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    Brush With Greatness - Brad Sinclair

    Monday, 09 January 2017 00:00

    Written by Emily Santos

    Brush With Greatness is sponsored by New Horizons, an authorized partner to the top technology providers. For students that means training with the highest quality source materials and the latest products and technologies. For businesses it means getting the highest return on their training investment. Click here for more information.

    Today's Brush with Greatness comes from listener Brad Sinclair:

    "Tradition is a powerful word. It is used to describe a wide array of practices in world religions. It is used to describe different forms of visual art and literature. It is often used to defend a myriad of cultural practices – look no further than the different things we do at Christmas. It is also used to describe a broad range of musical genres. One of the more powerful traditions – although relatively young in the grand history of musical genres – is of course jazz music. I looked up the dictionary definition of tradition and came up with the following: the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
    Not too long ago I was a front row witness to such a transmission when I attended the 50th anniversary of the so-called ‘Greatest Jazz Concert Ever,’ at Massey Hall. The original concert recorded in 1953 featured Charlie Parker on alto saxophone, Charles Mingus on bass, Dizzy Gillespie on Trumpet, Bud Powell on piano and Max Roach on the drums – a jazz fan’s dream line-up if there ever was one. Some 50 years later Massey Hall hosted a memorial/tribute concert featuring Roy Hargrove on Trumpet, Kenny Garrett on alto saxophone, Dave Holland on bass, Roy Haynes on drums and Herbie Hancock on piano – a group of musicians who were and still are to this day at the top of their game. The lone survivor from the original concert back in 1953 was Max Roach. As a gesture of respect for the tradition (there’s that word again), concert organizers arranged for Max Roach to make an appearance at the memorial concert.
    It was almost immediately apparent that Max Roach’s best days were well behind him – indeed it was only a few years later that he passed away. The audience and the media were actually quite polite in their appreciation of Max despite a few embarrassing moments. The musician who took hold of the affair, however, was Herbie Hancock. It would have been easy to politely dismiss the legendary drummer who had passed his best before date and simply get on with the concert but Hancock would have none of it. He rolled out the metaphorical red carpet for him, by reading aloud a lengthy biographical tribute and arranging for a second improvised recognition ceremony at the end of the concert.
    I’m not sure if Herbie Hancock ever played with Max Roach during his career but he certainly knew of the legendary status afforded to Roach and he was not about to see him disrespected in any way despite his age and ailing health. Obviously the jazz tradition – a tradition that Max Roach had clearly helped build – had been passed on to another generation and Herbie Hancock was and clearly is still a part of that generation.
    The jazz tradition is alive and well. Musicians like Herbie Hancock have helped to keep it alive and well. Take a bow sir, before you pass it on to the next generation."

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