Last year Michael Franks released a new CD, titled “The Music in My Head”. I am happy to say that once again, I was able to contribute vocally to the recording. I feel that all of Michael’s work is amazing, but this one stands as a masterpiece of brilliance that only Mr. Franks can deliver. Perfectly summed up and edified in only the way he can do it.
I started touring with Michael in 1993, the DragonFly Summer tour. And now 25 years later, I can honestly say that Michael’s music and talent as a singer-songwriter continues to inspire and motivate me to be the best that I can be as an artist and to have determined aspirations to write songs that will impact people’s lives in a way that they are encouraged and brings happiness.
The second week of January I attended the Jazz Congress 2019 at Jazz At Lincoln Center, sponsored by Adam R. Rose. There were a plethora of panels and workshops that covered a wide range of topics relating to the music industry. One event, in particular, was Art Blakey Centennial Celebration, the keynote session for the two-day program. On October 11, Art Blakey would have become a centenarian. The program began with the presentation of the Bruce Lundvall Visionary Award to Darlene Chan. Assembled on stage were the numerous musicians who have played in the Blakey band over the years. Of course, there were many absent, still, it was impressive to see all who had worked with him.
“One is not a genuine leader if one does not foster capable successors. True success cannot be achieved without fostering talented individuals and nurturing their potential.“
After the welcome introduction and presentation, the moderator, Celine Peterson (WBGO), began asking the assembled guest musicians to talk about their “time” with Mr. Blakey. It was at that moment, the word longevity popped into my head. I’ve used the word thousands of time but I wanted to really look up the meaning and to make sure my understanding of the word was close to the textbook definition. A Google search for the answer came up with 1. Long life; 2. Long existence or service. It was curious how both these explanations were applicable. Definition two, for instance, Long existence or service; I am not sure if anyone on stage that evening had been with Blakey for 25 years, maybe, but even so, they all performed a service with the band whatever amount of time spent. And as long as they honor the man they will continue to serve the spirit of how Mr. Blakey’s artistry influenced their lives as musicians.
How does the long life fit in? There were those who started performing with Mr. Blakey when they were young and although they were not close to 100 years old, albeit there were some there that were, at least, in their late eighties, this fit the long life. Art Blakey’s leadership, mentoring those around him, built and sustained a legacy that manifests in the lives of the musicians that are still living, playing and celebrating the soul of the music he generously shared with the world.
“One tall tree does not make a forest. Unless other trees grow to the same height, you cannot have a large grove. A true leader is devoted to raising capable people to whom the future can be entrusted.”