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Really The Blues

An American Original, This Music Born of Heartbreak But Full of Joy Is Ultimately Simple Yet Hard to Define
T. Brooks Shepard
From the Print Edition:
John F. Kennedy, Nov/Dec 98

(continued from page 6)

Such talent needs fertile soil in which to blossom, which is why the endurance of the blues also depends on people like Lee Gray from Fort Adams, Mississippi ,who moved to Chicago in 1967 and, with her husband, opened Lee's Unleaded Blues Cocktail Lounge on the South Side. Lee started her club because, she says, "I enjoy entertaining. Lee's Unleaded gives a lot of local entertainers a chance to perform. It gives people a chance to come and sing, like Pat Scott, Little Al and 'Leroy Jones, The Junk Yard Dog.' "

It's clear that this magical, ethereal art form depends on so many talents and tender mercies for its survival, but the question remains: what is the blues? Well, one thing is for sure: the blues does not discriminate. There is magic and something authentic that reaches out and touches each and every one of us. As the late and great musician-philosopher Dexter Gordon once said to me, with emphasis, clarity, patience and finality, in answer to my myriad of musical questions, as we sat alone in the back of a nearly empty jet on a flight from Paris to Palma, Spain: "It's all the blues, T."

T. Brooks Shepard, a music producer and freelance writer, profiled Dizzy Gillespie in the May/June 1997 issue of Cigar Aficionado.

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