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Michigan Tour Diary — Day 11 

Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR
Michigan Tour Diary — Day 11
April 19-21 Kalamazoo, Potterville, Traverse City, Hillsdale

On Saturday Sassy and I checked into the 'Billy Hart Suite' at the home of Tom and Renata Knific in Kalamazoo,
a distinctly modern two-story house with soaring cathedral ceilings,
clerestory windows and musical instruments in every room.

We had a wonderful time visiting with the Knifics, two very well-traveled and respected musicians
who also happen to be warm, soulful people, sharing stories around their table
and playing with their beautiful Weimaraner Lara.

Tom, a world class bassist and educator who chairs the jazz department at Western Michigan University,
is a very important person to me. 30 years ago he was my teacher at Interlochen Arts Academy
and one of the first people to take my jazz aspirations seriously.
When I say that Interlochen changed my life,
I'm talking about Tom Knific.

We've stayed in touch over the years and have run into one another from time to time at industry events,
but this week was our first opportunity to work together. For me it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

The Union Cabaret & Grille is a beautiful venue, a joint venture between
a visionary group of investors and the WMU music department.
We had a magical night. The band (featuring Corey Kendrick, Marcus Elliot and Sean Dobbins)
was in fine form, playing with heart and finesse. WMU jazz bought us all dinner,
and Tom presided over everything --- the Jazz Mayor of Kalamazoo!

On Easter Sunday we visited Lela Horton and her husband Bill in Potterville.
Lela made us a late breakfast of biscuits and gravy. It was interesting to meet Bill,
to see where they live, and find out what it's like to enjoy a home cooked meal
prepared by my own mother (not bad).

Monday was another big driving day for Sassy.
At 7 AM (zero hour) I gave a master class at Traverse City West High School.
At 7 PM I did the same at Hillsdale College, 250 miles south.

Just another day at the office.

Michigan Tour Diary — Day 8 

Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR
Michigan Tour Diary — Day 8
April 18 Interlochen

Today I returned to Interlochen Arts Academy for the first time in 30 years.

When I first came to Interlochen as a high school student in the mid-1980s, I loved it instantly.
It seemed to me a magical place populated by social misfits and eccentrics,
kids who, like me, were passionate about art and music.

Interlochen changed my life.
For the first time I was surrounded by creative people my own age.
Interlochen was where I learned the discipline required to build a life in the arts,
and where I learned how rewarding an artist’s life can be.

Jazz was still something of a novelty at the academy back then.
It's gratifying to see how much the school, and in particular the jazz program,
has grown since those days.

Heartfelt thanks to my friend Bill Sears, director of jazz studies,
for inviting me to come and spend the afternoon with his improv and combo classes.

Bill is a phenomenally gifted musician and educator.
His students are serious and dedicated.
Several of them already play like pros.

It was a giant joy for me to sit-in with them,
present a workshop, and share some of my experiences
as an IAA alumnus and working musician.

On a more personal note, coming back to Interlochen after all these years was soul-stirring.
To spend the night in the campus hotel, dine in the cafeteria with the students,
sit by the lake, stroll the grounds, see my old haunts,
and share it all with Sassy, filled my heart with joy.

Michigan Tour Diary — Day 2 

Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR
Michigan Tour Diary — Day 2
April 11 Traverse City, MI

After a four-hour flight to Detroit and a four-hour drive north through mist and fog,
dodging deer along the way, we've arrived in Traverse City.

TC is a small town (only 15,000 residents) but is the largest city in Northern Michigan, and something of a tourist destination. Situated on Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse is the self-proclaimed Cherry Capital of the US, and also produces wine grapes. Vacationing midwesterners come here for the freshwater beaches, vineyards, hiking and skiing.

Surprisingly, they're here now. Our hotel is full up with families, which seems odd, because it's so cold outside, with ice and snow piled up along the roadside. Why vacation now? Is it spring break? So many kids.

I hope a few of the older folks come to hear us tonight. It's always a white knuckle ride, arriving in a new place, wondering if anyone knows or cares that you're in town. You send announcements to traditional and social media, maybe do a couple of radio interviews, then it's out of your hands, entirely up to the Fates.

This morning at breakfast I perused the local paper, searching vainly for a photo listing or any mention at all.
Nope! No arts coverage. Just sports, real estate, gossip and TV listings.

Will they come?

Hope so! Regardless, I'm looking forward to the experience.

Traverse City holds much nostalgia for me.

30 years ago, when I was a teenager at Interlochen, we would come here on semi-chaperoned weekend bus trips to stroll around the shops, go to the movies and hang out away from campus.

I held hands with my high school crush here.

I also played my first ever paid gig in this town, a private party at the Maritime Hall.

Our little jazz quintet only knew six tunes from memory.

We played them all twice and made $50 each.

Look Again 

I've learned a lot from my years of watching Saturday morning cartoons.

For example, you think you know someone.

You think you know what their strengths and weaknesses are.
You think you know their character.
You think you know what they're capable of.

You get to know someone a little...a first impression.
You form an opinion about them and you carry it around with you for years.

You think you know all about that person—but you're dead wrong.

You don't know them at all.

You only saw what you wanted to see.
You only saw what you were ready to see.
And you only know what they wanted to show you.

First impressions are incomplete and quickly out of date.

To really know someone, you must update your perceptions of them continually.

Because people change. They evolve.
They experience pain and gain and loss and transformation.

As they're tested by the vicissitudes of life, they develop new powers and capabilities.

If you really want to see someone as they ARE, keep an open mind,
and take another look.

Christmas List 



Dear Santa,

As you know, Christmas Day is also my birthday. 

 

This year, I've been a very good boy and a hard working dog.

 

Please bring me anything from this list:

 

  • CD: Grand River Crossings by Geri Allen
  • Book: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • DVD: Johnny Staccato
  • Large black Rudy Vallee-style megaphone
  • Autographed Nicholas Payton pocket square
  • Medjool dates grown in Dateland AZ
  • Custom personal cologne designed by David Carlos Valdez
  • Working replica of the Mystic Seer
  • Hat like the one Mark Gross wears on the cover of Blackside
  • Property taxes windfall
  • Chili and lime saladitos

 

Thank you!

 

Love,

 

Dmitri

Happy Halloween 

The results of tonight's pageant at our front door: 1 Joker, 5 Skeletons, 1 Iron Man, 2 Scream Ghosts, 1 Kitty Cat, 1 Batman, 1 Hulk, 2 Ballerinas, 1 Priest, 2 Witches, 1 Chef, 1 Floating Eyeball, 1 R&B Singer, 2 Wizards, 1 Rocker Girl In Rainbow Fur, 4 Princesses, 3 Grim Reapers (1 with Jack-O-Lantern Head, 1 with Mirror Face, 1 with Pink Fright Wig), 2 Go-Go Dancers, 2 Pirates, 1 Unicorn, 1 Darth Vader, 1 Train Conductor, 1 Army Man, 1 Superman.

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