He who smiles last
MARCUS BELGRAVE 1936-2015 An important life.
Detroit knows how to handle low points. The music community united to show their respect when Marcus Belgrave, a beloved Detroit master horn player, changed venues last week. He didn’t go quietly. Marcus’ life was honored by his friends with music and love, the same tools Marcus used throughout his life. Following a remarkable music filled service at Greater Grace Church his pals gathered at the Carr Center to trade stories of Marcus’ legendary generosity. Marcus gave so much to so many. We all have our stories and we all will remember his smile. Marcus had a smile that made you think he knew something you didn’t know. Never a smirk. His smile drew you into him, making it easier for him to share his ideas. I think I heard his smile in his playing. His basic lesson to others was one that he lived. Be true to yourself. Enjoy what you do. He did.
So many people were touched by Marcus and all of us are trying to find a way to say thank you. Many people came to town to say goodbye. The national and international press took note of his accomplishments as a musician and as a teacher. Wynton Marsalis was unable to get away but wrote in length about his admiration for Marcus on his Facebook page. The New York Times quoted Marcus from a Metro Times article on why he chose to move to Detroit from New York. Marcus said “This was just a natural place for me to come…This was probably the only place in the country where music was No.1.”
Our local press and social network got it right in their reporting of the light that Marcus showered on our city. There were many heart felt stories told so well about a deserving life.
I was especially moved by De’Sean Jones comments as they summed up most of our thoughts.
“Today it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to my lifelong mentor Marcus Belgrave. He is the very reason I am the man and musician you see today. I’ve always counted on Marcus to be a guiding light in my life and he has helped mold me from childhood into fatherhood. I thank God for you Marcus. I love you and your legacy will live on through me and every life you’ve touched while here on this earth. Thank you for sharing the gift of Life, Love, Laughter, and Music with the world, Marcus Belgrave!!”
RAYSE BIGGS A good friend
On Wednesday Rayse Biggs will be coming to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café with his band for a four day gig. The last time we saw Rayse at the Dirty Dog was when he brought his friend and mentor Marcus Belgrave into the club on his arm to listen to Marcus’ wife, Joan Belgrave’s performance. Marcus played his horn for many of us for the last time that night. Rayse continued to stay by Marcus’ side until we lost him, freely and gently giving all his attention to his dear friend. Rayse was treated like a son by Marcus but was never in his debt. Like so many others who were touched by Marcus, he knew the importance of keeping music in one’s life, even in the the difficult moments.
Rayse is a strong man and a powerful musician. He will heed Marcus’ clear instruction to keep on playing and doing it the best that you can. Come on out to the Dirty Dog this week and help celebrate the healing power of music, and of smiles.