Marcus Belgrave, The “Soul of Detroit Jazz”

Marcus Belgrave Is An Unsung Jazz Hero

In David Brooks’ new book, The Road to Character, he makes the distinction between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” The former are the glittering accomplishments we pack into our CVs; the latter, the qualities by which we’re remembered.

Judging by the actual eulogies recently given Marcus Belgrave (June 12, 1936-May 23, 2015), he appeared to live his life by the “eulogy virtues.” He was a mentor and teacher to countless young musicians–a teacher both in the classroom and by example. He founded the Jazz Development Workshop in Detroit, which he ran for about 40 years. According to MLivestudents from the workshop have gone on to perform with Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder,  Justin Timberlake, and other notable musicians. Reflecting on his career as teacher and mentor, Jazz Times said “The jazz world is immeasurably richer for Belgrave’s staying home.”

Marcus Belgrave Lottie’s Mood

But it’s not as if Belgrave was lacking in impressive accomplishments as a horn player. He toured for five years with Ray Charles, played with Charles Mingus and Max Roach, and was a frequent contributor to the Motown sound. While the recording studio was not his priority, he did release several respected albums, including Gemini II (1974), Working Together (1992), Live at Kerrytown Concert House, Vol. 1 (1993-1995),  In the Tradition (2002) with Doc Cheatham and Art Hodes, and You Don’t Know Me: Tribute to New Orleans, Ray Charles and the Great Ladies of Song (2006) featuring Joan Belgrave and Charlie Gabriel.

Marcus Belgrave Marcia’s Opal

For more on Belgrave, from a local Detroit perspective, check out the post by Rich Brown in the blog “Good Music Speaks.”