Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Raymond Jones: A Magnificent State of Humble Grace

by Barry Michael Cooper

Never has one flown so high, while grounded in such graceful humility.

On Friday, 1 July 2011, a true musical revolutionary named Raymond Jones passed away. He was 52 years old. These are my mental Polaroids of not only a great musician, but a majestic human being and a real friend. GOD Rest his creative soul.

The journey of Raymond Jones began on 13 December 1958. I was born in June that same year. We--like many young African American children born at the rise of the Civil Rights/Sputnik/I Have A Dream/Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You/By Any Means Necessary/Tune In Turn On aeon--were children of cultural promise and privilege. 

Black children like Ray Jones, the illustrious filmmaker Spike Lee, virtuoso guitarists Ronnie Drayton and Vernon Reid, noted film producer and political observer Geoffrey Garfield, phenomenal essayist/music critic/theorist Greg Tate, prolific author/film/television producer Nelson George, American musical innovator Prince, the greatest entertainer who ever lived, the late Michael Jackson, and even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, are Mountaintop Children.

Mountaintop Children are the children hoisted onto the shoulders of history by ancestors who struggled, sweated, bled, and died to make this America--this one nation under GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all America--a level playing field. The opus of Ray Jones not only reflected this momentous lineage--illustrated by his preternatural ability on the keyboards, his poetic and ingenious compositions for music and film, and his dynamically soul-searching narratives as a lyricist--but it underscored a Mountaintop Child's embedded sense of epos. Greatness. Ray's family expected him to rise to a sense of distinctive excellence.

Raymond Jones did not disappoint.