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Tribute concert launching Marcus Belgrave Scholarship Fund

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016

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The nearly 10 months since Detroit trumpet great Marcus Belgrave's death have not made his absence any easier for family and friends -- and particularly for his musical colleagues and proteges.

Marion Hayden felt that in recent weeks, when she returned from some out of town jazz events at Notre Dame and Interlochen. "Before he would be one of the first people I'd call to talk about what I did or who I saw, and he could give me first-hand accounts of so many of them because he knew them personally," the Detroit-based bassist, bandleader and jazz educator -- one of the participants in this weeks inaugural Marcus Belgrave Scholarship Fundraiser -- says. "He was always my go-to person like that, and it just occurred to me how much I miss his council and his leadership on so many matters."

And then, of course, there's Belgrave's music, a decades-long repertoire ranging from his own compositions to his work with Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, B.B. King and many more.

"We can only hear his horn on recordings now, which is at least beautiful to have," says Hayden, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan's Department of Jazz and Improvisational Studies. Belgrave died May 24 at the age of 78. "But there's nothing like standing right next to him, hearing the sound of his breath going into that trumpet, seeing his creation on a moment to moment basis.

"It's just every special, and those are singular moments I'll never forget and will miss."

The Belgrave scholarship concert -- the first formal celebration of his memory since his funeral on May 30 -- takes place Thursday, March 10, at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Organized by his widow, vocalist Joan Belgrave, the event will feature performances by Hayden, trumpeters Rayse Biggs and Dwight Adams, saxophonist James Carter, pianist Geri Allen and drummer Karriem Riggins, as well as student musicians Belgrave was working with at the time of his death. Proceeds from the event go to the Marcus Belgrave Scholarship Fund, which will be administered by the Jazz Development Workshop.

The repertoire will include pieces from Belgrave's long association with Lawrence Williams as well as his own writing, plus "Space Odyssey," one of his early forays into blending jazz and electronic music.

"Terre's no one thing that will stand out. They'll all shine," Hayden says. "The idea is to have people understand that Marcus was so very influential and impactful. Everything he did was in the context of really good, finely written and arranged music. It's all so authentic.

"So I think from top to bottom, the whole thing will speak to his legacy."

The 1st Marcus Belgrave Scholarship Fundraiser

7 p.m. Thursday, March 10.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren St., Detroit.

Tickets are $25 and $100 VIP.

Call 313-64-8552 or visit marcusbelgrave.com.

Web Site: www.marcusbelgrave.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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