Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 5/29 & Tues 6/2


Marcus Belgrave, who died the other day at the age of 78, was hardly known at all outside the jazz world, and even within jazz was seldom regarded as a major star, but he’d been everywhere in the music: on Motown hits, for years with Ray Charles’ big band, on Lord knows how many modern jazz sessions though he also played first rate New Orleans trumpet—he was the very definition of a complete musician, and the level of knowledge, artistry, dedication and heart it takes to play at his level in a music as richly developed as jazz is something that few people aside from musicians will ever grasp; and in Belgrave’s case, they knew. On top of that, he kept his playing intact well into his 70s, not so easy on trumpet, and his recent duets with Geri Allen proves he dunnit, so this week’s Updoc tribute—8PM Friday and noon next Tuesday, One-Hour-East-of-Detroit time—begins with one of those and then browses awhile. Call him a journeyman musician if you like, but that was some journey, man. To my shame, I was less aware of Bob Belden, who died unexpectedly young of a heart attack not long after Belgrave, and intend to get to more of his music on future shows. This week, some selections from his film-noir epic, Grammy-winning suite The Blue Dahlia will start us off. The Big D shadows the non-jazz portion of the show as well, though there’s not a morbid note within earshot of two great artists’ famous last words. I came across a string orchestration of Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata, played by the great Yuri Bashmet and conducted by Gidon Kremer, necessarily less austere than the viola-and-piano version, but the final triplet figures, less obviously lifted, when heard on strings, from the Moonlight Sonata, still sound like a man’s last steps ascending out of this world into the next. The show concludes with Bach’s last fugue, in a fine performance by the Keller String Quartet on a new ECM disc, which breaks off at a famously spooky moment as the old man, sight and body failing at the age of 65, introduces a new motif based on the notes B-A-C-H, as if this incomparable artist, whose work ascended far beyond the merely personal, encountered a last lick of fate that would not let him sign his name. Ooo-eee-ooo, but that’s not a chill you feel, that’s a frisson, and transcendence.

One Response to “Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 5/29 & Tues 6/2”

  1. Hi Rafi

    Hello from an old fan!

    I was a fan of your work in Musician, but have only just found you online. Haven’t yet heard Updoc (I live in Spain and am time zone challenged), but have been pouring over your set lists with interest.

    Thanks for all the good advice!