See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A WAILIN' CRAZY TIME...

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2007 at 1:55 PM

Man I love Detroit. It’s so black in here,” exclaimed legendary saxophonist Donald Washington, kissing the mike onstage Friday night at the Bohemian National Home, as musicians behind him slapped each other on the back and wiped sweat on their sleeves. Washington, in town from Minneapolis, meant to encourage the catcalling crowd in Bohemian's library. But sitting on the edge of their seats, the gathering of about 50 needed no encouragement.

It’s the unexpected that changes things. Earlier that evening, petite dancers Belinda Reid and April Green stretched while wearing cumbersome winter coats over their blue leotards. Vocalist Teresa Mora (visiting from Coney Island where the former Detroiter now lives) sipped on “anti-freeze” -- Dixie cups of whisky splashed with Coke. And from the sound check, it sure seemed like the Vizitors — led by pianist Kenny Green and featuring saxophonist Skeeter Shelton, Mora and AACM’s Dushun Mosley on percussion — were going to perform a meditative set of free jazz.

However, as the show got going, more and more men walked in carrying big black cases. The dancers performed slow and subtle movement around the room, and Mora alternately howled and whispered while these men shook hands, pulled out their horns and wet their reeds. Green began introducing guests, one after the other, who joined in a song at a time. Those guests included such talents as Washington, poet Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts, saxophonist/floutist Michael Carey, trombonist William Townley, and (the man who nearly stole the spotlight if the spotlight hadn’t been so big), saxophonist Adeboye Adegbenro, leader of Odu Afro Beat Orchestra.

Washington stood back and eyed Boye very carefully as he repeatedly changed rhythms without a single road bump. Before the audience knew it, six horn players, two bassists, a piano player, a vocalist and the drummer packed the stage with such intense sound and energy that some couldn’t contain themselves. In fact, the musicians huddled and began jumping up and down as they wailed.

The crowd never even bothered to wait for the end of a song to stand, to whistle or to groan, loud and low: “Skeeeeeeet!” and “BoyYAY!” and “Ibn!” During these moments, the performers onstage would turn their faces from the room, smile really big, and shake their heads. It was the best kind of reunion -- the kind that made strangers in the audience feel like family and led newcomers to understand the reason behind this insane music.

Saxophonist and Detroit lover Donald Washington

Photo by Andrea Canter

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 25, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2020 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation