Monday, August 31, 2009

From student to professional jazz guy to friend....

that's the progression of my relationship with internationally known Darrell Grant, jazz professor at Portland State University (OR) and incredible jazz musician and composer.

I met Darrell when he was a ninth grader at Creighton Junior High in Lakewood, Colorado and I was a guidance counselor in the same school. His musical ability was already legendary and it was clear to those of us on the faculty who had a musical bent that he had an outstanding future ahead of him.

Darrell left junior high, went on to graduate from high school forthwith and I lost track of him. This was all sometime in the 70's and lots of water flowed under the bridge before, in 1999, I opened my newspaper in Portland, Oregon, and found a familiar name and face headlining the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival that year.

I pored over the article until I found the reference to Lakewood, Colorado, that verified that, indeed, it was the same Darrell Grant who had been such an outstanding musician and student at CJHS. I doubted he'd remember me, but I wrote him an email note identifying myself and offering my congratulations and encouragement.

Within hours, I got a return phone call from him. He did remember me, was interested in what I was doing, told me he is a member at First Unitarian Church in Portland, married, happy, and doing just what he felt he was called to do----working with musicians to create a message of peace and understanding across the world.

He volunteered to do a benefit concert for my financially strapped little congregation and produced a festival of jazz, stories, and dance that wowed the entire audience as possibly the best concert they'd ever attended. He used the concert as a release event for his latest CD.

When I left Portland for more northern climes, I figured our paths wouldn't cross again but when my friend Sue came to visit last week, she brought an autographed copy of Darrell's latest CD, "Truth and Reconciliation" and a message that he would love to see me again.

I'm playing the CD as I write. And here's a note from the CD liner:

"Why Truth and Reconciliation? In addition to expressing my wonder at one of the most profound events in the history of humankind---the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa---the phrase describes my personal wish that this music express my deepest truth, and begin to reconcile the diverse facets, styles, genres and influences that through most of my professional life have run separate courses."

He's truly a remarkable guy. On his web page (linked above) you can listen to some of his work via Darrell Grant radio. I hope you will.


Mile High Pixie said...

Very cool! Thanks for passing the link along. The world could always use another person opening their mind to reconciling differing viewpoints in the their head.

ms. kitty said...

If he ever comes to Denver again (where his parents and sibs still live), try to go see him, Pixie. He's truly wonderful.