Recognition of Effort is Important

DJ Riley

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,

Tribute to the Dukeystick

All of you that know me know how much I love music, soul music primarily, but jazz in particular.  Last week, we lost a musical giant and a real friend to so many of us.  George Duke passed away.  He was an L.A. based musician that I came in contact with in the late 70s and early 80s when jazz was at its best.  He was a true impresario.  Throughout the years, he played with everybody.  Since he lived in L.A., he would be seen around town and came to be a real favorite at the Hollywood Bowl and the Playboy Jazz Festival.  As a matter of fact, one of my hommies came by to see me today.  I talked about how great he was at Playboy this past June.  He and his wife and son could be seen around L.A. all the time, playing the big venues and smaller theaters.  He and Stanley Clark and Patrice Rushon were legendary around town.

George was always the same.  He was a black jazz musical Santa Claus, with his big tummy, fat cheeks, and great smile.  He was always pleasant with everyone.  It was like music was his secret weapon against everything bad.  He could play everything with everyone at any time.  When I went to Switzerland and Amsterdam, he was always like a family friend that made sure people treated me with respect and kindness.  He and Elvin Jones and Wynton were always like that for me and so many other people.

George is going to be truly missed, but he has such a vast and profound songbook.  He will never be forgotten.  67 years of active and impactful living is a good and substantive life.  His wife died last July.  Like Keiko Jones, she was his true partner.  They were a beautiful couple.  He had a wonderful family.  I don’t know for sure, but I think she did a lot for him, and without her, he wasn’t as happy or impregnable.  I’m comforted knowing they’re making music together again, with Elvin, Miles, and so many other great ones.

We all know people like George and how much they do to make our lives and our community better.  If you know someone like that, tell them you love them and show them you appreciate what they do and how they represent all of us.  I’m going to miss George and Elvin and my good friend and sister Lisa.  But I’ll always love them, and I’m confident I’ll be seeing them again someday, someday not too soon, cause I still got work to do and I still have to represent them, as long as I can.

Much love, and God bless you all!

Greetings to DJ from R. Veal

Hey DJ,

I hope this finds you well, in good spirits and full of LIFE!!

Man, it’s always good to hear from you!  Would be great to see you.  I’m in Norway as I type this to you with Dianne Reeves.  We’ve been hitting it hard.  We recorded a record earlier this year with all kinds of guests artists.  It’s sort of a departure from the previous material she has done.  Terri Lynne produced it.  I think the release date will be in September or November.  Don’t quote me on that though. 🙂

Dude, I just wanted to acknowledge you as my friend and a great Man!  Your E-mails are inspirational.  I miss seeing you when I come to LA.  Remember the Hollywood Bowl when you would show up?  Or UCLA campus?  What about when you would come way over here to hang at Northsea or otherwise.  You’re a strong Brother.

The Father’s Day E-mail you sent out struck a chord in me.  My Father is turning 80, July 16th.  That’s a blessing.  We lost my Mom in 1999 but my Dad is still well and kicking.  When I return to the USA, I will see him and I’m so excited about it.  Last time I saw him was a couple of months ago when I went home to play the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  I recently moved to Texas and I invited my Dad to my house to spend some one on one time.  I’m flying my oldest son out to hang out with us too, and my Wife’s Dad who has never met my Dad.  They’ve never met because we’ve been married a little over a year and didn’t have a wedding…and with my schedule, there wasn’t a whole lot of hoop la with the Families to meet.  Shoot –  we eloped anyway.  No one would have ever thought we would have gotten married.  Well, we’re all happy.  But, it touched me when you spoke about Family (as you always do) and your Dad.  This is important and I truly believe in Family.  Thank you Brother.

You sound like you have a Beautiful Family and support system around you.  Although we have never met, send them my warm regards.  You know, not to get all mushy in this E-mail, but the Love they show to you is the Love you have shown/given in life to many, and the testament to the type of person and Man you are.  DJ, you have always been a cool Brother and when you walk into a room there is a bright light surrounding you.  Your energy is true, pure and just great.  I remember wanting to swing harder, sound better, be better…just because you were around.  You had this energy about you – all in your eyes like — Ya’ll better swing and play me some good music!! LOL Trust me, your presence was always felt and still is.  Keep on keepin on.  And may God Bless your precious Family!

At some point when you get a moment, send me your number.  I would love to hear your voice over a phone chat.  Better yet, it would be great to see you.  Don’t know how we can work that one out.

Yeah…but I’m still out here trying to do the right thing and make a difference.  Trying to Swing, Groove and live Life.  I trust you are doing the same.

Okay DJ, take care of yourself and God Bless.  I’ll be up with you soon.

Peace Love and Blessings,

Reginald Veal

PS  I didn’t forget — Happy Early Birthday and a Gotzillion MORE!!!  Enjoy your day!

With Roy Hagrove

This is a picture of me and my friend Marc Jackson and Roy Hargrove.  I saw him recently at Catalina Bar and Grill in L.A.  Roy remains one of my favorite jazz musicians and celebrities.  I love him, his dedication to the music, and the way that he nurtures and supports his bandmates throughout the years.  He’s discovered quite a few musicians and mentored them, just like he was by people like Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson, and Elvin Jones.  I’ve seen him with a number of musicians throughout the years.  I appreciate and applaud his dedication to the music and to performing it throughout the world.  I had the opportunity to discover him for myself years ago in Montrose Switzerland and I’ve seen him in Europe and throughout the U.S. ever since.  I pray that God allows him to promote and perform the music for years to come and that I get a chance to see him again.

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