Sunday, October 4, 2009


Mr. Wilson, if I ask to see your birth certificate would it offend you. It may seem like an unusual request, and I understand if you deem it inappropriate. I caught part of your performance at this year’s Detroit International Jazz Festival, and I’ve listened to your new album “Detroit" for two weeks now. I’m having a tough time believing you’re 91.

Where do you find the energy to craft such highly charged swing music? You’ve made music over six decades, and I figured your best work was behind you. You have to right to rest on your considerable accomplishments, but you're too proud a musician to do so. “Detroit” proved you have a lot more to offer the world musically. Maybe the prospect of creating more great music keeps you going and youthful.

You run your orchestra like a man 50 years younger. Have you been lying about your age, or do you have the key to the fountain of youth? I told a friend during the jazz fest that each year your performance gets better, and you always seem to get younger. The musicians on “Detroit”, which is an homage to your home town, are different from the cats you played with at the Detroit jazz fest. However, the energy and swing levels were identical.

It was thoughtful you named five of the tunes on “Detroit” after some popular Detroit landmarks such as “Blues on Belle Isle” (the park where many Detroiters congregate during the summer) “Cass Tech”(The high school you attended and one of the finest schools in the country.)

“Detroit” has the earmarks of the great big band albums produced during the swing era by Duke Ellington and Count Basie, for example. Any of the eight compositions on “Detroit” could be some listener's favorite. “Detroit” sung from top to bottom. This album will not fix any of Detroit’s woes.

The last few years the media has beat up Detroit’s image. Mr. Wilson Detroit needed this album, and I hope you will continue to celebrate this wonderful city by composing great jazz music in its honor.
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