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Saturday Night Central Celebrates Beans


Awonderful tribute to Beans Bowles was held at Central Methodist Church in downtown Detroit on Sunday, June 6. Some of Detroit's jazz musicians showed up as did the regulars at Central Methodist's Saturday Night Central Jazz Service. Bowles has been the main attraction for two years at these services and it clearly means a lot to him and the people who have attended.

The New Graystone Jazz Orchestra was one of the main attractions and, as usual, they gave their listeners old chestnuts with a lot of swinging spirit. The band was led by trombonist Ed Gooch, but it included so many veteran bandleaders it is hard to imagine they needed much direction. A number of pianists — Harold McKinney, Charles Boles, Claude Black, Taslima Bey, and Teddy Harris — showed off their stuff. The ivory ticklers also gave wonderful tributes to Bowles with some great stories. One story was told by Charles Boles, who, for decades, has been confused with Thomas Beans Bowles. He particularly remembered a vocalist he worked with for some time who could not even keep them apart. If you ever saw the two next to each other you would find this hard to believe! The Three Divas (Ange Smith, Ola Hemphill and Edie Thompson) who are a regular feature of Saturday Night Central sang several numbers. Smith's theme song composed for the event was a highlight as the audience joined in.

The most poignant event of the night was when Beans Bowles had a chance to tell us how he was doing. He told of his ongoing struggle with cancer: "It's been a great road. The Lord has been good to me.... I am not afraid to meet my maker. I've been ill with cancer since 1991 — but last week I played two gigs." He freely admitted that at present he also suffers from weakness, mainly due to difficulties with breathing. Clearly music is still one of the things that keep him going. He mustered enough strength to sing several lines from "I'll Be Seeing You" and I hope I will be seeing more of Beans too. As was repeatedly testified to, he is a man with a lot of spirit.


Southeastern Michigan
Jazz Association

Ann Arbor, Michigan

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