Photo Friday: Feasting Together

The Center hopes you and your loved ones had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and that you were able to have a great meal together like these Cranbrook students back in 1935!

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Cranbrook School for Boys Dining Hall. Photographer, Dick G. Askew, June 1935.

Kevin Adkisson, Collections Fellow

Experimental Jazz at Cranbrook

Last week’s post about jazz legend, Dave Brubeck, led to water cooler discussions and Facebook murmurings about additional jazz collaborations here at Cranbrook. Thanks to an inquiry on Facebook I discovered the great story of Yusef Lateef’s Cranbrook connection.

Lateef was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1920, but grew up in Detroit. After graduating from high school he began playing professionally in swing bands at the age of 18. In 1949, he was invited to tour with Dizzy Gillespie and his orchestra. A year later, he returned to Detroit to begin his studies in composition and flute at Wayne State University. He eventually received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and his Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Lateef’s main instruments were the tenor sax and flute, though he played many other traditional and non-traditional instruments.

In the late 1950s, Lateef was invited to perform at Cranbrook by members of the Academy of Art Student Council. The Council thought it would be worthwhile for art students to learn something about another form of artistic expression – in this case, jazz. In April 1958, Lateef performed in the galleries at the Academy of Art. Seating  capacity was limited and patrons sat on pillows on the floor.

Promotional material for the jazz concert, April 9, 1958. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Promotional material for the jazz concert, April 9, 1958. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

It turned out the students and Lateef were of one mind about the value of exchange between the arts, and agreed that the concerts should be held in the galleries, rather than an auditorium. Lateef had a reputation for experimental sounds, and the audience was treated to a concert that included non-traditional instruments, such as an inflated balloon and a 7-Up bottle.

Pianist, Terry Pollard, plays the 7-Up bottle. Harvey Croze, photographer. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Pianist, Terry Pollard, plays the 7-Up bottle. Harvey Croze, photographer. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

One of the great treats of this collaboration was a recording from that night! The LP, “Yusef Lateef at Cranbrook,” includes the following pieces: Morning, Brazil, Let Every Soul Say Amen, and Woody ‘N’ You. In 1988 Lateef received a Grammy award for Best New Age album and in 2010, he received the Jazz Master Fellow award from the National Endowment of the Arts. When Lateef passed away in 2013, he had recorded more than 75 albums.

Yusef Lateef and his band perform in the CAA galleries. Harvey Croze, photographer. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Yusef Lateef and his band perform in the CAA galleries. Harvey Croze, photographer. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

 

 

Contemporary Jazz Finds Its Way to Cranbrook

For more than 60 years, the Cranbrook Music Guild has been providing chamber music to Oakland County residents. The Guild, started by a group of music lovers in 1951, wanted to promote and provide chamber music on the beautiful grounds of Cranbrook. Consequently, the first Cranbrook Festival was held during the summer that year. While the early years focused on presenting classical music, including performances by the Julliard String Quartet and the Detroit Symphony Wind Quartet, by 1959 the Guild members were looking to expand the roster and even included ballet in the summer program.

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Encouraged by the response during the 1959 season, the summer of 1960 featured the Michigan Chorale (a 100-mixed voice ensemble), the Severo Ballet accompanied by the DSO, and even a jazz concert in order to “present the best in all fields of art.” The first two performances were, as usual, held at the Greek Theatre. The third of the season was the Dave Brubeck Quartet. One Rochester [Michigan] News reporter called it “the Guild’s boldest experiment” to date. In anticipation of a capacity crowd, the performance was held at the football stadium at Cranbrook School instead of the Greek Theatre, which is a smaller venue.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Cranbrook School, July 14, 1960. Harvey Croze, photographer. Copyright Cranbrook Archives.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Cranbrook School, July 14, 1960. Harvey Croze, photographer. Copyright Cranbrook Archives.

In 1960, the members of The Dave Brubeck Quartet were Dave Brubeck (piano), Paul Desmond (alto saxophone), Joe Morello (drums), and Eugene Wright (double bass). The concert at Cranbrook was held on Sunday afternoon, July 14th at 4:30 pm. While the Guild was hopeful for a full house of 2,000, more than 1,100 people actually attended, still beating the Guild’s previous attendance record of 775.

Cranbrook Music Guild Records. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Cranbrook Music Guild Records. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

While I was not able to find any notes or articles about what the Quartet played at Cranbrook, it is highly likely that they played at least a few songs from their album, “Time Out,” which was recorded in 1959. Most of you will recognize the song “Take Five” from the album, which became one of their most popular. It is fun to imagine sitting outside at the stadium (now known as Thompson Oval) listening to this “new jazz.”

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Chris Morton for bringing this event to our attention!

 

The Skeptics Tale

The dichotomy of reading is much like the daily work undertaken in the archives. Reading, like research, can feel private, almost sacrosanct, something to escape to; on the other hand, there is a great draw to share the stories and information one discovers, seek commentary and comparison, enlighten someone’s thought process. As archivists, it is our job to assist researchers on their paths to discovery. Often times this direction and assistance leads us to insights as well. In fact, I have yet to assist a researcher along their path of inquiry without further developing my own along the way.

This was very much the case last week while I was scouring our collections for autumnal ephemera to add color to our Facebook followers’ harvest season. In my seasonally focused search I was delighted to come across Cranbrook’s very own ghost story—Cranbrook Boasts a Ghost; or, The Skeptics Tale, by Henry Scripps Booth (Thistle, as he was commonly known). I was intrigued and excited — what a timely discovery, what with Halloween just around the corner! And while I was enticed by the mystery, and enjoyed reading the descriptions of the vaulted spaces of St. Dunstan’s chapel [editor’s note: St. Dunstan’s is at Christ Church Cranbrook] filled with apparitions (a place I was lucky enough to tour, and you can too!) The Skeptics Tale, more importantly, reiterated an intrinsic truth about Cranbrook – that it is a space imagined and created by many minds and hands.

Christ Church Cranbrook, from "Highlights of Detroit". Cut by Eugene Reeber, Jefferson Intermediate School, 1932.

Christ Church Cranbrook, from “Highlights of Detroit”. Cut by Eugene Reeber, Jefferson Intermediate School, 1932.

Throughout the tale, I gained a sense of workmanship and craft, two features indicative of most spaces on Cranbrook’s sprawling campus. The characters in the tale pined over the construction of the brilliant structure, venerating its beauty as a testament to their commitment to their craft. It is, however, only near the end of the short story where I began to feel (if not see) the intentions of individuals who worked throughout the years to craft Cranbrook into the sprawling idyllic landscape of natural and man-made elements we know today.

“He discovered familiar faces in that strange assembly—faces of men who had lived and worked at Cranbrook. There before him was Tony by the column which bears his name; Mike Vettraino; Henry Booth, the coppersmith; his distinguished-looking father with the sideburns who brought the craftsman’s tradition from the ancient Cranbrook to this continent. There in the fourth chair of the fifth row: Milles, famed for his sculpture; a row or two behind, Saarinen, famed for his buildings; and nearby, Kirk, the silversmith.”

Though only apparitions in The Skeptics Tale, these individuals’ real accomplishments and contributions to Cranbrook, along with those of countless other influential men, women, and students, can be discovered through our collections. In the spirit of the season, we invite you to journey into our crypt and discover some of their stories yourself.

Belinda Krencicki, Associate Archivist

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