Thursday, October 29, 2009


Pianist Oliver Jones and Hank Jones
Twice a month, Hank I take my mother out on the town. Sometimes we catch a movie. Sometimes we go shopping. Sometimes we have lunch, and talk for hours. My mother name is Ernestine. She turns 62 next month, but she looks decades younger. She likes being flattered. Five years ago, Hank, she retired from Chrysler. Thirty-two years she toiled at their gear and axle plant on Van Dyke and Lynch Rd, in a dilapidated neighborhood. Mom is generous, cynical, and strong. I attended her retirement party that her co-workers organized it.

That was the first time I stepped foot in the plant. The plant was noisy. The floors were greasy. The workers moved like zombies. I don't know how mom survived working there all those years. She had some great co-workers she treated like family. Be bop, mom’s main running-buddy. She retired two years after mom. Her friends nicknamed her Be bop because she talks fast than Charlie Parker played the changes to "Confirmation".

-At Thanksgivings dinner last year, for example, Be bop yapped for two hours straight. Listening to her carry on, I thought about how John Coltrane could solo for hours. Mom and Be bop travel often because they’re retired. I love to spend time with mom. My brother and sister live in North Carolina. Mom doesn’t get to visit them often. They call her weekly, and mom will spend Christmas with them.

-Hank, you’re probably wondering why I’m sharing this with you. Sunday, we went to the AMC Star Gratiot theater to see comic Chris Rock’s new movie "Good Hair", a documentary about African-American women obsession with their hair. The movie was good. You should check it out. Driving to the AMC Star, we listened to your new album “Pleased to Mee You”, which you co-led with pianist Oliver Jones. Is Oliver a relative? The liner notes didn’t say. DL Media sent me the album, but not a press release. Mom isn’t a jazz buff, but she loves music. She thinks smooth jazz saxophonist Boney James and Najee are jazz musicians. Currently, she loves Keyshia Cole, an R&B singer.

-Mom adored “Pleased to Meet You”. She was curious about your background. I told her you’re from a prestigious jazz family. Your brother’s trumpeter Thad and drummer Elvin accomplished a lot musically. You all grew up in Pontiac, Michigan. Looking at the “Pleased to Meet You” album cover, she couldn't believe you're 92. I took her about your hot performance at the Detroit International Jazz Festival last month.

-Mom patted her right foot and bobbed her head from track one "What Am I Here for" to track 11 "Lonely Woman". She also enjoyed Oliver Jones playing, but I couldn’t give her any information about him. It was the first time I'd experienced Oliver. He’s a fine piano player with a sophisticated left hand, and a right hand that gallops across the piano keys.

On the standard "Making Whoopee", it appeared you and Oliver played one piano at the same time. Mom’s favorite tracks were "Blues for Big Scotia" and "Monk's Mood". At some point, I thought I'd have to stop my car, let her out so she could dance. You and Oliver had her in a trance. I'm going to buy her a copy of "Pleased to Meet You". I’ve noticed; as she’s gotten older, her musical taste has changed. From Keyshia Cole to a budding Hank Jones fan that’s a big leap. I might turn mom onto Thad and Elvin’s music next.
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