Someone who has made it her mission to harness contemporary jazz for the benefit of others is Detroit based music writer, photographer and broadcaster Marissa Caliguire. In 2010 she masterminded the charity release 'C Notes For Haiti' which featured a wonderful selection of jazz-infused R&B from the likes of Kloud 9, Darnell Kendricks, Nick Colionne and Rick Braun. Proceeds went to aid those impacted by the disastrous quake that hit the island in January of that year and now she is back with a brand new charitable venture. When recently I met with Marrisa at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego I was eager to discover what this new project, 'Jazz With A Cause', was all about.
"Well" Marissa explained, "After 'C Notes For Haiti' I really wanted to do something else. You know, I didn't want it to be a one off. Also I live in Detroit, MI and was already aware of some very worthy causes right on my doorstep. I thought it would be cool to do something about it."
I had noticed that 'Jazz With A Cause' had evolved into a very Detroit centered venture and I wondered if that had been deliberate.
"Absolutely" Marissa confirmed. "First of all there are those who will benefit from 'Jazz With A Cause'. The city's 'Adopt A School Program' has been created to put musical instruments back into the schools of Detroit. In so many ways music is the heartbeat of the city. Anything that enables and encourages young musicians can only be good for them and for Detroit. Then of course there are the musicians who have so generously made their music available for 'Jazz With A Cause'. They have been incredible."
With the exception of Nick Colionne and Pete Gitlin, all the artists who have contributed to 'Jazz With A Cause' are Michigan based. Consequently the album serves as a superb showcase for some of the area's brightest rising stars. I asked Marissa what categorizes contemporary jazz Detroit style.
"It's soulful and it's prolific" she said, with a passion that typifies almost everything that she does. "The music is very much at the urban end of the contemporary jazz spectrum and is supported by a great live scene that gives new artists the opportunity to get out and perform. Detroit is an exciting place to be."
Marissa has clearly transferred this excitement to 'Jazz With A Cause' and a case in point is 'Summertime' by bass player and Lansing native Orrick Ewing. He toured extensively with the late Wayman Tisdale and the track clearly identifies the influence that Tisdale has had on Ewing's playing. With a flavor of 'Aint No Stopping Us Now' it's a tune with which to party and equally good is the streetwise 'Urban Funk' by saxophonist Yancyy. Arguably the best track on the album it is taken from his 2010 release 'Sax Chronicles Vol 1'and comes highly recommended.
'Jazz With A Cause' not only benefits a tremendous cause but is also replete with wonderful music. I queried what, for Marissa, might be next.
"I'm already thinking about a new charitable project for 2012" she told me "and am continuously working to make my website www.mycnotes.net the place to be for contemporary jazz."
With a love for music which shines like a beacon the chances are that whatever Marissa Caliguire turns to next will be a raging success.