“There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. I love music passionately. And because l love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth, an open-air art boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea. It must never be shut in and become an academic art.” Claude Debussy
I believe I lived a charmed life. A life that was written before I was born. A life that only God could conceive. This is my back story of Being Jazzybeatchick. Jazz, my first language was filled with love, it was nurturing, prolific and filled with truths that revealed themselves especially in my rearview mirror. It is not 20/20 hindsight, it is filled with wonder, discovery, embedded in an environment of God’s good graces. I have lived through plenty of challenges, set backs, self sabotage, okay Resistances though out my life. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, it was shadowed by the harsh reality of racism, chauvinism and cultural rage and frustration. It has only been of late that I realized that it is not about living my life over, it is about living fully with the life I have. We all have struggled, maneuvered and dreamed. It is filled with hope, finding the right rhythm and adjusting to “life happens” from moment to moment. I don’t fear dying, I know that is out of my control. So I don’t want to be spending my waking days fearing and regretting the choices I have made. I am in the right place and where I am supposed to be Seattle, Washington.
So let’s take things from the top. To set things straight, things happened before I was born. The 50’s set the tone, life, and timbre of the cultural experience. Dad’s career was flourished writing and arranging for Dizzy Gillespie and his band. He met Marian, my mom in New York City in 1951 and on October 18, 1952 they eloped in Baltimore Maryland. He decided to settle down and not go on the road with the band. They moved into a luxurious loft apartment on Riverside Drive. The upper west side was the Mecca in New York City where folks in jazz, the arts and entertainment resided and thrived. My brother was born eleven months later in September, 1953 and eleven months after that, I was born. Dad’s love was so intense that he thought he could protect and shelter me from anything he experienced that would be painful or harmful. His intentions were so vivid, when I was three he wrote a song for me. He wanted to transform and mold my life the way that he wanted, The title of the song was “Jannat” an Arabic name that means ‘garden’ or ‘heaven on earth’. It is a hauntingly beautiful song that had and intense Afro-Cuban flavor.
Things Are Here (2007 Digital Remaster) (Featuring Dizzy Gillespie)
I believe that he chose my name based on where he was born. Reunion is an island in the Indian ocean off the coast of Madagascar. A French emirate island that has a mixture of French, island Indians (indigenous natives) and Arabic ethnicity. The race is defined as Creole. The religion is Roman Catholic and the major language is Patois.
Dad was pretty tight lipped about details where he came from, however, not in the sense of the cultural tradition that was ingrained in him. We never talked about it. He did talk about his mother and how much he loved her. I felt it was mired in secrets. He became a mysterious force that convinced me that it would be impossible for me to dream of ever becoming a writer or artist. My first breath at 6:35 am on July 30th, 1954 became the space between the notes telling the story of a life that held more possibilities than I could ever have imagined. An enigma surviving the ‘Perfect Storm’ whose wake meant navigating overwhelming mixed racial waters stemming the tides of chauvinism and creativity. More to come…Peace Out! JBC 8-)
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