Wynton and jazz have been important to me since the mid 1970s. Whether it’s because of my tenaciousness and help from friends or my radio connections at the schools I went to, I’ve been able to get backstage for years and stay in touch with musicians, particularly jazz musicians. It’s music that’s older than me. But ever since George Benson’s “Masquerade” and “Breezin” and Grover Washington’s “Mr. Magic,” I’ve been hooked on it and connected with it, like I have with Motown and the R&B classics from the 1960s to the 21st century. Getting a chance to meet the “young lions,” the practitioners of jazz and soul music (a term Wynton uses), has given me a particular love, energy, and connection. A lot of these young guys that have connected with this timeless music have inspired and motivated me to keep active and involved, just like the Civil Rights movement that I was born into.
Wynton is a very busy, intelligent, and participant individual that I’m proud to know and blessed to be able to make the effort to go and see. It makes me particularly proud to know that he still thinks of me and is pleased with the relationship that we’ve cultivated and what I’ve been able to bring to his life and the music. I’m particularly happy to get this message today, since I’m embarking on a weekend long vigil to support the Roy Hargrove quintet, who are in town at Catalina Bar and Grill in Hollywood. Roy Hargrove is my second favorite jazz musician, whose dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm I’ve enjoyed since I’ve seen him when he was 17 at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland some years ago. He’s as talented in every facet of the music as Wynton and Branford Marsalis and just as dedicated. I’m pleased to have watched his career evolve and I look forward to sharing it with my jazz comrades in L.A. this weekend.
I love all these guys for the respect and dedication and commitment that they’ve made to our musical culture and the respect and warmth they’ve shared with me this past 30 something years.
Much love always,