Gratitude

Holiday Show Schedule — Dec. 8 thru Dec. 22 2017

The big one is my holiday show on Friday, December 22 at Genghis Cohen in support of Hillsides Youth Moving On, featuring sets and/or appearances by Thee Holy Brothers (Marvin Etzioni and Willie Aron), Circe Link, Anny Celsi, The Hardship Letters, Joselyn & Don, Emile Porée, and yours truly, Jason Luckett.

Also these short appearances in chronological order starting…

…Friday, December 8, 6pm – Buena Park City Hall, Christmas Tree Lighting – Performing two songs to lead off the night. https://www.facebook.com/events/1742884312682642/

Saturday, December 9, 6pm – Rio to Babylon at LALA Holiday Open House and Bazaar – Performing a few songs to celebrate with my friends at Live Arts Los Angeles
https://www.facebook.com/events/1531859843598876/

Saturday, December 16, 3-5pm – Featured writer spot for Expressions LA – Studio City Library https://www.facebook.com/StudioCityLAPL/

Friday, December 22, 7pm – My Holiday Show @ Genghis Cohen https://www.facebook.com/events/1996830530588257/

I hope to see you soon!

And about the holiday show beneficiary…

Hillsides in Pasadena is an organization that works with foster kids, emancipated kids, and families in crisis. I decided to donate to them this holiday season for a number of reasons. I edit a podcast for All Saints Church in Pasadena and was listening to an interview with an amazing young woman who talked about wanting to give back to her community who came out of Hillsides, she seemed so self-aware and positive as she detailed a schedule of school and multiple jobs, including graveyard bicycle security shifts that would certainly put me in a sour mood. When she mentioned Hillsides, I remembered that I’d just done one of my children’s shows there a couple weeks ago, and had met really lovely, challenged kids. One was an eager, dutiful participant in our show, then came back later to visit while we were breaking down. Then he acted out in a way to draw negative attention. But that boy could be the girl who so inspired me in her interview in a few years. I’d like to help facilitate that. Also, they bring in artists monthly (with compensation) to present to the kids, (one of which was me!), so I think it would be great to give back after I’ve been doubly inspired and supported by the organization. And, lastly, kids in the system really need our help. The more love and resources we can share the stronger our investment in a future for all of us

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Posted in Gratitude

Unsolicited sweetness

Kenny Burrell told this story last night to a few of us. Duke Ellington had previously told him to his face that he was his favorite guitarist, but there was another private compliment he received from the legend. Kenny – with his trio – had opened for Duke for a concert in Central Park. They’d done a really good job and the applause was loud and strong. As Kenny left the stage he was walking past the maestro’s dressing room and heard Duke’s manager ask Duke if he heard all that applause. (Maybe he was trying to get his competive juices flowing…)

Duke said, “Yes, but did you hear that harmony?”

I felt a little like that when seeing this photo of me playing one of Kenny’s new songs last night, noticing him looking on so sweetly at the corner of the stage. These are the moments you live for as a musician, the moment you make your heroes smile!

Performing "Giving Back," a new Kenny Burrell composition.

Performing “Giving Back,” a new Kenny Burrell composition. That’s Kenny, far left, with Tom Rainier on piano and Tony Dumas on bass.

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Posted in Blog, Gratitude, Music

MLK Day Thoughts

I’m enjoying a quiet King holiday, loving the space to be quiet, but also feeling compelled to share or contribute to the powerful reminder of King’s work that this day provides. I’m a natural introvert who believes strongly in community, so some days I stay home to recharge so that I can engage more completely when I return. This is my attempt to do both.

I used to love to open my Tao Te Ching at any page and see how whatever was on the page would relate to my life and if there was something I could do about it. Of course, you can do that with any source and King is a great place to start. These short quotes below are an abbreviated source of inspiration points. They don’t all completely relate to each other, but it’s where I went starting with the “If you can’t fly…” *

Happy New Year to you all! May you have deep explorations and loving conversations, which lead us all to the better world that King imagined.

Love and peace,

J


King, and more…

“If you can’t fly, run, if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.” — Martin Luther King, Jr., Spelman College, April 10, 1960. (http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/document/founders-day-address)*

“There is always the danger that we will become more concerned about making a living than making a life- that we will not keep that line of division between life and one’s livelihood.” Ibid.

“Love is creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. When men rise to live on this level, they come to see all men as children of the almighty God, and they can look in the eyes of the opponent and love him in spite of his evil deed.” Ibid.

“All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. (mandela-better-man-not-bitter-man)

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” — Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

“But many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.” — bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions

“In times of silence, times of quiet, you have time for introspection…if you stand up and do something you can really become someone, so this is what I do.” — Gil Scott-Heron, see the interview on youtube
 


 
* This quote, incidentally, wasn’t easily sourced. I began to think it might be one of those made true by the Internet attributions (like Nelson Mandela’s “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate / Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” which was actually said by Marianne Williamson). I found references to it in statements by the great Marian Wright-Edelman, quoting what she heard King say in 1960 at Spelman college, which led me to seeing the typewritten draft of the speech in the King archive. Check out that archive! It’s ridiculously rich!! thekingcenter.org/archive

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Posted in Blog, Gratitude

Daydream on the Seine

We arrived in Paris on September 1, just a few days after the church bells rang out across the world to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. (more…)

Posted in Gratitude, Video

Voyage-Air Guitar

Voyage-Air Guitar

Out by the pool in Johnson City, TN

Guitar Geeks in Baltimore

Guitar geeks at BWI.

It’s been four years since I walked into that launch party and marveled at Harvey Leach’s beautiful guitars…then realized they could fold in half! Since then I’ve taken my VAOM-06 all over the US and Europe. It’s become my main guitar not just out of convenience, but because I love the way it feels and sounds. Inspired by my pal, Kenny Burrell, I put flat wound strings on it. It mellows the tone to where the Brazilian style stuff I like to play feels nice and yet it cuts through when finger picking or strumming. The intonation is spot on, too. Thanks to the team at Voyage-Air Guitar for bringing me into the fold.

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Posted in Gratitude

Let’s not keep this secret…

I’m featured on LAMusicBlog.com as one of the 10 best kept secrets of the year. Spread the word and let’s make it to the top 10 breakout artists list next year!

Posted in Blog, Gratitude, News

This Amazing Year!

Thank you for making this year a dream for me! You funded the best album of my career. You invited me to play in five states here and six countries in Europe. You sent me sweet notes that bolstered my spirits when I was in danger of feeling alone and unaccomplished. You sang my songs back to me and shared videos of great times we had together in concerts. I’m so incredibly grateful.

Here are some of the highlights:

February: Freedom Songs concert with David Crittendon.

La Cañada Outlook, March 10, 2011, Review of Freedom Songs show with David Crittendon.Valley Sun, March 10, 2011 Review of Freedom Songs show with David Crittendon.

Spring: [cref 369 Second Half of the Bet (Hope Again) is released].

The Second Half of the Bet (Hope Again)

CD |  iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

Direct Download  [purchase_link id=”5832″ style=”button” color=”white” text=”Add to Cart”][purchase_link id=”5832″ style=”button” color=”white” text=”Buy Now” direct=”true”]

May: Kerrville Folk Festival and a gig at Bugle Boy.

June: Mixed Roots Festival and Poets & Writers Magazine’s Crossing Cultures

July: Georgia to New Hampshire including a really special show back at the Bitter End in NYC.

August – September: European Tour! Mannifest in Germany and Copenhagen Songwriters Festival, plus gorgeous times playing in Sweden, Finland and England.

October: Essay “New Again: I was with the Shark” and song “That New Day” written and performed for ALL/US/WE a Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron. Back to England to play the Drawing Room and 12 Bar Club, then roam around France!


httpv://youtu.be/6ps2y3HvY2A

Read the song lyrics [cref 3519 here].

November: Singing before a choir with Kenny Burrell @ UCLA in a first act that also featured Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Lalo Schifrin!

December: Adjusted Expectations is re-released with a bonus track and featured on LAMusicBlog.com as one of L.A.’s 10 best kept secrets.

"The Second Half of the Bet (Hope Again)" back coverAdjusted ExpectationsiTunes | Amazon

Thank you so much for everything this year.

I couldn’t do this without you. Hope to see you soon.

In gratitude!

  • J

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Posted in Blog, Gratitude

Kenny Burrell

I’m still so high from singing onstage with Kenny Burrell this weekend. I got to sing the solo parts in front of the choir on Kenny’s tune “We Must Find A Way.” It followed the legendary Lalo Schifrin, and preceded B.B. King with special guests Stevie Wonder, Dee Dee Bridgwater and Kenny, himself. Just amazing.

Later when looking through the special gifts given to the Friends of Jazz members, I saw that they’d included an essay I’d written for Kenny’s 75th Celebration. I thought I’d share that with you. He’s such an important man and I’m so honored to be a part of his circle.
—–

“Sounding good.”

Talent gives you opportunity. Desire leads to greatness. Talent, desire, and humanity create giants. Kenny Burrell is a giant of jazz. He’s achieved that status by a commitment to “sounding good.”

Kenny had talent from the beginning, perhaps genetically. His parents and both of his brothers played music.

Kenny and a fellow Detroit great, Tommy Flannagan, showed brazen desire as underage boys—painting moustaches on their faces so they could sneak into nightclubs to hear Charlie Parker and others play. In a more formal or traditional show of desire, Kenny played percussion in his high school youth orchestra and studied conducting. He also worked in the local jazz orchestra.

In that musical community, Kenny witnessed the generous legacy that he continues pay forward. Kenny singles out Charlie Parker as being especially encouraging. “Bird” would stop by local jam sessions and told the young guitarist that he could “hear what I was trying to do, and that I sounded good even when I didn’t think so.”

Anyone conscious in the last half of the 20th century has been touched by Kenny’s sound. Whenever you tear up listening to Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World,” or ache with Billie Holiday singing “Good Morning Heartache” and “God Bless the Child” in her later years, Kenny is right there with you, playing guitar on these legendary recordings. On the lighter side, at the height of the Bossa Nova craze, there’s Kenny on the “Getz Au Go-Go” record.

It’s impossible to talk about Kenny without mentioning Duke Ellington. Though they only played together soon before the Maestro’s death in 1974, the admiration flowed freely between both men. Duke called him his favorite guitar player and when Kenny was unavailable for Duke’s “My People” project in 1963, he just left the guitar out.

That’s the sort of irreplaceable giant that is Kenny Burrell.

Kenny often quotes Duke Ellington as saying, Be yourself. “He said it in so many different ways.” Another phrase that Kenny often recalls came from his brother, Billy, as Kenny left for New York in the early ’50s: “Play what you feel, and mean it.” He also advised him to “treat everyone decently.”

These are the foundations of Kenny’s artistry. He’s done amazing work as a sideman. But few that fit so flawlessly into another leader’s concept have ever been able to stand so strongly as a leader. There is a tension between an individual voice and ensemble work—playing what you feel and treating everyone decently. Kenny navigates that terrain singularly.

Kenny serves the music with feeling, intention, and respect. There’s openness in his sound, an invitation to come along on a loving quest for communication.

His best-selling album, Midnight Blue, is a conversation with blues form. He invites discussion in Latin with his most covered composition, “Chitlins Con Carne.” The following track, “Mule,” begins with a lone man’s plantation work song, then he heads up to the North to excitement, freedom, and growing complexity. There, Kenny meets compatriot, Stanley Turrentine, who’s been waiting for him. They converse in their new surroundings; then Kenny breaks it all down to tell him in palpable detail of the journey he’s been on.

Beyond blues and Latin conversations in jazz, Kenny collaborated with Gil Evans on the gorgeously orchestrated Guitar Forms LP. On this album you never get the feeling that he’s telling you what he can do; rather, you feel he’s showing you what the guitar can do, how it can sound good in various settings.

Though he often dialogues with established compositions and forms, Kenny also has a very individual message that he shares.

Like his mentor, Ellington, Kenny has written long-form compositions, telling the stories of African American culture and spiritual journeys in structures that are truly beyond category. In his 2004 “Ralph Bunche Suite” and his 1998 album “Love is the Answer,” recorded with the Boys Choir of Harlem, he blends elements of Ellingtonia, classical and folk spirituals, African and Latin rhythms and textures to create powerful meditations on the human spirit and its ability to achieve great things.

And Kenny’s tone? Though he did participate in the ripping of speaker cones to get funky, distorted sounds in his session days, the tone he’s most known for is a broad warmth. Sometimes you can hear him considering the notes in a way that asks, “How can I get my idea most lovingly across?” It’s a quiet moment of listening to his heart and his compatriots. It lets you in, allowing you the freedom to question, to take time to get to know yourself. Then he takes you on flight like an assured aviator, pointing out the route of history that has allowed him to soar. But don’t look to Kenny for lofty rhetoric.

This July, just before his 75th birthday, Kenny’s band sat backstage for dinner before a performance at Catalina’s Bar & Grill. The conversation turned to how you find your voice as a musician. The participants ranged in age from 30 to Kenny. Some talked of being challenged to transcend the sound of their musical influences, others of competition and nerves. Kenny said he found his center by “just trying to sound good.” An hour later the quintet was on stage presenting the best of their individual selves, musically conversing in the truest example of what jazz is all about: an honest, present, and active communication.

Jimi Hendrix once said, “Kenny Burrell: that’s the sound I’m looking for.” There’s a recording of a 26-year-old Hendrix writing songs for his Electric Ladyland album. He often stops the tape changing the tones on his guitar, switching pickups, and so on.

His role model, Kenny has been at it for more than half a century and 9 times out of 10 at a performance, he’ll pull a good friend aside and ask about the tone of his guitar and amp.

Sounding good isn’t contentment. It’s a quest for tone, connection, beauty and, ultimately, truth. It can take you to unimaginable heights, but sounding good is success in its own right. It is integrity and compassion for yourself and others. That lesson is Kenny’s gift.

Kenny Burrell indisputably sounds good!

Jason Luckett, Los Angeles, October 2006

 

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Posted in Blog, Gratitude

Sunday morning review of SHOTB

Last Wednesday I met a writer, Marc Goldsmith, who’s doing a 365 day music blog at the Hammer Museum after a program on LA, and Passing Strange with Stew and Heidi of The Negro Problem. Sunday morning he reviewed my album. LA is really made up of people who do things and don’t just talk about it! Check out the full review here: http://bit.ly/tSbfNf.

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Posted in Blog, Gratitude, Music, News

"One Step" with Singa (updated)

Singa is the extremely talented seven-year-old on of my friend, Sanni. As you can see we’ve bonded! The first clip is from Germany while I was touring there. The family lives half the time in Los Angeles, too, so they got to come to my house concert this weekend in Santa Monica. Of course I had to have Singa sit in! (I also just added a clip from this weekend at Oshunmare.)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gH2Hy54vNE

httpv://vimeo.com/30002512

And a little drum solo in “Moment in the Sun.”

httpv://vimeo.com/30325858

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Posted in Blog, Gratitude, Video