Thursday, June 18, 2009


Bassist John Clayton Dear John Clayton,

My ears were glued to “Brother to Brother” all day, Terri, the artistic director for the Detroit International Jazz Festival turned me onto the album. By the way, John, I am the jazz journalist scheduled to interview you this evening in Detroit Michigan at the bed and breakfast Inn on Ferry. I wanted to listen to some of your recorded music before the interview.

I heard you and Jeff swing up a storm at the 2008 Detroit jazz fest on the closing night. I wish I had gotten a copy of “Brother to Brother" when it hit the streets last year. The album would’ve knock trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s album “Ear Candy” from the number one spot on my best jazz album of 2008 list.

I liked this album after the first listen. That’s a rarity because usually listen to and album for a week-sometimes longer than that—before commenting. The pianist won me over. Gerald Clayton’s - playing kidnapped my ears. I never knew a youngster could play with such maturity and sophistication. Gerald playing was so decisive. He’s not an overly aggressive pianist that whacks and wails the piano as if mad at it. Gerald has the blues down to a science, too.

On “Big Daddy Adderley”, the tune Jeff wrote honoring the late alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderly, Gerald sounded as if he spent his summers studying pianists Walter Bishop Jr. and Gene Harris. When Gerald soloed on “Jive Samba”, I thought Gene Harris' spirit had graced Gerald’s fingers. Jeff’s playing was noteworthy performance as well. Like Cannonball Adderly, Jeff is a human blowtorch on the alto sax.

My favorite selection was “Waling Bass”. The hip and cool poem about your bass you recited. As for your playing,if Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown were still alive, they would marvel about your command of the bass. Wouldn't that be something memorable if the bassist wanted your autograph, and wanted you to show them some of your?
Your history of accomplishments are massive.Seven Grammy nods and enough award to fill ten trophy cases. I wonder if you get more fulfillment playing with the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra or playing in a smaller group situation with your family. I am anxious to talk with you at length your and your relationship with Ray Brown.

Someone told me you inherited his bass. Brown must have really loved and had faith in you. He's probably in some corner of jazz heaven bragging about you. You had a lot to live up to, and you did not let him down. I wonder if Brown has a copy of "Brother to Brother". If so, I bet he has burned a few hundred copies for his friends.

Continue to walk that bass,

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