Swinging with the Spirits at the SereNgeti
BY LARS BJÖRN
SereNgeti Ballroom hosted a unique musical production on November 17th
and 18th. Singer Dee Dee McNeil has written a jazz stage play, called
"Swinging with the Spirits," that is a tribute to WDET's
Ed Love. The play celebrated
not only Love's contributions, but also the particular values of the
jazz community, e.g., communal solidarity and the importance of improvisation.
Directed by Edward G. Smith,
the play featured a couple (Mr. and Mrs. Spirit) listening to the Ed
Love Show in their home. Their dialogue was interspersed with Love's
recorded voice and live performances by many of Detroit's best musicians.
The Spirit characters were given a lot of life by the skillful acting
of Ronald Trice and Sandra Love Aldridge. It was, however, the combination
of dialogue and live music that made the stage come alive.
The play is organized around
thirteen tributes to past jazz greats, too many to mention in much detail.
Pipho (right) was very impressive on "The Nearness of You,"
his tribute to Milt Jackson. Betty Carter was skillfully memorialized
by Ursula Walker on "The Man I Love," and we heard an interesting
excerpt from the Ed Love show with Carter discussing Ella and Carmen.
Shahida Nurullah sang a beautiful version of Sarah Vaughan's "Midnight
Sun," and Harvey Thompson did a swinging version of Joe Williams'
"All Right Okay You Win." Pianist Tad Weed gave a swinging
tribute to the Three Sounds, featuring a cameo appearance by the Sounds'
drummer, Bill Dowdy. Other memorable instrumental performances were
Larry Smith's tribute to Charlie Parker and Rayse Biggs' tribute to
I attended the first night and
heard that Love would be in the audience the following day. I am sure
he was gratified by this heartfelt tribute to the role he has played
in the Detroit jazz community for forty years. The Jazz Alliance of
Michigan should be congratulated for putting on this play.
Above: Mr. and Mrs. Spirit, seated beneath a projection
screen, listen as vibist Pipho performs.
photographs by Lars Björn
I N - T H I S - I S S U E :
1. BIRD OF PARADISE ORCHESTRA---2.
3. RECORD REVIEWS---4.
BENNY GREEN TRIO
5. SWINGING WITH THE SPIRITS---