We’re always learning, but some people are lucky enough to encounter mentors early who put a special stamp upon what the learning process yields. Teachers in formal and informal situations alike point out the stepping stones toward individual success. Their teaching often reaches beyond their specialties, extending to wider horizons.The final session this season of “The Uncle Dan & Sophie Jam” at the Jazz Kitchen Wednesday night gave a free rein to such memories for host Sophie Faught, jazz saxophonist and composer; guest Steve Allee, pianist-composer-bandleader, and writer and co-host Dan Wakefield.
The next Uncle Dan and Sophie Jam is October 31 6-8pm
Submit a story about your favorite mentor for a chance to win tickets!
Kurt Vonnegut often asked people, at the end of his talks, to turn to the person next to them and say the name of some teacher from your time in grade school, high school or college, who in some way made you feel better about yourself, gave you a good memory of your time in school, encouraged you to do better in your work, or simply brightened your day.
While writing a book on creativity (Creating from the Spirit), I interviewed the singer-songwriter Judy Collins, and learned that she often found mentors in books, in authors whose work she liked and identified with. She liked to do “dialogues” with people who had written about their lives or whose lives had been written about in histories or biographies. She’d imagined dialogues with Socrates, and with Picasso, among many others.
In high school she had worked very hard on a paper in English class and the teacher had accused her of plagiarism. This was so hurtful and discouraging, she thought for a long time she “couldn’t write.” Years after, her friend and fellow songwriter Leonard Cohen read some of her journals and said “I see you’re writing songs.” Collins said “No, I can’t write.” Cohen pointed out that if she set some of the words in her journal to music, she’d have a song! This began her songwriting career. Leonard Cohen was a true mentor!
“The Uncle Dan and Sophie Jam”
Tuesday night, September 25, 6-8 pm at The Jazz Kitchen
If you’re alive, you’ve been “knocked down” – if not physically, in some of your efforts – in your education, work, career, relationships. It is part of the experience of being alive. Getting “knocked down” is no disgrace – the important thing is getting back up. It was expressed most succinctly in a Nike commercial that showed the basketball star Dwayne Wade getting knocked down on the court – and getting back up. The only words in the commercial were said by Wade:
“Get knocked down six times, get up seven.”
Sophie Faught and Dan Wakefield have told – with music and stories – what it was like to start out as a musician and as a writer in their own distinct eras, and what it was like to experience their first “big break.” Now an upcoming “Uncle Dan and Sophie Jam” will feature stories of their own setbacks – and how they “got back up” – with words and music.
Sophie and Dan will be joined by guest vocalist Everett Greene, bass baritone singer, actor, narrator and voice-over talent. His singing roots started in a gospel quartet and he discovered and fell in love with jazz when he moved to Indianapolis fifty plus years ago. He has performed with stars including jazz greats Wes Montgomery and David Baker, was inducted into the Indiana Jazz Hall of Fame, and recently won Butler University’s inaugural “jazz legend” award.
The experience of getting knocked down six times and getting up seven has been experienced by all artists in all times and places. In fact it is not limited to the arts or sports, but is a part of human survival. The Nobel Prize winning Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, author of “Waiting for Godot,” said it this way:
“Fail. Fail Again. Fail Better. . .”
Winston Churchill, who led England in its darkest hour, and the Allies to beat the Nazis in World War II, put it these words:
“Never give in, never never never never – in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
The same sentiment was stated most succinctly by the great blues singer Bessie Smith, who said:
“picked up my bag, baby, and I tried it again.”
Musician Sophie Faught, writer Dan Wakefield and guest vocalist Everett Greene will bring back this basic message to individual lives, the stories of our everyday experience, in the words and music of “The Uncle Dan and Sophie Jam” at The Jazz Kitchen, Tuesday, September 25, 6-8 pm.
Tickets may be purchased from The Jazz Kitchen:PURCHASE TICKETS