Sunday, March 16, 2008

ON THE SET


Fifteen years ago, I purchased your debut album JC On The Set at Car City Records. For the life of me, I can’t recall if I bought it new or used. After listening to you solo on Baby Girls Blues, Worried And Blue, and Blues For A Nomadic Princess, the best selections on the album, you became my favorite saxophonist.

The way you raced through the changes, and the nifty tricks you did on the tenor sax was unlike anything I had ever heard. The camaraderie you had with pianist Craig Taborn also grabbed me.

Taborn could perform the same tricks on piano you did on tenor and baritone. For example, on “Blues For A Nomadic Princess” you began softly. Then took your tenor on a wild ride, blewing like a madman. I thought your horn would explode. By the conclusion you had mellowed.

Then Taborn took over, touching the keys softly like a snow flake melting on cotton. Mid-way through his solo he became angry, pounding and hammering away like he was working out his aggression on the piano. I was so impress I wanted to sign up for piano lessons.

You’ve released 11 solid albums since your debut. I have every one of them. I’ve watched you mature. When you released JC On The Set you were a whippersnapper with an ocean of talent. You never wasted it. You became a world class bandleader, and a musical ambassador of Detroit. When you hit the big time you did not shunned Detroit. I admire your for that.

On your albums there are Detroit jazz musicians. Did you make a promise when you hit it big you would help your friends? Was it a promise your mentor saxophonist Donald Washington asked you to make when you were his most promising protégé in that boot camp called Bird/Trane/Sco/Now?

At some point, you should be commended for your commitment. Too many Detroit jazz musicians who made it thumbed their noses to Detroit. That’s shameful. Your parents deserve most of the credit for raising you to be upstanding.

Anyway, James your music has meant the world to me. I used to listen to your albums daily. No kidding. I wore out four copies of JC on the Set. Last week I listened to the album for the first time in a year. You and Taborn solo’s still excite me.





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