The Windy City

On September 10, 2017, following a semi-annual Huguely family reunion fall Executive Committee meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, rather than return to Baltimore immediately, I “improvised” and decided instead to head west on Interstate 64 (I-64), and then north on I-65. Five hours later, at a “moments notice”, I arrived safely that Sunday night 20 miles outside of Chicago at the home of my big brother and his wife. My brother, the oldest of seven children and having spent his entire life in Detroit, along with his wife and their youngest son, relocated to Chicago in January 2003 after his company (AND his position) moved there following a company merger, acquisition, and downsizing. Unfortunately, such practices by companies were not uncommon throughout the rust belt since the 1990s, and especially in the once hustling, bustling “Motor City” of Detroit, which had been undergoing huge economic challenges since the mid-1980s. And unforgivably, when this family move occurred, my brother, a budget officer with a railroad system company for 37 years, was only seven years away from retiring with a full pension and a mortgage almost fully paid off. Oh well… With his move to Chicago in 2003, to my five sisters’ collective displeasure, it was a rare occasion that the seven of us were all together. My brother and I often played “Detroit Tag”. When he visited Detroit, I was in California or Maryland, and when I visited Detroit, he was in Chicago… “The Windy City” has long been a legendary and historic locale well known for its fertile music ground, producing such Jazz luminaries and native sons as: Nat King Cole, Johnny Griffin, Von Freeman, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Harris, Jack DeJohnette, Ramsey Lewis, Maurice White, and Henry Johnson, just to name a few. So, while spending a few days of leisure with my brother, now retired, and his wife, I wanted to make sure to check out a few local Jazz spots (of course), which I’d never done before during the few previous visits. I last visited Chicago in 2015. At the time of my 2017 visit, the two main downtown Jazz venues that I was aware of were the Green Mill and Jazz Showcase. The former was the long-time residency spot for the great guitarist Bobby Broom and his Deep Blue Organ Trio, featuring organist Chris Foreman and drummer Greg Rockingham. So after crashing my brother’s Monday morning Senior Classic Mixed bowling league (as an observer), taking in a few movies, and dining out at Olive Garden, that Tuesday night, we checked out the famous Jazz Showcase, located in the heart of downtown Chicago, where the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective (CSJC) was to appear. The CSJC was formed earlier that year when, during a break at a recording session for a country singer, tenor saxophonist John Fournier and trumpeter Marques Carroll began chatting about how each one turned to his Soul-Jazz records for solace. The duo then decided to form an ensemble to perform the classics, as well as lesser-known Soul-Jazz tunes. Adding a guitarist to the front line, the sextet would drive toward head-shaking, hard-grooving, spirit-lifting original music influenced by popular 1960s/70s classic Soul-Jazz. And, true to form, the CSJC delivered that night, performing several toe-tapping, head-nodding, and finger-snapping tunes, and swung very hard! My brother and sister-in-law thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the music. That Wednesday morning, after a good night’s sleep (and recuperation) and a hearty home-cooked breakfast, I hit I-80/I-70 east back to Baltimore, with the Windy City at my back, safely arriving back home 11 hours later. :v)