An IU alumnus who grew up in Bloomington, Mark Stryker returned to campus Tuesday in Franklin Hall to help jumpstart students’ spontaneity and encourage a profound expression of the arts.
Stryker discussed how both reporting and critiquing connect music, specifically jazz, to a wider lens of American culture. His book, “Jazz from Detroit,” was partially influenced by “Jazz is,” which is a tribute book by Nat Hentoff that provides lively, colorful and in-depth profiles of influential jazz musicians.
Originally, Stryker got into the music scene due to his older brother. In fourth grade, he watched his brother’s high school jazz band perform and knew immediately he wanted to play the saxophone just as his brother did.
“I was captivated by the sound of the music and the way the light reflected off the instruments onto the stage,” Stryker said.
Thanks to his father’s 78 RPM records of jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie and Coleman Hawkins, Stryker was introduced to a new musical realm of opportunity.
“Very quickly I got introduced to the music, and I heard the right music early on, so it didn’t take me long to get to the core of the art form,” Stryker said.
A story which Stryker claimed was rewarding and high-staked was also one of his most renowned pieces dealing with the Detroit Institute of Arts and how they almost had to sell paintings, sculptures and other pieces to pay off city debt. In the end, he expressed how he would not have been able to be a key reporter in such a core, communal affair filled with revelation had it not have been told with expertise.
“There are only a few ways to get good at writing,” Stryker said. “The two most important are to read everything and write constantly.”
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