Does Your House Have Lions?

"One day in the late sixties, I was on the phone with Rahsaan and mentioned to him that just that day I bought a house.
He responded by asking, "Does your house have lions?"
I said, "What?"
He said, "Lions, you know like in front of a museum or the post office. You know, concrete lions. My house has lions. Get a house with lions."

--Joel Dorn

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dec. 5th--a shared date

My birthday and the day that Rahsaan died.  I've never been sure what to make of this coincidence.  Rahsaan's friend, the poet Betty Neals says, "It's a gentle sign." 

 This isn't the clearest picture but this is at the 75th b-day tribute I threw for Rahsaan at the Elephant Room in Austin this past August.  (L-R is Dorthaan, Betty Neals, and my mom, Liz).

This was taken shortly before Dorthaan got up to speak.  She told the story of when we first met:  "May was chasing everybody in New York, from Elvin Jones's wife, and I would run into people and they'd be like, 'This May lady from Austin is looking for you.'  And I'm like, 'Well, I'm NOT hard to find, I work at WBGO!"  Anyhow, when I finally met her, I was realized, 'Oh my god, she's just a kid in college!!!'  And for those of you who believe in the universe, May and I were meant to meet.  May was born on Dec. 5th--not the same year, but that's the anniversary of Rahsaan's death.  So the universe told me that May was a special person."

Of course I was blushing in the audience--still star-struck over meeting Dorthaan all those years ago.  And even though I've been working on this book for like a hundred years now, I'm still amazed by the crazy luck, or whatever you want to call it, that brought me to Rahsaan.  If I hadn't taken that jazz appreciation class in college, if I'd skipped class that day, if I'd never heard him:  I can't imagine.

As Joel Dorn once said to me on the phone, "Do you have any idea how rare it is that somebody like him got to somebody like you?"  I do.  And I thank my lucky stars every day. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Return of the 5,000 lb. Man--Pt. 1

Was it all a dream?  That's how it feels now.  Friday, Aug. 6th.  75th birthday tribute to Rahsaan.  Of course it feels like a dream, everything that has to do with Rahsaan always takes on a dreamlike quality.
The evening couldn't have gone better.  And though I produced it, I can take very little credit for how magical the night truly was.  As Dorthaan says, "It's the universe." 

Dorthaan and I had talked about doing the tribute for a while.  In 2008, the Austin Jazz Workshop--Mike Melinger, Alex Coke, Floyd Domino, Ron Westray, Michael Stevens, and Robert Kazanel--performed Rahsaan's music in 120 Austin schools, and recorded Mystery Note, a tribute album to Rahsaan.  They play his music so soulfully, and we thought that a birthday celebration in Austin would be great.  Plus, Dennis Campa at KOOP, 91.7 FM was already planning on having me on the air for a birthday tribute to Rahsaan.

Honestly, it didn't even occur to me at first that this year would mark his 75th birthday.  But, as Dorthaan has always told me, "Things have their own time and happen when they're supposed to."

As soon as Dorthaan decided that she could make it, everything begin quickly falling into place.  She called Steve Turre (trombonist, who played with Rahsaan and is also a member of the Saturday Night Live Band) and found out the he was going to be performing at the jazz fest in Houston that same weekend and could make it.  Sweet synchronicity.  Dorthaan also invited Betty Neals (poet/actress/artist who collaborated with Rahsaan on his masterpiece, "Theme for the Eulipions"), and Les Scher, a longtime friend of Rahsaan's who lives in Northern California.  Trumpet player and composer, Hannibal Lokumbe, who also played with Rahsaan was also on board to make it.  Hannibal now lives down the road in Bastrop, but plays all over the world, so that was another touch of good luck.

 More sweet synchronicity.  Nicki Cutean, who does publicity for saxophonist/flutist, Alex Coke, first heard Rahsaan when she was just 8.  Rip, Rig, and PanicHeavy album for an 8-year old!  Anyway, Nicki graciously offered to do the publicity for the tribute and I learned so much from her.  From helping me draft a press release, to plugging the event on 200 websites, to getting KOOP to sponsor us, and to getting us a spot on KAZI to promote the event, and so much more I can't even list--Nicki was a god-send.

One morning in July, Austin-based artist, JD Fanning was looking for inspiration and googled Rahsaan (one of his heroes).  He came across our tribute and promptly contacted Nicki to see if he could donate his services.  He's responsible for the killer poster art and the programs.  He donated 50 posters, a limited edition, signed and numbered for us to sell at the show to help with production costs:

 The image is based on a photograph taken by Rahsaan's longtime friend, Bob Drinkwater.

Dorthaan had such a huge role in helping me put this tribute together, even though she kept saying, "It's your event".  For instance, she made it possible for the first 100 people to get gift bags, filled with memorabilia.  One-of-a-kind treasures.  The gift bags deserve their own post.  And having produced a ton of major events in NYC/NJ and having worked in the music industry for 30 plus years, Dorthaan's wisdom guided the event.  Just her presence there alone elevated the entire evening.......

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hannibal Lokumbe - Profile - Project Site - Where Great Art Starts - from United States Artists

Please check out this worthwhile endeavor by trumpet player/composer, Hannibal Lokumbe.  He only has 2 more days to raise the funds for this project, but since he received a matching funds grant, any donation made will be doubled.

 Hannibal Lokumbe - Profile - Project Site - Where Great Art Starts - from United States Artists

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rahsaan's 75th Birthday Tribute Poster

Here's the poster for the show next Friday:

Local screen print artist, JD Fanning is a huge Rahsaan fan and has generously donated his time, mad skills/artistry, and this wonderful poster to the event!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

To blog or not to blog?

Wow!  My last post was in December.  I must admit that I've always been torn about the whole blogging thing.  I love reading others' blogs, but posting to my own is another matter.  I always feel that I should be working towards getting the book finished--and lord knows how easily it is to get distracted--so I've shied away from being a consistent blogger.  Also, I feel that whatever it is I have to say about Rahsaan should go in the book.  But, my writer friends have encouraged me to blog on a more regular basis.  For many reasons--it's a good daily writing practice, it can help build momentum, etc. 

I'm still a little torn, but now I have something to share! 

Next Friday, August 6th, I'm having a birthday tribute to Rahsaan here in Austin, Texas.  It's going to be at a  little (and the only) jazz club in town--the Elephant Room.  A local group, the Austin Jazz Workshop, will be performing Rah's music, and best of all, Dorthaan will be here!  I can hardly believe that it's less than a week away. 

So, if you're around Austin and can make it, please come!