Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's never too late... (at least for Allen Kanovsky)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 5/11/13 learn. Especially if your mentor is Wynton Marsalis. Michael Mwenso introduced the bands for a fanfare and cheer tunnel. March music by Marcus Printup(trumpet) and Chris Crenshaw(trombone) including tunes like "C Jam Blues " and a solo by Chris on "Royal Garden Blues". 

Next on the schedule was a Q&A with Wynton Marsalis. 

As most of you know and if you look at my picture, I am not 25,35,45,55,65,or 75 years old. I am much older than that. In the 2 plus hours of the Q&A, I learned more about music, life and the philosophy of brotherhood than I had learned in my cumulative past. Mr. Marsalis answers to questions by students, sometimes concise other times elaborate, were all insightful and thought provoking. His opening statement to the students reminded them to be as friendly as you could possibly be to your fellow, although competitor, musicians as you were bound to meet and play together in the future. He said to make friendship part of your "lexicon of life". He spoke about his early years in a segregated South where his family lived "200 steps from the Mississippi and 50 steps rom the railroad tracks. Questions included ones about emphasis on band sections (rhythm section is #1), most moving experience (watching an elementary school band where one member sat through the performance to play only one note at the end), the genesis of creativity(like people much inherited, some learned but love for all is the key. an example Duke Ellington).  N.Y. careers( a lot of musicians, not a lot of work. It's possible if you are "set on what you want" and are willing to accept "counsel".). Questions about artists like Celia Cruz, John Coltrane and others were answered with the word "soul". There were many more questions and at one point the producer told Wynton "Mr. Marsalis, one more question only". There were 5 students still on the question line. "We cannot disrespect the young people waiting but I will be brief" He was neither disrespectful or brief in answering the 5 young people. There were more questions and wonderful answers which I will write about in the future.

There was a mid-afternoon break. I sauntered(can little old fat guys saunter?) across the street to the fountain at Columbus Circle. I wanted to watch the fashionable New York women as they walked by. Fashionable???? Fashionable???? In my day a female in N.Y. would not be seen in the City wearing anything but "heels and matching bag". What I saw were sneakers and knapsacks. Even the jeans they wore didn't fit the way they used to. The Seattle "grunge" has ensconced itself on the New York scene. The thing that saved my afternoon was a young man playing a 'djama'. It is a 'conga' like drum whose origin is west African. His name is Mmonbadoe and he is physicist with a passion for rhythm. His early years were bleak,he watched his house be burnt down and his 9 year old sister murdered. Music is his escape and release.

I enjoyed cocktail hour at an old haunt of mine, Kennedy's on 57th St. and then on to the banquet at Lincoln Center. Southern fried chicken, mac 'n cheese, ice tea and all kinds of cookies----yesssss!

After dinner 2 stages in two rooms had been set up for the "jam sessions". The bands were made up of students from different schools playing with each other. It was great to see and hear the musical camaraderie. I will write all about it in a future blog. I am running late this morning but I would be remiss if I didn't tell you about this. You know that I ask musicians about "What solo do you wish you had played?"

I asked the question of Marcus Printup. Most of the time musicians say that it's a tough question and take their time in answering. Marcus without hesitation said "My own. It is my way of thanking the Lord for the gift He has given me." I could not have asked for a better reply. Competition Part I starts today. You can watch it streamed live at

Al's Disclaimer:
A short note: The reason I write this is because I love music and words. I do not book acts. I do not promote acts. I do not accept invitations to review artists. I go to venues of my own choice. When and where is not influenced by anything other than who I would like to hear that night or day. If I don't like what I hear, I won't write about it. When I like it I let you all know. I never mention a name without asking permission. "Pardon me, Miss. Would you like to dance?"       

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