Jackson The Plunger …

“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.

1922 PAOLA HIGH SCHOOL YEAR BOOK – THE ORIOLE
1922 PAOLA HIGH SCHOOL YEAR BOOK – THE ORIOLE

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 genealogical record.



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.


HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH: A candid photo opportunity with our second eldest grandson, OWEN, who is one of GEORGE JACKSON’s 2nd great grandsons.

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.


1922 PAOLA HIGH SCHOOL YEAR BOOK – THE ORIOLE

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.


1880 United States Federal Census for Edward Jackson

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 the 1880 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…


COVER PHOTO

BURNETT FAMILY TRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING DINNER (2012 – LANSING, KS)

John Henry was a man … was a real man

“Often we can find all of the #motivation and #answers we really need from the #history within our own #family” … 

John Henry Pratt was married to my great aunt Willa Beecham Pratt. Aunt Willa was the sister of my maternal grandmother Mary Jane Beecham Jackson. John and Willa Pratt were leading citizens and well respected among both the black and white communities of Olathe, Kansas.

John Henry worked for the railroad and Willa took in laundry along with cooking for various people and functions around town. By most standards they were considered “well off.” They had no biological children of their own. And I got to know them both pretty well during a good part of my childhood of the 1960s and 1970s after we came back to Kansas when my father’s active duty Air Force service was finished. I loved and respected them very much.



PRATT CONNECTION

When our mother’s mother was killed in an automobile accident in 1930, our mother was only 6 years old and her sister (our aunt) was a toddler.

HISTORIC NOTE: The Oriole – 1922 Paola High School Year Book. I graduated from Paola High School in 1974 as the Panthers. Our maternal grandfather George Jackson is featured prominently throughout the pages of this publication. And, as you see the Paola, Kansas school district was integrated 32 YEARS BEFORE the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka school desegregation case.


ALL HER CHILDREN ROLL CALL

Our family folklore tells that it wasn’t proper for a widowed man to raise two young girls. Thus the reasoning Willa and John Pratt took our mother and her baby sister in to live with them. And our maternal grandfather George Jackson would subsequently die in a house fire several years later, truly leaving the Jackson sisters orphaned. Our mother, Violet, as a very young girl, would naturally remain inconsolable for many years but would ultimately overcome and have a great life in her own right. That’s another story …

HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH: “Our NCAA Division 1 Athletes” – Richard (d) and Nathaniel at Kivisto Field, University of Kansas where Richard was a music education major, varsity football star, and remains an all-time letterman. He went on to greatness as a successful musician in New York City. Nathaniel was an education major, multi-event varsity track star, and walk-on varsity basketball player at Wichita State University. They were adopted by Willa and John Pratt after our mother divorced their father.

SIBLINGS ROLL CALL: Richard Dean (d); Nathaniel Anthony; Joyce Nadine; Bonnie Jean; Christopher LeRoy; Penny Lynn (d); Mary Jane; Donnie Ray; Michelle Antoine (d); Keith Duane (d).


JOHN HENRY PRATT FAMILY FOLKLORE

John Henry Pratt is a legend in our family and I want to make sure that our children and grandchildren know how significant he is to them too. I hope they tell their assigns about John Henry Pratt for generations to come.

Growing up, we called him “Dilloy” or “Deak.” I still don’t know why or what these nicknames even mean to this day and I’m in my sixties now. My lasting memory of John Henry will be his unpretentious modesty and humbleness. It was clear, even from my perspective as a boy, that the man had his priorities together.

They told me that John Henry was a World War I veteran and he fought in Europe and saw combat duty in Germany. So I asked him about it once and he told me that when his segregated unit encountered the Germans they would not fight the black soldiers. John Henry said a German soldier told him face-to-face that they didn’t have anything against the blacks who were actually politically oppressed peoples like most Germans were then. I was surprised by this but he insisted it was truth.

John Henry built his life around his family, rather than building a family around his life. I liked that. Every successful man I have been in contact with has had their own version of this ethos. At this point in my life, it’s objectively safe to say I have successfully modeled this in my own way. John Henry was a man you could look up to and admire.

They told me he adopted my two older brothers and I asked him why. John Henry told me that it was the right thing to do at the time so he did it. And that was the extent of what he had to say about that topic. John Henry was not at all mean or angry for my asking, but so matter-of-fact about it that my childish curiosity was satisfied and I left it alone.

I recall one terrible argument between my parents and the Pratts were visiting our home. My dad and John Henry used to talk outside by their vehicles. They’d talk about their cars and any other subjects of the day. My dad was frustrated with my mother and was talking lots about their issues to John Henry. John Henry listened and didn’t say anything or interject during my dad’s passionate oration.

When my dad finished, John Henry told him that all of those things were part of being a husband to a woman and a grown ass man. He told my dad that he understood his frustrations as best he could knowing the two of them and their relationship at a distance. John Henry also told my dad that my mom and us children would be taken care of if he were to leave us. That ended the conversation on that topic and they moved on amicably to discussing the football prospects of the Chiefs.


FEATURED PHOTO

“PLAY IT WHERE IT LIES” Father’s Day golf with my youngest brother Keith Duane used to be an annual tradition. He was actually a more than pretty decent golfer. Me not so much. Average at best. Golf is one thing that I actually simply do for “fun.” We simply made a point to do it so we would spend time with each other. That’s cool. I’m almost certain he’d be happy knowing I had my clubs re-gripped and am golfing again.

Parenthood is forever …

Our mother, Vi Burnett said something to me once about her family and us children that I continue to find to be subtly insightful.

“You don’t know what type of people you are raising. You just do your best and hope life doesn’t hurt them too badly that it dampens their spirit.”

— Mom Burnett

She also often quoted the adage that our children are only “on loan to us for a few years.”

But the thing that really stuck most of all is when she said that “you will never forget the times when all of your children were still living in your home.”

I understand her context much better now that I am the exact age she was when she said that to me in the 1990s. And, it’s true.

It’s not that you want to smother your children and keep them from engaging their own lives. It’s that you miss the times and when you finally figure out what you are doing, your kiddos are gone. It’s both beautiful and melancholy at once.

The goal of parenthood – bringing people into the world who didn’t ask to be here – is to nurture positive contributors to this world.

In hindsight, I can say we have done that in parenting both our son and daughter.

We’re equally proud of both of them as kick-ass adults and just as in love with them today as we were on those days we respectively met each of them in their delivery hospitals.

Spring Break Projects

spring = rebirth + renewal


PROJECT #1 – STUFF: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE

My professional recording debut was in 1979 as a soloist with the Hof Symphony Orchestra in Germany.


Hof Symphoniker

Our Army band jazz ensemble performed Concerto for Jazzband and Symphony Orchestra, the 12-tone serial work by Rolf Liebermann, and I played the alto solo. I was still just 22 years old.


Hof Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal – US Army Public Affairs Office Photograph (1979)

In 1984 the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command put together an audio sampler for recruiting musicians. Our young family of four had moved back nearer to my home and lived in Missouri by then. So, I was playing lead alto and touring 8-states in the midwest USA with the 399th Army Band jazz ensemble. It was a very good band. Two of our “live recorded concert” selections were chosen to be included in “An Army Bands Sampler.”



We are in the beginning stages of some major spring cleaning and I came across the latter cassette in relatively pristine condition.


#familymuseum #cassette #analog


PROJECT #2 – DINO MASSA 2020 KC TOUR

Italian Jazz Pianist and Composer, Dino Massa

I met Dino Massa during my tour of duty with the NATO Band based at Naples, Italy. Dino was a masters student at the Naples Conservatory at the time and we used to play jazz gigs during my off-duty hours when the NATO Band was not touring. We reconnected via social media several years ago and resumed our musical collaboration with Dino traveling to Kansas City to perform concerts, master classes and record.



We released “Echoes of Europe” worldwide on the ARC label in 2017 to great reviews. It’s a very nice recording and special in that me and Terri (flute) are performing together again on most of the selections with Dino and several of my closest musical friends and colleagues on the KC scene. This year Dino is coming to perform a concert in Kansas City, teach a couple of master classes at a high school and college, then we’ll record another album for the ARC label.



We are recording original music and the theme for this recording project is inspired by the work of various impressionist artists


DINO MASSA 2020 KC TOUR GALLERY

MARCH 2020 IS WOMEN IN JAZZ MONTH IN KC

The 2020 Dino Massa KC Tour was a wonderful success. Maestro Dino conducted two master classes. Thanks to the Music Departments of USD 453 and KCKCC for having him interact with your students. Dino performed at Westport Coffeehouse Theatre with a quintet of KC artists and thanks to everyone who made it. And the recording session at BRC Audio Productions in Kansas City was very nice as well. We have another very fine album of original compositions for release on the ARC recording label.


LHS MASTER CLASS


KCKCC MASTER CLASS


WESTPORT KC CONCERT


BRC AUDIO PRODUCTIONS RECORDING


The featured photo is the Castel Nuovo, a.k.a. Maschio Angioino, a seat of medieval kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain

One Family + One Tribe


#BlackHistoryMonth 


Thanks to Nicole and Danae at the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center‘s CPAC where Terri Anderson Burnett works for inviting me to speak for one of their “Black History Month” events.

I gave a talk and presentation centered on the topic African Americans and the Vote and enjoyed learning lots while doing the research for this opportunity.

A couple of years ago, I spoke at their “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” event. 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH


One Family

I enjoy discovering new facts while doing research to give talks, presentations, and even music clinics. What I learn each year during Martin Luther King, Jr. and African American recognition periods is always enlightening.

Having added “Papa” and “Nana” (grandfather and grandmother) to our monikers, we’ve now actually lived lots of significant and interesting “history” ourselves.

Ultimately, we’ve found that despite the inherent issues and myths within human society, the fact is that there is only one race – the human race. We are one family.


One Tribe

According to a Harvard study, music is indeed the “universal language.”

This and other contemporary studies reinforce my beliefs in this regard as well.

No matter where we’ve visited or lived in the world, we were able to communicate with others through the common bond of music. That’s cool.


VISION 20/20


#MissouriMusicEducatorsAssociation #Clinician


On January 24, 2020, I had the honor and privilege of sharing research and methods with my colleagues and peers at the annual Missouri Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop Conference. Sponsored by MMEA and Conn-Selmer, Inc.

T went with me and we had a pretty good time together as well.

Love never fails

Our late mother Vi Burnett was a major inspirational force to me, my siblings, and many others as well. I often think of the things she used to say at times when a situation brings her voice forward in my thoughts. Thus, she is quoted often in our family blog.

PHOTO: Mom’s apartment in Paola, Kansas – 2006

Mom Burnett was a renaissance womaneven before using the word ‘renaissance’ to refer to someone who had figured out most of the handles of their life was cool.

In the latter years of her working life, mom went back to playing the piano. Having had private piano lessons as a child, picking it up again was not an issue for her.

Mom eventually held the position as church pianist at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church where we attended during the years after our family had settled back in her paternal hometown of Paola, Kansas. A minister of music.

That church no longer exists and most of the living descendants of that wonderful church community from our youth no longer reside in that city. But it remains significant to me because it is where I got my start in music singing in the youth choir. I eventually added woodwind instruments at school and mom encouraged me.

Our family attended Sunday school and church every week growing up, went to summer Vacation Bible School classes, participated in seasonal programs produced by the church, etc. We continued these type traditions with our own children too.

Admittedly, we have learned over the years that such faith is ultimately a personal choice, – but we sincerely believe in and live by Christian principles, pray in good times and bad, and over the years have learned that family is not always limited to people who are related to you by blood.

We have a great foundation.

Living it is not just about going to a church on Sunday.

It’s about Love.

Loving one another.

The Burnett Family branches made up of our children and grandchildren add another dimension to all of this.

We are blessed to have so much love in our lives …

L – O – V – E

“TRICK OR TREAT! – Colonial Williamsburg.
Hey, there’s OWLETTE – from PJ Masks

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“The Nana Tour” – Highlights Gallery

2019 Nana Tour

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.