While the lack of signage at the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum might make it a bit hard to find, jazz lovers kinda like it that way. When the MCLM turns into a jazz club, the lack of sign is a sign itself. “You kinda know you are in the right place,” said a patron who’d driven up from Orange County “Like if you have to ask, we can’t tell you.”
The second Double M Jazz Salon of the year was one of those historic moments that will be part of the legend for years to come. When Mimi Melnick created the Double M Jazz Salon, it was at her home in Encino. After her passing, it relocated to the MCLM, and the show on Sunday, July 15 featured a new tribute to John Coltrane, an unexpected drop in from a horn legend, and an Olympic track star more remembered for how he received his medal than for running his event. The house was filled with jazz fans, barely an open seat to be seen.
The format always begins with an interview before the music, and the knowledgable Jeffery Winston interviewed both saxophone star Teodross Avery and drum legend Marvin “Smitty” Smith. The crowd had a chance to get some insight and background on how those musicians approached their craft. Winston is an interviewer who knows how to open the door and allow his subjects to walk through it as they like, both educating and entertaining everyone in the deal.
Trane Stories, a tribute to Coltrane, and new album by key board artist Theo Saunders, was the focus for the musicians, accompanied by spoken word artist and director of the World Stage, Dwight Trible. The music, both Coltrane and Coltrane-inspired, covered a wide slice of the discography with skill and passion. Moving from Love Supreme to Afro Blue with nuance and detail by players who have studied Coltrane closely, it was a profound pleasure. All the more so when Azar Lawrence, who has been featured previously at Double M, dropped by and sat in with his horn, trading solo space with Teodross Avery. During a complex solo, Lawrence’s saxophone came apart, and when he was unable to get the horn back in one piece, Avery gracious loaned his instrument and stood by smiling from ear to ear as Lawrence completed the passage.
Before the second set, MCLM Director Lloyd Clayton was delighted to introduce Olympic track champion Dr. John Carlos, famed for his raised fist at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics while receiving his bronze medal for the 200 meter sprint. Dr. Carlos noted that the press had hijacked his intention; “This was about human rights, not about Black Power. They limit the definition of what that fist meant.” This on the 50th anniversary of the Mexico City Olympics, Dr. Carlos encouraged everyone to keep human rights in the forefront.
With the acclaimed Olympian and the unexpected horn wizard, it was an amazing afternoon of jazz. The incredible band was Theo Saunders, piano – the genius behind Trane Stories – Henry “The Skipper” Franklin, on bass; Marvin “Smitty” Smith, drums; both Teodross Avery and Azar Lawrence on saxophones and Dwight Trible, vocals and spoken word.
The next Double M Jazz Salon will take place in November. You will kinda know you are in the right place.