[JPL] Happy Birthday Marcus Belgrave!

Lazaro Vega wblv.wblu.fm at gmail.com
Tue Jun 12 11:42:00 EDT 2007

Called Detroit today to wish trumpeter Marcus Belgrave a happy
birthday. He's in great spirits and good health. Said in April he and
his wife went down to New Orleans with his friend Charles Gabriel (a
New Orleans native who studied with Lorenzo Tio Jr.). He played with
Bob French, Herlin Riley, and was invited by the Louis Armstrong
Society to some events. Marcus said, "I visited the 9th Ward and of
course it devastated me."

His last appearance in Grand Rapids was with a nonet playing a
repertoire of Louis Armstrong's music (there's a CD of the band
recorded at the Capitol Theater in Windsor, Ontario in 2001 on WJS
Jazz Discs). Right before that he was here with Detroit guitarist A.
Spencer Barefield playing Spence's involved post-bop compositions.

Tonight, as we feature Marcus on Jazz From Blue Lake, there are little
known recordings we'll play with pianist Steve Sandner, the Scott
Gwinell Big Band, Earl Van Riper, Walter Booker, Jeff Haas and, of
course, the more well known appearances with McCoy Tyner, Ray Charles,
Fathead Newman, Hank Crawford and Marcus's cousin, baritone
saxophonist Cecil Payne.

"Well, that's my legacy; that's what I'll be remembered for: I play
with EVERYBODY," he laughs.

Marcus said his first recorded solo, from "Alexander's Ragtime Band"
on the great Ray Charles Atlantic date, "The Genius of Ray Charles,"
he didn't want to do. They passed out the music at rehearsal. He saw
his name on that, thought it was corny as hell (he's playing in clubs
and freelance record dates with Mingus, Dolphy and Max Roach at this
time) so he gave the part to Clark Terry. Rehearsal starts, they come
to the trumpet solo, and Terry starts to play. Charles whistles the
band to a halt, yells, "TRUMPET!!!!" Belgrave argued sheepishly,
relented, and was heard around the world playing that solo.

Had the good fortune of touring Europe with him in 1985 with the Blue
Lake Monster Big Band featuring a teen age James Carter and another
great Detroiter, pianist Harold McKinney, plus all of the Blue Lake
faculty players. Blue Lake's George West wrote a tune for him, "Marcus
Meets the Monster." Those tapes need to be baked before we can
transfer them to digital. In any case, Marcus Belgrave is a wonderful
musician -- a former protégé of Clifford Brown -- and teacher (during
last week's live broadcast with bassist Rodney Whitaker I mentioned
something to the effect that Rodney was taught by Marcus and Whitaker
laughed and said, "Marcus says that about all of us! He claims us
all!").  Marcus Belgrave tonight on Jazz From Blue Lake, 10 p.m. to 3
a.m. via www.bluelake.org.

Lazaro Vega
Blue Lake Public Radio
300 East Crystal Lake Road
Twin Lake MI 49457

WBLV FM 90.3 / WBLU FM 88.9

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