Guest Post – Cadillac-sponsored Thelonious Monk Competition Truly Delights the Senses
September 27, 2012 1:15 pm ET
Harold T. Fisher is the host and news reporter for “The Daily Drum” on WHUR Radio 96.3. Occasionally he writes African-American lifestyle articles for The Baltimore Sun and has recently finished writing a romance novel. Harold was recently invited to the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition, which was sponsored by Cadillac.
Rarely am I ever surprised, enlightened and edified in one sitting. As a news reporter, I always expect to hear or see extremes in news experiences. Sunday night I was pleasantly reminded that even a professional listener and observer can feel a profound sense of awe. That is the only way I can describe the final evening of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition. The young finalists performed musical miracles before the snare and high-hats. They tickled, tapped, caressed and created, birth and re-birthed percussive language. They told stories, their stories, in colorful rhythms. The sounds were palatable and exquisitely delicious to my ears. They were the up and comers, the new blood. Their enthusiasm and youth was surpassed only by the brilliant talent of jazz greats they aspired to.
Herbie Hancock was the perfect host. He spoke to us as if we were sitting in his home. He was comfortable and inviting. It was as if he embraced each one of us as old friends, introducing us to his dear friends. Who could have imagined that the likes of angelic trumpeter Chris Botti, funk master George Duke and an R & B diva like Patti Austin would grace the stage at the same time? Actress Helen Mirren was gracious, graceful, gorgeous, even giggly. She was only the beginning of this Hollywood on the Potomac night. Billy Dee Williams, Tipper Gore on the drums and I would be remiss if I did not pause to bow for the Queen of Soul, her highness Aretha Franklin. We all were reminded that the first U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright is not only a brilliant diplomat and stateswoman, but also full of bubbly personality and just plain fun.
This was a banquet of the best. Great musicians and selfless philanthropists honoring the legacy of Thelonious Monk; an American original and the original American art form he embraced. I’m sure I am not the only one who was bedazzled and astounded. I was filled to the brim the magic of the music… and then overflowed. Jazz lives!