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Detroit The Beautiful

I still can’t get my mind off the Detroit Jazz Festival. The festival is appropriately held on Labor Day weekend. However, metropolitan Detroit doesn’t take that weekend off. Everyone has a venue to go to and they are all  terrific. There is little reason to go out of town. The jewel is The Detroit Jazz Festival, where our community puts its soul on display. We show off what we do best, the roots of our music, jazz. For some reason the 2014 festival added some extra zest to its jazz. This was more than planning. There was something palpably hopeful in the air.  The crowd got it and showed their appreciation. The musicians caught the fans’ vibes and used them. Something beautiful was going on.

It didn’t go unnoticed. Mark Stryker of the Detroit Free Press was in all the right places and reported what he saw and heard. He described a moment when “Barry Harris was  singing a song of deeply personal expression. “See, jazz is beautiful” he told the crowd.” Mark went on to say, “Beauty – not in the colloquial sense of “pretty”, but in its broader meaning of pleasuring the senses – was spread throughout the downtown festival.”  Indeed it was. Take a moment and read  Mark’s article here.

There is something special when we find beauty in familiar and unexpected places, like the flowers that insist on coming up in the cracks in our sidewalks. Thank you Mark for seeing the beauty and alerting us. Thank you Barry Harris for coming back and reminding us why you do come back. Thanks to all the staff and the volunteers who are often too busy to enjoy their own efforts.

On the subject of beauty. I ran into Marion Hayden a little while after the festival was over. She talked about the thrill she had had while sharing the stage with Jimmy Wilkins, whom she described as having all the power  he did when she had first met him. I watched as Marion lit up with joy at the thought. How beautiful Detroit can be.

John Osler

Mark Stryker listening to Barry Harris at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe


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