Reedist Bennie Maupin, whom I interviewed in the Jazz Talk Tent at the Detroit Jazz Festival in 2006, says “One thing about Detroit, you learn how to make money.” Another thing he recalls from his youth: “There’s a lot of noise here because of the factories, and early on I listened to things that were basically noise. Now I incorporate those elements into my music in certain ways.”
Maupin has made beautiful recordings under his own name recently, but is probably still best known for playing bass clarinet throughout Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew as if trawling the bottom of a murky sea. He opened up to me about his youth, including a job as a lab specimen handler, newspaper boy and ash-seller — and much else, over 45 minutes you can now hear online, thanks to Jim Gallert of JazzStage Productions.
Gallert and his historian partner Lars Bjorn run a fine website on the continuum of Detroit music with Charles L. Latimer and H. Fred Reif. I hope whoever takes over the Detroit Jazz Fest from highly acclaimed but recently disassociated artistic and executive director Terri Pontremoli will keep the onstage interviews going. Like so much else Ms. Pontremoli did for the Detroit fest in the past decade, the Jazz Talk Tent was an innovation that worked to bring musicians and audiences together.