Saturday, June 5, 2010

STILL GOING STRONG

Lutcher, seeing you downtown yesterday made my day. You're a no-show at the last Detroit jazz festival, which concerned me. I asked some of your acquaintances if they knew of your whereabouts. None of them knew. Honestly, I thought you died. That would explain why you missedthe festival. I tracked down your telephone number, and for a week I called you repeatedly, but no one answered. On this jazz blog, I posted you're missing, hoping one of my readers knew where you were. I wrote about our first meeting. I forgot what year. We met backstage at the jazz fest shortly before vocalist Nancy Wilson performed. I'd seen you at the festival before, but I never had the nerve to approach you. You looked unfriendly, which I discovered later wasn't true. Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave said you're PJ Lutcher, a freelance jazz journalist.

You always wore a suit no matter how hot it was. The men of your generation dressed impeccably. When you said you put off an operation you’re needed to attend the festival, I knew you’re a real jazz fan. Each year,I looked forward to hanging out with you. We talked mostly about the music. You shared little of your personal life. You mentioned jazz vocalist Nellie Lutcher was a relative, and you're working on her biography. I asked where I could get a few your jazz articles. Without hesitating, you pulled three folded clips from your pocket. The articles were faded with telephone numbers and notes scribbled on the back. I thought I was the only music journalist who carried around clips. Apparently, you'd been doing so forever. Oddly, that made me like you even more. I enjoyed each one, particularly the one about pianist Barry Harris.

Your writing style was matter-of-fact. You captured how unselfish Harris was, sharing his jazz know how with up and coming jazz musicians. Your sentences were sharp as the creases in a gigolo's slacks. You made your point and kept on moving. I never had to consult my dictionary. I still have the three articles you gave me. I reread them often.

I always worked hard to have a clean writing style. I never wanted my readers to think I set out to dazzle them with fancy words and lengthy sentences. I want to be a craftsman, a writer who sweats over every sentence. A writer who invests a lot of time searching for the perfect words. A writer who's meticulous about every detail. Did you have similar goals, pursuing a career in music journalism? I've digressed. I shouldn't be blabbing about my goals. I've been working downtown lately. I saw you Monday, and again yesterday. I was happy you're still going strong.

You skipped the festival last year because you’re hospitalized. Had I known that, I would've visited you everyday, and kept you updated on the festival highlights. Thank God, you’re okay. You still look good. I'm sure you plan to attend the festival this year. By the way, I accept your invitation to visit you whenever I'm downtown. I may stop by this weekend. I have a stack of new jazz albums you should hear. I'll bring this great tenor saxophonists Booker Ervin and Dexter Gordon made for Prestige Records in 1965 titled "Setting the Pace".

The album is a pure blowing session. Two top tenor players swinging it out. I wore out two copies of it. The average running time per song was 19 minutes. I bet Booker and Dexter had to be hospitalized for dehydration after that grueling session. Lutcher, I'm sure you'll love the album.

Knowing that you're okay put my mind at ease. I’m going to check up on you regularly.
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