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Reflections: Appreciation

Reflections: Appreciation

It is ironic, confusing and sad that several highly developed and influential forms of music, created exclusively by Blacks, whether in the states or elsewhere, are generally appreciated more by Whites and other ethnic groups.

This would include jazz, blues and reggae. In fact, one of the icons of blues, B.B. King, said bluntly that were it not for White people, he and others like him would work far less. But as Little Milton put it in his jubilant hit from 1982, “Hey! Hey! The blues is alright!” And the three genres survive, no matter what, and that “what” includes limited radio and television exposure.

Same for reggae and, as reader David L. Craig, indicated in his e-mail, this applies to jazz as well. He also reminded us of jazz numbers that will live forever, even though in most cases they are not well known outside of the jazz-loving community. If you hear some of them, they will be recognizable, even if you’re not a jazz buff, from having heard them “somewhere.”

The songs (and albums), all of them gems and among Craig’s favorites, include “Song For My Father” (Horace Silver), “Cristo Redentor” (Donald Byrd), “The Sermon” (Jimmy Smith), “Kind of Blue” (Miles Davis), “The Sidewinder” (Lee Morgan), “Bumpin’ on Sunset” (Wes Montgomery), “Django” (the Modern Jazz Quartet), “Blue Trane” (John Coltrane) and “Sketches of Spain” (Miles Davis).

Also great and timeless, among many others: “Satin Doll” (Duke Ellington), “Mercy Mercy Mercy” (Cannonball Adderley), “Breezin’” (George Benson), “My Favorite Things” (John Coltrane), “Take the ‘A’ Train” (Duke Ellington), “’Round Midnight” (Thelonious Monk, also famous by Miles Davis) and two brilliant contributions by great non-Black artists, “Birdland” (by Weather Report, written by group co-founder Joe Zawinul and later impressively interpreted by the Manhattan Transfer) and “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” an odd song written and originally recorded by Dave Brubeck and later stylized by Al Jarreau.

Music, be it jazz, R&B, rock, gospel, pop, country, blues, vintage rock and roll, hip-hop or whatever, I believe, is a gift from the Creator. Yes, there is bad in any genre, but the good trumps the bad in nearly all cases. Music is one more thing to be very thankful for.

NE-YO is one of my favorites from the current music scene. In addition to being a good singer — some of the songs from “Year of the Gentleman” are among my all-time favorites — there is just a coolness about him.

I love the hats, too. He must have at least a hundred of them, enough to keep in a separate closet. And when Barbra Streisand was among those celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors, one of the tribute performers was, surprisingly, Ne-Yo. He did a great job on the standard “Lover, Come Back to Me.”

Chris Brown sure knows how to be blunt at times. Regarding his redeveloping relationship with Rihanna and the controversy it is generating, he said, “Me and Rihanna have history. We will always be the best of friends,” but being in the public eye makes things a lot more difficult. Brown may have been drinking at the time or something, but he said the nosey, judgmental people should “shut the hell up!”

The main reason that Cornel West and Tavis Smiley are launching so many venomous attacks on President Barack Obama is that their monumental egos have been bruised because they have no access to the White House. (Oh, boo-hoo!)

And Smiley has been upset ever since candidate Obama declined to appear at an event he had organized.

When Obama first became president, West said, “I’ll be watching him,” as if he is an official voice of the Black community.

If I was Obama, I wouldn’t invite these revengeful, publicity seekers to the White House, or anyplace else, either unless they sincerely apologized.

They should also be reminded that Barack Obama is president of the United States, not just the Black community. Talk about being out of touch with the majority of the African American community!

EVERYONE knows that Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” is one of the most amazing albums of all time. It’s as though it was delivered from a higher place through Marvin Gaye, and the passage of time means little if anything with regard to the album’s importance.

But another thing that makes “What’s Going On” special is that it was the first Motown album that gave credit to the musicians, background singers, etc., and that was Gaye’s idea, not Motown’s.

Among those cited were Eli Fountaine, Bob Babbitt, Johnny Griffith, Robert White, Joe Messina, James Jamerson, Jack Ashford, Eddie Brown and the background vocalists, the Andantes (the group consists of Jackie Hicks, Louvain Demps and Marlene Barrow). The ladies were later named individually on “Floy Joy,” the album produced and written by Smokey Robinson. (Again, no doubt his idea rather than Motown’s.)

Marvin Gaye knew he didn’t do it alone and had the clarity of mind to give credit where it was due.

T-Boz, formerly of TLC, says she is tired of people becoming famous on reality shows without having any talent. It’s basically just a matter of being on the show, and in many cases behaving foolishly. Also, she takes issue with Nicki Minaj, a rapper, being chosen to be a judge on “American Idol,” a show featuring singers. Granted, other judges, like Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell, are not singers, but they are involved in record producing and have long histories.

Most people are unaware of the fact that Steve Harvey’s full name is Broderick Steven Harvey and that he and his wife, Margorie, have seven kids! And he wants to have two more!

Correction: In a recent column it was said that James Brown’s classic hit “I Got You (I Feel Good)” was originally titled “I Found You” and recorded by Tammy Montgomery, who later became Tammi Terrell. Actually, the artist was Yvonne Fair. Thanks to reader Phyllis Bacot for pointing that out.

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW...that the debut album by Stephanie Mills, “For the First Time,” was produced and written by the legendary Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

MEMORIES, submitted by reader Teresa Guess (songs forgotten or seldom heard): “Ain’t No Big Thing” (the Radiants), “At the Club” (the Drifters), “Love Is Missing From Our Lives” (the Dells and the Drama­tics), “Sunday Kind of Love” (the Harptones), “Three Ring Circus” (Blue Magic), “There He Is” (Baby Washington), “Somebody’s Got to Move” (the Dells).

BLESSINGS to Chuck Bennett, Brenda Perryman, Mary Evans, Wayne Dixon, Bud McQueen, Charles Johnson, Misha Helvey, Stephanie Ross, James Ross and Ken Donaldson.

WORDS OF THE WEEK, a short poem from an anonymous source: “Appreciate your blessings, big and small, and you will rise every time you fall.”

Let the music play!

Steve Holsey can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.

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