The Recording Academy played host to GRAMMYs On The Road at the Detroit Jazz Festival on Aug. 31 – Sept. 3 in downtown Detroit. GRAMMY.com conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including pianist Buddy Budson and vocalist Ursula Walker, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band's Ben Jaffe.
Budson and Walker discussed the history of jazz in Detroit, career highlights, advice for aspiring musicians, and hearing health, among other topics.
"My advice to my students is always to learn your craft. That will take care of everything else," said Budson. "It's good to have an eye toward business and everything else, but the main thing is if you learn your craft the other things will pretty much take care of themselves."
A husband-and-wife duo, Budson and Walker are mainstays on the Detroit jazz scene. As a pianist, Budson began playing in local clubs at age 15. In 1973 he joined Buddy Rich's big band and subsequently toured the United States, the UK and Australia. Budson has also performed with artists such as Henry Mancini, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis Jr., and Marlena Shaw, among others. Budson is also a composer and leader of his own sextet, releasing On With Their Heads in 2005.
Walker's first public performance came at age 11 on the local Detroit TV show "Auntie Dee." Balancing her family life with her career, Walker earned her renown locally as a versatile jazz vocalist and fielded offers to tour with luminary artists such as Stan Kenton, Count Basie and Tony Bennett. In August Walker received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Detroit Black Music Awards, honoring her 60-year local career. Budson and Walker have been performing together for more than 40 years.
Jaffe discussed the experience of living through Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the recent Hurricane Isaac, the New Orleans music scene and his history with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, among other topics.
"The connection that music has to our community is our nourishment," said Jaffe. "Food nourishes our body and music nourishes our soul. That's what music is to us in New Orleans. "
Jaffe is the current creative director of Preservation Hall and tuba player for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a collective he joined in 1993. Born and raised in New Orleans, he is the son of Allan and Sandra Jaffe, the co-founders of the venerable French Quarter venue Preservation Hall. The current band lineup includes Jaffe, Mark Braud (trumpet/vocals), Charlie Gabriel (clarinet/vocals), Ronell Johnson (tuba), Joseph Lastie Jr. (drums), Freddie Lonzo (trombone), Clint Maedgen (tenor saxophone/vocals), and Rickie Monie (piano). This month the band will release two new recordings, St. Peter And 57th St., a live album featuring special guests such as Steve Earle, My Morning Jacket, Trombone Shorty, and Allen Toussaint, among others; and The Preservation Hall 50th Anniversary Collection, a four-disc box set spanning recordings released between 1962–2010.
In addition to artist interviews, The Recording Academy also presented GRAMMY SoundTables featuring Detroit Jazz Festival performers discussing their music and careers. Participants included GRAMMY winners Terence Blanchard, Gary Burton and Joe Lovano.
Come back tomorrow for more GRAMMYs On The Road at Detroit Jazz Festival coverage.