LIFE IN A MINOR KEY
One is the loneliest number
Some experts say we are in a dangerous loneliness epidemic and this loneliness can lead to serious emotional and physical health problems. The reasons that so many people feel all alone today is a subject of many studies. Social isolation both perceived and real doesn’t have a simple solution, yet it seems that for some reason music has a way of making things a little better. The weight of loneliness can be lifted when shared. When we feel left out or abandoned it sometimes helps to play Billie Holiday’s Solitude or Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. Melancholy can be delicious in the hands of a few good jazz artists playing in a minor key, letting us know that we are aren’t alone with our troubles.
Jazz got embedded under my skin not because it made me joyously tap my foot to the beat. It was the jazz played in a minor key that made a shy teenager know that it was OK to have the blues. In high school I would sneak out with a friend and go to Klein’s Show Bar to catch the after hours jam where local and national jazz musicians would do battle over who had the greatest hurt and soul. They wailed and pleaded, the sounds were so sweet and powerful that they chased all the teenage angst from my body. Jazz in a minor key can be a bittersweet remedy for a broken spirit.
JAZZ IN THE MINOR KEY
The Minor Key was a pretty upbeat music venue. Like a lot of clubs around Detroit it attracted a clientele of hardworking men and woman who where looking for a break from their daily routine. The jazz played in the club picked up their spirits until the music drifted into the a minor key. Customers shoulders and heads would drop while eyes would glaze over and stare into the distance.
We shouldn’t assume that music in a major key is happy music while music in a minor key is sad music. It seems to be a fact that music in a minor key is more emotional. It touches our soul and puts us at peace with our demons. This is true, yet in many cultures the minor scale is used in jolly upbeat tunes like Brahms Hungarian Dances and even most Klezmer and Jewish dances.
Jewish music when played in the minor scale does reflect the very real suffering and pain that has been inflicted on the people, but it still has the ability to lift us up. So much of the music written and played in a minor key has had a certain sadness or longing to it but also includes a glimmer of hope. Irish traditional dance music has both melancholy airs in major keys and perky reels and jigs in minor keys,
and then there’s the blues……..
Why Do the Blues Make Us Feel So Good?
For over 100 years we have sung the blues. Americans have felt comforted listening to jazz and the blues because they like the rawness, and they can relate to a genuinely rough time. When they find themselves with no one to talk to they appreciate having someone speak directly to them, someone that feels free to pour out their heart. The world could understand songs like Everyday I have the blues,” and “Nobody loves me, nobody seems to care” and soon jazz and blues were played everywhere.
With every trouble and heartache I can still turn to the blues, and find comfort.
SOME THINGS THAT CAN HELP WHEN A LITTLE DREARINESS ENTERS OUR LIVES.
November brings to Detroit cold air, gray skies and short days. Fortunately we know that relief from gloom is close at hand.
Get some music in our lives. We can leave our lonely nest and get our fill of music played in both the minor and major scales at our local jazz club.
Change your habits and get out among lively upbeat people.
We also understand the positive effect that dogs have on loneliness. So you might think of shedding your blahs by catching some jazz and blues at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. It is hard to feel alone in a crowd that thinks it is OK to have the blues.
JOHN CONYERS 1929 – 2019
Painting: John Osler
We just lost a friend of jazz and of Detroit. Representative Conyers was regarded as one of the most persistent and influential advocates of jazz. He never missed a change to listen to jazz in Detroit and to promote it in Washington. In 1987 he got Congress to pass a resolution designating jazz as a “national American treasure.” Visitors to his congressional office were greeted by walls filled with jazz posters and a big acoustic bass dominating one corner.
In 1985 he established an annual Jazz Issue Forum and Concert for the Congressional Black Caucus, of which he was a founding member. Over the years, he brought jazz artists to speak and perform in Washington, including Marcus Belgrave, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Lionel Hampton, Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Randy Weston and the Modern Jazz Quartet. He drew attention to issues like health care for musicians, the economics of the music industry, and arts education.
John was really good at getting things done. He will be missed.
COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
Tuesday November 12
Special presentation of the band The Dirty Dogs . This all-star jazz band will chase the blues away. Come in out of our first real snow of the year and get whisked down to New Orleans.
November 13 & 14
PETE SIERS featuring DAVE BENNETT
Paul Pearce of Bass World magazine writes that “Pete absolutely ‘sings’ with his drum kit.”
A consummate professional, Pete has an international reputation for his “restless curiosity, attention to detail, and mastery of many different styles,” Pete will be familiar to Dirty Dog regulars. Pete Siers has played with jazz luminaries such as Russell Malone, Mulgrew Miller, Marian McPartland, Lee Konitz, Benny Golson, James Moody, Kenny Werner, David “Fathead” Newman, Eddie Daniels, Frank Morgan, Scott Hamilton, Bob Wilber, and Barry Harris. In addition to his expansive performance career, Pete has played on over 50 recordings. He has played Carnegie Hall, festivals across the U.S.and has toured Europe several times.
November 15 & 16
Considered one of the world’s finest double bass players Rodney has been featured on over 100 jazz recordings and appeared with countless legendary players, including seven years with his friend Wynton Marsalis’ septet. He has found time to be a member of the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Detroit Jazz Orchestra and appear at venues and events around the world.
I have known Rodney Whitaker since he was a young man earnestly starting out on his storied career. There is little that Rodney has set out to do that he hasn’t achieved. He is someone whose personal fortitude has made everyone around him better, just ask the students that come out of his program at Michigan State, or better yet ask his band mates when you catch him at the Dirty Dog this week.