LOOKING UP AT SILVER FALLS
VIEW FROM THE TOP
It was a beautiful day to go out into the big part of the lake. I placed my wife and three young children into the small power boat that we would use to go to see Silver Falls. The boat needed some help to get going. Hitting the starter with a hammer did the trick, and off we went into a perfect day. With with the help of a map and still water we traversed the large lake and finally entered Cache Bay in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. The bay narrowed into a river. This was where we thought we would get a good view of the falls. Nothing, the majestic falls were not tumbling down into the river. I turned the boat’s motor off and sure enough we could hear the sound of a waterfall, getting louder and louder as we drifted towards the noise. We were at the top of the falls. I turned the key and nothing happened.
In our arrogance we assumed that all water ran into our lake, not out of it. It does make a difference if you are at the top or at the bottom.
I did have a hammer to hit the starter and as we approached the edge the boat motor kicked on and we turned around safely.
Closer to home I have often watched jazz artists hit the starter with their hammer and get things going again. They call it improvising, I call it scary.
“TRICKLE DOWN” ECONOMY
It does matter whether you are at the top or at the bottom.
While nature has strict rules, we get to make up our own rules on the fly. For a while now good meaning folks have played with the idea of a trickle down economy. It seemed like a good idea. The assumption is that the economy would follow the good rules of nature. That those at the top had a finite capacity that when reached would overflow.
Unfortunately sometimes for those at the bottom stuff hasn’t always trickled down. When that happens, the lake of stuff at the top just gets bigger and bigger.
This causes the rivers to dry up.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JAZZ CLUB AND A MOUNTAIN STREAM?
WHERE THE RULE OF GRAVITY RULES
The people who set up our parks’ hiking trails think it is important for us to see the waterfalls. It is always uphill and a long climb. We do it because we will get a chance to watch the water tumble down the mountain. Waterfalls and cascades always travel from upstream to downstream. They go from the snow or lake at the top of the hill to the lake or stream at the bottom.
Water has a high level of obedience to the laws of gravity. It finds its way around and through all barriers, sometimes with tragic results like into our basements or over the banks of our rivers.. Generally you can count on water to do the right thing. In nature the rules are always followed. Mother is always right.
JAZZ CLUBS DON’T ALWAYS FOLLOW THE RULES OF GRAVITY
The will of musicians can be stronger than gravity.
Jazz music has a power all its own, in a good way. It challenges the ordinary flow of things. It also wants to see what is upstream and downstream.
That is why when I see a sign for a jazz club I go straight in. It will be a place where things may go up, down, sideways but the music always moves straight ahead. Goodness and respect trickle up and trickle down. Large lakes feed small lakes who turn around and give back to the big lakes when they need it. Stature doesn’t seem to matter as much as it does outside the club’s walls.
I have witnessed the results of the generous spirit of the artists over and over. It is fitting that the Dirty dog Jazz Cafe is a place that operates in the same spirit. I have watched as the kindness of the proprietor and the management has trickled down to the staff and respect has trickled back up in return.
A NIGHT WHEN GOODNESS DEFIED GRAVITY
Music makes such good sense sometimes. Two years ago about this time in April Marcus Belgrave played for the last time at the Dirty dog Jazz Café. Shortly after that magical evening we lost Marcus. He was one of Detroit’s greatest ambassadors of jazz who passed on to others much of the good fortunes his life had given him. Many generations have benefited from his wisdom What a gift. What a legacy.
Marcus came to the club that night just a couple of hours after he had been discharged from the hospital, He came into the club on the arm of his his long time friend, the great Detroit trumpet player Rayse Biggs. The band paused as he was seated at a table. This could have been an awkward moment .. but it wasn’t. The fact that his life had touched all those on the bandstand was evident in their music and on their faces. The capacity crowd knew what was going on and that it was a special moment. Rayse handed him his horn and he started to play. Grins replaced looks of concern. Joy filled the room along with Marcus’ great tones. They finished with a raucous version of Summertime… and the living is easy. A fitting ending to one of our first warm spring days. Smiles and hugs followed.
That night we witnessed the healing power of music. We also saw many random acts of kindness trickling down and then trickle back up, defying gravity.
COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG: RAYSE BIGGS
APRIL 26 -APRIL 29
Rayse Biggs will bring his gravity defying act to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for four nights of authentic Detroit jazz. Rayse has always attracted talented musicians to play alongside him. Come and hear why.
Here are photos of Marcus Belgrave teaching at the Carr Center.
HIS MUSIC LIVES.
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