I'm reading "When Wynton Met Willie." Wynton...as in Wynton Marsalis and Willie as in Willie Nelson. A most engaging odd couple musical pairing. The interview is about their latest project; coupling the two in remarkable synthesis of the blues and jazz during a live recording of two concerts played at Lincoln Center last year..."Two Men With the Blues."
At first glance, you wouldn't put these two legends together. In all sorts of ways, they are different. Wynton is 46, Willie 75. Their onstage presence is also an eclectic compilation. Wynton in stylish elegant suits, a classically trained artist who plays his jazz from sheet music. And Willie, in worn jeans who improvises as the music moves him.
But improbably, this is what makes the music work. The way in which the differences fill in the gaps. Jazz music has a whimsy that pierces the soul. It speaks a language in which the lyrics and notes weave through a musical caress. But right now, I'm fascinated by the dialog in the interview as the two discuss the songs they chose and why they were able to work together so well. It turns out that the similarities are more profound than the initial perception of the differences.
Their responses to a question about how they rehearse:
Marsalis: "Willie doesn't do two or three takes. Just once, and then, "That's good gentlemen." That's how we play. We record live.
Nelson: "if you can play, then what the f---do you want to rehearse for? Just play."
Well, that kind of puts things into a nutshell doesn't it?
When music flows from the spontaneity of the soul in this fashion, it's raw and refreshing, invigorating and moving. It sparks a passion which digs underneath all the quasi exterior elements that divide us and makes us understand in the place where it counts...our souls, that we all share a lot more more in common when we let go of the 'stuff' and just...play.
That's why another remarkably improbable pairing which is taking place in Grand Rapids, Michigan is so fascinating. Radio in Black & White which bills itself as 'the most integrated hour of the week,' is an extraordinary hour of dialog which takes place every week. The discussion is monitored by Emmy Award Winning Journalist, Rick Wilson & Diversity Management Specialist Skot Welch.
Grand Rapids, Michigan is a city in which the divisions have sometimes underscored many contentious issues. But the topics which raise ire and eyebrows in Grand Rapids are also touchy topics across the nation. These topics are discussed with clarity and candor by Skot, Rick and their guests. The show steers clear of the bitter rancor which can turn examinations like this into accusatory fist fights.
Topics discussed on the show are fascinating and relevant. This year, Radio in Black & White enters its' third year. Their archives can be downloaded via iTunes in Black & White or through a download onto your mp3 player. Here is a sampling of some of the downloads. The show can be accessed LIVE on Monday between 8:00 ~ 9:00 a.m. on Talk Radio WTKG AM. The links below will allow you to download the broadcast.
DEFINING PATRIOTISM - 100th show - Focus: We celebrate 100 shows and define patriotism.
April 21, 2008 (40MB mp3)
WHAT'S RIGHT AND WRONG ABOUT THE CHURCH WE GO TO? - 82nd show - Focus: Should Calvin College Professor Denise Isom be given an exception to the requirement of attending a CRC church?
November 26, 2007 (40MB mp3)
WHERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD? - 73rd show - Focus: How did west Michigan become so segregated?
September 17 , 2007 (40MB mp3)
RADIO IN BLACK AND WHITE - 67th show - Focus: Rick and Skot talk about the recent Supreme Court decision on school choice and its impact on local communities. Ruth Jones and Dr. Bernard Taylor join the program.
July 30, 2007 (13MB mp3
Music which crosses over and integrates different styles creates new blends and nuances. These are distinct creations which would never emerge from any of the individual genres in it's own right. A radio show may seem an improbable venue to initiate a different perspective on race, diversity and relationships; but perhaps therein lies it's greatest potential.
Like Willie Nelson says in the video..."They had to invent the label to SELL the music. You couldn't SELL it if you didn't know what to call it. So, some music you called the blues and some music you called jazz. But what do you call music that encompasses it all? That's the music I like to play..."
Cloistered behind the veil of a radio wave, listeners cannot be distracted by the visual aspects of WHO says WHAT when they listen to the discussions on Radio in Black & White. Instead, we are forced to be consider in our own hearts what we truly know and believe to be True. If you're ready for a new type of radio which 'encompasses it all', then tune in! This is real change in the best sense of the word.
promotional picture of Radio in Black & White co-hosts used with permission
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