RESILIENCE is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
Resilient is a word that is often used to describe Detroit. Maybe Detroit is more of a slow moving slogger than a city that can snap back quickly. Recovery in Detroit has usually come from hard work and perseverance. Toughness we have. Detroit’s resilience can be seen in its music and those who play and support the music. Hard work and perseverance are in the city of Detroit and its music’s DNA. It is who we are.
The history of jazz is a history of true resilience. Jazz music has regularly been given up on, it has been said to be old hat and just as many times has come back and been proclaimed as America’s greatest contribution to the world. Jazz is resilient because it continues to change. Jazz hasn’t so often been resurrected as it has been constantly reinventing itself. Finding something new is the what the music is about. Everyday there are players finding new ways to express their stories. We will always need jazz to illuminate the way out of our darker moments.
GETTING KNOCKED DOWN AND GETTING BACK UP
Resilience is having the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity, ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
Rocky Balboa and rubber bands are extreme examples of resilience as the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape. Practically, resiliency as practiced by jazz players and city planners happens in many small acts that come from a positive attitude and the ability to accept failure as part of the process. We don’t have to have as many knockdowns in a round as Rocky endures. Hopefully when we get knocked down we learn from our misfortune. In this regard, jazz could teach the city planners something.
Detroit can learn about resilience from another great jazz town, New Orleans
New Orleans has a history of its musicians being called on to lead by example after hard times set in. The cradle of jazz might still slip beneath the sea if the 133 miles of sturdy levees that were recently built don’t live up to the engineer’s promises. Thirteen years after 80% of New Orleans was under water from Katrina’s destructive path the city is still listening to its musicians to learn if they have truly recovered. New people have changed much of the culture as they have filled the void left by those who no longer could afford the rent. The musicians returning to the birthplace of jazz will let us know if New Orleans is returning to its original form.
One of those musicians is Brice Miller who writes from his personal experience about the effect that the resilience of its musicians has had on New Orleans. Here are some of his thoughts.
“Ten years after Hurricane Katrina slashed and snarled into New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, newcomers take their juice with chia seeds and buy fixer-uppers, and longtime locals fret that the city is no longer theirs, that it’s too expensive and still might lose its soul. A city some feared might be left for dead is undergoing a social, economic and cultural evolution. Yet it is still a place deeply tied to its ancient traditions and rites, stubbornly and proudly unique, unparalleled in its embrace of the weird, the mysterious, the whimsical.
Most folks know someone who couldn’t get back to this city or has been pushed outside its bounds — these are the ghosts that don’t star in the moonlight tours, the ghosts of not-so-long-ago neighbors. And it doesn’t take much to get people weeping or boiling with rage about that other New Orleans, beyond the resurrected city center, where gunshots form the nighttime soundtrack.
New Orleans is a city where art imitates life and life imitates art. Throughout its existence the indigenous cultural art traditions of New Orleans such as brass bands, jazz funerals, social aid and pleasure clubs, and Mardi Gras Indians have manifested and exemplified the interconnectedness of art as both art-making and life-meaning. Writers, researchers, celebrities, and vacationers have long relished the unique relationship between music, culture, and the essence of the city. Following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the success and prosperity of the city’s cultural arts have served almost as a barometer with which to determine the momentum of success and recovery for the city.”
Brice Miller writes about the history, tragedy and resilience of New Orleans. He knows the difference between tearing down and rebuilding and preservation and resilience. The spirit, values, celebrations and historic influences must be retained to truly spring back.
We can also learn from ” Jazz for young people: The resilient cities”
Our young people are more elastic than their elders, but can benefit from understanding resilience.
The Rockefeller Foundation and Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz for Young People: The Resilient Cities Tour is expected to reach 9,000 new students by offering a curriculum that ties American history to jazz through live performance.
Here is how they describe the program.
“Jazz for Young People: The Resilient Cities Tour is based on Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Foundation’s innovative outreach program, Jazz for Young People on Tour, which was pioneered in New York City public schools. Since 2013, Jazz for Young People on Tour has presented more than 1,000 performances to a total student audience of more than 160,000 in grades K-12 in New York City, as well as Los Angeles, California; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. Jazz for Young People: The Resilient Cities Tour is designed for students with limited access to arts education in grades K-12. The program aims to offer participating students examples of how others have used music to wrestle with the enduring social struggles of urban life in the 21st century – particularly in cities where urban stresses have been especially prevalent, sometimes tearing at the social fabric of communities, yet are now on the road to resilience. The program will do this by illustrating the connection between jazz and democracy as well as the historical power of jazz to unite communities in a non-violent manner at moments of unrest. It will also foster relationships with local jazz musicians through live performances and mentorship. These positive influences will help students to develop necessary social-emotional tools intended to foster their individual resilience.”
Detroit’s resilience is now being tested. New Orleans offers us a cautionary tale. listen to the jazz musicians.
The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is a good place to start.
COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG
July 11 – July 14
This week the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is presenting one of Detroit’s best, Dwight Adams. Dwight is a powerful force , both musically and personally. He is a sure musician and always brings out the best in his band mates. Dwight is a sought out accompanist as well as being a band leader that attracts equals as accompanists. This week will be special.