Friday, August 19, 2005

On The Mark -- Jazz Greats

I read yesterday that jazz great, Oscar Peterson, was honored by his native country (Canada) by having a postage stamp named after him (the first time for a living person). Diana Krall and hubby Elvis Costello attended the ceremony and Krall played a Peterson instrumental that Costello put words to. Peterson also performed a piece he recently wrote, Requiem, in honor of all the jazz greats who have died recently.

This was timely for me because I had just been thinking in the morning about how there will be no more legends in my lifetime once the few remaining greats die. Save for a few examples, there seems to be a big gap between the Hank Jones's, McCoy Tyner's, and Oscar Peterson's of the world and the younger musicians. Soon I won't be able to see someone who played with Louis Armstrong or Charlie Byrd or John Coltrane or Charlie Parker as I was able to when I saw Clark Terry (who Miles Davis considered his idol) at the Blue Note in NYC a couple weeks ago. I took going to see Ray Brown each year for granted (a world-renowned bass player and once married to Ella Fitzgerald) until he died suddenly of a heart attack a couple years ago.

If you've never seen live jazz -- real jazz -- you're missing out on a true American experience, where it was born. If one of the greats comes to town, go to the club, have a couple drinks, sit back, relax, and enjoy innovative music -- often made up as they play along -- just a few feet from your seat.

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