Something I noticed…

The Origins of Rev. Dr. Bill E. Bob

Wondering how I came to be called (okay, okay, call myself!) The Rt. Rev. Dr. Uncle Billy Bob Jackson Brown Berry Black, Jr. Esq.,

When my niece was, let’s just say, much younger, I’d ask her what my name was. When she called me “Uncle Bill,” I said “no, I’m Uncle Bill.”

The next time we’d talk, my name grew to be “Uncle Billy Bob.” Then, “Uncle Billy Bob Jackson,” then Jackson Brown, etc.

This went on for years until, as a teenager, she quit playing the game. By then, with very little additional embellishment, we had “The Rt. Rev. Dr. Uncle Billy Bob Jackson Brown Berry Black, Jr. Esq.,”

But you can just call me Bill E. Bob, okay?

#jazzchurch 10 – Sunday, July 5, 2020

Welcome to #jazzchurch where The Rt. Rev. Dr. Uncle Billy Bob Jackson Brown Berry Black, Jr. Esq., – aka Bill E. Bob – livestreams some of the music that’s resonating for him right now. Today we featured music by Nina Simone, Oliver Nelson, Keith Jarrett, Charles Lloyd, and Public Enemy, among others. Did you say “Public Enemy? I thought this was a jazz show!” :-)

Replay the show here:

bbebop · #jazzchurch 10 — Sunday, July 5, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played today:

#jazzchurch 09 – Sunday, June 28, 2020

Welcome to #jazzchurch where I livestream some of the music that’s resonating for me right now. Today we featured music by Nina Simone, Stanley Clarke, Marc Johnson, and Jessica Williams, among others.

Listen here:

bbebop · #jazzchurch 09 - Sunday, June 28, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played today:

Psalm for my Father

Today is Father’s Day. I’m a father and have received plenty of greetings from family and friends. I love my son and my wife, and thank them for helping me be a good father.

My dad’s been gone for 41 years. I was 27 and happy to have at least had him that long.

My dad worked all the time, at least six days a week. I don’t remember him being home that much. I do remember barbecues in the back yard. Whole pig!

I remember drinking and arguing. I remember stepping between dad and mom. I remember running away and hiding. I remember being rescued from the basement by my grandmother. She also left us 41 years ago.

I remember my father being sick and in the hospital. I remember asking him if he was afraid. He said yes.

I remember taking him and Mfanya to Shea Stadium to watch the Mets. I remember thinking he had to do too much walking that day.

I remember he died the Tuesday before were going to Yankee Stadium to cheer for Reggie Jackson, not the hated Yankees. Yes, my father would rather die than go see the Yankees!

My father was wise. He once told me, “Go ahead and do what you want to do. I can’t stop you. But someday, you’re gonna look back and say, ‘My daddy was right.’” A few years later, I got to tell him he was right.

I remember saying, “stop fussing dad,” to which he responded, “I’m not fussing. I’m talking. I can talk, can’t I?” I remember shaking my head, and now I’m the one who is always talking, not fussing.

I miss my dad. I still love him. As my sister said this morning, “41 years but always in our hearts ❤️.”

Happy Fathers Day!

#jazzchurch 08 – Happy Father’s Day!

Welcome to #jazzchurch where we livestream two hours of music in two hours’ time. Today we featured Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father,” including the version by Leon Thomas. Other great songs as well. Preparations for this show got me thinking about my own father.

I hope the music provides you with some uplift, some new resolve, peace, and some hope! Enjoy! Here’s the audio:

bbebop · #jazzchurch 08 - Psalm for my Father

Here’s an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played.

Tune in 1-3pm PDT next Sunday for another edition of #jazzchurch!

How Did You Get To Be You?

While having lunch with a colleague two or three years ago, she asked a question I’d never been asked before. Being stunned at the time, I can only paraphrase it as, “how did you get to be you?” I recall fumbling through my answer, talking, not about education or training, but about some of the experiences that have helped shaped me.

The following passage from Frank Barrett’s “Yes to the Mess” provides a less rambling description of the process I’ve been through.:

When you’re learning to be a professional, it’s not just a matter of memorizing a set of rules or a stock of explicit knowledge. Often what you are learning is an outlook, a mood, a disposition. You’re learning to absorb a whole way of being —picking up practices, rather than learning about practices. This learning is anything but clean, rote, or logically arranged. Learning to be a practicing musician, like learning to be a practicing executive, is a sloppy process. It’s intuitive and vague. You are guessing and adjusting, trying to grasp what to do next, listening to how others grapple with dilemmas, imitating the phrases and facial expressions of admired peers, trying something based on vague glimpses and threads of meaning—and, critically, reorienting as you go.

This kind of learning involves trying, getting stuck, and then trying again. With jazz players, as with rising executives and junior partners, this is a work in progress that’s performed in public. But the presence of others and the stories they share make a difference. Just as a division head in a meeting learns the proper way to critique an idea and how to receive and give critiques in public settings, the jazz musician learns the norms of meta-learning, how to help others think, how and when to give advice—crucial skills for everyone.

– Frank J. Barrett, “Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz” (p. 107)

What do you think? Maybe you’ve been through this process too?

#jazzchurch 07 - Sunday, June 14, 2020 - Will Joy Come in the Morning?

Welcome to #jazzchurch! Today we featured the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Roberta Flack, Betty Carter, Pharoah Sanders, Branford Marsalis, Tom Harrell, and Gil Scott-Heron, just to name a few. Here’s more info about the meaning of today’s show. Feedback welcome!

I hope the music provides you with as much solace as it did for me! Enjoy!

bbebop · #jazzchurch 07 - Will Joy Come in the Morning?
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played.

Tune in 1-3pm PDT next Sunday for another edition of #jazzchurch!

Will Joy Come in the Morning?

Note: This blog post came about as I was getting ready for my #jazzchurch live stream.

After Emmett Till, James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, Medgar Evers, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Carol Denise McNair, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Rodney King, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and countless, innumerable others

And after the George Floyd funeral this past week, “Joy, Joy” is the song that’s on my mind:

Behind every dark cloud
there’s a silver lining
After every rainstorm
there’s a bright new star
When troubles grieve you
and friends deceive you
Oh don’t worry
it will pass over
In the morning

when trials pull your heartstrings
don’t be discouraged
and even though pain and misery
fill your eyes with tears
these trials will soon pass
and soon they will depart
oh hallelujah
they will pass over
bye and bye

weeping may endure for a night
but joy will come in the morning

Police brutality keeps going and going and going, and I’m still waiting for joy to come in the morning. I’m working on not being discouraged, and it’s so damn hard…


Steve Schmidt on Law and Order vs. Justice

I love Steve Schmidt’s ability to be so clear and compelling, on-the-spot. Maybe he could work for the Biden campaign?

I couldn’t find the video, so here’s my transcription of his remarks on law and order Trumpublicans:

Well the obtuseness is extraordinary, the idea that, well, we’ll solve this issue politically by going to talk to the only black senator because he’ll have a particular wisdom that eludes all of us as we sit and we observe this moment.

It was remarkable that all the Republican Senators went into the Senate lunch shortly after the Trump ordering of the attack on Lafayette Square when he did his walk across to Saint Johns to desecrate the Bible.

They didn’t even talk about any of this in the Senate lunch! The subject didn’t come up! I mean they couldn’t be more out-of-touch if they were doing their senate work from a space station. It’s as if they’re on a different planet, that they are so disconnected from what’s happening in the country.

And so when we talk about law and order, we should understand what that means. It doesn’t mean justice. Law and order is not what we saw in Lafayette Square when innocent protesters asserting their constitutionally protected rights were assaulted and attacked by the police. So much of the chaos we’ve seen on the streets has been the chaos of the state exercising violence against the citizens.

And so, when we look at this moment, all across the country, people are saying we’ve had enough of militarized police departments. We want to see police men and women dressed like they’re in Mayberry, not that they’re in Falluja with the combat boots bloused into the pants, the tactical gear, all of it.

When the American people saw the injustice of a man’s life being snuffed out over eight minutes with a knee on his neck it was as if the whole country finally in this catalytic moment said enough is enough.

This isn’t a conversation about law and order. It’s a conversation about justice. And when Trump talks about law and order, it’s the law and order of Bull Connor, it’s the law and order of police dogs, and vicious dogs, and domination of the streets.

That’s not law and order! The people who crave law and order are the people on the streets protesting for justice.

U.S. protesters call to ‘Defund the Police.’ What would that look like?

What would that look like?

#jazzchurch 06 livestream - Sunday, June 7, 2020

Welcome to #jazzchurch where we livestream two hours of music in two hours’ time. Today we feature John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Kenny Barron, Bobby Hutcherson, Branford Marsalis, and Tineke Postma, just to name a few.

I hope the music provides you with some uplift, some new resolve, peace, and some hope! Enjoy!

Livestream audio on SoundCloud

bbebop · #jazzchurch 06 - Sunday, June 7, 2020

Apple Music playlist

Tune in 1-3pm PDT next Sunday for another edition of #jazzchurch!

Notes on the George Floyd Protests in Minneapolis | The New Yorker

“As the rain picks up and the crowds disperse, we start the three-mile walk back to the car and we see the precinct up close for the first time since arriving. A busted door, folks at the windows and on the cars. Good, I think to myself. Though I’m scared. Cops love cops and buildings more than they love the people.”

There but for the Grace of God go I

On April 29, 1992, I was hosting a dinner for 24 people at my favorite San Francisco restaurant, Square One (Hi Joyce G). It was a closing dinner commemorating a bond deal we had recently completed.

While there was a business purpose, the event was normal and mostly a social occasion. There were four or five tables, each having their own conversations. Along with one of our analysts, I was the only other black person in the room.

Situation: normal.

Except this evening. We didn’t know it when the dinner was planned. Hell, we didn’t know it until well into the festivities.

Know what, exactly?

Well, this was the day the Rodney King verdict came down. Not that Rodney was guilty, etc. No. The verdict was that the white policemen. Who beat the hell out of Rodney King. On video. Seen by the world. Well, those cops were found one-hundred-percent completely, absolutely, totally innocent.

So there was civil disobedience. Riots. I don’t know. We didn’t know. And it was a long time ago now.

What I do remember was someone heard what was happening out there and that became a topic at our tables.

At one point, one of my friends, a bond lawyer, turned to me and said, “Bill, what do you think?”

It was an E.F. Hutton Moment. The commercials said, “When E.F. Hutton talks, everybody listens.”

The room grew quiet. Everyone, at all the tables, turned, looked at me, and waited for my answer.

I said, “There but for the Grace of God go I.

To immediate protestations. “No way.” “How can you say that?” “You’re not Rodney King!”

“Well, maybe,” I said. “But I’ve been stopped by the police for no reason. In Palo Alto! I’m black. The same things have happened to me. And could have gotten out of hand. There but for…”

I’m not sure when or how, but dinner returned to normal. We had a good time together. We commemorated the deal. And we went on as usual.

Over twenty years later, it doesn’t seem like we’ve made much progress at all.

What Did You Talk About at Work Today?

My team!!! We just had our weekly check-in via Zoom, and you know what they wanted to talk about? Yes, you know! They didn’t want to go to breakout rooms, either. “Let’s just talk!” Our discussion gave me so much more hope.

You see, a lot of the conversation I’ve seen calls on white folks to check-in on their black and brown colleagues. To understand our pain. Help us feel better. Recognize and use their “white privilege” to make things better for us and ours. That’s a gross oversimplification, but there it is.

Having been black for a long time, I know that what happened to George Floyd isn’t nearly new. It’s been going on for a long, long time. Too long, but still. It’s systemic. It goes on because someone benefits from it going on. That’s what privilege means. It’s there. You don’t have to think about it just like fish aren’t aware they’re swimming in water.

So what I really appreciated was people, white people, not just feeling my pain, but taking upon themselves the responsibility to do their work. To research. To read. Ask questions. Speak up. Confront ignorance. Demand action. Lead.

Too many people, leaders, feel the “need-to-be-seen-as” doing the right thing. Saying the right thing. I appreciate most the folks who are doing the right thing, taking action, simply because it’s the right thing. That’s hopefully more sustainable and not relying on how I feel.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had colleagues reach out to me with concern, and want me to know they are thinking of me, are concerned about me, even love me. I so appreciate them because I know them, and I know they mean it.

What I love even more is knowing they’re doing the work.

Livestreaming jazz on a Sunday afternoon. #jazzchurch 05!

Today’s #jazzchurch livestream featured music by Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Cannonball Adderley, Roy Hargrove, and Dave Holland, just to name a few. We end with great Pharaoh Sanders song I was reminded of this week, “Hum-Allah.” The songs this week seem to fit my mood given all that’s going on in our world! We could use some uplift, some new resolve, peace, and some hope!

I hope the music does that for you! Enjoy!

bbebop · #jazzchurch 05 - Only Three Mistakes - Sunday, May 31, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played.

Tune in 1-3pm PDT next Sunday for another edition of #jazzchurch!

For the past month, I’ve been streaming some of my favorite music. I call the “program” #jazzchurch. Years ago, I declared, “ jazz is my religion.” While I grew up going to church every Sunday, I got away from all that in my rebellious teenage years. My church just wasn’t doing nearly enough, I thought.

What the church did do, even for me, was provide spiritual sustenance. That feeling has never left me. I connect most deeply with the music we sang and listened to back then.

And then I discovered jazz. Not that it was hidden or anything. Maybe jazz found me? I fell in love with the music, even learning to play myself.

And you know what? The music is where I go to search for and find meaning and connection. I love the idea of being in the moment, and live streaming like this is one way to achieve that. I think, “what do I want to hear next, what does it mean to me, and how does it connect me to this moment?” Hopefully, to the next moment too. It’s two hours of music in two hours’ time.

You can listen to today’s stream and learn a little about the songs I played in this blog post.

Livestreaming Jazz on a Sunday afternoon. #jazzchurch 04!

Today’s #jazzchurch livestream featured music by Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, and Betty Carter, just to name a few. As I listened I thought to myself, “these songs have some great bass lines.” If you know me, well, that makes a lot of sense!

Anyway, some great music, and a mistake or two to learn from. Enjoy!

bbebop · #jazzchurch 04 - Sunday, May 24, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played.

Livestreaming jazz on a Sunday afternoon. #jazzchurch #3!

bbebop · #jazzchurch 03 – Sunday, May 17, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the songs I played that are publicly available.

#jazzchurch 02 by thertrevdrbillebob - Sunday, May 10, 2020

Welcome to #jazzchurch where I livestream some of the music that’s resonating for me right now. Today we featured music by The Baylor Project, SFJAZZ Collective, Dave Holland, Keith Jarrett, among others.

Listen here:

bbebop · #jazzchurch 02 - May 10, 2020
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing the publicly available songs I played today:

#jazzchurch 01 by thertrevdrbillebob - Sunday, May 3, 2020

I enjoyed my first Twitch first streaming session and look forward to doing it again. So much music in my head wanting to get out!

Bill Berry · #jazzchurch - 2020-05-03
Here's an Apple Music playlist containing most of the songs I played that are also available to stream. Follow me on to be notified for the next #jazzchurch live stream.

Bill E. Bob’s #jazzchurch

Once upon a time, I declared jazz as my religion. No dogma, just the pure unmitigated sound of the music known as jazz. Today at 1 pm PDT, after a little encouragement from my friends, I’ll live stream some songs I love (#LoveStreaming!!!).

Welcome to #jazzchurch! Let’s see/hear/feel what happens…

Lost Car

I’ve lost my car in some strange, unknown place. I know it’s here somewhere, maybe a block away. Over there? Nope, not there. How about over here? Nothing works. I can’t Google it. I can’t connect to it with my iPhone (what’s an iPhone???). The button I press on the key fob results in no horn sound I can hear. I think I remember the landmarks, the lost road signs, but retracing my steps lead nowhere.

The only way out of this dilemma of tragic proportions is to wake up and realize this was only a dream. And I wake up and I realize that, no, this time, not a dream. Or maybe the dream isn’t over yet? I remain stuck.

Worse yet, everyone else around me is stuck too. We’re all looking for the same damn lost car and it’s just not here. It’s not anywhere. We’re nowhere.

If you’re not one of us lost souls, if you know the way out, please share it. Please share it right now. ¡Immediatamente!

Thanks for listening.

Just a Closer Walk With Thee

I texted my sister today to see how she and her husband were doing. They’re doing well under our current circumstances, working from home, social distancing, etc. I asked whether their church services had gone virtual, and offered help with Zoom this week so that’s available next Sunday.

I was thinking about my sister and brother-in-law. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that, as a church pastor and “first lady” in New Jersey, they were aware of and dealing with a lot of death among people they serve, people they know. I should have thought about that and was still surprised.

So I’m making “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” my #song4today. As Cory Henry says in response to “take us to church,” “It is Sunday!”

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Inspiration He Received During the COVID-19 Crisis

Governor Andrew Cuomo ended his presentation today with this story about how an upstate New York nursing home inspired him during a dark COVID-19 period. It’s under six minutes, and I encourage you to watch it.

Andrew Cuomo Press Conference - 12 April 2020 from Bill Berry on Vimeo.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

“And here a nursing home comes forward and says, ‘We want to lend you 35 ventilators to bring downstate.’ I tell you, for me, when I heard that, when I heard that news, with all this bad, all this negative, something inside me said, ‘You know, we’re going to be okay. We’re going to find our way through this.’ Because there is an inherent goodness in people that will surprise you, and they will rise to the occasion, and at the end of the day, goodwill win against bad. I believe that. And love will conquer all.’

“I wanted to say thank you for me, from me, because they brought me inspiration and hope and energy at a time when I personally really needed it. And that call, and that generosity, and that love buoyed my spirit and my feelings and was such a lift for me.

“I remember I went and I talked to the team. I said, “Can you believe how beautiful a gesture this is?” So I wanted to say thank you, as Governor, and for me, myself, and I, Andrew Cuomo, thank you to the people of Pathways.”

Brought me to #tears…