Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR Michigan Tour Diary — Day 11 April 19-21 Kalamazoo, Potterville, Traverse City, Hillsdale
On Saturday Sassy and I checked into the 'Billy Hart Suite' at the home of Tom and Renata Knific in Kalamazoo, a distinctly modern two-story house with soaring cathedral ceilings, clerestory windows and musical instruments in every room.
We had a wonderful time visiting with the Knifics, two very well-traveled and respected musicians who also happen to be warm, soulful people, sharing stories around their table and playing with their beautiful Weimaraner Lara.
Tom, a world class bassist and educator who chairs the jazz department at Western Michigan University, is a very important person to me. 30 years ago he was my teacher at Interlochen Arts Academy and one of the first people to take my jazz aspirations seriously. When I say that Interlochen changed my life, I'm talking about Tom Knific.
We've stayed in touch over the years and have run into one another from time to time at industry events, but this week was our first opportunity to work together. For me it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
The Union Cabaret & Grille is a beautiful venue, a joint venture between a visionary group of investors and the WMU music department. We had a magical night. The band (featuring Corey Kendrick, Marcus Elliot and Sean Dobbins) was in fine form, playing with heart and finesse. WMU jazz bought us all dinner, and Tom presided over everything --- the Jazz Mayor of Kalamazoo!
On Easter Sunday we visited Lela Horton and her husband Bill in Potterville. Lela made us a late breakfast of biscuits and gravy. It was interesting to meet Bill, to see where they live, and find out what it's like to enjoy a home cooked meal prepared by my own mother (not bad).
Monday was another big driving day for Sassy. At 7 AM (zero hour) I gave a master class at Traverse City West High School. At 7 PM I did the same at Hillsdale College, 250 miles south.