As I am getting a little older, I find myself contemplating more and planning tasks less.
I am getting more comfortable bringing back good memories than looking at what lies ahead. This reminder of how good life can be will carry me for a while.
It was a beautiful summer day and I had a lot of outdoor projects lined up. In the morning of this near perfect day I learned that the jazz legend Ron Carter was going to be at the Dirty dog Jazz Café. He was in town and offered to spend some time with fortunate local high school students from the Detroit Jazz Festival program. Reluctantly I said goodbye to the warm sun filled backyard. I packed up my camera, I headed over to the Dog, and I went out of the sunshine into one of my most soul enriching experiences of 2016.
The students had arrived and set up to play some music. There was some youthful jabbering until Ron Carter arrived. Ron Carter looks as good in person as he does on his CD covers, only taller and even more elegant. He introduced himself to a suddenly very quiet group of young jazz musicians. He asked them to play and soon with some gentle nudges a relaxed band entered into a shared learning experience. Here was a player of jazz music who has had an entire lifetime at the top of his craft listening carefully to some Detroit kids starting out. His taking the time didn’t go unnoticed.
The next day I returned to the Dirty Dog knowing that Ron Carter was setting up for an evening gig. He was scheduled to join his pal the great guitarist Russell Malone for a special evening honoring the supporters of the Detroit Jazz Festival. I figured that they would do a quick sound check and leave. The staff was busy setting up for the guests. Tables were being arranged and covered. In the middle of this activity were two artists making music for themselves. I set my camera down as I knew that it was too loud for the occasion. Imagine being in the room with these two great artists who were spending some time quietly facing each other for almost an hour, musically surprising each other and grinning just like a couple of kids, a couple of really talented kids. It seemed like they were happily transferring a lot of knowledge. I will carry this experience with me for some time.
Ron Carter is among the most original, prolific, and influential bassists in jazz. With more than 2,000 albums to his credit, he has recorded with many of music’s greats. He is a Detroiter and has that built in empathy for others that makes him a good teacher and collaborator.
Ron Carter continues to lecture, conduct, and perform at clinics and master classes while keeping an active performing schedule. He was Artistic Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Studies and has spent 18 years on the faculty of the Music Department of The City College of New York where he is now a Distinguished Professor Emeritus.
Ron is a graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan which has been a cauldron for America’s greatest jazz musicians. He has lived up to the expectation as an artist and as a man. When I caught up with him, it was nearly 60 years after he graduated from Cass. Here he was gently but firmly showing our next generation how a man acts and a jazz man plays.
Ron Carter and Russell Malone are familiar names, and it was a privilege to be in their presence. However this was just one of what is a common occurrence in Detroit’s jazz world. I have so many brilliant memories of watching musicians share and care.
Dwight is a home grown great trumpet player who is always in demand will be playing in the intimate Dirty Dog Jazz Café. A memory in the making.