Gerald Cannon Talks Dizzy's, His Early Days, & Love of Teaching


Gerald Cannon

News | May, 24th 2018

Columbus Circle has a lot of history for Gerald Cannon. When he first came to New York from the verdant fields of Wisconsin, he quickly realized he needed to carve out a place for himself in the local jazz scene, so like many musicians before him he took to the subways. “It was a rite of passage. It was how we ate, how we made a living.”

Many of the major hubs, 42nd Street, Union Square, and Columbus Circle were regular “gigs” for Cannon and his bass. Nearly three decades later Cannon’s most recent release, Combinations, not only ruminates on those days with a piece called “Columbus Circle Stop” but also brings him back to the neighborhood to perform at one of his favorite above-ground spots.

“It’s a beautiful room with a beautiful view, an elegant place to play with an elegant audience to match,” Cannon said of Dizzy’s. As a painter Cannon appreciates the aesthetics of a room, soaking up the atmosphere before beginning a performance. Speaking about the vibe at Dizzy’s, Cannon said, “As a visual artist, I love the clean lines. And whenever I walk into that room, I always look up at the ceiling. Then I look out at the audience once and I’m done; I play and the whole picture comes together.”

Cannon has been painting for nearly as long as he’s been a musician, though for much of that time he’s kept these worlds separate. In recent years he’s welcomed a co-mingling of both his creative sides, discussing his art more openly. Cannon said, “Painting helps me let go. When I paint, my hands are connected to my heart, just like the bass.”

While Cannon finds deep value in looking within and letting go to fuel his creative process, what’s particularly interesting is how he applies this philosophy to “staying on top of his game.” Cannon said, “You have to keep giving it away to keep it” and believes one of the most effective ways to do so is by teaching. He’s had teaching gigs all over the country including stints with the Oberlin Conservatory, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, the New School, Long Island University, and at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. He’ll continue giving back to the music community as he joins the faculty at Juilliard this fall. Cannon said, “I want to help the younger musicians get their stuff together. This isn’t an easy thing to do so I want to help however I can.”

We’re thrilled to have him back at Dizzy’s this Memorial Day weekend with Sherman Irby, Jeremy Pelt, Rick Germanson, Willie Jones III, Russell Malone (5/25) and Paul Bollenback (5/25 and 5/26).


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