Sonny’s Blues @ LBJ

My friend Michael Scaccia teaches English in the LASA program at LBJ and decided to have his students read “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin.  It’s a fantastic short story about two African-American brothers growing up in NYC in the ’50’s.  The story focuses on their relationship and the challenges they face trying to understand one another. (One brother is a math teacher and the other is a jazz musician.) Michael thought it would be a good idea to have some professional jazz musicians come perform and speak to the students, about 120 in all.  I had the good fortune of playing and answering questions with two of my favorite players here in Austin: Ponder East on sax and Michael Stevens on bass.  We played a few tunes and spoke briefly about what it is like to have a life in music.  Hearing my colleagues speak about their relationship to music was really inspiring to say the least.  We closed out the hour and a half presentation by playing a basic jazz-blues progression while Ponder had the entire student body vocalize call and response “riffs” over the accompaniment Michael Stevens and I were providing.  I think the kids really enjoyed it and I think they might get more out of the short story because of it.  Thanks again to Michael Scaccia and the LASA students at LBJ for having us, and for supporting jazz in your community.