vs me and Delfeayo in Monopoly, Scrabble, Operation….. everything in that era before electronic games.
After eating, we would have our holiday football game and then argue into evening about who really won. In high school Branford and I always played some type of dance at night. It was funky and soulful. We would also visit friends and talk about whose momma made the best pot of gumbo. We loved Charlie Brown because the music was good.
There was always a lot of music around Christmas.
A lot. There still is.
Our momma and daddy scuffled to get funds together to buy things for all of us. They did a great job making it good for us. Not till I became an adult did i understand what it was for them and that the difficulty also made it more special and intense. Every passing Christmas makes me even more grateful for their efforts in difficult times. Yeah!
I love all the pagentry around Christmas- the spiritual and commercial implications of it all and there is a lot of music. There still is.