[Dixielandjazz] The Multitude of Hurricane Relief Concerts

Nancy Giffin NANCYink at surewest.net
Sun Sep 18 02:15:32 PDT 2005

From: "Don Gumpert" <dongumpert at cox.net>

My houseguests (evacuees from Gulfport, Ms) and I just watched the entire
PBS Hurricane Relief concert...the only song approaching jazz was a very
lame rendition of "Basin Street Blues".  It was perhaps the most
disappointing five hours I have ever spent and I plan to let PBS know.  I
thought they would at least end with "Do You Know What It Means" or "Saints"
and was totally disappointed!
Regards from a very sleepy
Sandy Gumpert
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Dear Sandy,

Bless your heart for welcoming those Gulfport evacuees.
I just finished watching the PBS Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Concert and
then found your unfavorable review. While I can understand your
disappointment, I would like to say a few favorable words about the show.

First, I salute PBS for its willingness to broadcast this show that will
raise so much money to support ³entertainers, artists, and musicians² who
survived the hurricane. Then, despite all the negative posts about Wynton
Marsalis that I¹ve read over the years, I admire and respect him for
organizing this event, gathering so many artists on such short notice.  We
were not watching a well-rehearsed, polished show; there was much
spontaneity and improvisation throughout. I was able to enjoy it because I
had no preconceived notions or expectations about it; I was very grateful
that it was happening at all.

The lineup was diverse (from an opera singer to a folk singer), but this
helped to promote the fundraiser to a wider audience, which could then be
exposed to jazz, blues, gospel, zydeco...  Even if the notes were not what
OKOMers wanted to hear, the heart and soul was coming through loud and clear
from Winton Marsalis and his talented septet, from Irvin Mayfield on ³A
Closer Walk,² from the Neville Brothers, from Terence Blanchard, and others.
I don¹t remember which song it was early I the program, but Marsalis was
making his trumpet laugh, cry, and sing. I don¹t understand why he gets so
little respect from members on this list. (Note: This spontaneous benefit
concert was only possible because Marsalis has already spent years
establishing Jazz at Lincoln Center ‹ no small feat!)

You mentioned a ³lame rendition of ŒBasin Street Blues.¹² Hmmm... While
Diana Krall was not impressive on vocals, I thought she received awesome
backing from Wynton Marsalis, Cyrus Chestnut, Vincent Gardner, Victor
Goines, Marcus Printup, Carlos Henriquez and others. I also really liked
their version of ³Dippermouth Blues.² (Hey, they gave the white banjo player
a solo, n¹est ce pas?!!!?) Again, I was enjoying it by tuning into the vibes
‹ the soulfulness and the heartfelt passion ‹ rather than making any
comparisons to other musicians, dead or alive.

Mark O¹Connor¹s fiddle playing on ³Amazing Grace² was incredible. (Too bad
he had to be unharmoniously paired with Renee Flemming, whom I enjoy singing
opera but not spirituals.) I also enjoyed the chronicling of New Orleans
history by Laurence Fishburne, the poem read by Meryl Streep, the speech by
Ken Burns, the standup routine by Robin Williams, and more.

So, no, these jazz musicians today do not play exactly like their
grandparents, nor do we do things exactly like our grandparents did. It¹s
different, and different can be good, too. The best part is knowing that
millions of dollars will be earned as a result of this concert. If I
happened to derive some entertainment from it, well, that was just a bonus.

Love and hugs,

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