Hi everyone from Brad. I hope your summer has gone well. I’d like to announce, a bit late, the release of a record from guitarist Peter Bernstein that I’m very proud to be part of. It’s called Signs Live! and was recorded at Dizzy’s in New York City with Christian McBride on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums. Peter was one of my musical peers when I first arrived in New York City years ago in 1988, taught me quite a bit through playing with him, and remains a strong influence on me. Pete’s continuous commitment to melody, song and storytelling a story are all in abundance here, in a great set of music that includes signature compositions of his like Jive Coffee and the groover, Dragonfly, as well as some less familiar ones, like Hidden Pockets. It was a thrill to play in a rhythm section with Christian and Greg, whose musical spirit, imagination and virtuosity are on display here..
With a lot of other people, I’ve been shocked by what happened in Charlottesville last week. My wife had just introduced Roxanne Gay’s book, Hunger, and I was reading it the last few weeks. Now I’m a new fan of hers. If you missed her piece on Charlottesville a few days ago, I recommend reading it. Then, a few days ago, we were horrified to hear about the attacks in Barcelona. Many of us jazz musicians have a special affinity for that romantic, passionate city, and formed close early bonds playing at places like Jamboree right on the Rambla, close to where the attacks were. We wish everyone there strength, and I know that that beautiful city will continue to work its magic and prosper.
As for Charlottesville, I stand with the many people who were dismayed by Trump's verbally equivocating Neo-nazis and those protesting against Neo-nazis. I do not accept this moral relativism. We all saw the very real violence that came from the Neo-nazi camp, after all. Trump’s own amorality is a function of his essentially narcissistic make up, and his deep stupidity. He does not have the imagination to generate empathy for others, and therefore will never do anything good for the U.S. or the world. That could change only with a radical transformation of his character. I suppose it’s possible. In the meantime, we are biding our time until he is impeached or leaves.
I am not completely pessimistic because I believe that what we are witnessing in both events - Charlottesville and Barcelona - is the death-throes of ideologies that are already obsolete. This is not to make light of the violence. But there is a much bigger shift towards harmony and inclusivity. There is more communication taking place about race in America, and, as we’ve seen, people are being held accountable for racist acts in a more open light. This violent backlash, and the sham presidency of Trump that encouraged it - cannot reverse a course which is already in place. I am humbled by all of this. There is a lot to learn, if I listen. The actions I take, accordingly, will reverberate - my children will listen and be informed by them, for example. Yesterday someone shared a quote with me from Goethe: “Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless."