This weekend, one of the most popular radio programs of all time stopped by the Motor City to do a live taping of their show. "A Prairie Home Companion" made a trip to the beautiful and historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit, and while all of the performers and acts were wonderful, it was a young jazz trio from Detroit that really stunned the crowd and left them wanting more.
The KDJ Trio is named after the three members of the group: Kameron, Donavon, and Jonathon. One of the most impressive aspects of this talented group of players is their young age, being 16, 13, and 17, respectively. But while they may be young, they're certainly not new to the world of music. Kameron Johnson, who plays piano, has been playing since the age of four, and despite only having twelve years of experience at the keys under his belt, he sounds very much like a seasoned jazz "cat," alongside his talented band mates, which include Donavon Johnson, his brother, on the drums, and Jonathon S. Muir-Cotton on bass. Donavon and Kameron both attend Detroit Country Day School while Muir-Cotton hails from Ann Arbor.
Working under the legendary jazz master from Detroit, the recently-deceased Marcus Belgrave, Kameron and the group learned the essence of ensemble playing and pinpoint techniques with the intricate and fine sounds of jazz. Up on the stage, the KDJ Trio sounded perfect and much like a well-oiled machine - the product of intense and masterful study and talent. Being from the Motor City, too, the crowd was all too pleased to shout their praises, as was Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor, who thanked the teenagers for sharing their music and continued dedication to their art.
And for their incredible art and music, one program must certainly be given partial credit: The Arts League of Michigan, which focuses on helping youth develop incredible talents that are all too often ignored in the public school system. These amazing three youths proved on stage on Saturday night that the Detroit music scene is not only alive and well, but that the youth of today will help to shape the sounds and promise for the city of tomorrow. Their first song performed, an original piece according to Kameron, sounded much like an old staple that could have passed for a honored composition from one of the greats.
The whole evening's program was a stellar experience for the audience, as a live recording of the hilarious and thought-provoking "A Prairie Home Companion" show always is, but for many, especially those who came for the delightful music, nothing could quite compare to the awe inspired by the three young boys who shared their gifts that night. It is without a doubt that we will soon be hearing more from these young men as they continue to develop into fine performers. The next time "A Prairie Home Companion" returns to town to record a live program, one can only hope that they bring the KDJ Trio back to perform once more.
One day, much akin their heroes, the fans that they made on Saturday night will be watching them on a big stage, probably at the Detroit International Jazz Festival, saying, "Thank goodness for Detroit musicians."
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