Be of Good Cheer
“A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.”
~ Sir Walter Scott
This is the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra playing at Founders Brewing on December 4th of this year. Michigan is blessed to have a couple of working old-school big bands. We are also blessed with some excellent nationally known craft breweries.
As a bass player married to a Jazz Director I know most of the musicians on that stage. At the height of the Big Band Era every town had it’s own dance/swing band and every big city could boast several excellent jazz orchestras. Styles come and styles go. The era of the Big Band is past, goodness, no one can afford to pay this many top notch musicians, and on this night these guys were making diddly, mere gas money. They are primarily Jazz Educators, many doctorates in this group, but all excellent professional musicians that may play Country Western one night, the Grand Rapids Ballet on another and some may even sit in on a Rock gig or a Burlesque show on the weekend but they ALL live for Jazz.
Oh God, it is such a thrill to sit in front of a screaming horn line and let the overtones have their way with you as they bathe you in sound. The very bar, tables, and floor sing.
I seem to be doing a sort of Advent. It was not my planned intention. Life is hard and I am posting things from West Michigan, and the Great Lakes area, that interest me and bring me cheer. May they do the same for you. Enjoy!
On this night I was having my favorite beer, a ‘Backwoods Bastard’ which is their ‘Dirty Bastard’ that has been aged in a used whisky barrel. It is rich, complex, dark and really All. That. In the past five years craft brewing has exploded in West Michigan with tasty breweries opening everywhere. Founders, in Grand Rapids, is one of the oldest, largest and best.