Focus on your craft…

and refuse to be denied…

Jay McShann Tribute Big Band

Another True Story …

The main photograph of this post is of the Jay McShann tribute big band saxophone section which included (left to right):

Gerald Dunn, Christopher Burnett (yes, with the large Afro hairstyle), Dennis Winslett, Bobby Watson, Ahmed Alaadeen and Kerry Strayer (not shown).

The legendary altoist Bobby Watson soloing…

I had actually met the great Jay McShann and interacted with him several times.

This tribute event was held in early 2007 at the historic Gem Theater in the jazz district of Kansas City.

Alaadeen, who first introduced me to Jay, invited me to play in this tribute – but, I don’t think he was formerly authorized to do so because the cats initially acted somewhat surprised to see me there with my horn.

Even though nobody said anything to me, I figured it out when there were three alto players during the first set. Awkward. Normally I would have left under such circumstances and not even played but I listened to my inner voice and stayed.

And since I had actually met Jay and interacted with him several times enough to have gotten to know him somewhat, I wanted to simply add my musical voice to this tribute.

It turned out to be a very nice event honoring a true master of jazz and blues.

Jay McShann was also the first professional bandleader to hire Charlie Parker.

Playing the lead alto book…

We played two sets. Bobby had to leave after the first and let me play lead the next set.

All of the players were pretty nice to me since I could play the parts and was there unawares and sincerely by invitation of a KC jazz master.

This was my introduction to the realities of life in the music outside of military bands.

Sometimes you just have to make a place for yourself in life and the music industry because others won’t do it for you. What a great opportunity and honor this was.

Those are the types of substantive lessons I learned from the late Ahmed Alaadeen along with the technical aspects of music we studied. He was my last great teacher.

My 2007 JAM cover was in great company…

I’m still going strong and have artistically established myself teaching music in addition to performing and composing.

I began my career by serving 22-years with the professional military bands system.

And 2018 marked another career milestone of being professionally active on the at-large music industry scene for 22-years after military service. That’s pretty cool.

2019 marks entry into new territory of sorts…

As my late brother who was truly a world class musician once told me:

“Focus on your craft and refuse to be denied.”

~ Richie Pratt

Visit: BurnettMusic.biz

Also visit KC Area Youth Jazz at YouthJazz.us

Christmas Time Is Here

Good tidings of comfort and joy !

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We started a tradition in our family several years ago called Thanksgiving-Christmas where we select a timeframe during the season that allows everyone to come together at the Burnett Grandparents’ home to celebrate both of these holidays at the same time with one another.

Thanksgiving-Christmas is a convenient practice when you have adult children with families and lives of their own.

One Family

You really only have one family.

You always gain new family members – related by blood and related by bond.

You always lose family members along the way through death and drama.

Family members come and go in and out of your life for whatever reasons.

We want all of our family (and friends) who weren’t able to be with us for Thanksgiving-Christmas to know that you are always in our hearts and we will always …

LOVE YOU!

~ Terri Anderson Burnett + Christopher Burnett

The story behind the song …

“WHENEVER WE CRY”

Listen

All of the music I write is motivated by life – a person, place or thing.

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

Being a child of the US Civil Rights Era (literally, I was born in 1955), I watched my parents work twice as hard to just be even, vote for the first time in their forties and never teach hate or negativity to us children.

I also saw the stresses of life as a black family after they left military service society contribute to their ultimate divorce.

The last conversation I had with my father before he left for good was one where I saw a tear in his eye.

Until then, I had never before seen him even come close to crying.

He saw that I noticed and told me that crying isn’t a weakness but a strength.

He said:

“When we cry it is our purest form of sincerity and it’s a form of communication that is beyond language.

And when we cry angels sing.”

I never forgot that wisdom.

Anytime I confront issues of social justice I remember how important it is to provide sanctuary for those in our charge like our spouse and children.

I’ve had to start over a few times over the years dealing with life matters compounded by the fact of who I am as a man.

We have a thing in our family that is a commitment to never leave anyone behind because we all are going to be wounded by society and life at some point.

I’m committed to living a positive life, with love and one of meritorious self-determination.

Sometimes you run into people who hurt you for that, but I always remember – “when we cry, angels sing” …

And we grow stronger too.

~ Cb


LYRIC

I’m not a poet by any means. But all of my music also has lyrics although I perform and record my music instrumentally.

“WHENEVER WE CRY”

May not be en vogue
To be so open and sincere
Being in love finds a way
To expose every weakness and fear
To reveal all of your sunshine and good cheer

So don’t be put off by the moisture in my

Eyes can only see
Some things and how they need to be
In life’s rude games sometimes played
Or those times when we forget to use our best selves

As your own child takes those first steps
Hold your breath

But whenever we cry

Angels sing

~ Christopher Burnett (BMI)

Music Producers and Recording Artists

We were professional musicians before we met each other in the middle 1970s while working overseas for the U.S. Army’s music program.

Our children and grandchildren likely associate music being created and instruments being played in our home as just a part of life while growing up and over the subsequent years.

We are now ARC recording artists with several releases on the market. We document our music on recordings as part of the inherent legacy representing some of our respective musical works created during the course of the journey of our lives.

A ‘selfie’ we took after finishing our musical performance with the special ensemble backing the Choir from Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts for Teach For America Kansas City at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts.

The Latest Recording Project

Our latest recording project will be produced and released commercially on the ARC label in 2020. A recent post thoroughly describes “The Standards Project.”

But, our very first recording session was produced during our off-duty hours while we were members of the Army Band at Ansbach, Germany.

The Very First Recording Session

Ansbach, Germany (Stadtmitte)

We have always believed in creating the type of life we want to live and that includes where our musical careers are concerned as well.

We don’t wait for things to happen to us. We work to make the things we want to happen.  This first recording session illustrates this fact in a very cool way. It was thoroughly planned as well.

By 1979 I was just about finished with the composition and arranging course I was enrolled in and taking from the Berklee College of Music in Boston by mailed correspondence. It took 3 years to compete.

I was writing lots of “tunes” by then and had officially joined the arranging staff of the Army band. Several of my charts were being played in concerts, shows or tours.

We hadn’t a clue of what we were doing as record producers beyond basic knowledge in terms of understanding the music and how to operate the equipment we were using to record.

We didn’t even consider post-production concerns or commercial distribution of the music we recorded.

We were simply learning and creating something musically positive for all of us to do rather than just sit around between the Army band gigs.

Our very first recording session date was December 18, 1979

We produced the recording with fellow Army musicians we worked with at that time.

? The images posted here are of my decades old hand-written notes, LOL!

We recorded one of my originals and my arrangement of Sonny Rollins’ “Pent-Up House.” Following are the credits:

  • Bob Henry, engineer;
  • Larry Bennett and James McNeal, trumpet;
  • Christopher Burnett, alto saxophone;
  • R. Stephen Gilbert, tenor and soprano saxophones;
  • Gene Smith, trombone;
  • Leon Johnson, Fender Rhodes;
  • Bruce Shockley, bass;
  • and Dennis Butler, drums.
  • Terri Anderson Burnett and Christopher Burnett, producers.

For some reason, it all worked out.

Forty Years Later

We are still practicing, performing, teaching, writing and recording music.

Aging and the “…isms”

We have always enjoyed each birthday and passageway during our life together over several decades.

I don’t ever recall wishing I was “older” or “younger” than I actually have been at any given moment during my life.

The fact is that if we continue growing and learning throughout the course of our individual lives, we just keep getting better.

If no major health issues arrive, it is possible to have a robust and engaging life into one’s 70s, 80s and, yes, even into one’s 90s.

T’s Aunt Sintha drove herself to work everyday into her 90s… Yes, drove. Yes, work.

My mother, Vi didn’t have any noticeable gray hair until she was in her 80s. (I inherited the immunity to gray hair from her.)

Thoughts on Ageism and Ageists Paradigms…

https://www.aarp.org

We have owned rocking chairs since we were in our 20s.

We were proud members of AARP when we turned 50. AARP offers great resources and information.

However, the fact remains that I didn’t feel any differently at 50 than at 49 or a decade later for that matter.

But, I did notice how others consider people over 50 when I became one and I still find it amusing most of the time.

I have also noticed that people age 40+ are often marginalized in some context. Amusing.

We both still embrace our age at each stage of life because we just keep improving and getting better.

We have mentors and friends now who are in their late 60s, 70s and 80s.

Those who have good health are still vibrant beings with lots to offer based upon both, proven experiences and contemporary expertise.

Resources.

It’s important to know where you realistically are in the continuum of life and plan for each stage accordingly.

But never bind yourself by age or social constructs that would limit your quality of life and happiness.

#nolimits #goforit #lifeismusicislife

Some Military History

Finally – finished a coherent and relatively succinct overview of our immediate family’s military service.

The essay is titled, “399th” and tells the story about our life together over those two decades.

We have it posted on our portfolio website. Click HERE.

We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures.

And, we especially hope our children and grandchildren enjoy learning about some of our earlier adventures.

See: BurnettPublishing.com

Advice for the Ages

There’s no manual for living life that guarantees ultimate outcomes because people have the will to choose. And the travels during a life can wound some beyond repair.

As parents, you just live each day with the intent of creating positive experiences and environments where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. And, always love one another. That’s the best you can likely do as human beings and parents.

We adopted the philosophy to err on the side of love. When our children need us collectively and individually, we are always there for them to the best of our ability.

We are only mortal and do have favorites as parents though.

They are our favorite son and favorite daughter respectively.

Our late mother, Vi Burnett used to say:

“You never know what type of person you are ultimately raising – you simply do your best by your children and the decisions they ultimately make will determine who they become as autonomous adults.”

Advice for the ages. 

OUR DAUGHTER: With our daughter at her graduation ceremony from the University of New Mexico. She commissioned into the US Air Force and became the very first commissioned officer in the military history of our family. We love her very much and are proud of the high quality woman she is.

OUR SON: With our son who is a US Army veteran and a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. In 2001, he deployed to Kosovo with the 10th Mountain Division. In 2003, he deployed to Iraq with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. We love him very much and are proud of the high quality man he is.

Work hard and be nice

Family Flashback ?

FEATURE PHOTO:
Our three eldest grandchildren.

In 2013 we drove to the Missouri Ozarks to get these three after they visited with their other grandparents. We got to hang with them for a while before their mom (our daughter) came to take them home. Fun summer adventures.

It was also cool to go back to the area we left as brand new empty nesters. We literally started our life together over again when we left there 17 years ago – coming back home to live in the Kansas City metro.

It seems to have proven true again that such things in life happen as they are supposed to.

Closure.

Our late mother Vi Burnett had many words of motivation and wisdom to share – most encouragement to overcome whatever adversities a person is going to inherently encounter in life.

She used to encourage me to use my talents to create the life I want to live. I saw her overcome. I saw her grow as an adult. I saw her become the best version of herself.

Here’s one of the phrases I constantly heard growing up: “Work hard and be nice (to other people).

I have learned this phrase in practice keeps you focused on what really matters.

#life #love #family

Paola Roots Festival

Christopher Burnett QUINTET performed at the 2017 Roots Festival in my hometown of Paola, Kansas.

This was the 28th anniversary of the annual festival. The last time I had the honor of performing there was in 2002.

We invited a special guest to perform with us. My long time friend and jazz mentor from Army band days, Marcus Hampton.

THE QUINTET

I played alto saxophone and performed with:

Roger Wilder on piano
Charles Gatschet on guitar
Dominique Sanders on bass
Clarence Smith on drums

Our playlist covered some traditional jazz works by noted composers and a couple of my compositions as well during the 50-minute set at Roots Festival.

Here is the set list …

THE MUSIC

Take Five by Paul Desmond (Dave Brubeck Quartet)
Dolphin Dance by Herbie Hancock
Invitation by Bronislau Kaper
Sugar by Stanley Turrentine
Yesterdays by Jerome Kern
Triste by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Perspectives by Christopher Burnett
Bagnoli Blues by Christopher Burnett

GALLERY

Our program was well received. More information about CbQ.

Photograph by Gene Morris, Sports Editor, Miami County Newspapers //