Blues and the Abstract Truth…
While, one of my fav tunes is from Oliver Nelson’s The Blues and the Abstract Truth album this is not about that =:o
Instead, I wanted to steal that title to talk about my own musical journey. ‘Cause I’m often asked; “Chocolate, how’d a white kid like you end up playing guitar in a funk band like Groove Therapy?”
Like many kids growing up in suburban America in the 1960s, I was exposed to some the popular music of the day, and Jazz music my dad liked and other audiophile(ish) recordings of light classics and film scores. But, my parents had a strict prohibition on listening to Country Music! No Country music in any form was allowed in the house. Ironic, in that country music was the music most close to our deep southern roots and was ubiquitous in the western panhandle of Florida (which used to be the capitol of West Florida that at one time extended all they way to New Orleans… Like usual, I’m digressing.)
Even though the Radio DJ “John R” was a distant relative, the ‘cornfield Blues music’ and Rhythm and Blues music on his on-air playlist was screened from my sister and I as kids. Unknowingly, we grew up hearing the blues and R& B as a faint echo carried across the Atlantic Ocean. . . a compelling call in the form of popular music from the British Invasion reverberating with the harmonic progressions, blues notes and a back-beats borrowed from the delta blues performers from the prior generation. AND, those British guys (and gals) do what artists always do: they absorbed, imitated and altered – in a good way – that’s back when plagiarism was still referred to as influence. 😉
Crazy, that a rock & roll lovin’ kid would continue to discover American music – off the traditional playlists and end up circling back to the Jazz music that my dad loved.
After earning a couple of degrees in music (all the while playing a lot of Jazz along the way) I discovered that there IS A REASON why “they” call it The MUSIC BUSINESS (something they didn’t teach in music schools at the time). Yet, prevailing music business at the time favored playing popular music over Jazz.
The glittering jewel is discovering that I was certainly drawn more to the complex rhythms found in American Funk music – and was harmonically drawn to the expanded chord palette found in American Gospel Music – than to the folk, rock and har rock of my fellow schoolmates. While we were all guilty accessories in the commission of this live called music, I found my preference to be the American Soul Book rather than the traditional American Song Book.