The Jazzonian

From the demented mind of Rusty Taylor
Jester and Vocalist for jazz band
Southern Standard Time
A Weekly Newsletter
March 05, 2018 A.D. a jazzonian e-newsletter published weekly unless the author is somehow incapacitated. It details the thriving jazz scene in Columbus, Georgia and the surrounding Chattahoochee Valley, written exclusively by Rusty Taylor, a Mercer alumnus and the jester-singer for the vocal jazz band Southern Standard Time


Let me begin this week’s edition of The Jazzonian by exclaiming my delight in the area jazz community for having accepted me into its fold, and by employing the noun area , I am connoting Columbus, Georgia and surrounding geographical realm that includes Montgomery, Tuskegee, Opelika, and Auburn. And to think this all started back in ’92 when I became an active member of the Columbus [Georgia] Jazz Society, (Incidentally, CJS is still extant… more or less… it has co-sponsored a couple incredible jazz concerts (Pat Metheny, Doc Severinsen, A Charlie Brown Christmas), and I heard through the grape… uh, through the muscadine—or scuppernong—vine that CJS will soon host a regularly scheduled jazz jam, but I’ve not heard anything since… I am hopeful, but we’ll see.)

I am beyond geeked to have met some really incredible musicians just by actively participating in a couple of area jazz jams, the first in Opelika, Alabama (which is adjacent to the academic citadel of Auburn University) at Eighth and Rail, the second in Atlanta at Venkman’s. (Incidentally, I was planning on going to Venkman’s this month, but my friend—and driver—broke her foot; when she heals, we’ll be back.) I’ve heard that the jazz jams at Red Light Café (Atlanta), Brin’s Wings and 1048 Jazz and Blues Club (both in Montgomery) are hip communities of jazz enthusiasts that I would love to join. Of course, my paralysis limits my opportunities, but drawing attention to my personal struggle to pursue my musical ambitions as a quadriplegic, including making concert stages accessible, is a major modus operandi for the dissemination of this weekly exercise in rhetorical calisthenics… and this brings me back to the main theme of this paragraph: the really groovy musicians and jazz enthusiasts have continually supported my attempts to promulgate my vocal style to a wider audience.

We had a great time at the Eighth and Rail jazz jam last Tuesday; it was the second consecutive week that we streamed the jam live via facebook. A really groovy peripheral aspect of the past fortnight is that we’ve had a few young trombonists sit in, a couple from the Auburn Knights big band. It encourages me on a personal level because Jazz is a musical genre that one must work hard to master unless one is a freak of nature, which isn’t the norm. For most musicians of jazz, many years, lustra, decades, even scores of practice must be undertaken to become a decent improviser. It takes a certain mindset, a resolute stubbornness not to let the anxiety of Jazz and all the connotations of its complexity compel one to absquatulate from her initial resolve to master Jazz and to continue the humbling acquiescence to supplement the ineffable essence of an ephemeral something far more powerful than the sum of all its jazzonian associations… It is groovy to encourage a neophyte to persevere through the modest improvisational proficiency of incipient jazzonian efforts. A musician’s maturation is an especial gift to witness.

The Jane Drake Band hosts the jazz jam each week, and these cats do a wonderful job. Jane is the vocalist for the band, and she’s been in dulcet voice lately, singing really wonderful compositions and setting the tone each week for a really successful soirée. Taylor Pierce (guitar) and Eric Buchanan (drums) bring their respective mastery each and every week with hearth-warming, comforting consistency—not the emetic redundancy of Donald Trump’s abrasive “no Russian collusion” (as Mueller’s noose tightens around Trump’s gelatinous neck) or his “lock her up” campaign mantra. Coleman Woodson III (keys) and Emory Kidd (bass) alternate weeks, each bringing his respective musical mastery to the fold, and Burdette Birks (flute and vocals) has returned and adds so much to our celebration. Incidentally, Burdette and I traded eights while singing George Shearing’s “Lullaby of Birdland” that we both enjoyed, which easily spilled over into the audience.

Basically, we have fun. Can’t wait ‘til next week’s jam to discover what additional magic awaits, the kind of magic that looms undetected in the darkest shadows of the musical venue, in that rarely used section of a basement closet, the scent of sterile, austere conservative indifference hermetically sealed in antiseptic anxiety behind an empty, rusted mop pail innocuously blunted by a desiccated mop leaning against the gray wall, smothered in the listlessly woolen quilt of ennui, alone and crying until the clarion call from Celestial Puissance stimulates its quintessence, and it manifests itself in the soul-warming embrace of communal inclusion, randomly scattering its powerful intrinsic essence to the throng of jazzonian enthusiasts gathered in peace and love to nourish the emotionally synergetic network of positive energy. It happens at least once in every jazz jam. I highly recommend its experience.

Peace Through Music
Schwob Jazz Orchestra

The award-winning Schwob Jazz Orchestra (SJO) is the flagship ensemble of the Jazz Studies Program. Under the direction of Dr. Kevin Whalen, this 18-piece large jazz ensemble focuses on presenting the best in contemporary and classic big band music. The band is comprised of many of the finest musicians at the CSU Schwob School of Music, and an audition is required entry into the ensemble. The group actively performs for diverse audiences in Columbus and throughout the southern United States. In January 2018, the Schwob Jazz Orchestra will perform as the featured college jazz ensemble at the Georgia Music Educators Conference Annual In-Service Conference in Athens, Georgia.
GSU Jazz

The Georgia State University Jazz Studies Program is dedicated to providing practical career preparation for today’s professional musician. The Georgia State University Jazz Bands and Combos are open to all University students regardless of class standing or area of study.

The Jazz Studies Program has been able to bring jazz artists of regional, na­tional and international stature to Georgia State to perform and give master classes and clinics. Among these notable artists are Kenny Garrett, Marcus Roberts, Randy Brecker, David Sanchez, Slide Hampton, Nick Payton, Kenny Werner, Dave Douglas, Chris Potter, Jerry Bergonzi, Tim Hagans, Dick Oatts, Bobby Shew, Jimmy Heath, Clare Fischer, Joe Lovano and many others.
KSU School of Music

Our jazz majors and faculty are active in the Metro Atlanta and the southeast region jazz scene and mix university experience with real-world performing opportunities and training. The KSU Jazz Ensembles and Jazz Combos develop general jazz performance and improvisational skills, giving students the exibility to meet the varying demands of today’s musical world. Recent performances have included programs of Brazilian and Latin jazz, swing concerts, music from musical theatre, jazz rock, and retrospectives of such composers as Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, and others.
Auburn Knights

Today, over seven decades after inception, the Auburn Knights Orchestra is still going strong as an Auburn tradition, composed entirely of a select group of student age musicians from the Auburn community. The future of this organization is great since popularity is returning to big bands and the Swing era is experiencing a rebirth. With such hardworking and dedicated students, the Auburn Knights Orchestra will continue to swing crowds for many years to come.
Groovy Upcoming Events
  • Sun, March 11, 2018 at 1:00 pm ET - Matthew Kaminski Trio plays at Venkman's in Atlanta. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • March 11, 2018 starting at 7 pm ET - Earth, Wind, and Fire will perform in Macon, GA Macon City Auditorium @ The Macon Centreplex, Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Sat, March 17, 2018 starting at 7:30 pm ET at Spivey Hall in Morrow, GA - Terell Stafford Quintet. Terell Stafford is a professional jazz trumpet player and current Director of Jazz Studies at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University. Terell Stafford was born in Miami, Florida, and raised in both Chicago, Illinois, and Silver Spring, Maryland. He went on to get a degree in music education from University of Maryland in 1988 and a degree in classical trumpet performance from Rutgers University in 1993. Originally a classical trumpet player, Stafford soon branched out to jazz with the University of Maryland jazz band. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 7:00 PM ET - Atlanta Blues Festival featuring Sir Charles Jones, TK Soul, Pokey Bear, Tucka, Nellie Tiger Travis and J'Wonn. The Atlanta Blues Festival will be at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Sunday, March 25 – Legendary bassist Stanley Clark will start playing at the Atlanta City Winery. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Thursday, March 29 - Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn. 7:00 PM ET doors / 8:00 PM ET show. With one eye on using the banjo to showcase America’s rich heritage and the other pulling the noble instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn’s second album Echo in the Valley is simultaneously familiar and wildly innovative. “Some of the most interesting things in the world come together in strange and unique ways and show our diversity,” reflects Béla, a fifteen-time Grammy award winner who is often considered the world’s premier banjo player. “The banjo is just one of those things. It’s a great example of how the world can combine things and create surprising hybrids,” a reference to the ancestral African roots of the banjo combining with Scotch-Irish music in Appalachia. Echo in the Valley is the follow up to Béla and Abigail’s acclaimed, self-titled debut that earned the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album. This time around, the mission was to take their double banjo combination of three finger and clawhammer styles “to the next level and find things to do together that we had not done before,” says Béla. “We’re expressing different emotions through past techniques and going to deeper places.” The results are fascinating, especially considering their strict rules for recording: all sounds must be created by the two of them, the only instruments used are banjos (they have seven between them, ranging from a ukulele to an upright bass banjo), and they must be able to perform every recorded song live.
  • Sunday, April 1 starting at 1 pm Eastern Time at Venkman's in Atlanta, the Coley High Trio. Coley High Trio plays a wide variety of acoustic music for all occasions. Soul, Jazz, Hip Hop, Reggae, Blues, Funk, Blue Grass, you name it - we got it. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Saturday, April 14, 2018 – 2:00 PM 6:00 PM – Jazz Matters, Inc. will be holding auditions for Emerging Jazz Artists in elementary, middle and high school, to perform as opening acts during our summer Jazz Matters at The Wren's Nest, Experiencing Jazz Summer Concert Series. This outdoor series is held the 3rd Friday of June - September at The Wren's Nest in Atlanta's Historic West End. Audition details will be posted early 2018. For more information, feel free to call 404-474-1211.
  • Sunday, April 15 starting at 12:30 pm Eastern Time at Venkman's in Atlanta, Bob Bakert Quartet. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Friday, April 20 at Rialto Center for Arts in Atlanta, Rene Marie sings starting at 8 pm ET with Gordon Vernick. In a span of two decades, 11 recordings and countless stage performances, vocalist René Marie has cemented her reputation as not only a singer but also a composer, arranger, theatrical performer and teacher. Guided and tempered by powerful life lessons and rooted in jazz traditions laid down by Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and other leading ladies of past generations, she borrows various elements of folk, R&B and even classical and country to create a captivating hybrid style. Her body of work is musical, but it’s more than just music. It’s an exploration of the bright and dark corners of the human experience, and an affirmation of the power of the human spirit. Marie brings her wide-ranging, highly-adaptive jazz artistry to a special evening with the Georgia State University Jazz Band led by trumpeter Dr. Gordon Vernick. Fo' mo' info, click here. Free parking is available at the 100 Peachtree Garage for this Rialto Series event.
  • Friday, June 1, 7:00 PM doors / 8:00 PM show ET – An Evening with Leo Kottke at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. Leo Kottke (born September 11, 1945) is an acoustic guitarist. He is known for a fingerpicking style that draws on blues, jazz, and folk music, and for syncopated, polyphonic melodies. He overcame a series of personal obstacles, including partial loss of hearing and a nearly career-ending bout with tendon damage in his right hand, to emerge as a widely recognized master of his instrument. He currently resides in the Minneapolis area with his family. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Friday, June 15, 2018 - 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM. The Wren's Nest. Experiencing Jazz - Jazz, Blues & BBQ. Style. Relax, relate, release, as we open up our 3rd Annual Jazz Matters at The Wren's Nest Concert Series. T. C. Carson, singer/actor, best known for his portrayal of Kyle Barker on the hit sitcom "Living Single" will open up our series, along with performances by The TuTuff Band, The Edwin Williams Experience & Emerging Jazz Artists and more. Tickets Available Online: For More Info, call 404-474-1211.
  • Friday, July 20, 2018 - 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM. The Wren's Nest. Experiencing Jazz: With a Little Soul, Funk & A Whole Lotta Jazz. Artist not yet available. Tickets Available Online: For More Info, call 404-474-1211.
  • Friday, August 17, 2018 - 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM. The Wren's Nest. Artist not yet available. Tickets Available Online: For More Info, call 404-474-1211.
  • Friday, September 21, 2018 - 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM. The Wren's Nest. Artist not yet available. Tickets Available Online: For More Info, call 404-474-1211.
This Week at The Loft
Columbus [GA's] Home For Jazz Music
Hear ye! Hear ye! Gather together, ye throng of scalawags, for Kevin Vannoy and the Basin Street Boyz be ready to tickle your auricular fancies as only they can. I, personally, enjoy Kevin’s entire stage presence. He exudes Cool in sight and sound; his joke are downright painful; his harmonica virtuosity makes me smile with awe; his sax playing is sublime; and his singing really sends me. I thoroughly enjoy Kevin’s playing and am really bummed when I miss it. Fortunately, for me, my schedule is open, so I should be in the audience grinning like a shark whose circulatory system courses with excessive serotonin. At the time of this writing, I don’t know who will be playing with him, but he traditionally plays with stellar musicians: Mark Young (keys), Taylor Pierce (guitar), Jason DeBlanc (bass), Jeff Smith (bass), Dr. Paul Vaillancourt (drums), Billy Kravtin (drums), Mark Parker (drums), et al. Regardless, it promises to be a great program of jazz. I highly recommend this concert.
The Columbus, Georgia Jazz Scene 1940 - 1985

Memories of Jazz
The History of Swing and Jazz in the Columbus, Georgia Area From 1940 – 1980... Who played... Where they played
by Gene Kocian

[NOTE: I found this book at Judybug's Books, a quaint bookstore on the 1000 block of Broadway in downtown Columbus, Georgia. It's a book about the jazz history of Columbus, Georgia from the 1940s to the 1980s. It is my intention to highlight interesting passages from the book in my weekly jazzonian newsletter. Since this book's publishing date, Columbus, Georgia and surrounding area has seen a slow and steady increase in the interest of jazz, beginning with the establishment of the Jazz Studies curriculum at Columbus State University (formerly Columbus College) under the direction of Dr. Paul Vander Gheynst to the creation of the Columbus Jazz Society in the mid-1980s---CSU's Schwob Jazz Orchestra and combos are currently under the direction of Dr. Kevin Whalen and they are garnering national recognition. The Loft, in downtown Columbus, Georgia, sponsors a weekly jazz concert, and there are a few area jazz jams sprinkled throughout the Chattahoochee Valley and beyond. Jazz influence is experiencing a renaissance. This book, however, is a small, personal jazz reflection from the experiences of Gene Kocian who wrote that, for young jazz enthusiasts, his words are a "heretofore unrecognized facet of Columbus' musical culture... [our] roots!" Enjoy

NOTE—I’ve been apprised by one of the founding members of the Columbus Jazz Society the following:

I thought you might want a little background on the Kocien book: When we were first setting up the CJS [Columbus Jazz Society], getting incorporation and tax-exempt status, etc., Gene and a couple of his friends decided to write the book of jazz in Columbus [Georgia] before the Society… Gene didn’t like Berklee School of Music in Boston nor anyone who was trained there. Bob Richardson (aka Fop) was probably the best pianist I ever heard in the area, but Gene slammed him in the book. He dismissed all of our efforts as ‘co-op’… [and] there were many holes in the information. John Shur helped him with it as I recall. I’m glad they did it as a resource, but just be aware that it isn’t all correct information, and is certainly biased.

He or she didn’t tell me specifically to be identified, but if this person writes me that her/his gender and identity aren’t necessarily intentionally furtive, I will disclose that information. I will begin each week’s new section with this caveat until its completion. Maybe it will be useful to help create an ultimate history of jazz and its influence in the Chattahoochee Valley.]

The Eva Haines Band
Another equally popular jazz band of the same area was that of female pianist, Eva Haines. Among those playing with her band were such greatly talented musicians as: Jimmy Fuller (bass), T. Hicks Fort, Jr. (saxophone), Jim Bob Edwards (drums), Carlton “Gus” Richards
(drums), Jimmy Robinson (alto sax), Frank Dorman (trumpet), and “Wash” Edwards (banjo).

This band stayed together for quite a period of time. During this era all bands strived to copy the styles and sounds of the large, well-known bands that performed on radio, as there was no television during these times.

Eva tried reviving the band again in the mid-to-later sixties, using Carlton “Gus” Richards
(drums), Ray Newsome (tenor sax), Eva on piano , and a trumpet player , but after a few months they disbanded again.

Both the Freeman Band and the Eva Haines Band played at local hotels, clubs and other functions, as well as engagements out of town. I [Ed Kocian] have an old contract dated April 10, 1938 showing that “ Miss Eva Haines and her Rhythm Club Orchestra consisting of nine pieces ,” traveled to Union Springs, Alabama (about sixty-five miles), for the total sum of $50.00!! These, according to the contract, were all union musicians belonging to Local #331 . incidentally, the job was booked by Susie Freeman, so a ten-percent bookers fee had to be paid out of that … how times have changed!! [Keep in mind that 1930 was at the end of the Great Depression.]

Next week: The Mullins Brothers’ Band

Peace Through Music
Make Concert Stages Accessible
The next time you go see a live musical group, check out the stage. Does it have a wheelchair ramp leading from the audience to the stage or are their steps? Is there a wheelchair ramp backstage? Is there handicapped parking where the performers load and unload? Chances are that the venue doesn’t provide these accommodations. It’s like this: my biggest challenge as a quadriplegic jazz vocalist is finding accessible stages on which to perform. I was once raised up to a five-foot high stage using a forklift and a wooden palette because the stage was not wheelchair accessible. Fortunately, I didn’t die. Point is that there are
few wheelchair accessible stages; otherwise, I’d sing much more often.

It’s easy to see why this isn’t a mainstream problem: there are few “physically challenged” performers, but that’s merely an excuse encouraged by indifference. We handicapped performers exist and are eager to share our dreams with fans who dig what we do. But why are we unconsciously ignored? That’s easy: Being unable to perform even the most rudimentary acts of daily living is a major downer; the wheelchair, quite frankly, is a symbol of lost hope. Let’s face it; it’s a marketing problem, and this is where you come in to save the day.

Physical handicaps are wrapped in lugubrious imagery, but not every moment of life in a wheelchair is steeped in mournful decay. Believe it or not, I laugh every day… some days more than others, but if life were perfect, I, for one, would take a bite of forbidden fruit to find some excitement from the decay of entropy (the hypothetical tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity). What I’m trying so desperately to connote here is the fact that having a physical challenge can, at times, be fun and inspirational. What we need is positive imagery, and here’s where I ask for a favor from you, dear reader, and it has to do with social media, more specifically, using the ubiquitous #hashtag: will you help by coming up with a #hashtag meme that has positive connotations for the handicapped and send it to me. This could be fun. Maybe I can come up with prizes for creative contributions. Regardless, this could be the beginning of a social movement that witnesses an outcry of creative energy by talented people who have difficulty overcoming the obstacles that are hidden from people who can hop out of bed running full tilt. By the way, I’ve come up with a possible #hashtag meme that might work: #FantastAbility. What do you think?

The gauntlet has been dropped. Do you accept the challenge? Please reply to this email with as many suggestions as you want, and challenge your friends as well. Let’s see if we can extend this conversation internationally. (Actually, when you send in your suggestions, include the name of your hometown city. We’ll see how far this request goes.) Let’s make the wheelchair a symbol of fun… or grace… or intelligence… or, dare I say it? Let’s make the wheelchair Sexy!

Jazz Poetry

The Dream Keeper

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers,
Bring me all of your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

by Langston Hughes
(1902 – 1967)
Jazz Etiquette 

There are few absolutes in life, but this is a definite one: do not stand in front of the bandstand playing air guitar, air trumpet, air bass, or air drums. This activity irritates the musicians. It is disrespectful to both musicians and fellow listeners. It also makes the air player look like... well, there's really no need to spell this one out. Please, save those air moves for the National Air Guitar Championships held annually in Las Vegas.

In today’s society, texting is as ubiquitous as sunshine is to day. Please, do not text while watching live jazz; if you're not into the performance, leave. Along the same line, turn off the cell phone. If you are so important that you cannot miss calls, perhaps you - and everyone else in the audience – would be better served if you did not go to hear live music. If you'd get upset watching somebody else do it then it's wrong for you, too.

Try not to get up and walk out in the middle of a song. It is rude, akin to walking away from someone who is speaking directly to you. Likewise, please refrain from talking during the music. No one came out to hear about your day. More often than not, other audience members came to hear the music.

Most jazz musicians and seasoned listeners will agree that it is acceptable to clap after the solos that each musician takes. However, it is a good idea to keep this applause to an enthusiastic minimum because the next musician usually has already well begun her solo. By the time the claps and cheers fade, the audience has missed a good section of the next solo. Be a good listener. Learn to notice the interaction amongst musicians on stage. An understanding of their communication with each other will help novice listeners, and those not familiar with the song, to learn when the song has ended. Clap, cheer, whistle, or shout, after the last notes of the song are played, not during.

The most important rule of etiquette when it comes to live jazz deals with the type of common sense your grandmother believes you possess: be respectful. Other than that, have fun. Jazz is inclusive and strongly embraces peaceful harmony. It is the type of music that demands active listening to maximize the musical experience to its most positive conclusion. If you have an uncontrollable urge to get aggressively plastered, go listen to a more kitsch musical performance. Hardly anyone there will notice.

Peace Through Music
It's A Quad Thing...
You Might Not Understand
Thwarting “The Man”

I am a bachelor. Never been married and have no children, but I have seven nephews. No nieces, which is a pity, but that’s the way it is, and as the personification of the word avuncular, I have been obliged to participate in family events that may not be conducive to what I define as enjoyable, but realizing the importance that family has been to me through my travails of life, I would rather support my family (even through events that can be best described as mundane) than to experience probably 97% of the things I experience when my brain is on pause, those times when I inexplicably watch an insipid movie that I know is a total waste of time or when I went to work for the man simply because it was expected of me, yet what could be more mundane than visiting a relative who has recently been in a serious automobile accident and is facing a lifetime of paralysis? Yes, I still have a sizable debit on my emotional account that I owe to family and friends for spending hours with me during the incipience of my major life-altering injury, times that would have been more enjoyable jumping shirtless onto a cactus.

Seven nephews, and this means seven high school graduations. That’s cool, especially since my siblings and their life partners have done a wonderful job raising their respective progeny into the young men they’ve become. But I have to admit that the last of my nephew’s graduations has been the most memorable; experiencing it on the beginning of Memorial Day weekend gives it a feel of manifest destiny... although, I promise that I didn’t abuse the indigenous native American; instead, I garnered a minor victory against the man .

Life’s journey is a capricious surprise, but every now and then, I still experience a set of events so unintentionally whimsical that even in retrospect I find them unbelievable, a series of circumstances that become serious comic fodder, moments that draw me into a reverie not unlike Gilda Radner’s comic character Rosanne Rosanna Danna when she realizes that her rant against some nonexistent villain is unwarranted, and she says, “It just goes to show you: if it’s not one thing it’s another...” Either I’m going to the graduation of my youngest nephew or I’m about to unknowingly embark on a battle of wits with an unarmed pasty white man whose image of himself is far more positively exaggerated than his nescient manifestation warrants.

The graduation was held in a grandiose church called Free Chapel, which is ironic because, as my brother-in-law informed me, tithing is not only mandatory, but one may only become a member of this sect, uh... I mean church... uh... one can only become a member of the institution after giving the hierarchy access to one’s financial information and allowing one’s account to be automatically deducted. (Incidentally, there’s a Starbucks coffee shop in the main lobby... caffeine for the deity of your choice.)

Free Chapel... makes me giggle.

Of course, this was the second time that I entered into this cathedral to the American dollar. My nephew’s older brother had graduated about five years earlier. Other than the sheer ostentation of the building and it’s immaculate surrounding acreage, the one thing I remember of my previous visit was the valedictorian’s speech. She was an adorable blonde-haired, blue-eyed young woman, destined for Harvard, and her speech reeked of hubris the like of Mrs. Habersham. The most tragic event in this young person’s life was when her ballet shoes faded into nonexistence. Of course, I was in tears for weeks, but after watching a month’s worth of Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Phil, I ecstatically threw off the yoke of superfluous emotion and resumed my life of relative normalcy. Admittedly, I don’t remember much of my first visit to the Free Chapel... well other than it’s sheer grandiosity, but, for whatever reason, I remember more of my second visit.

We drove by the stone-engraved monument that proudly displays the name of the corporation, uh... I mean, church, uh... I mean, well... we passed the monumental sign designating the building’s oxymoronic appellation and through many acres of land spreading hundreds of yards radially from the main entrance, myriad parking lots dotting the manicured landscape. I was told, again by my brother-in-law, that the institution has quite a few tram carts used to transport passengers from the distant parking lots to the front entrance.

I have a valid handicap-parking placard, so my parents and I were guided to the area of one of the parking lots reserved for individuals with physical handicaps. The parking spaces were beautifully marked; the iconic handicap symbol looked as if it had been recently painted; it almost glowed with artistic perfection. But the handicap parking spaces were the same size as every other parking spot; there were no marked off sections for vehicles with side lifts. The entire front row was designated for handicap parking, but the parking lot hovered about five feet above the sidewalk that ran parallel to the main vehicular thoroughfare that separated the parking lot from the building’s main entrance. There was, however, a few ramps that led to stairs that descended to the sidewalk. I had to travel the length of the parking lot to cross the main thoroughfare, dodging the cruising curbside crawl of vehicles desperate to find a reasonable parking space in all the chaos.

Navigating my wheelchair through a mass of disinterested humanity is an unpleasant side-effect of being wheelchair-bound that is not exclusive to my particular story; I’m more than positive that few wheelchair-confined people dig large crowds, but I weaved an indirect path through the front door when a student ushered me into the arena. It was huge; at least a half-dozen 747 jet airplanes could easily park inside, and I was seated next to the sound booth, the area where a handful of technicians controlled the impressive audio and video equipment. The stage shone like neon angels about three hundred feet in front of me, behind me was another massive section for additional arena-style seating. Cameras were everywhere, recording and transmitting the sounds and images onto two massive high definition screens that overtly displayed the ceremony on both sides of the stage. I was ready to experience the visceral excitement of a Broadway show on steroids.

Out of nowhere, a middle-aged man sauntered beside me and told me that I had to move.

“Who are you?” I asked. “I’m the man telling you that you need to move.”

I am not a fan of hubris, so I ignored him, but he kept insisting that I move.

“I don’t even know who you are,” I said.

“And I don’t know you,” he replied.

I almost called him Captain Obvious, but I turned away when he finally said that I was a fire hazard and that if I didn’t move, he’d get the fire marshal who would make me move.

“Fine,” I said. “Go get him, and I’ll move.”

“Sir,” he began to plead. “Don’t act this way. You’re in violation of the fire code, and you need to move.”

“What about that dude over there?”

Not ten feet from me, on the other side of the aisle that ran perpendicular to the aisle I was on sat another man in a wheelchair.

“He’s not in the aisle.”

I glared at him.

“... uh, he’s not in the main aisle.”

He was visibly flustered, which made me smile, and he then repeated that he’d go get the fire marshal.

“Go for it, man. I don’t know who the hell you are, but I can see the credentials of the fire marshal. Besides, I think the fire codes are ridiculous. If there is a fire, I would like to get out, too. Besides, my family is right behind me. I would like to enjoy this graduation with them.”

My other nephew, the one who graduated about five years ago, was sitting next to me, athwart, and he tried to reason with the l’il man, but I interjected, telling my nephew that I had control of the situation. I looked at the Lilliputian puppet boy and said rather staidly, “Do you not sense my insouciance, my indifference to your insistence that I move?”

His reply is classic. “I see that you’re in a wheelchair, and I’m sorry about that.”

I almost laughed aloud, but said instead, “You really might want to go look up some words in a dictionary.”

I was amazed at his expert use of the non-sequitur, which I’m sure he misinterpreted as rapier wit, but he finally told me that he was the floor manager of the building, which, of course, didn’t impress me at all. Had he begun by telling me who he was and had been more polite, I’m pretty sure I would have acquiesced.

He slowly walked away.

About a half-hour later, a young man from the deputy sheriff’s office walked up to me, and we began a whispered conversation. To make a long story less lengthy, he was a very likeable dude. I admire and respect what he had to do and how he approached the situation, smiling, lightly laughing, not causing a scene while effectively communicating his obvious position. Again, I would have gladly acquiesced to his desires, but it had long before stopped being about me, personally, and became about the people I, for better or worse, have come to represent. I told the officer that I respected him and his duties but that I was willing to take it to the most extreme measures regardless of what those measures might be. “Besides,” I said. “I’ll be out of your hair in two to three hours.”

After I few minutes, he calmly said that he’d return, but he walked away, and I never saw him again. I’d like to think that the officer’s supervisor saw the insipidity of the floor manager’s self-proclaimed superiority, and told him to let it rest. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the manager afterward, but I imagine he was throwing a temper tantrum in the cry room.

I would like to be strong enough to apologize for my actions (or, more specifically, my lack of action), but I am not that strong. I would have been the better man had I done what was expected of me, but, again, I abhor hypocrisy, and if I ever get another opportunity to squander Pecksniffian indifference, especially from unjustifiably arrogant people (supremacists) who believe that their social privilege is morally or intellectually deserved, than I hope I am equal to the task of taking him down in a verbal conflict.

Let’s face it. I won. I beat the man ... in his own house!

Peace Through Music
May 28, 2014
Interesting Blogs and Websites by Interesting People

  • A Blog by Dallas Smith
  • A Blog by Susan E. Mazer
  • Collaborating since 1984, Susan E. Mazer and Dallas Smith create some of the finest contemporary instrumental music available. Our compositions for harp and woodwinds merge the aesthetics of jazz, classical, and world music into an experience that feeds both the intellect and spirit. Extending beyond the boundaries of genre, our unique sound has a richness in melody, rhythm and sonority. Visit their website by clicking here.
  • Now available in more than 750 healthcare facilities in the U.S. and Asia, The C.A.R.E. Channel’s stunning nature video and original instrumental music provide a therapeutic tool for use at the patient bedside, waiting areas, and public spaces in acute care hospitals, residential care facilities, hospice/palliative care units, cancer centers, children’s hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • The Rude Pundit - Proudly lowering the level of political discourse.
  • Randy Hoexter is a jazz pianist, composer and educator living in Atlanta. He is currently the Director of Education at the Atlanta Institute of Music. His recent release, “Fromage” Featuring bassist Jimmy Haslip, Drummer Dave Weckl, and the finest of Atlanta jazz musicians has been receiving rave reviews. His previous recording “Radiant” with Mike Stern, Dave Weckl and more, also received critical acclaim. Fo' mo' info, click here.
  • Jimmy Haslip  World-renowned bassist
  • Sam Skelton  Saxophone/woodwind virtuoso and educator
  • Trey Wright  Gifted guitarist and composer
  • Kit Chatham  Brilliant percussionist and drummer
  • Carl Culpepper Virtuoso guitarist and educator
  • Jazz Evangelist Great jazz blog and reviews.
  • Wonderful freelance writer CandiceDyer
Weekly Area Jams
Eighth and Rail
Every Tuesday 7 - 10 pm CT
The Eighth and Rail in historical downtown Opelika, Alabama is the venue for a wildly groovy weekly jazz jam as hosted by the Jane Drake Jazz Band. It's a cozy celebration of life that has become a buzzing collection of jazz-loving fanatics gathered together in a coterie of peaceful, fun-loving positive energy. I am downright proud as a peacock with enhanced LED-flashing feathers to participate in the jam on a regular basis, and I really love it! Proprietor Mike Patterson makes the wonderful sushi and Miss Tiffany keeps the affable atmosphere at a lovely level of emotive satisfaction. Plus... they serve an awesome cheesecake that'll make you wanna slap yourself so hard as to tell horrific knock-knock jokes to mimes. No lie. We have really talented musicians come in from the bi-state area: Auburn, Montgomery, Tuskegee, Columbus, LaGrange, Fort Valley, et al. The jam begins at 7 pm and ends at 10 pm CT. Hopefully, I'll see you there.

Eighth and Rail
Venkman's Jazz Jam
Every Tuesday starting at 8 pm ET
Venkman's is a nightclub in Atlanta, a venue that Joe Gransden uses for his weekly jazz jam. This is where the Who's Who of the Atlanta Jazz Scene come together to dazzle us mortals. It's free and starts at 8 pm ET. Fo' mo' info, click link below. I've participated in this jam a couple of times, and I love it as well. Joe Gransden always welcomes me with a smile that will melt antarctic glaciers in the middle of winter, which, oddly enough, is during June through August... when it's so hot and humid in middle Georgia that my toenails sweat. Nevertheless, Joe's band often includes keyboardist Kenny Banks (sometimes Kevin Bales), drummer Chris Burroughs and bassist Craig Shaw, and these cats kick it. When I find the transportation, I'm going.

Red Light Cafe Jazz Jam
Every Wed at 8 pm ET

I have not been to the weekly jazz jam at Red Light Cafe, but it is hosted by the Gordon Vernick Quartet, and I am a huge fan of Gordon's, so I'm planning to go soon, and when I do... Ha! I'm very likely to get excited. Fo' mo' info, click here.
Apache Cafe in Atlanta
Every Wed at 9:00 ET

Al Smith's Midtown Jam Session @Apache Cafe!  Contemporary Jazz , Soul, R&B vocalists jam Session. Featuring live band led by keyboardist Al Smith! Vocalists are invited to sign the list and jam with the band, musicians can sit in too... a must attend! Different Dj spinning on the back patio each week! SPECIAL GUEST HOST EVERY WEEK! Doors open at 9pm and list-sign up is at 9pm. Event admission, the day of, at the door, is CASH. Fo' mo' info, click here.
Brin's Wings in Montgomery
Every Wed from 6 to 9:00 CT

Brins Wings in Montgomery presents Coleman Woodson Jr. Jazz Jam from 6-9 CDT. No cover. Fo' mo' info, click here.
La Salle Bleu Piano Bar in Montgomery
Every Wed from 6 to 9:00 CT

Jazz jam La Salle Bleu Piano Bar, 9 until, no cover. Fo' mo' info, click here.
The Suite in Columbus, GA
Every Thursday at 9:00-11:30 ET

Thursday, January 11 from 9-11:30 p, EDT Live Jazz - Big Saxy Thursday, The Chemistry Project Band starting at 9 pm at The Suite Bar and Grill.
Irish Bred Pub in Montgomery
Every Sun at 9:30-12:30 CT

Third Thursday jazz jam session at the Irish Bred Pub Montgomery, 78 Dexter Ave, Montgomery, Alabama 36104, Corner of Dexter Ave and Perry St, 3 blocks from Capitol. Fo' mo' info, click here.
1048 Club in Montgomery
Every Sun at 9:30-12:30 CT

The 1048 Cafe is in Montgomery, AL. The weekly Jazz Jam led by Sam Williams, 9 pm CDT, $5 cover. I don't really know that much about it, but the 1048 has a jazz jam every Sunday from 9ish 'til whenever. Apparently the jam draws some incredible musicians. Fo' mo' info, click here.
The Suite in Columbus, GA
Every Sun from 6:00-11:30 ET

Michael Johnson and the Silent Threat Band plays at The Suite in Columbus, GA from 6-11:30 pm ET at The Suite Bar & Grill, 5300 Sidney Simons Blvd. Fo' mo' info 'bout the band, click here.
Piccolo's Lounge, Auburn

It's not a jam, but the Piccolo lounge offers a comfortable, clubby environment. Leather club chairs, a cozy fireplace and comfy banquettes serve as a relaxing getaway. Enjoy a single malt scotch and relax and unwind from a hectic day or meet friends to hear live jazz every Friday and Saturday night, of non-home football game weekends. Fo' mo' info, click here.
A Little Lunch Music
at Jule Collins Smith Museum, Auburn University
On Thursdays at Noon, make a lunch date with our region’s finest musicians. A Little Lunch Music is an informal, come-and-go performance presented by JCSM and coordinated by musician Patrick McCurry . You can sit in and listen to the entire performance, dine in the Museum Cafe from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT, browse the Museum Shop or explore the galleries.
For more info, click here.

  • February 15 - pianist Vadim Sarabryany
  • February 22 - TBA
  • March 01 - guitarist Luther Enloe
  • March 08 - soprano Patty Holley
  • March 15 - no concert - Spring Break
  • March 22 - pianist Lawrence Quinnett
  • March 29 - Wolf and Clover
  • April 05 - soprano Noemi de Silva with pianist Beibeilin
  • April 12 - mezzo-soprano Janet Hopkins
  • April 19 - David Banks Gospel Jazz Experience
  • April 26 - Duo Echo
  • May 03 - TBA
  • May 10 - TBA
  • May17 - euphonium artist Marie Robertson
Video of the Week

Here's a taste of Kevin Vannoy who will featured this week for Friday Evening Jazz at The Loft's weekly concert series. Check it out.
Jazz Association of Macon
We Promote Jazz in Macon
and Middle Georgia
Our purpose is to:

Encourage and support creation, presentation, and preservation of jazz music.
Support the creation of new audiences for jazz music.
Provide education and information about jazz.
Encourage young musicians to learn and appreciate jazz.
Develop a network among local and regional jazz advocates.
Increase awareness of jazz events and musicians in our community.

To read their blog, click here .
Area Musicians
Actually, this is a link to a page of my personal website, but it makes it much easier t maintain. It is a dynamic list of area musicians that will, hopefully, be continually updated until I can no longer do it. If you are a musician who is not listed or you are listed but with invalid info, please let me know, and I'll make the appropriate revisions. Thank you, and click here to visit the link.
High Museum of Art: Atlanta Jazz
Live jazz in the Robinson Atrium at the Atlanta High Museum of Art every 3rd Friday of the month. Fo' mo' info, click here .
On-line Radio
  • WCUG 88.5 Cougar Radio - Columbus State University.
  • KUNR 88.7 Reno, Nevada.
  • KNCJ 89.5 Reno, Nevado.
  • Saturday Night Jazz hosted by Scot Marshall and Dallas Smith (Columbus, GA native) - Scot and Dallas bring their rich musical experiences together in "Saturday Night Jazz" to feature music which ranges from the latest releases to jazz classics and occasional recordings by local artists, as well as announcements of upcoming local jazz events in the Reno-Tahoe area. "Saturday Night Jazz" is supported by the Reno Jazz Orchestra and For the Love of Jazz. Dallas' program airs on KUNR ( from 10pm-12am PST/1am-3am EST. The 9pm-1pm EST broadcast is on KNCJ (streaming via the kunr.orgwebsite).
  • WCLK 99.1 Atlanta's Jazz Station, Clark Atlanta University.
  • Adore Jazz - Adore Jazz makes listeners relax, feel, think and smile through listening to the finest vocal jazz.
  • WTSU 88.9 Troy State University - Ray Murray's Jazz Radio Show Saturday nights at 10 pm Central Time.
  • WVAS 90.7 Montgomery - Jazz, Blues, News, and views.
Favorite Tweet of the Week

If you’re still a Trump supporter, then you may have become nihilistic to the point of fain accepting the dysfunction that currently abounds, the anti-government, pro-corporate Libertarianism of phantasmagoric anarchy. May I suggest that you look deep within the most distant addresses of your visceral distress to discover the veracious source of your deep-seated anger… at everything?
Jazz Matters @ The Wren's Project
Preserving a musical culture, tradition & Art Form
Jazz Matters , Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that believes Jazz Matters, because music matters.  Jazz is America's only original art form and this national treasure was created by African Americans.

It is our vision to Preserve a Musical Culture, Tradition & Art Form by:
  • educating & developing new audiences;
  • inspiring new Jazz artists; and
  • providing a forum for artists to perform and perfect their craft

Peace Through Music

Thus brings to a close another jazzonian composition. I apologize if it seems a bit lackluster, but the catalyst for the slight deviation from my customary written whimsy—which is, after all, a simple yet bombastic reaction against the ubiquitous rhetorical platitudes that sate quotidian bromidic expectations diurnally chronicled for dilettantes with more braggadocio than mental acuity—is probably far less intriguing than you might expect:

I write most of the newsletter in my bedroom before fenestration that reveals temperate climatic moderation symbolized by the Japanese Red Maple tree whose skeletal manifestation confirms the current brumal veracity; although, the pellucid sunshine that gently massages the still drab lawn belies anticipated hiemal conditions with the desperate yearning for the vernal reality that budding leaves will very soon swathe the barren boughs with an emerald foliation. (I know the best words… believe me. Who knew that writing a weekly newsletter could be so difficult? Nobody!) §

Although I write most of this newsletter in my bedroom—before a window through which Nature performs her inimitable artistry and with music soothing auricular anxiety by inspiring my Muse who, in turn, inspires my proclivity for fustian verbosity—I generally journey to the Harris County public library to put the newsletter in its current digital format… the library’s computers are much more efficient than mine that is really nothing more than a word processor and dictionary. However, the library is moving.

Well, the library isn’t moving… but its books are… as are its wonderful book jockeys. (They are all wonderful people.) And it’ll take the entire month of March. Obviously, I’ll miss the community of librarian devotees, but my fear is that my slower-than-heck home computer may frustrate my obligation to myself (and the approximate fifty fans of this rag) to put out the best, non-award-winning newsletter in the history of jazzonian newsletters. I apologize beforehand for any and all instances of lackluster rhetoric, but I shall do my best to continue to earn the respect of you readers who actually dig the anecdotes of my life that I share as a quadriplegic vocalist trying to urge society to make all concert stages accessible along with my panegyrizing jazzonian lust.

Peace Through Music
§ Yes, I just gots to jab at the impotency of Donald J. Trump the Kleptocratic Moron because I don’t think he’ll be in the public’s eye much longer. Quite frankly, it’s hard for me to believe that he’s still the president of our nation.


If you can afford it, and you think this newsletter worthy, please send a $5, $10, or $20 check or money order to:

The Jazzinian FUN’d Drive
962 Washington Road
Hamilton, Georgia 31811

It ain’t that I’m a Luddite, it’s just that I don’t know how to add a donate button that auto-magically-electronically transfers funds into my banking account. Besides, “the man” always seems to have his too-large-to-fail hand reaching out, palm upwards, in anticipation of remuneration he doesn’t deserve, fees he assesses for banking services rendered electronically via a computer application written by an underpaid intern. I guess, in a sense, I am more like Ned Ludd, the English laborer who was supposed to have destroyed weaving machinery around 1779 because he felt that technology would destroy employment for the laborer, except that I won’t physically destroy anything… other than, perhaps, the practice of usury; I merely want the practice of charging interest on loans to die of entropy. So, I reckon that I am a Luddite in that I believe in moderation and that humanity thrives when the mind and body are engaged instead of when one uses her wit to absquatulate with unjustified and excessive wealth, especially when she’s done nothing to earn it.

I currently pay out $20/month to use Constant Contact to publish this weekly newsletter. Well, it’ll be $20/month after the $10/month introductory offer expires… soon. If I could, I’d earn the money by singing, but my options are limited to accessible stages, which are not very common at all, and there aren’t many stages exclusively for jazz. Jazz is only granted a small piece of the pie… but it’s my passion. Seems like my only concert options are The Loft in Columbus, GA and Eighth and Rail in Opelika, AL; although, in Opelika I use a portable ramp to get onstage; one does what one has to do. When I sing at Venkman’s jazz jam, the soundman brings the microphone to my table, but I’d love to be on stage. How else can I perfect my secondary ambition to be a standup comedian. Incidentally, I currently take a sleeping pill because one of the side effects is somnambulation, but I’m still waiting to awaken ambulating.

I also have ambitions to sing onstage with my friend Ted McVay whom I’ve known forty years. We have a unique sound that, I believe, can and will be appreciated by a wider audience. We harmonize really well together, and the songs he writes are creative, witty, poignant, and fun to sing. Once we get a bit o’ steam, we’re bound to be a formidable, creative musical energy, positive, peaceful, loving. I will then, hopefully, make enough dough to overpay the people I need to assist me in acts of daily living. My family has already done so much for me and need a break. Thirty-one years is an awful long burden… thirty-two this April 18. ‘Til then, if you are able to comfortably part ways with a few bucks, I sure could use it.
Social Media Experiment

In an ignorant attempt to exploit social media to expand my personal fan base, I've created this section to list hashtags and other metadata that might auto-magically give more access to the newsletter I write. Hope it works.

#Wheelchairistocracy #SouthernStrategy #HereWeAre #QuestForBest #GroovicusMaximus #FantastAbility #WheelChairistotle #SCI #Handicapplication #Impairistotle #MuscoviteMarionette #BlackLivesMatter #Wheelcherry #RudePundit #MakeStagesAccessible

@SSTJazzVocalist @frangelaDuo @JoeGransden @AtlantaMagazine @VenkmansATL @rudepundit @MalcolmNance @EricBoehlert @CharlesPPierce @StephMillerShow @JohnFugelsang @Thom_Hartmann @anniesellick @TheRealTBone @MyrnaClayton @torresalia @candicemdyer