TRUE LOVE IS TRUE MUSIC.
Yesterday's memorial (1/28/16) for the late musical visionary and community hero Bobby Hutcherson was easily one of the most profound moments in my recent adult life. It was profound primarily because, on the eve of the memorial, I was asked by my brother Teddy Hutcherson (Bobby's youngest son and heir), to speak on behalf of the entire Hutcherson family to a deliver a message of gratitude to those in attendance.
To have been asked not only by the son of someone so vitally important to our culture, but also someone so closely bound to me and by our shared births into this music, was one of the most proud and redemptive moments of my journey as Woody Shaw's son.
Teddy and I were born one year apart, and our births marked a revitalizing moment in the lives of our fathers that strengthened their already deeply loyal and affectionate musical friendship.
As many of you know, Bobby and Woody were two of the greatest musicians that ever graced this earth, and their collaborations together set a new precedent in the history of duos between leading musicians of their respective instruments.
Dare I say, never before in history has there been a vibraphone-trumpet duo as innovative, musically, but even more importantly - so closely bound at the hip in their philosophy about the importance of music as a spiritual pursuit and a deep humanitarian undertaking and cause to better the world condition.
And yet, while the honor of being asked to speak to represent my brother, my Uncle Bobby, my father and all of the people closely connected to us, what was also profound was that, upon finishing the brief talk, I discovered that one of my most revered musical heroes (and one of the greatest heroes of both Bobby and Woody) was seated right in the front row beneath the podium where I spoke.
Come to find out, the Master, the HIGH PRIEST - McCoy Tyner - had been seated there the entire time listening with his beautiful family consisting of his Son and wife Aisha. Upon approaching them to greet them, I was confronted with the most genuine and emotional response of both tearful mourning and deeply soulful embrace and acknowledgment. Mourning of the loss of someone clearly very special to them and perhaps one of the last of an ilk of musicians that once graced this earth, and an acknowledgement of a common bond that perhaps very few of us share through the personal connections of our families in this music.
I was mystified. Edified. And fortified by knowing that I had been able to deliver this special message from the Hutchersons to the people who truly needed and deserved to hear it. It was a moment that could not have been planned, as it was literally a last minute intervention that spawned from the spontaneity that only true feelings can produce.
I believe yesterday I came to grasp a new level of understanding of what it means to be a TRUE LEADER and an INDIVIDUAL - through the stark realization that, in order to live a life of inspiration that is worth remembering, you MUST be willing to EXPRESS YOUR OWN TRUTH, to be AUTHENTIC in your actions and expressions, to TAKE RISKS, and to be willing to PUT YOURSELF ON THE LINE.
Bobby, Woody, and McCoy exemplify the highest levels of personal and artistic integrity as far as I am concerned and the shared "presence" and commemoration of their union during that brief moment that I was there yesterday was a highly important point for me personally. I intend to do whatever is necessary to ensure that their musical and spiritual message continues to be heard throughout the world for generations to come - and with a quality of familial love and tribal integrity that we seldom, if ever, experience in the jazz world today.
I walked away from the memorial feeling as though I had communed with my elders on a level that was ritualistic. I was able to see through the fog of deception created by this system that puts money, fame, name and politics before humanity, family, community and human connection - and to re-realize how vitally important it is to DO THE RIGHT THING for the RIGHT REASON.
What made the entire event most auspicious for me, aside from having taken place on the Chinese New Year as we enter the Year of the Rooster (I dig that, personally) - was the fact that this event had taken place at St. Peter's Church in NYC - the same Church where I was "christened" by Reverend Gensel (the legendary "jazz priest" of Nuyorican descent) alongside my Mother, Maxine Gordon, and my Godfather, Max Gordon, famed founder of the Village Vanguard, in 1978. Some things you simply cannot plan out.
The experience of standing in the very church where I had been "blessed" as a child upon entering this music with my family, now commemorating someone so close to us and important to our lives, was beyond anything any photo-op, selfie, editorial write-up, or these written words, could ever express. To me, it was the kind of moment that epitomized what the music is all about.
Thank you, my Brother Teddy, and Todd Barkan, for honoring Bobby with so much warmth and authenticity, and for ensuring that people remember just how beautiful a Man and Musician he truly was.
True Love Is True Music: Dedicated to Bobby Hutcherson and Woody Shaw (by Woody Shaw III)Published on
by Woody Shaw III
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- True Love Is True Music: Dedicated to Bobby Hutcherson and Woody Shaw (by Woody Shaw III)
- Landmark Woody Shaw tribute receives 2017 Grammy Nomination ("Madera Latino" by Brian Lynch)
- The Woody Shaw Institute and Documentary Founders Group
- Victor Lewis to receive Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln
- Rare Cut: Woody Shaw & Archie Shepp (1976)
- Three New Woody Shaw Projects Submitted for Grammy® Nominations, Forty Years Later (2016)
- Woody Shaw Interview: "We Are Linked to A Legacy" (Downbeat 1983)
- Listen: Woody Shaw & Bobby Hutcherson: Live in Tokyo (1981)
- New York Times Review: Beethoven to Woody Shaw (1976)
- Cadence Magazine Review (2012) — Woody Plays Woody (Reissue/Compilation)
- New York Times Review: "Woody Shaw is the reigning trumpet king" (1977)
- Woody Shaw on the influence of Eric Dolphy
- Larry Young & Woody Shaw: From Newark to Paris (Woody Shaw III Liner Notes)
- The Eric Dolphy Interview (Leonard Feather, 1960s)