Sunday, August 18, 2019

Before I Let Go

I feel like a jerk every time I attend a panel discussion about music.  Why bother hearing people talk when I could be listening to music?  Yet I couldn’t resist the star power represented by Bobby Watson, Tia Fuller and Eddie Moore at a forum titled Jazz, Millennials, and the Music and Legacy of Charlie Parker at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. 

More than 100 people- a handful of whom were actual millennials- attended the presentation in Atkins Auditorium organized by KC Jazz Alive.  Following Greg Carroll’s protracted opening remarks and introductions by the loquacious moderator Mitch Butler, the eminently quotable Watson dropped several nuggets.
*On Bird’s imposing legacy: “If I knew about Charlie Parker when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have started playing.”
*When asked if he’s famous, he responds “I’m bass fisherman famous,” and when he’s told that he’s a household name, he counters “they keep me under the sink.”
*On Parker’s lasting influence: “He created this universe we all live in.”
Fuller spoke about her stint in Beyoncé’s band.
*In an acknowledgement of the age of most members of the audience, she asked “Do you all know who Beyoncé is?” 
*Recalling that she presented the diva with albums by Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald on her birthday, Fuller said she felt her mission was “to impart jazz on Beyoncé.”
I spotted Fuller with a saxophone prior to the talk, so I assume a musical demonstration was in the offing.  Yet every time the auditorium doors opened, the sound of a performance by the R&B band Soul Revival in the lobby of the adjacent Bloch Building spilled into the room.  Vibrant covers of hits by Aretha Franklin, Rufus and Stevie Wonder tugged at me like siren songs.  I couldn’t take it any longer when I heard Soul Revival break into Maze’s “Before I Let Go”.  I bolted out of the room to join the nearby throng of nimble dancers.  I’m confident Parker would have approved.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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