Brushes with Greatness; Greatness with Brushes

DC and Ronald Bruner Jr

At the urging of Cat Brown, I went to Kamasi Washington’s concert at Legacy. An incredible performance of musicianship and powerful music. True masters, all. Very humbling, to be sure.

Afterwards, Ronald Bruner Jr, one of Mr Washington’s two drummers approached me. “I saw you out there!” he told me with more than usual excitement. I had no idea what had brought me to his enthusiastic attention during what must have been an extremely demanding performance. He was distracted by other matters but returned after about ten minutes to exclaim again, with a playfully wagging finger, “I saw you out there!”

Then he came to the crux of the biscuit when he told me, “I’m going to tell you something that I know you’ll appreciate: I played in a band with George Duke.”

Suddenly it made sense; why he had spotted me in a chock-a-block SRO crowd. I was wearing a Frank Zappa T-shirt. (see photo) As anyone with sufficient ZQ would know, George Duke was the monster Jazz keyboardist who played with Zappa for many years.

Mr Bruner saw Frank’s image on my shirt and determined to interact with me as a Zappa fan.

“Allow me to shake the hand of a man who played with George Duke” I said with sincere graciousness. As we shook, he then said “You’d be surprised who else that hand has played with.” I thought that an unfortunate turn of phrase, but held my tongue.

“I knew that you would be somebody who would appreciate knowing I’d played with George Duke.”

He was dead right, of course. It was an honor to chat with such an esteemed player who had worked with folks I’ve idolized for decades.

We took the obligatory photo and off he went to his next encounter.

Googling his name, I found out who else that hand had played with: Dianne Reeves, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Kenny Garrett, Stanley Clarke, Roy Hargrove, Suicidal Tendencies, Marcus Miller, George Duke, Tribal Tech, Lee Ritenour, Michael Landau, Kirk Whalum, Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Patrice Rushen, Ron Carter, Melvin Lee Davis, Clark Terry, Dianne Reeves, Johnny Griffin, Raphael Saadiq, Bobby Rodriguez, The Heath Brothers. Horace Tapscott, Tracy Spencer, Black Rice, The Young Jazz Giants, Gerald Albright, J. K. Kleutgens, Mike Phillips, Jonathan Butler, Al Jarreau, Q-Tip from Tribe Called Quest, J*Davey, Rachelle Ferrell, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Jeffrey Osborne, BeBe Winans, James Ingram, Erykah Badu, Alan Holdsworth, Stevie Wonder, Vanessa Williams, Jennifer Hudson, Doug E. Fresh, Tony Grey, Cheryl Lynn, Ray Parker Jr., Prince, Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar.

Mutherfeck! I’d shaken the hands of an absolute monster of jazz.
Taiwan been beddy, beddy good to me.

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