Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Day of Service

Our Lower School Head likes to remind the kids that Martin Luther King Day is not a vacation, but a day of service. Some people serve meals in a soup kitchen, some people clean the beach, some people visit an old folk’s home. Me, I went to Fantasy Studio in Berkeley to begin recording my first album with my jazz group.

Sounds self-serving, but consider:
1)    The album is geared toward children and is a child-friendly invitation to enter the magnificent house of jazz.
2)    It may help generated work for our group to give yet more shows for kids, performances in which they get to participate and realize that jazz is within their reach.
3)    Every show comes with stories about the musicians that created this remarkable music, with child-size lessons about their struggles in a racist society and their triumphs.
4)    The music and the stories hope to show children how grief can be both necessary and beautiful and always lean towards the joy and happiness and hope that permeates every note of jazz well-played.

Shall I go on? In short, this project was not more important than serving soup but neither was it less important. We need to feed people’s souls as well as their bellies, need to help both one meal at a time and one story at a time that can change the narrative that impedes social justice, need to show children how they can cook both their own meals and their own music. I think Martin Luther King would approve of time spent this way in his name.

And meanwhile, Fantasy Recording Studios!! A place soaked in extraordinary history, framed album covers on the walls of musicians from politically marginalized groups descended from “sh*thole” countries who gave so much happiness to the world and put America firmly on the map of exalted cultures. In the recent “Hall of Shame” entry by the people trying to bring America to its knees, the welcome mat to Norway immigrants was spread out. Given the disparity between health care, maternity leave, gun control, standard of living, sane leadership, that is not an invitation that any Norwegian in their right mind would even consider.

But in a Facebook entry, one did. And she explained, “I came here for the jazz.”

PS After writing this, saw this quote from Martin Luther King. Remarkable serendipity!!!

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