This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

May 15, 2009

Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Old School Friday

Filed under: Old School Friday, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 11:06 am

The theme for today’s Old School Friday is “the Greatest of All Time.” As usual, the creators of this meme have purposefully left open interpretation of the theme—and a look around the OSF participants reveals the usual high degree of creativity folks came up with in applying their own lenses.

I think I will do something a little different. I will focus on the greatest art form ever created by the young country we call the United States of America. That art form is jazz music. I know this heres a fightin’ words kind of topic among jazz fans, but I think that—hands down—the greatest jazz album of all time is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

Listen to the whole album here on

I’d really, however, like to dedicate this OSF to all those jazz musicians who are not well known. All those people who play on street corners or in subway stations…who gig in small neighborhood clubs and at the zoo’s “jamming with the animals” programs…who learn brass and percussion and improvisation in high school jazz band.

When I was growing up, everything “extra” I ever got was because of my mother’s jazz gigs that she got in addition to her full time teaching or other jobs. My private telephone, my prom dress, my summer leadership camp—my own saxophone for jazz band. All thanks to the tips she got in her “kitty jar”—an extra large brandy snifter that sat atop her piano and that she primed with a couple of bucks of her own to cue folks in to what they were supposed to do. She was only continuing the tradition of her own mother, who had a regular full time gig for much of her adult life.

Some of my favorite memories of my mother, and the true mark that I had reached adulthood, was when I would come home from college and go out to jazz clubs with her. There is a tradition in the community of jazz musicians that when you have a gig, you invite fellow jazz musicians who are in your audience to sit in with you for a tune or two. To snub a colleague was to risk not getting a recommendation from them in the future, or an opportunity to sub for them, or certainly the chance to be asked to sit in with them in return. It was always quite incredible to listen to her perform with these musicians. She became someone else on stage, and for a time, took me with her.

My mother’s name would not be known to you. Unless you happen to be one of her thousands of former students or unless you happen to be familiar with the Indianapolis community jazz scene of the 70s and 80s. But the next time you are having drinks in a bar and you see the vocalist or trio performing on the small stage up front, or are waiting on the 5:12 to take you home and you see the brother blowing “Satin Doll” on his horn, please drop a five or ten into the kitty jar or open saxophone case for my Moms. And know that you are helping to continue the greatest music of our, and possibly all, time.

Happy Old School Friday!


As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at (her new place) Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine. Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.



  1. EXCELLENT CHOICE because Jazz belongs to America and it’s just plain great so you’re right – The Greatest.

    I’ve been in a snarky mood lately and you know I always mess with Marva so I aimed it right at our fearless leader: The Greatest? I’m gonna get you now MsMah-ve-lus, muhahahahaha!

    Happy OSF and hope it’s The Greatest Friday for ya!

    Comment by popartdivatv — May 15, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  2. Mama Scribe and Grandmother Scribe were jazz musicians?! – WOW. I’m inspired to do what I love.

    Jazz is by far my favorite genre of music. It grabs my mood and takes me on a journey.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ll enjoy Kind of Blue today.

    Comment by Hagar's Daughter — May 15, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  3. A great and classy choice. I am impressed! Absolutely drop sumpin’ in the jar. Jazz musicians are the most talented and least appreciated of the public performers and artists. That means that you are a musician as well, yes?

    Comment by revvy rev — May 15, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  4. Nice take on the subject. It’s good to have some Miles Davis on OSF.

    Comment by sHaE-sHaE — May 15, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  5. Thanks, everyone, for dropping by my OSF!

    Yes, HD—both Mamma and my late Grandma were jazz musicians. Actually, my mother has retired from the public school system but still plays a regular gig at a restaurant.

    And Rev, let’s just say that my prior musical training has made me appreciate music even more—but I would hardly call myself a “musician.” The last time I tried to play my sax I darn near had a blood vessel pop in my brain from the effort at blowing! LOL

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

    Comment by pprscribe — May 15, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

  6. So, you’re of Jazz lineage, huh? No wonder you’re so smart and cool. 🙂

    Miles is one of the greatest, I have several of his albums, but I play Kind of Blue mostly.

    And you won’t get any argument from me that jazz is the GOAT. I’m saddened that while jazz was born in the African American community, it’s lost some of its popularity among young African Americans.

    Sounds as though you owe some happy moments to jazz.

    Happy OSF!

    Comment by Nordette aka Verite — May 16, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

  7. Now this is truly a Great choice for the OSF theme.

    I am from a family of musicians too. So I definitely can relate to what you posted about.

    Great choice and have an interesting week!

    Comment by msladydeborah — May 18, 2009 @ 2:50 am

  8. Lovely, lovely choice!

    Comment by regina — May 18, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

  9. LOL—thanks, Nordette! (blushing) One thing I have found is that some younger folks, as they get older grow to appreciate jazz more—even if they have been die-hard hip hop fans. And I have to post a link to this jazz percussion ensemble I saw perform on HBO Family made up entirely of kids. They are absolutely amazing.

    Thanks, Ms Lady and Regina. Yes, being surrounded by musicians really does give you a different appreciation for it. I just wish I had been more disciplined to stick with my piano lessons! LOL

    Comment by pprscribe — May 19, 2009 @ 8:20 am

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