Musicians seem to always be “seeking to understand,” not necessarily to be understood. And I think that’s healthy. We’re all at different stages of development and purpose. We’re often with people and yet we are essentially always alone. We come here alone and we will leave alone.
I am finishing up the arrangement of a new composition for my “originals” quartet, titled, “ALWAYS” and made a discovery that literally changed the entire work. This discovery was simply a chord that I substituted for the more common harmonic choice I’d originally written. The substitute chord says the same thing but with a lot more room for creative possibilities. It should be more fun for all of us to improvise over the progression too.
I couldn’t be more thankful for the work that I do at this stage of my career. I’m composing and arranging music for three very different ensembles. I’m doing some pretty cool work as an educator and clinician that’s valued by the community. Once a person finds their calling and purpose, the complexities of life remain, but are taken better in context. That’s the validated treasures of living to many decades of age and having quality life experiences.
Terri Anderson Burnett and I have been a family for many decades. She’s actually my “family.” We eventually learned that our spouse is our family and our children are really only loaned to us for a relatively short time. I call it life before and after kids in your home. It’s never the same as when they were growing up as little kids because it isn’t supposed to be. My family has worked very hard this entire time to be at every particular place in our life together we’ve ever been so far and it’s always fluid – never permanent. We raised our children to adulthood. We have grown from both good and not-so-good events. I still love and value her.
You are blessed if your children grow up to be productive members of society and good people. Anything more in the continuum of life is a true bonus. Fragmented families are common for various reasons like simple incompatibility and complex mental illness. But, if you and your spouse are truly best friends you can endure all of these changes and set an example of how it can be done positively. At least that is what we continue to learn. We’re blessed and thankful. We are living in a territory as a couple that nobody else who is still alive on either side of our family has experienced. We have never given up on each other and we never quit on our family. We accept that we cannot control the negative motivations or feelings of others and we also do not let such dysfunctional situations derail the overwhelmingly positive course of our life together. We are blessed and our faith tells us all things work together.
Those who also know these things from actually living them over the years can also attest to the fact that it’s a very complex yet very cool place to be in life. But we don’t expect many to understand until they get here. And that’s really not the point anyway. The point is to never give up. All of these realities are compositionally poured into this original music.
AN HUMBLE ARTICLE OF PRAYER SUBMITTED FOR THANKSGIVING
I grew up in a sibling family of leaders. We Burnett siblings were all taught by both of our parents to be independent in almost all things from a young age. And that was tangibly reinforced as each of us saw among the others of us the various stages of each one growing toward being the independent people our parents were hopefully training back then. Again, Mom Burnett used to say “you never know what type of person you are raising, you just do your best and hope.”
I had four brothers and four sisters whom I got to know personally while growing up. Yes, there were nine of us children who had lived beyond birth. Our sibling birth years range from 1943 to 1964 a span of over 20 years. I am a late Baby Boomer, the exact middle in that birth order with two older brothers and two older sisters, and two younger sisters and two younger brothers.
That means our mother literally had school-age children from the age of 19 until she was 59 years old. Think about being nearly 60 and attending your youngest child’s high school graduation ceremony. Wow. Different times and societal eras.
And although there are literally two generations contained within my sibling family cohort, our parents must have done a great job raising us because I don’t recall any of my siblings ever being purposefully divisive, troublemakers, or liars against one another in order to gain favor or approval. Sibling rivalries, yes. Dustups and scraps, yes. But maliciousness, or vengeful intentions, no.
We each maintained a level of character and decency as we had been purposely taught by our parents and elders that was based on the “Golden Rule” and other standard biblical principles. That doesn’t mean any of us were or are perfect.
I heard my mother say on numerous occasions that if “something” ever happened to her, we’d be able to successfully fend for ourselves competently. She succeeded in that goal and all of us were equipped to live lives of quality. But it was and has always been up to us and our own choices. That’s key.
During this process parents inherently piss off their children. Most people have heard such parental lamentations like: “this hurts me more than it does you” and “you may not understand now but you will later.”
As leaders, we were inherently taught how to deal with “bullies” of all types. We learned that bullies could be friends and strangers of course, but also among the people in your family and inclusive of other dear loved ones.
We learned all of this BEFORE we left our sibling home to make our own paths as autonomous adults in the world at large. I don’t recall ever hearing of someone taking advantage of (or deceiving) any one of my siblings by catching them unaware of such nonsense no matter how things often look in the short or mid-terms of development. And we didn’t get into many physical altercations.
We were all taught to play the “long game” as you do in chess.
Some lessons eventually stuck with us as base character traits. We were taught “right from wrong” and we didn’t act like it was someone else’s fault whichever of those we chose to do in a given situation or circumstance. At least we didn’t try to do that within our sibling family or in the company of close family friends because we knew someone or everyone would call it out.
Terri’s Anderson sibling family lived parallel to the Burnett sibling family ethos described here. I also observed how both of her parents interacted with her as an adult. T was groomed to be a refined lady and musical artist.
When she and I became our own branch of the family in 1979, we intentionally raised our two children to hopefully be confident leaders. And ethical people. However, we have learned that what they actually become is largely on them.
All of this “tough love talk” actually does take into account that we all get to a place in life where we’re beset by serious challenges that can hurt us to the literal point of permanent damage or actually kill us prematurely.
These are among the “old people lessons” that my mother Violet and Terri’s mother Sintha used to try to give us forewarning of before we became parents of adult children. At some point, you have to let your children stand on their own. And sometimes they won’t like it. Sometimes they will get over it and sometimes they won’t, or at least it might take some living with their own adult children to come to terms with how their own parents have been previously judged. We have already learned that one.
Even though we are successful adults and successful parents with a family of our own by most of those common metrics, and Google searches didn’t exist back then, I was still actually mature enough to know that I was not my parents’ friend or peer – no matter how old I got. It doesn’t work like that in Black culture. I know that showing elders such respect actually doesn’t diminish me in reality, it shows that I can be counseled and taught.
Sometimes we parents can overprotect to the point of spoiling certain aspects of the development of our children. We all do it no matter how much we try not to make the mistakes with our own children that our parents did with us.
But I do know that I have yet to see anyone who practices evil deeds succeed in this life over the long term. Likewise, reciprocity is simply meted out to balance such extremely warped souls who think that they have all of the answers until they don’t. Sometimes we need such checks and balances to provide a path toward healing.
I have learned that familial love isn’t about keeping score. And it is a sad perversion when that type of mentality enters into family dynamics on any level. Weaponizing the Internet to “troll” or “bully” one’s family is comical to someone of my generation because people my age don’t actually need technology as a definitive part of our daily lives like that.
And in an age when you can literally search the Internet on your device until you find something (and you will) that validates or justifies your position, regardless of the topic, the possibility of miscommunication among loved ones is amplified.
This simply shows a lack of character, or a moral lapse in the least, and the hilariously incompetent use of a potentially marvelous communication tool. It’s like the unintentionally malicious use of email to send stupid chain letters that you didn’t compose to all of your friends without using the Bcc feature to hide their email addresses. Except on purpose.
Starting fights with me or “ghosting” me from behind computer or smartphone screens is like someone cursing me out in a language I don’t understand or speak. You really told me off, but did you? So, using a “meme” as the basis of the title of this article is sort of ironic.
I think the reason that I truly don’t buy into the hype of all that is because I learned enough lessons while growing up and know the difference between doing what is “right and wrong” at the core of my being. I know that hate never wins. I will not practice hate regardless of the situation. I will choose to leave you alone rather than hate you. Hopefully, peace will win.
Having lived long enough now to have been with some fine people at the ends of their lives and witnessing that to a person each one stated in their own vernacular and words essentially that life isn’t about winning argumentsor one’s own selfish pursuits.
We can usually overcome being imperfect humans and mend family relationships even if mental illness, alcoholism, or substance abuse are part of the dynamics that we need to mend. However, we are not to let ourselves be abused by such wounded spirits no matter if they are embedded within people we love deeply.
LIFE: You either quit or keep going. They both hurt. Read that again.
The “artist side of me” thinks that the paradigms of our social and economic systems are inherently set around capitalizing on things we do to perpetuate our species (like childbearing and child-rearing).
We make industries out of “becoming” and many of us can lose sight that the goal is to actually arrive and “be.”
And as musicians, we all eventually learn that it actually takes many many years after completing a degree program or course to truly master most of the information and materials that were studied and taught.
It also truly almost takes just as long to simply recognize that fact because most people are too busy living day to day to pay attention to such nuances and details.
But, that’s all part of the process of living and reinforces it’s ultimately about lifelong learning.
As successful musicians, artists, and people we ultimately learned to first be of service to others and our community rather than simply using every encounter for shallow selfish purposes.
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Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 in Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
One of the first mentoring sessions that I can remember having from my father included his deliberate efforts to “teach” me how to mow our lawn – certainly a basic and practical skill set that he knew would be useful to me in life. Along with most of the lessons inherently learned from both of my parents, I have subsequently used Cliff Burnett’s method of cutting grass at the various stages throughout my entire life. And with most always excellent results too, I must admit here in hindsight.
These skill set lessons were applicable to learning most anything and largely taught based upon his already having established prior successful experience accomplishing a particular task.
Often he would not say anything verbally to me. He would do the task as I watched, then I would repeat the task the same way that he had done it successfully. I later found out that this process was and still is common, and many people today still learn to do many things this way – particularly within my own Black American culture.
He and my mother divorced not long after I’d completed 9th grade so those lessons ended after that. I have often wished that my own progeny could have interacted with him too. Perhaps they would understand me better in addition to being better themselves from having the experience.
Clifford LeRoy Burnett was born on Sunday, July 5th in 1925 and was a World War II veteran (Navy Sea Bees) who later served in the US Air Force – Greatest Generation. He served just over 19 years on active duty and had reserve time between when his Navy service ended in 1945 and he reenlisted in the Air Force in the late 1950s. Dad used to proudly exclaim that he was “the seventh son of a seventh son.” Subsequently with the advent of Ancestry.com, our family tree validates that indeed he was “the seventh son of a seventh son.”
Dad was also genuinely enthusiastic about life despite growing up through the Great Depression, segregation, and military service during a world war. Although he was a man of relatively few words, he still was a positive person and encouraging most of the time that I can recall. He was a great athlete in his youth and although he was over 30 by the time I was born, Dad was still a fine athlete when I came of age to appreciate such things although he was in his 40s by then.
He only lost his temper with me once that I recall. I was a teenager. I wasn’t listening to his advice as much as I once did because I had begun to have my own ideas and experiences.
Dad was also coaching me to be a baseball pitcher during that period of our life together. I just knew that I was not a baseball pitcher. Dad was a great baseball pitcher in his youth.
I was a fast runner and better suited to be a baseball outfielder. I could throw pretty hard but never had the control to be a baseball pitcher. My younger brother Donnie was the baseball pitcher among us. I liked playing centerfield.
I was also a saxophone player and wanted to do that with my time more than anything else by then. And although Dad was proud of my musical pursuits and appreciated my dedication, he felt I should still be well rounded and developed in other areas too. He was right, of course.
I recall from one occasion that I questioned him as to why I had to stand a certain way and go through the specific motions he was teaching me in order to successfully throw the baseball into the old tire used as a target on the back of the old garage.
Dad said to trust him because he already knew doing it that way was most efficient. I debated the fact that I could already throw the ball all of the way from centerfield to home plate and hit the catcher’s mitt – high or low, wherever it was placed. Dad said that was a different skill.
He must have seen the doubt in my eyes. For the first time in my life I had debated something my father was teaching me. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a growing up thing. He just cocked his head.
Dad said, “okay do it your way and hit the strike zone target, then.” I threw from my normal stance and was not able to consistently throw strikes. I would have walked in a run, or two, or three, or four had I been pitching in a real game.
He must have seen the puzzled look on my teenaged face and yet, I still verbally protested the validity of my own way of throwing the ball out of ego and ignorance. Just like most kids would.
Dad silently shook his head in what seemed to be disgust, picked up the baseball and proceeded to throw strike after strike into the exact middle of the tire target. He threw the ball so hard that it bounced directly back to his mitt for the repeated throws. And I had never seen anyone in real life throw a baseball with the velocity with which he threw the ball. He always hit dead center.
Dad could see that I was a bit shaken by such a display of power that I had never witnessed from him before in my life. He calmed me with his big grin and said to trust what he shared with me.
I learned a big lesson that day, as I usually did during my interactions with Dad. I told him as much and how impressed I was with what he had just done. He said for me not to be impressed.
He simply said, “Son, I have thrown lots of baseballs before just now. You have only thrown a few by comparison. I should be this good at it. You will get the same type of experience and practice at something. Just like I have shoes twice as old as you are that I still wear. Old is often good.”
He said if we keep trying, we all usually keep getting better with time.
Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
Many people have come in and out of our life together as The Burnett Family, est. 1979.
Including our parents, siblings, children, and extended family members such as aunts, uncles, and cousins – the number of family members T and I are connected with biologically is legitimately still a very large one. We love them all despite how close we may or may not be on a day to day basis at any given moment.
Likewise is the number of true friends we’ve made over these years a very large group of individuals. There are many paradoxical sayings about the life family you are born with and the life family you grow into along the journey, (with variations ad infinitum) … These friends are indeed our family too.
We’ve come to conclude at this point in our life continuum that both can be both. That’s been lots of work learning this lesson and finally arriving here is definitely cool.
Our living blood relatives have come in and out of our lives over the years for whatever the reasons. We have come to understand that this is a natural order in life. Relationships with siblings and children naturally change dynamically with individual growth and interests. Lifestyle choices and personal belief systems impact familial relationships and closeness.
18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
— Luke 15:18-20 (American Standard Bible)
We’ve learned there is no such thing as the static “perfect or dysfunctional” families that are too often depicted in popular media as cultural “norms.” All families are simultaneously dysfunctional and perfect. That’s cool too. We’ve also learned that in our desire to love our family as parents and grandparents of adult progeny that we must also care for our selves and our own empty nest family too. However, these are the types of lessons that most of us can’t truly learn until we actually reach this age.
MUSICIANS AND ARTIST CLASS
We have many lifelong and true friends made through the common bond of music. And many of those friendships have grown to be family-like in mutual commitment, being tested in strength over time, and genuine brotherly love for one another.
Musicians are our natural life community among fellow humans. Particularly those who play the types of instruments we do and the types of music we do were typically the “not cool” kids growing up. We’ve found that doesn’t change. That “not coolness” remains in adulthood, but we’ve been fortunate to find our “tribe” of like minds.
Military veterans are also our community to the extent of our mutual respect for voluntary service to the United States of America. We inherently share a common ethos and motivation to serve others. Considering how long we have been living autonomously, we’ve also found out that it’s “okay” if the people you share genetics and blood with, don’t like hanging out with you and doing the things you like to do.
We don’t always like what blood relatives like. We’ve often experienced this and it was uncomfortable to admit to ourselves at first. But, that doesn’t change the genuine love for them. Nor does it negate any love they may genuinely have for us as well. It’s life.
FAMILY + LIFE’S WORK
The Professional Musicians’ and Teaching Artists’ life is one of constant study, research, and growth that’s validated through public presentations and is preserved as permenant documents like printed publications and audio recordings. It’s a lifelong pursuit and lots of fun too. We have validated our long belief that professional musicians and teaching artists can engage family life in concert with being among the creative class. We continue to serve as living proof of this validated synergy at each stage of our journey.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
— 1 Corinthians 13:11 (King James Bible)
We started with a plan as a family and despite inherent challenges, have not varied too far from our original promise and commitment to each other as husband and wife when we formed The Burnett Family, est. 1979. Our parents are all gone now and it is only our generation and those who follow who remain. Just as our elders have become better understood, more wise, and insightful to us over the years, so will we to our progeny. Only time validates us.
YOUR LIFE: IT’S BIGGER THAN YOU
Only fools live for themselves and the single day. We have met and known many fools over the years. We were among the foolish at various stages of our lives. Such is life.
We have found it essential for us personally to live a life that is mostly of service to others and to our various communities. This life of service is based upon our own developed personal beliefs and Christian principles from our childhood upbringing.
Serving others makes you better. Serving others completes your own goals to levels that you alone could not imagine or achieve.
We have lived to see the tangible validation of this philosophy and credo over two professional music careers (serving with military bands for 22+ years and currently serving the at-large music industry for 26+ years and counting).
BURNETT MUSIC FOUNDATION
Burnett Music Foundation purposely began in phases by creating four Jazz music centered businesses as its core programs over the last 15 years. At the heart of all BMF programming is the inherent synergy of building community, building educational opportunity, and building arts infrastructure in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Tax Deductible Contributions: We are a Tax Exempt Organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501 (c) (3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to us under IRC Section 170. We’re also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522.
Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
My absolutely favorite military music assignment from my entire career was at the US Army Element, School of Music as a member of the staff and faculty where I also performed with the Armed Forces School of Music Faculty Lab Band jazz ensemble under the direction of Maurice Williams, Jr.
This was the “tightest” jazz ensemble big band I have ever played with – still to date.
We rehearsed every day during noon hour, a tradition that I remembered during each of my times as a student attending one of the courses there.
I recall skipping lunch with friends and going to listen to the Faculty Lab Band rehearsals instead of eating lunch at the mess hall.
It was cool that I eventually became a member of that band.
And our director, Master Warrant Officer Maurice Williams, Jr. was the immediate former director of the Army Blues jazz ensemble in Washington DC.
He’s an historic figure and pioneer. I learned lots watching how he directed and programmed our outstanding band.
And the way he managed and led all of us as highly skilled artists was a master class each day. He always kept everything focused on the music.
We played great charts too – killing! I still model my own approach to directing large jazz ensembles after him in so many ways.
When I left the school assignment I asked Mr. Williams for a signed photo. He said certainly. I was expecting one of his official military photos.
Instead, he gave me this photo from one of his last performances leading the Army Blues. It’s their 1991 concert at the international jazz festival in Montreux, Switzerland.
endings and beginnings
My professional military music career began as soon as I graduated high school when I passed the auditions for both the Army and Air Force music programs. I chose the Army because its program started new musicians at a higher rank and pay grade, not to mention the Army was larger and had more band assignments around the world to choose from.
I had great teachers during my developmental years and that is largely the reason I was able to pass the audition at such a young and inexperienced age. Thanks to instruction from my school band director, Mr. Jim Fuchs and to my private lessons teacher, Mr. Charlie Molina I was able to qualify and enlist.
Passing that audition resulted in my eventually staying with military music and going to the Army band in Germany where I ultimately met, fell in love with, and married Terri Anderson. We started our family together, raised two children into fine adults, and also finished a complete active duty military career as a family. Military families should be commended.
This Armed Forces School of Music assignment was literally the pinnacle of what is now objectively documented to be a stellar career for me in the Army serving as a professional musician. I was there on an unaccompanied tour. And it was a bittersweet situation where I was separated from Terri and our children. I have learned that is a typical rub in life. Good with bad.
Our Commandant (Tom Davis) and Command Sergeant Major (Charlie Heintz) wanted me to bring Terri and our children out to live in Virginia where the Armed Forces School of Music was located and I could have stayed assigned there indefinitely. But, Terri and I knew that living in the Tidewater Area would not have been a good fit for our family. It was huge geographically and population was in the millions.
My bosses also knew that I had made the decision to retire as soon as I could after serving 20 years so that I could go back home. One day they called me into the Commandant’s office and asked if I liked serving at the Armed Forces School of Music, and if so, what would make me stay in the military longer. Of course I actually loved the job. It was the best one to that point.
I simply told them our reasoning behind our family’s decision. And I didn’t expect any other consideration. I was a First Sergeant and senior soldier by then. There was a saying in my time, “if the Army wanted you to have a family, it would have issued you one.”
But Colonel Davis looked me in the eye and said we just happen to need a new enlisted bandleader where you want to go. It would be a perfect fit for your skill set considering what needs to be established there at this time. And he said that I would be paired with a senior warrant officer bandmaster to do that work.
So when that opening came up for the top enlisted job at the Army band in Missouri, I took it so that I could go home to be with my family. I stayed in another three years to complete my career.
And as they say, “the rest is history.”
Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
This is our traditional end-of-year post. The conclusion of 2020 also marks the end of the second decade of the first century of this millennium according to The Farmers’ Almanac (and the US Naval Observatory). Here’s to Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.
We completely purged and reorganized our home and life together in 2020 to match the phase of life we are now living. That’s pretty cool. As most of you likely know, doing this type of self-healing work has a renewing effect on the soul. Looking at one’s own history can be difficult. But it’s rewarding if you can. For us it was like having these 4+ decades of our life together put more firmly into proper perspective and giving us an objective balance moving forward within ourselves as individuals too. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.
It’s great to be done with 2020 in lots of ways. The global COVID-19 pandemic. It was also a US presidential election year that fostered an objective appreciation for governmental officials who are public servants, but most especially for those who are truly civic leaders. The election reflected our paradoxical US population. More people in history voted for and even more voted against the incumbent. It looks like democracy will win again. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.
The 2020 Elections revealed that the same 50/50 divide of the Civil War Era still remains to this day in our nation. What I think is ridiculous, many others think to be reality. Social media became a major distortion field in 2020. So much so that I had to disconnect from some people who I have known for thirty years or more because seeing their posts kept resulting in me thinking less of them. And, seeing someone’s posts shouldn’t do that. I decided to leave them with their own thoughts and musings, as we are all entitled to have and remember the collegial times we shared in our youth. I had a caricature of some people who I didn’t really know at their core and that’s not fair to either of us. Have a great rest of your life old friends. It’s too short at best. Hence why I rarely post about politics . Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.
As with every year, there were good things too.This year also marked both of our official retirements, the drawing of our respective social security pensions, and the launching of our family’s jazz music centered nonprofit organization, Burnett Music Foundation. We were able to safely produce three of our programs (ARC Student Jazz Jam Sessions, KC Area Youth Jazz, and Bird Boot Camp) utilizing the protocols used by US Army bands to mitigate coronavirus risk. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.
We resolve to be thankful for each day and each opportunity to interact with the people we love, to do the work that we love, and to have our health to enjoy each day together. Here’s to Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.
We sincerely agree with these sentiments of our 44th POTUS...
Feb. 17, 2009 – Aboard Air Force One, a close-up of the Presidents signature on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which he had just signed in Denver. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)
AUTHORIZED USES: The official White House photograph are made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
“Jackson The Plunger” is a nickname we took from one of the articles about our maternal grandfather, Edward George Jackson, who was mostly known by his middle name GEORGE since he shared the same first name with his father. Born in February 1903 and died in January of 1945, he didn’t quite reach his 43rd birthday.
FROM OUR FAMILY TREE AT ANCESTRY . COM
Our formal family trees are located within our private account through Ancestry.com. Our family website is not intended to be any type of genealogicalrecord.
It serves primarily as our contemporary blog. We do sometimes include commentary related to our family genealogy here from time to time though. This post is one of those.
Our mother Violet Jackson Burnett and other relatives often told me that I “favored” GEORGE JACKSON. As was common of elders from those generations, they didn’t speak about him or anyone else in our ancestry with any specificity. Upon discovering these old yearbook photos at our family tree website, I actually had no idea what he looked like until now.
Edward “GEORGE” Jackson of Paola, Kansas (1903-1945) was my maternal grandfather. He attended and graduated from the same city school system that I graduated from with the PHS Class of 1923. As you can see by the above school yearbook page, GEORGE attended an integrated school system.
GEORGE was the son of EDWARD Jackson, and EDWARD was the son of SOLOMON Jackson – see the names highlighted in green and yellow in the image of the1880 United States Federal Census for Edward Jackson above.
Further observation of this census document shows the ethnicity or race of both Edward Jackson (my maternal great grandfather) and his father Solomon (my 2nd maternal great grandfather) listed as “Mulatto” a term of which most dictionaries define as a (dated or offensive) noun referring to a person of mixed white and black ancestry, especially a person with one white and one black parent. Interesting.
ALSO FROM OUR FAMILY TREE AT ANCESTRY . COM
That’s just only a glimpse of my maternal Jackson family tree. My paternal Burnett family tree is just as interesting. I discovered as the eldest son of Clifford Burnett (b. 1925), I am also the grandson of Charles Burnett (b. 1846), I am also the great grandson of Peter Burnett (b. 1798), and I am also the 2nd great grandson of Doe Burnett (b. 1750).
Much of the textbook history I was taught in school growing up doesn’t match with the history I have found in the historic records, deeds, and census documents which reveal that most of my ancestors were farmers, property owners and not enslaved in the late 1700s. Discovered other interesting history too. It seems that life is always full of drama – good and otherwise. Go figure, huh? This information doesn’t change who I am as a human being, a man, a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, nephew, or son. However, it does give me a positive connection with the continuum of my heritage in the most objective context possible. My children and grandchildren don’t have to wonder who came before them in this sense. That’s pretty cool…
Kansas City Area Youth Jazz (YouthJazz.us) recently finished our 2020 season. This was our second season, and like the 2019 debut season, it was again very successful – despite 2020 being contracted from our normal 4-months to 2-months, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic safety restrictions and protocols that continue at this writing.
Kansas City Area Youth Jazz (KCAYJ) is a private jazz education program that was conceived in 2010 to fill a void that existed in this arena back then, but for various reasons it was not formally launched until 2019. It’s a unique program in that KCAYJ is designed to be a “youth jazz artist experience” rather than a variation on the summer jazz camp model. See our story at this link, it’s pretty interesting how things came together.
lifelong jazz artist + jazz educator
Upon returning home to the Kansas City area to live, I connected with people on the scene here who became friends and mentors. Particularly, Ahmad Alaadeen as my last great applied jazz saxophone teacher and the legendary Leon A. Brady who invited me into his youth jazz program as the woodwind faculty in 2007. Mr. Brady founded Kansas City Youth Jazz in 2000 and it grew into five big bands comprised of over 100 students in grades 6th through 12th. His was a unique model in that we faculty would conduct sectional clinics before the bands rehearsed the music together as a full ensemble. Needless to say, doing this made for really tight ensemble work and the band directors could work at a more refined level than simply “fixing notes.”
I immediately noticed that the students could not improvise very well. It was likely so glaring because the ensemble work was so tight and sounded so good. I asked Mr. Brady for permission to start a combo lab after the Saturday morning rehearsals were finished at 11:30 and he approved. I started with one combo and that quickly grew into two combo labs – the 11:30 and 12:30 combos. A fellow faculty member, Jason Goudeau joined me and we taught the students basic song forms and how to deal theoretically with common chord progressions found in jazz music.
The students began playing coherent improvised solos and the program thrived. So much so that I was invited to present the Kansas City Youth Jazz 12:30 Combo and give a clinic at the Kansas Bandmasters Association Convention (Wichita) with Mr. Brady in 2009.
This was a promising generation ago now. These young musicians are now adults. Several have gone on to graduate from top music schools and conservatories, become music educators, professional military musicians as well as scientists and business people. I have been successfully and effectively teaching music since the 1980s. In addition to my private studio practice, I have actually taught jazz at the college-level. I enjoy working with middle-level and secondary school music educators, but have never been a public school band director myself. They are indeed my musical heroes.
art is about doing good business
In addition to all of the things the combo program taught youth jazz artists, Kansas City Area Youth Jazz teaches that art is about doing good business. Most of the act of doing good business happens away from your musical instrument and the stage. It is arts administration. It’s planning and developing programming. It’s customer service. It’s keeping promises to your art, your fans, your band members, and the people who believe in your ideas and dreams. Promises. Keep them.
promises, promises …
We kept a big promise today to those wonderful people who supported the Kansas City Area Youth Jazz program during its very first season. Yes, even before we were an established entity with the successful track record we have established in two great seasons. Your vinyl LP albums are in the mail to you. They sound superb and Bill Crain took the time needed to ensure that the music on this album will genuinely merit repeated listens. You’ve got a “collectors’ item.” Thanks again! All the best, Mr. B
We, in the USA, have traditionally mostly worked until a certain age range between 62 to 72 and then we typically retire to a terminal vacation status. That was literally the tradition for the generation before our late Baby Boomer cohort.
We both have decided to “retire” in July 2020. And we are very happy about this decision because it has come by our own choice. Our lives will not change drastically in the sense of most activities. We will simply now be our own bosses. That’s pretty cool.
We both have worked almost literally our entire lives, having had jobs since we were teenagers, having served in the active duty Regular Army as professional musicians, and having engaged successful careers as educators, as well as having worked in both federal government and corporate settings too. We’ve always been entrepreneurs.
We both made a point of subsidizing our art as musicians with day jobs that afforded a good living for our family but didn’t detract from our primary calling as artists. It was a difficult balance to maintain at times. However, we have always seemed to find synergy in this regard throughout these years.
We are going to enjoy this next phase of life and look forward to the opportunities it will bring. It’s going to be cool engaging the music-related projects we have established over the years, and the unlimited positive possibilities of our nonprofit organization.
We plan to golf, bowl, walk, and enjoy our ornamental gardening activities. We plan to visit our family and friends while engaging cultural sites around the USA.
We plan to visit our musical friends in Europe again and enjoy interacting with other people throughout the world as artists and humans. We hope to visit England (UK), Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Austria among other places.
And of course, there is the music. It was our mutual love of music that literally brought us together those decades ago. We plan to continue creating, practicing and teaching lots of music going forward.