So when President Obama was ten years old in 1971, he got to spend a month with his father, whom he said he rarely saw. His father took him to see his first jazz concert. Dave Brubeck. Now in 2016 he just hosted an International jazz day at the White House, which he renamed the blues house just for the day, saying that the name change was on the agenda of presidential candidate Dizzy Gillespie back in the day. I saw one compressed hour of this event live on ABC just this past Saturday. I relished another chance to see Obama’s take on jazz. As usual, it was Michelle who was clearly feeling the music on a deeper level.
The event came off as an industry creation to me. It reminded me of the same musicians I was always being told to push when I was Jazz buyer at Tower Records, which went down in flames way back in 2006. Diana Krall and Jamie Cullum are media and industry creations. Sorry, but Obama himself just said that what we do in jazz is tell the truth. We all know singers who could obliterate them. Sting may have hired Branford Marsalis, but so what? That doesn’t mean he should get to stand on such an epic stage and represent.
I knew when I saw Wayne that he would straighten all this mess out. They asked him to play with the 12-year-old prodigy, pianist Joey Alexander. To his credit, Joey took his time, listened and responded to Wayne, who was being Wayne, playing pure and total risk. Wayne offered no beginning or end and let the producers decide when to switch it up. Wayne destroyed and owned the entire event in this short clip. The other highlight for me was the one thing that they got SO right. Grandmaster Hugh Masekela played everything he needed to play in an extremely short number. I’m biased true, for having had the incredible experience of spending an hour with Hugh one day, but Hugh was one of the few people up there truly deserving of worldwide recognition for living his entire life letting his music represent the TRUTH of the human being.
After the show had ended in one quick hour loaded with commercials, I reflected on the fact that Duke, Miles, Dizzy, Bird, and Louis Armstrong all died never knowing that Obama would come into power. I have to think they would have enjoyed it. Duke, Dizzy, and Louis Armstrong in particular.
One last point, the fact that Wynton Marsalis was not in charge of this event and did not appear made me smile. Terence Blanchard represented trumpet land to the fullest. Who the hell is Till Bronner?
Sidebar: Wynton has never allowed a female musician to have a chair in his orchestra of master technicians. He sounds like Hillary when he explains why. The only conclusion I can draw is that one of his laws of swing is that jazz is to be played by men only. It’s one epic male bonding experience.
The thing is that there are so many women out there that can destroy those guys and can melt a bandstand right before your eyes. Need proof? Come to any 12 Houses concert where almost half of the band are women. One of my assignments from Ornette was to form a band of all women and report back to him. He stressed seeking a balance between male and female, not just one or the other.
Finally, I hereby officially charge the Kenny G jazz festival and Kenny G himself with a spiritual crime.
When High Point North Carolina discovered that John Coltrane grew up there, they commissioned a beautiful statue by Thomas Jay Warren. The more they thought about it, they figured they could profit from John’s name, and they put it on top of their jazz festival. Perhaps they still have the noble intentions with which they began.
I don’t think so. By putting Kenny G as the headliner this year, they have chosen to desecrate the name of John Coltrane. Kenny G represents everything that’s wrong with so many things. Spiritually wrong. Kenny G’s music is all about cash. The festival may say that they had to book Kenny to sell tickets. That’s the same argument that Wynton uses about the way he books JALC. Wynton uses his platform to validate the JALC brand. The people in North Carolina reveal their true intentions. Just like so much of America:
PROFIT NO MATTER THE COST.
More and more in America, the people that truly believe that money is God and profit is the meaning of life, above ALL OTHER THINGS, are coming out and revealing themselves. These people must feel that money is what the human being is about at the core. I find it hard to relate to people that live lives of affluence. Hillary Clinton lives a life I simply cannot understand. Uh-oh, I don’t want to start writing down that slippery slope. That’s why I’m going to tap out and celebrate:
THE 12 HOUSES!
THE 12 HOUSES HAVE PERFORMED 25 CONCERTS AT NUBLU ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE OF NYC SINCE NOVEMBER OF LAST YEAR. WE PLAY THERE EVERY SUNDAY AT NINE.
THE 12 HOUSES ARE EVERYTHING. WE SING, WE SHOUT, WE SCREAM, WE RAP, WE STOMP, WE STRUT, WE PROTEST, WE SOB, WE CELEBRATE, WE PREACH, WE TEACH, WE SEND BERNIE LOVE, WE DUMP TRUMP, WE SWING, WE JUST PLAYED A LOVE SUPREME, WE BELIEVE IN JOHN COLTRANE’S QUEST FOR TRUTH.
OUR MISSION TO TUNE THE WORLD CONTINUES.
We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re not stopping anytime soon.
Join us why don’t you.
We can figure all of this out together.
This one is for Larry Wilmore..