The Music of Jazz As a Stimulant to Musical Acculturation: Improvised Jazz Music With a Democracy.

Art as Jazz, Jazz as Art
Art as Jazz, Jazz as Art
Clockwise: Duke Ellington; Johnny Hodges; Count Basie; Jimmie Lunceford
Clockwise: Duke Ellington; Johnny Hodges; Count Basie; Jimmie Lunceford
Clockwsie: Billie Holiday; Joe Turner; Oscar Peterson; Etta James
Clockwsie: Billie Holiday; Joe Turner; Oscar Peterson; Etta James
Left to right" Jack McDuff; Kenny Burell; Charlie Christian; Chico Hamilton
Left to right" Jack McDuff; Kenny Burell; Charlie Christian; Chico Hamilton
Left to Right: Thelonious Monk; Johnny Hodges; Sonny Stitt; Ron Carter
Left to Right: Thelonious Monk; Johnny Hodges; Sonny Stitt; Ron Carter
Left to right: Thelonious Monk; Miles Davis; Weather Report; Yusef Lateef
Left to right: Thelonious Monk; Miles Davis; Weather Report; Yusef Lateef
Jimmy Cobb, Jazz Drummer, born in Washington D.C. on January 20, 1929, still kicking it internationally and in New York
Jimmy Cobb, Jazz Drummer, born in Washington D.C. on January 20, 1929, still kicking it internationally and in New York

King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era [Paperback] Edward A. Berlin

The History of the Present Genre Of jazz

The History of Jazz and its Categories Defined

Music in the Historical Mix

Black people in the southern States of America and those blacks living elsewhere in America, through slavery, have adopted some of the many values as Whites, but their African music style reflects mostly the inherent dichotomies blacks have faced in being "Americans" in the US. Slave music was for blacks a distinctive cultural form. There was no clear distinction, for blacks, between secular and sacred music, and like their ancestors from West Africa, they sang a variety of songs for work and spirituals.

This music of black people had its musical origins from the 'hollers of plantation laborers' and 'black city street peddler cries.' It is from the haunting spirituals of slaves that such gospel singers like Blind Gary and Mahalia Jackson that we witness the phenomena, The role played by whites, creole and blacks in the musical amalgamation in the end creating Jazz was a very important element if this genre. Black music style has never been limited to a single style of musical tradition.

Although today, we tend to view African American musical styles in terms of all types of genre, for example, ragtime, blues, classical jazz, fusion, Afro-Jazz, spirituals, R&B, Soul, Funk, some are not informed the fact that black musicians still treat their music as oral rather than written art form, because the culture of black folks is still an oral culture throughout the United States, akin to that of African Culture and Oral Traditions In Africa.

It is also true that black musicians, living in a culture that is overtly and covertly hostile against them, had to try and accommodate overall different cultures, fitting into them very well with their own music, leading them to learn and incorporate these new repertoires that would also be acceptable as part of their music in the early stages of the formation of jazz music.

In the 1920s and 1930s many producers were marketing the blues, then called race records because these enabled them to target the black audience and they were also likely to make more money from it. In their musical variety, blacks played music that was blues influenced performed by French speaking creoles. They also played music brought from Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica gotten to be known as Afro-Caribbean music. This also included many ethnic styles as perform by Cajun, Germans, French and Spanish creole.

Then there was a situation wherein African Americans played Folk music and Jazz, and they shared a repertoire of this type of music with white Americans. In 1940 many cities in New Orleans had growing numbers of foreign born citizens. In these cities,in the 1840s brasswind ensembles like the Richmond Light Infantry Blues got to be enlisted in the South, along with the Allen's Brass Band.

Some states at this time had a slave-free society, and some freemen and slaves were earning good reputation as performers and musicians in the nineteenth century; that is why we had Legends such a s "Klondike," "John the Baptist," Ferdinand "Jelly roll" Morton and Anthony Jackson. We had some southern such as William Grant Still, Mahalia Jackson, Roland Hayes ; also, rural blues singers like Tommy Johnson, Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind lemon Jackson, to female performers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Chieppie Hill and all the way to the modern urban Blues of the Mississippi Delta, with musicians like Muddy Waters, 'Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King.

We also had the reels and buck dancers of slave fiddlers and banjo pickers evolving through fife drum bands of Northern Mississippi, jug band of Memphis and Charleston and brass bands of New Orleans into early Jazz. All these musical performers contributed to the world of music and realized their dreams of international recognition for their artistic talents.

According to rogerrowne, in terms of Ragtime music:

"They didn't use sound recorders back then. They used a piano modified so that when you played a key, a pen made a mark on a roll of paper. They then cut a master Pianola Roll by making rectangular holes where the pen marks were. The Pianola Rolls could then be played back on any Pianola to reproduce the notes. Pianola Rolls were fairly accurate for timing, although they don't record how hard the notes were played (not such a problem for ragtime music)."

Many researchers did not not simply read books, but rubbed shoulders with those whom they interviewed and recorded and studied. They walked and talked with sharecroppers farmers, the cooks, the wuiltmakers, the convicts, the merchants, the fishermen, and all the others who make part of this Hub living memories.

The region and its people have undergone dramatic changes in the first decades, overcoming much, although not all, of the poverty of the past, and they are now sharing in the nations's prosperity. Old ways that have divided the people somewhat fallen away to be replaced toby the new dreams. The hard lesson from the past are not forgotten in, and this Hub is one effort to mirror what has lately come to be called the 'new south.'

Jazz has also evolved, at this night be taken into cognizance within this Hub.

Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop--A History [Paperback] Frank Driggs

Maple Leaf Rag Played by Scott Joplin

Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music Paperback by John Edward Hasse

African American Music: An Introduction [Paperback] Mellonee V. Burnim (Editor), Portia K. Maultsby (Editor)

There were three major forms of African Americans that were associated with the blues in the twentieth century south: blues, ragtime piano and the music of Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb. There were two types of blues forms,urban and rural blues. This music functions as a vehicle enabling people to share hardships, complaints, exorcising sorrow, laughing at the world's absurdities, mocking whites and maintaining the integrity of black culture.

Dixieland Jazz is one other form of ensemble jazz, which was not totally an exclusive preserve for blacks, but it brought together the Afro-American and the Creole cultures together. It is worth noting that Louis Armstrong is totally linked with the birth of jazz.

The true strength of southern black music is its ability and diversity to capture tensions as well as the achievements of blacks, and how much this music is indebted and was contributed to by southern music; also, its heritage of preserving older performances even to this day is the hallmark and the quality music jazz is.

The history of jazz, that amalgam of African musical traditions and European instruments was evolving, and was more often heard at picnics, parades, dances throughout the cities. Jazz musicians also played in brothels in New Orleans and Pearl Primus's 'Strange Fruit,' dealing with the lynchings of blacks in the sun were featured and sung by Billy Holiday, too.

There was also another peculiar institutions called the 'Jook' or 'Juke house'... Jook came to mean a negro pleasure house: either a bawdy house or a house for dancing, drinking and gambling. It is in these Jooks that negro dances that circulated over the world. These dances, before they made their rounds around the country and the world, started inside the Jooks.

Frog Legs Rag - JAMES SCOTT - Ragtime Piano Legend

American Beauty Rag - JOSEPH LAMB - Ragtime Piano Legend

Souled American: How Black Music Transformed White Culture Hardcover by Kevin Phinney

Jazz as musical genre has helped spawn many other styles of music. In its own democratic way, jazz, for many generations and years has assimilated into its form and structure different cultural and musical expressions and realities of other people. Black Gospel music, Catholic and protestant hymns, Cajun songs,

Ragtime piano music, the blues, big bands, Afro Caribbean, African Jazz,and so on, all these forms of music merged together to form what we call jazz. When African Americans moved from the South to the North, the religious music, jazz and blues they had created evolved and splintered into other forms of music. Jazz has many meanings today to many people. The following are the different kinds of classification of Jazz we know of today:

Ragtime:

This type of music is not exactly jazz, but has had a telling and profound impact on Jazz music as we know it today. It has got a highly rhythmic and syncopated style. Form the start it has always been written and performed from the score. It also had no improvisation to it. As already noted above, Scott Joplin was one of the many known to be identified with it and some of its origins. It became popular in Chicago in the 1920s. associated Lewis Armstrong was closely associated with Dixieland Jazz. This style, with a funeral type of dirges steeped within a collective improvisation with a freewheeling party feel all around it.

Piano - Scott Joplin - Pineapple Rag : a 20th century JS Bach...

Big Bands Songbook Paperback by George Thomas Simon

Swing:

This is the domain of the Big Bands which was very poplar and rocking the 1930s and 1940s. This was music for dance and it was made with complex arrangements and allowed for improvisation by many band members within its musical score.

Duke Ellington, Count Bassie, Tom Dorsey and Glenn Miller were all band leaders and active players. There were many other bands of their which were in full Jazz Big Band Swing throughout their existence.

Duke Ellington - C Jam Blues (1942)

Count Basie - Splanky

Count Basie and His Orchestra: One O' Clock Jump (Basie) - November 3, 1937

"little Brown Jug" By Glenn Miller

Kansas City Jazz: From Ragtime to Bebop--A History [Paperback] Frank Driggs

Bebop:

Musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Parker, Max roach, Bud Powell and Theolinous Monk were part of the new generation of musicians who played a different style form that of the swing era. They worked hard on rapid tempos and played in small groups of combos rather than in large band group styles. Their long range forms of improvisations they depended on the underlying cord changes than on the melodies of the tune.

Dizzy Gillespie - Salt Peanuts

Dizzy Gillespie and his Band: "Live Manteca"

Charlie Parker - Now's The Time

Lou Donaldson - Aw Shucks!

Monk's Dream - Thelonious Monk

Post-Bop Jazz Piano - The Complete Guide with CD!: Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series Paperback – August 1, 2005

HardBop/Post Bop:

This genre had a much more funkier and blusier feel and tone which was an evolution away form the bop arrangement and formula. The musician here were Horace silver, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and miles Davis, and all of the known for the soulful styles. We now have the post-boppers like Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Wallace Rodney and others.

Horace Silver Quintet - Nutville

APPOINTMENT IN GHANA - WOODY SHAW , JACKIE McLEAN , Mc COY TYNER ...

McCoy Tyner Trio plus Freddie Hubbard & Joe Henderson - Inner Glimpse (f

John Coltrane with Dizzy Gillespie - 1951 Birdland, NY

Cannonball Adderley - Hummin'

Tutu (live) Miles Davis

Wynton Marsalis - From The Plantation To The Penitentiary

Music and the Creative Spirit: Innovators in Jazz, Improvisation, and the Avant Garde (Studies in Jazz) Paperback by Lloyd Peterson

Avant-Garde Free Jazz:

This was a style that parted company with Swing, Bebop, Hard Bop/Post-Bop. This style came about in the 1950s and 1960s, which was at the time when Coltrane and Miles were recording modal compositions, or paid songs that did not use traditional chord. The people who were at the forefront of this genre in which the first initial statement in their music presentation was followed by music that followed no chord structure, allowing for unencumbered improvisation. This sound system was later refined by Sun Ra teaming with Coltrane and introduced freer music in their compositions was their structure than straight free jazz.

Ornette Coleman - The Shape Of Jazz To Come

John Coltrane - Impressions (Complete)

Miles Davis - Live at The Isle of Wight Festival (29-08-1970): 600,000+ came to listen to Miles for 35 minutes: Call It Anything"..

Jaco Pastorius: The Greatest Jazz-Fusion Bass Player (Bass Recorded Versions with TAB) by Jaco Pastorius

Fusion:

This was originally explained as a combination of jazz, rock and electric. The artists connected to this type of music were men like Miles , Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheney, chick Korea, along with super bands like Return to Forever and Weather Report. These artist and bands were designated as the icons of fusion. The section even include band like Fred Ho's Afro-Asian ensemble and Rudresh Mahanthappa's Dakshina ensemble.

Smooth Jazz:

This genre is an offshoot of fusion, and is characterized by repetitive computer rhythms and smooth keyboard sound and melodies. Good and great improvisors are not attracted to this form, but we have great artists like the Yellow Jackets, Groover Washington ,Jr., and Spyro -Gyra within this musical style.


Herbie Hancock - Rock It LIVE

Pat Metheny Group - Have you heard

Chick Corea: Live

Weather Report : Black Market :1978:

Smooth Jazz:

This genre is an offshoot of fusion, and is characterized by repetitive computer rhythms and smooth keyboard sound and melodies. Good and great improvisors are not attracted to this form, but we have great artists like the Yellow Jackets, Groover Washington ,Jr., and Spyro -Gyra within this musical style.

Yellow Jackets - Tortoise and the Hare (Live)

Grover Washington Jr. - In Concert (1981)

From Afro-Cuban Rhythms to Latin Jazz (Music of the African Diaspora) Paperback by Raul A. Fernandez

Latin Jazz

The category includes Cuban,Brazilian, Caribbean and Latin American musicians. This musical genre incorporates the Portuguese chords, Afro-Latin American drum and percussion rhythms. Dizzy Gillespie gave prominence when he recorded with the Cuban Chant that made the connection real and permanent.

Within this musical sound system, we find artists like Arturo Sandoval, Tito Puente, Paquito D'Rivera, David Sachez, Claudio Roditi, Paulo Moura, Hermeto Pascoal, Hilton Ruiz, Monty Alexander, Michel Camilo and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. These musicians used their intimate knowledge of Jazz to create and form their unique sound.

This book explores the complexity of Cuban dance music and the webs that connect it, musically and historically, to other Caribbean music, to salsa, and to Latin Jazz. Establishing a scholarly foundation for the study of this music, Raul A. Fernandez introduces a set of terms, definitions, and empirical information that allow for a broader, more informed discussion.

He presents fascinating musical biographies of prominent performers Cachao López, Mongo Santamaría, Armando Peraza, Patato Valdés, Francisco Aguabella, Cándido Camero, Chocolate Armenteros, and Celia Cruz. Based on interviews that the author conducted over a nine-year period, these profiles provide in-depth assessments of the musicians’ substantial contributions to both Afro-Cuban music and Latin Jazz.

In addition, Fernandez examines the links between Cuban music and other Caribbean musics; analyzes the musical and poetic foundations of the Cuban son form; addresses the salsa phenomenon; and develops the aesthetic construct of 'sabor,' central to Cuban music.

Copub: Center for Black Music Research

Spyro Gyra - Havana Moonlight

Tito Puente - Oye Como Va

Mongo Santamaria - Me and You Baby (Picao y Tostao)

Paquito D'rivera - Bern Jazz Fest.1992

David Sanchez Quartet - Leverkusener Jazztage 2008

Jazz Connection On the Web

Hip-Hop Jazz:

Rap musicians began discovering jazz on the 1990s, and likewise, jazz musicians were becoming and discovering young hi[p-hop poets. Early hip hop was rebellious just like Bebop, hard-bop and avant-garde sound systems and their intellectual and improvisational skills. In this case we had producers-emcees like Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad(of a Tribe called Quest) Guru of Gangstar, Pete Rock, C.L.

Smooth and Prince Paul began incorporating jazz samples into their music. Musicians like Miles, Ron Carter, Quincy Jones, Greg Osby, and Herbie Hancock all collaborated with rappers and hip-hop producers, this enabled two different traditions of African Americans to come together.

Jazz has reached all corners of the world and is known and appreciated by people from all walks of life. There is a democratic togetherness and independence that comes form the music of Jazz. This is one genre that is a true stimulant to musical acculturation. You can listen to all the artists and different musical styles discussed above from FASTTRACKS Internet Radio on Live365.com/stations/djtot12. This is one type of music that transcends gender race , culture and embraces all of humanity

For the purposes of this Hub, I have used prominent Jazz Musicians who have incorporated the Hip Hop themes and music making accents to create a jazzy sound around jazz, with the Hip Hop accent punctuating soulful beat and driving the rhythm and spunk; These artists are Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock.

A Tribe called quest - check the rhime

Quincy Jones - Back on block Live 1990

Herbie Hancock - Dis is da drum & Shooz

African Music Scales In The Diaspora

Some Aspects of Afro-American Music-by Paul Robeson

How and Why Jazz Is A Music With A Democracy

Mr. Harold Courlander, well-known authority on folklore, made an extensive field trip into the rural South some years ago in search of authentic Afro-American music. He recorded this music on the spot where he found it. Some of his music is now available in several Folkways albums of records, under the title Negro Folk Music of Alabama. This Folkways collection was reviewed recently by the New York Times music critic "J. B. ," in the Sunday Times of August 19, 1956.

The review was an extremely interesting and challenging discussion and analysis of the musical material. However, several of the statements made by the critic sent me off into months of fascinating and very rewarding research. For example. "J. B. " wrote that, "some authorities believe the European element to be more important in Negro music than the African." That of course I could not accept, so I went in search of documentation to support my resistance. I found an enormous volume of support which I will try to sum up briefly.

There is no more evidence that Afro-America music is based on European music, than that European music is based on African music. There is however, extensive evidence that nearly all music in the world today stems from an ancient world body of original folk music-music created, sung, and handed down through the ages by the people in all parts of the world.

The people brought this wealth of folk music with them into the early churches when they were established, and here it was preserved, modified and eventually formalized in various ways, according to the, according to the developments and changes which took place in the Church itself.

This ancient body of wold fold music, and much of the early Church music based on the "Pentatonic" 5-tone scale, which is preserved today in folk songs all over the world. Victor Belaiev, noted authority on early music, is positive about the folk base of all European Plain Chant, and Joseph Yasser, distinguished musicologist, points out in his book The Theory of EvolvingTonality, that this medieval Plain Chant had a Pentatonic 5-tone modal base. Music in ancient times all over the world, and much of the music in Europe up to 1500, was based on the Pentatonic 5-tone scale.

Our own J. Rosamond Johnson points out that most of our Afro-American melodies, religious and secular, are also in Pentatonic mode. Our musicians see an obvious Pentatonic scale on the 'black keys' of the piano: F sharp. G sharp, A sharp (B), C sharp, D sharp (F), F (B) C, with the F and the B (or E and B flat, etc.) used as the two auxiliary tones.

There is also a Pentatonic scale with half-tones in use in Africa, Japan and other places. We have a Pentatonic scale on the black keys, with F sharp as do, or the tonic; and another on the white keys with C as do or tonic.

Of course there are many variations of the Pentatonic. So, as Johnson points out, we in Afro-American life see the piano as having TWO CENTERS: an F sharp center and a C center. Johnson and Yasser also point out that it is most important to recognize that sometimes not used. They are auxiliary, not substantive tones to the main Pentatonic scale. Note that the F sharp and C, or F and B, are three whole tones or a "raised" or sharp 4th apart-a most important feature of the cross relations between the two Pentatonics.

Paul Robeson - Ol' Man River (Showboat - 1936)

African Staff Notation

A very interesting and helpful way to look at the piano, especially for those with "Pentatonic ears," is to see the tones as an interaction between the two Pentatonic-a kind of extension of major and minor interaction and contrast.

Yasser explains that he would characterize the Diatonic scale (do, re, mi, fa sol, la , ti do) which every child learns in school and which we all sing, as SEVEN TONES plus FIVE CHROMATICS, 7+5, seven white keys plus five black keys. And he characterized it as FIVE TONES plus TWO.

So,in seeing the piano in terms of the two Pentatonics, we could characterize it as TWO FIVES, 5 black keys above, 5 white keys below. With TWO white keys in between and common to both FIVES:

5 + 2 + 5, 5-F Sharp 5-F Sharp or G (2) (F 2 B) 5 C 5 C

And these two Pentatonics used simultaneously, one contrasting against the other, give some clue to much of modern music. Note for example the Mikokosmos of Bartok, and some of the Pentatonic usages of Debussy. Authorities agree that the early world body or mainstream of music was polyphonic, contrapuntal in character.

That is to say, that several or may singers carried the melody in parallel lines, sometimes some starting at different times or at different points, sometimes with a leader and an answering or emphasizing chorus or congregation (which our musicians and nearly all our people would find entirely familiar).

Marius Schneider, one of the most distinguished of musicologists, studied the music of the people of Africa, Asia, South America and established that, "The highly developed sphere of certain African clans contains 'symphonious' forms very similar to those of the early Middle Ages.

"There is no question here of African music influencing medieval composers; it is rather that the development of polyphony seems spontaneously to have followed very similar paths in all parts of the world."

"J. B. " also comments in his review on some other characteristics of this folk music of Alabama: "The most striking fact out Negro group singing is that it is contrapuntal in character ... no less striking is the prominence of the "African tetrachord" which is merely the familiar "blues chord" of American Jazz ...

"Grove's Dictionary traces this tetrachord to the West Coast of Africa, whence it has spread not to the United States but to Latin America."

This contrapuntal singing, and characteristic "Fourth" or tetrachord, are not only characteristic of early medieval Plain Chant, but also of much of the modern music of Mussorgsky, Bartok, Janacek, Vaughn Williams, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and others, and also Chinese, Indonesian, African, Hebraic.

Byzantine, Ethiopian music, as well as Scotch Hebridean, Welsh and Irish music; that is to say it is characteristic of Pentatonic modal music.

It would seem then, that Afro-American music is based primarily upon our African heritage and has been influenced not only by European but by many other musics of East and West Africa; this is true also of Afro-Cuban, Afro-Haitian.Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian music; and our music has also influenced other music.

It is extraordinarily interesting to note that in recent years many Western composers have turned to their old Pentatonic modal folk music, finding new inspiration in tis wealth, and basing many of their new compositions upon it, just as Bach based much of his music on the ancient modal folk chorales.

These composers have found richness in Pentatonic modal melodies because, as Yasser conclusively demonstrates, there is also a pentatonic harmony which has long existed and been developed in China, Africa, Indonesia, Siam, etc., and in Europe up to 1500.

That is to say, there is a Pentatonic system of music which preceded and co-exists with the better know Diatonic or 7-tone system-the one in general use in the classic music of Europe after 1700.

However, this Pentatonic system has always continued in folk music. My dear friend and colleague Lawrence Brown has drawn upon this richness, and made many beautiful arrangements of our own folk music(trombonist for Duke, and Johnny Hodges).

So, today we are flowing back into the mainstream of world music, which includes the music of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, with a future potential of immense richness-all giving to and taking from each other, through this wonderful bank of music (Paul Robeson's Excerpt, 1956).

Paul Robeson, although technical as noted by Amiri Baraka, gives us a sense and history of why this article is written based on the fact that Jazz is a music with a democracy. Robeson helps makes clear the basis of most forms of music all over the world, and it is with this understanding that I reiterate: Jazz Music is a music with a Democracy: All people are playing it all over the world in whatever format they decide to improvise-on.

Paul Robeson:Ballad for Americans

Jazz As A Unique African Muscial Genre

"King Of Blue" Hooks Listeners

"No matter how many times I've heard it or how many other discs I've accumulated over the years You really don't want to know, listening to 'Kind of Blue' is like taking one's first drink of distilled water. It purges the system, startles a little with the subtlety of its sweetness and wakes you up to a clarity of vision found only in the greatest works of Art. f I exaggerate, I am not alone in doing so.

Jazz fans of many generations place "Kind of Blue in the company of Hamlet,Citizen Kane , Michael Angelo's paintings in the Sistine Chapel and The City On the Edge Of Forever" episode in the original Star Trek series. It stands alone as a singular creation of its time — and beyond. Tis year, its 52 years old and one cant let the late 1990s or the early part of the Y2K end or go by without pay8ing tribute to what may be the masterwork of Miles Davis' long career.

It was in March 1959 that Davis, saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball
Adderley, pianist Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb gathered in a recording studio. Davis came in with only a few sketches of what he wanted. The musicians were encouraged to improvise off he notes of a scale rather than from chords — as most jazz musicians had done for decades.

These men had recorded terrific music before and they would go on to make their own distinctive marks in Jazz. But many believe that none, not even the great Coltrane himself, would match the peaks they reached on "Kind Of Blue". Bill Evans' liner copy — itself a masterpiece of sorts — refers to the "frameworks" Davis provided for them as being "exquisite in their simplicity and yet contain all that is necessary to stimulate performance with a sure reference to the primary conception." The resulting performances, he said, was "something close to spontaneity."

Evans implies that the record's five tracks — "So What," "Freddie Freeloader," "Blue in Green," "All blues," and "Flamenco Sketches" — each are frozen in time, never to be duplicated, never to erode. There are other records where you hear these tracks, many of them by Davis and others in the group.

But none of them five off the same mystery and beauty. It's the one album I tell people to buy when they want to own one Jazz record. What often happens afterwards, however, is that these same people immediately want to find more like it. I tell them, well, there isn't anything like "Kind Of Blue"> But there's lots more good Jazz to be had. And. Like that, they're hooked on the music.It's beautiful when that happens.

Of the seven participants in these sessions, only one is till alive. Drummer Jimmy Cobb took part in 1999 in a commemorative concert at New York's JVC Jazz Festival, which featured such young musicians such as pianist Geri Allen, trumpeter Wallace Roney, saxophonists Ravi Coltrane(John's son) and Vincent Herring. As such revivals, it was above average, though even those on stage knew they were being measured against a formidable legacy.

Amidst the impressive playing, there was one moment that made my heart jump. It was the little cymbal crash that Cobb made after "Freddie Freeloader" had run its course. It was the one time all evening that I felt a door had been cracked open to the past. And while I know as well as anyone that Jazz needs to keep looking towards its future, I also know that Cobb's burst represents a connection through which many first found their way to Jazz's greater glories.

I had the same feeling whenever I put "Kind Of Blue" on, that I'm in a familiar room I can recognize even in pitch darkness. And yet each time, it feels different. 52 years later this album continues to sketch new patterns in people's souls the way those magnificent seven sculpted the moment of their spontaneous creation. It doesn't get any simpler than that. Here's a piece and update on the last living Jazz legend,

Miles Davis -Wrinkle - live at Montreux 1990

Miles Davis Human Nature Live in Germany 1987

Jimmy Cobb - Drummer

Legendary Jazz drummer, Jimmy Cobb was born in Washington, DC on January 20, 1929. A superb, mostly self-taught musicians, Jimmy is the elder Statesman of all the incredible Miles Davis bands. Jimmy is inspirational work with Miles, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Co. ,spanned from 1957 until 1963, and included the masterpiece "Kind of Blue, the most popular Jazz recording in history . He also played on "Sketches of Spain," "Someday My Prince Will come," "Live At The Carnegie Hall," Live at the Blackhawk". "Porgy and Bess", and many many other watershed Miles Davis recordings.

Jimmy did his first recording with Earl Bostic and played extensively with Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Pearl Bailey, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, before joining Miles in 1957.By 1963 Tony Williams took over the Miles Drum Chair in 1963 in Jimmy left Miles to continue to work with Miles' rhythm section, Winton Kelly and Paul Chambers behind Wes Montgomery. In addition to several Winton Kelly Trio Albums, three did albums with Kenny Burrell, and J.J. Johnson, among others, before disbanding in the late '60s.

Jimmy worked with Sarah Vaughn for 9 years. Afterward, Jimmy continued to freelance with several great groups throughout the '70s and '80s, including, Sonny Stitt, Nat Adderley, Ricky Ford, Hank Jones, Ron Carter, George Coleman, Fathead Newman, The Great Jazz Trio with Nancy Wilson, Dave Holland, Warren Bernhardt, and many, many others around the world.

In the early '90s a Television special produced by Eleana Tee featured Jimmy playing and hanging with Freddie Hubbard, the late Gregory Hines, Bill Cosby, Dave Leibman, Pee Wee Ellis, and others. Jimmy has played around the World from Newport to Monte Carlo, from L.A to Japan. He has performed for both Presidents Ford, and Carter, the Shah or Iran and many other dignitaries in his storied career, and is quoted extensively in "Kind of Blue". The Documentary of those legendary recordings sessions as well as writing the forward for the Book - "Kind of Blue" — the making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece in 2000.

Miles & Monk At Newport

Jimmy Cobb's So What Band - Kind of Blue @ 50 - So What - Bridgestone M

In 2002 Jimmy completed a Four Generations of Miles album with guitarist, Mike Stern, Ron Carter (Bass), and George Coleman (tenor) for Chesky Records. Other releases include his long awaited solo album, "Yesterdays," produced by Eleana Tee for Rteesan Productions. It features Michael Brecker on tenor, Marion Meadows on soprano. Roy Hargrove, trumpet and flugelhorn, John Faddis, trumpet, Eric Lewis, electric piano, Peter Bernstein, guitar, and John Weber on bass.

This album was done in Jimmy's two adopted home towns; recorded and shot in New York, and mixed and edited in Woodstock, NY. It includes a wide variety of arrangements ranging from the unique interpretation of Jimi Hendrix "Purple Haze" to ballads "Yesterdays" and blues (all Blues, Faddis, Monk) and standards, "Without a Song" and "Love Walked Right In". This major musical statement will include several music videos and a complete Television Documentary.

Later, Jimmy's Albums "New York Time," "Cobbs Corner" and "West of 5th," produced by Eleana Steinberg Tee and David Chesky were released. Jimmy's album "New York Time" played by Jimmy Christian McBride,bass, Javon Jackson, tenor sax and Cedar Walton, on piano, incorporates songs for all moods.

"West 5th" features Jimmy, accompanied by Hank Jones on piano and Christian McBride on Bass, in his compilation of songs is a ballad written by Mr.Cobb in tribute to his late younger sister Eleanor. And in 2007 "Cobb's Corner was released, played by Jimmy, Roy Hargrove, Ronnie Matthews, and Peter Washington - AKA 'The Jimmy Cobb Quartet.

Jimmy remains active, not only in New York City, where he leads Jimmy Cobb's Mob but on the international circuit.

Many say that Jazz and Blues are among America's greatest cultural achievements and exports to the world community. Today, Jazz music is played, studied and taught at private and public institutions all around the globe.
Many say that Jazz and Blues are among America's greatest cultural achievements and exports to the world community. Today, Jazz music is played, studied and taught at private and public institutions all around the globe. | Source
Wynton Marseiles
Wynton Marseiles

Wynton Marsals -Where Y'all At

Bebop Celebration

Contemporary Jazz Turks

Many say that Jazz and Blues are among America's greatest cultural achievements and exports to the world community. Today, Jazz music is played, studied and taught at private and public institutions all around the globe. However, as lower budgets force public schools to cut back, private music lessons will not only supplement the school, but may eventually replace it in many areas. This is especially true for Jazz education. Understanding theory and harmony provides the basis for improvisation, fills and soloing.

Opinions vary on the history of the start of Jazz, but one fact remains consistent: Jazz is a musical tradition and style of music that originated at the beginning of the 20 century in African American communities in the United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions. Where in the United States is the toss up. Some say the Southern States, some say the Midwest (Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City), some say New Orleans, and some accounts say it was a simultaneous wave or explosion! Either way, Jazz (the word "jazz," in early years also spelled "jass," began as a West Coast slang term and was first used to refer to music in Chicago in about 1915) is an important part of American and World History.

The Hub Above has been an attempt to trace the story, music, performance and history which has been updated in contemporary times by Gordon Chambers in the following manner:

"When9[then] 22-year-old trumpeter debut for Columbia Records in 1982 [Featuring his brother Branford, then 34], jazz aficionados witnessed and welcomed its arrival . Purists adored them for ending, what they saw as too long a tyranny of the '70s fusion. "Straight-ahead" acoustic jazz was back on the charts.What was unexpected, however, was that the Marsalises' success would inspire a jazz renaissance led by an under-30 crowd who would play with the authority of the masters. Ten years later, many of these young Jazz Turks have become Stars.

"Jazz is enjoying its most prosperous moments since the '50s and '60s with the emergence of young, articulate, knowledgeable and technically proficient musicians," comments Dr. George Butler, vice-president of jazz and progressive music at Columbia Records, who is responsible for the signing of the Marsalis Brothers in addition to young trumpeters Marlon Jordan, Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Donald Harrison, and vocalist Harry Connick, Jr., to the label. "These young lions have galvanized a renaissance of this music that has flowered on what was once barren land."

The Young Turks and Bepop Lions

Marlon Jordan
Marlon Jordan
Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard
Donald Harrison
Donald Harrison
Marcus Roberts
Marcus Roberts | Source

Wynton Marsalis 1988 - 03 Blue Monk (Marcus Roberts Solo)

The Old Cats Who created and made Jazz Vibes

"The most popular players of this '90s resurgence are those who primaily play i the Bepop style eras of the past. The Harper Brothers' second album, 'Remembrance' (Verwe), which features compositions by Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk and Clifford

"Brown and owes its tightly arranged, soulful ensemble sound to the influence of Art Blakey's mid-'60s Jazz Messengers incarnations, went straight to No. 1 on Billboard;s jazz chart in 1990. RCA/Novus pianist Marcus Roberts, 29[then], salutes three classical jazz composers-Jelly roll Morton, Monk and Duke Ellington-on his 1991 release. "Alone with Three giants." And three of Wynton Marsalis's recent releases have been standard albums, entitled "Marsalis Standard vols. 1, 2 and 3. So, why are the jazz musicians of the future going back into the archives of decades past for inspiration?

Out To Lunch! - Eric Dolphy [Rudy Van Gelder Edition]

Mark Whitfield's "South Street Funk"

Mark Whitfield
Mark Whitfield | Source
Charnett Moffett
Charnett Moffett | Source

Charnett Moffet "Beauty Within" (1989)

The Young Turks Are Today's Masters

RCA/Novus trumpeter Roy Hargrove, [then] 22 whose hard-swinging, bell-toned style recalls that of Clifford Brown, credits it to "a return to simplicity, to integrity.' Says Hargrove, whose album "Public Eye," recently went Top 10 on the jazz charts, "People are calling this period a renaissance. To me, it's not rebirth, it's more like a celebration. Young musicians are becoming aware of the greatness of the past and trying to pass that knowledge on, musically, to the public. Playing classical jazz is a way of keeping it alive."

Warner Brothers guitarist Mark Whitfield, [then]25, who released his bluesy debut album The 'Marksman,' in 1990, offers less theoretical explanation. "To move forward you must have a firm grasp of the music that came before you. Any musician who doesn't go back needs up not really playing jazz." Roberts agrees: " If your goal is to take the music to a higher stage, you cannot do it by avoiding the masters."

It is this passionate mission to discover a historically grounded musical identity that drives these young artists. "Imitation," says Hargrove, "is playing Charlie Parker's solos note for note. But emulation is listening to Parker, figuring why he played what he played, how he generated the feeling he did, and applying that knowledge to your music." What separates the great players from others, he believes, is not only the talent but the discipline to reinvestigate the harmonic , rhythmic and improvisational structures of past legends and take them a step further.

But not all young Jazz artists want to back in time. Some musicians are looking to create new jazz styles, even at the risk of losing popularity. Note bassist Charnett Moffett [then] 24, who has appeared on more than 50 "pure" jazz recordings as a sideman, was chastised harshly by purists for recording his fusion-like original compositions on his second album, "Beauty Within," but continued in the same spirit on his latest release, "Network".

"I wanted to showcase other sides of my talent, especially my songwriting, on my album," he says. "But people act like just because you can play straight-ahead jazz you shouldn't be allowed to play anything else. And it's not like I'm not swinging on my albums-I'm just swinging in a different way. Part of being a bandleader means having courage to record your own music for our own reasons."

Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove | Source

Roy Hargrove Quintet - Strasbourg Saint Denis

Tuskegee Experiments - Don Byron

Don Bryon
Don Bryon

Don Byron - Tuskegee Experiment

New Trend-setting Jazz Artists

Other musicians refuse to on the neotraditionalist bandwagon and are carving their own niches in the jazz community. Clarinetist Don Byron, [then] 32, who released "Tuskegee Experiments" for elektra/Nonesuch, is one such artist. A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, Byron has studied several musical genres, including Ragtime, Classical and Klezmer (an ethnic music with origins in the traditions of Judaism and Eastern Europe).

Unlike many other emerging artists who apprenticed in the bands of legendary Bepoppers, Byron's resume includes extensive work as sideman with avant-gardists David Murray, Maet Bluiett, Reggie Workman and Crag Harris. He also tours with several groups of his own, each playing a different style.

"I'm not a believer in fulfilling a certain vision of jazz just to say it's been fulfilled," he says. "Instead o f just trying to play music, a lot of young cats spend a lot of time trying to be idioms. And a lot of record execs spend too much time trying to fill the Coltrane chair or the Charlie Parker Chair. What people forget is that idioms grow out of the weirdest elements of the mainstream.

Parker and Rollins were very idiosyncratic players. And the most ironic one of the all was Monk. When he was alive, people said, 'What is this?' about his music. But now that he's dead, he's a god to people." Geri Allen, Greg Osby and Steve Coleman, whose band, the Five Elements, is known for its polyrhythmic improvisation, are "artists who apply aesthetics to jazz instead of just playing some notion of what jazz is," says Baron.

Geri Allen
Geri Allen | Source
Greg Osby
Greg Osby | Source
Steve Coleman
Steve Coleman | Source
Before digging into alto-saxophonist and composer Coleman's new disc, it's probably best to set aside for a moment the allusions to numerology and mysticism with which he surrounds it and just dig into the rhythms.
Before digging into alto-saxophonist and composer Coleman's new disc, it's probably best to set aside for a moment the allusions to numerology and mysticism with which he surrounds it and just dig into the rhythms. | Source

Improvised Jazz is Good Music In Any Era

But contrary to what seems like a fierce battleground for appreciation, young neo-traditionalists and post-traditionalists alike are managing to find their auidences. The former group, fiercely loyal to reconstruction of the jazz legacy, are right now the media's darlings. But artists like Moffett, Byron, Coleman and Canadian-born Blue Note pianist Renee Rosnes are working nonetheless, though often only for die-hard jazz fans, bohemian tourists, and the intelligentsia.

Rosness, [then] 30, whose moody style is tooted in the ambient "cool" of the late '60s (as opposed to the high energy, happy-go-lucky frenetics of Bepop), is optimistic that more uncategorizable artists will share the fruits of what she calls a "biased renaissance." Her alum is called "For the Moment" She hope "people will begin to learn that jazz isn't about playing this style; or that style-its about improvisation," and reminds us, "Sarah Vaughn could sing Brazilian music, standards, show tunes like "send in the Clowns," the Beatles, whatever. Good music was good music to her. And she sang it 'all' well."

Of her own work Rosnes says, "Critics basically liked my first album ["Renee Rosness"] but trashed the synthesizer track "Diana," because its wan't acoustic. [It was still improvisation.] People like to pigeonhole jazz artists, and when they don't know how to describe us, they end up getting hung up on terminology. Whether Miles played 'Bop' or 'Cool' or 'Funk', people could always tell it was Miles." And, adds Byron, "hopefully, record executives will choose more interesting things torecord in the future instead of setting up little trends."

Geri Allen Trio - Dark Prince

Greg Osby - Mr Gutterman

Steve Coleman & Five Elements - I'm burning Up (fire Theme) - Live in Paris 15/04/2013, New Morning

Steve Coleman & Five Elements - The Tao Of Mad Phat (1993)

Improvised Notes and Notations

When I started writing the Hub above, my aim was to give a historical sense and structure to Jazz as it evolved over time. The last part about the modern Turks/Lions, is an added feature of the whole improvised story, and about the ongoing licks and rhythms of Jazz as played by these young up and coming jazz musicans. What I am saying is that Jazz has gotten a new lease on its ife, and this is important to note that very clearly here.

With the advent of the Web and the coming of Youtube, music has become more free and accessible when it was no longer the case. What I am saying is that, through the YouTube proliferation of its over billions of music, we are now in a position to showcase and sample, for the readers and music lovers, music that was thought to be dead or non-existant. I have always believed in classical traditional acoustic Jazz, whether played in the ancient years of Jazz or the contemporary times I have just described above. I am a lover and student of Jazz as an appreciator and ciritc. But also, I believe we should also propagate all manners of Jazz vibes, sounds, grooves, given the changing music landscape that it has to thrive in the new social media and video warehouses like YouTube, Vimoeo, etc..

This story of Jazz is still an ongoing one and it has never stopped evolving and growing. Like in the past, there were the geniuses and those that invented the music as we see it today. In the same vein, there are those who keep on pushing the envelope, at risk of being tossed in the rubbish-bin of musical history. But, alas! It is those that we sometimes exclude that we find that they were ahead of our and their times, musically, that, in the final analysis, we also need to give more respect and listen to them very carefully.

Like Sarah Vaughn noted above, All good d is music is good music.. so, since that is the case, as Shakespeare averred: "If music be the fruit of life/love?- so play on.. something like-an improvised Shakespearean adage/dictum and aphorism. Which is so spot on, as the Hub, up to this point, ends with some takes from the modern Bepop artists with a flavor and riff of their own...

Dizzy: Bebop's Grandest Architecture

Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie

Groovin' High: Dizzy's Highs in Beop

The musical revolution called bebop has generally been recognized as the result of two geniuses combusting, namely Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Par, known not only for his brilliant music, but for his trademark upturned horn, stylish beret and comical stage presence, is aptly captured in "Grooving High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie," the first biography published since his death in 1993.

The London times jazz critic, Alyn Shipton, Groovin' High's author, skillfully fills in the blanks where Gillespie's own autobiography, "To Be Or Not To Bop," leaves off. Shipton even corrects and contradicts the trumpeter's won recollection on occasion. For instance, when Gillespie says in his autobiography that as a boy he'd heard trumpeter Ry Eldridge on the radio, Shipton discovers that Eldridge hadn't been broadcast during the years Gillespie lived in the South.

The Trumpeter was born Johm Birks Gillespie in Cheraw, SC, on October 31, 1917, the youngest of the nine children. At 11, he started playing the trombone, and soon after, taught himself to play the trumpet using his next door neighbor's instrument.

When his family moved to Philadelphia in 1934, he dropped out of school at 17. Shipton says it remains a mystery just how Gillespie turned up in New York as one of the most accomplished young trumpeters of the late Big Band Era. Even more mysterious is that by the time Gillespie joined Cab Calloway's band, he had already worked out many of the advanced harmonic and rhythmic ideas that became hallmarks of the bebop style.

But on the road to legend status, the young musician stepped on a few toes among older musicians like Calloway, who thought Gillespie was such a disruptive force in his orchestra that he fired him under suspicion that Gillespie shot a spitball in the hi-de-ho man's direction.

Shipton repeatedly points out how Gillespie's contributions to bebop, though less recognized than Parker's, were fundamentally significant in opening new rhythmic and harmonic avenues for improvisers. Where Parker was bebop's master impressionist, Gillespie was its grandest architect.

Contrary to popular belief, they performed together briefly after both spent some time with the Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine orchestras. Following an incendiary set of recordings they did to publicly launch bebop in the mid-1940s, Gillespie formed the first bebop orchestra, whose members included Ray Brown, Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Kenny Clarke, James Moody, Sonny Stitt, John Coltrane, Paul Gonsalves, and Jimmy Heath. Despite this band's obvious assembled talents and influence on what jazz became in its wake, it folded in 1950 for economic reasons.

Unfortunately, Gillespie then made a number of embarrassing attempts at commerciality.

In the 1960s, he was often unfavorably compared to his onetime disciple Miles Davis, and gave only a handful of notable performances. Twenty years later, Gillespie enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with his United Nations Orchestra, which showcased his connection with Afro-Cuban music.

The band's line up combined musicians from the Caribbean, North, Central and South America, including trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and saxophonist Mario Rivera. Even in his 70s. Gillespie displayed the same innovation he had brought to bebop in his youth. This is an extremely well-researched and critical assessment of Gillespie's artistry and humanity.

Groovin High - Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie

Marcus Roberts - "Deep In The Shed"

Marcus Roberts
Marcus Roberts | Source

Jazz Upgraded Into The Present Millennium

Gene Seymour wrote an article he dubbed "Innovations forge Keys To The Future" wherein he states:

"Marcus Roberts and Henry Threadgill aren't what you'd call a matched set. In fact, serious jazz listeners regard them as icons of warring camps vying for the music's soul. Robert is a paragon — maybe even the paradigm — of neo-traditional jazz, while Threadgill's partisans raise their banners for progressive music that strives for bold new ways of sculpting sound and making noise.

So why, then, are they sharing space in the same column? Because, in their separate, resolutely independent ways, their recent work gives a strong hint of what jazz could — and maybe should — sound like in the 21 century.

"Count me among those who doubted that such things ever could be said of Roberts, who for a while embodied everything to me that was grim, pretentious and stiff about the 'neo-trad' jazz movement spearheaded in the 1980s by his mentor and former boss, Wynton Marsalis. Roberts virtuosity as a pianist has never been a point of contention, even among those who had not cared much for his pedagogic approach to the classic repertoire.

"Still, there were times when, listening to him pay homage to one of his idols [Ellington, Monk, Jelly Roll Morton] among them, I felt as if I were eavesdropping on someone carving a granite statue instead of communing with the muses. Technical ability and reverence for tradition can take you only so far as an artist, though its more than enough for an educator, which some skeptics suggest is Robert's true destiny.

"So, I didn't expect a whole lot from 'Blues for the New Millennium' whose titled screamed the kind of thick solemnity that marked too many of Roberts' performances and recordings… But damned if this wasn't the kind of music that burned on contact. Most of the compositions are Roberts', and he seems to have finally taken everything he's learned from his masters and merged it with his own somewhat startling intensity of feeling.(Some might even call it rage).

The motifs could have come from the 1920s and '30s, especially with Ted Nash's keening clarinet and Marcus Printup's brash trumpet in the house. But the tapestry of sound, especially on compositions such as "Whales from the Orient" and "Its Maria's Dance," is too broad, ambitious and seductive to be tethered to any particular era.

"Henry Threadgill has been weaving bold sonic tapestries for almost a generation and is most recent album, 'Where's Your Cup?', bears some of his most arresting and peculiar combinations of tone, color and texture. Threadgill, playing alto sax and flute, leads the quintet dubbed "Make A Move," one of many innovative ensembles he's either led or participated in for than w0 years.

"Tony Cedras' accordion and harmonium provide the exotic, otherworldly aura of the music, whileBrandon Ross' slash-and-burn effects on the electric and acoustic guitar animates the proceedings. With muscle provided by the rhythm section of drummer J. T. Lewis and bassist Stomu Takeishi, the group aggressively forges rowdy, wailing forms that don't always behave like the kind of music you're used to. Like the most interesting jazz being made today, the music on "Where's Your Cup?" seems to anticipate dances, struggles and movements that no one has thought of expressing yet. At least not untill after the millennium."


Jazz at Lincoln Center - Marcus Roberts "Deep In The Shed"

Wynton Marsalis 1988 - 03 Blue Monk (Marcus Roberts Solo)

Henry Threadgill's Innovative cum-avant-garde Jazz

Henry Threadgill
Henry Threadgill | Source

Henry Threadgill Zooid Ambient Pressure Thereby

Henry Threadgill Very Very Circus - Paper Toilet

Charlie Haden

Charlie Haden is on a square platform at the back of the Barbican’s stage wearing an absurdly baggy suit, purple tie and trademark rimmed spectacles. It’s the first gig of a two-night stint and tonight he’s joined by Quartet West, a band formed in 19
Charlie Haden is on a square platform at the back of the Barbican’s stage wearing an absurdly baggy suit, purple tie and trademark rimmed spectacles. It’s the first gig of a two-night stint and tonight he’s joined by Quartet West, a band formed in 19 | Source

Sometimes i Feel Like a Motherless Child - Charlie Haden and Hank

Jazz As Democracy

Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis | Source

How is jazz a model of democratic action? Answered by Wynton Marsalis

Democracy, libertarian democracy, our form of democracy deals with the power of the individual — how that power of that individual can be used in combination with other individuals, the diversity of federal power and states’ power — the one and the many, always going against each other. That’s what jazz is. I solo, you accompany me. You solo, I accompany you. There’s a lot of choice in it.

So, when I say it’s a model of democracy it means the first thing that is prized in jazz, the number one thing you learn is that, “You have something about you that’s creative and special.” Sound like yourself. That’s the first thing Danny Barker taught us when we were eight or nine years old.

You have something about you that’s creative, that is special, that only you have. Jazz informs you not to be discouraged even if people tease you about your sound and to express your individually through your horn because it sounds like you; and, it requires honesty and a truthfulness about who you are. Let me hear that come through your horn. Every note you play, let me hear that because that’s the only thing you have that’s worth playing. I want to know, I want to feel you.

Now second, everyone else in the band has their own unique sound. So what are you going to do when they start playing? Will you play with them, respectfully and complement what they’re playing, or play louder than them and drown them out? So he would say, When the clarinet starts to play, what does that tell you? There are some notes up there that you can’t hit. When a trombone is playing, what does that tell you?

There are some notes down there that you have to stay away from. If the clarinet is playing fast, what does that tell you? You’ve got to play slow. If he’s playing slow, you can play fast. Don’t abuse my rhythm section. We have a lot of little sayings. Don’t abuse my rhythm section. It means a soloist will play all night.

The rhythm section accompanies you. In the history of the world of music, there’s never been anything like a rhythm section. It’s a group of musicians, piano, bass, drums, guitar, who improvise along with your improvisation. So, they’re adjusting and making changes to accompany you. So, not only are you making up what you’re playing, they’re making it up. They’re improvising an accompaniment part. In the Baroque era, musicians improvised, but not on every instrument.

In jazz, yeah, everybody can make up something. It’s very easy for all that “making up” to sound like noise. So, the concept of swing is the most democratic of all the aspects of jazz, and that is the one that many times gets the shortest shrift because that means you can’t solo as long as you want.

It means you cannot play the drums as loud as you want to play them. It means that you have to find the time of the other person that you think is rushing. It means that you have to play with these harmonies that the piano players play, and you don’t have any idea why that person is playing these substitution chords while I’m playing. You don’t have the time even to do this. The only thing you can do is ---- [nonverbal playing gesture].

So, it’s a group dynamic, and it breathes. When a jazz band is playing, it’s like all of life — it’s in and out. It’s like what we do all day. We breathe in and out. It’s like you’re rocking the whole time, and you’re doing this because you’re trying to keep your equilibrium, and you’re just kind of getting in the flow.

That’s why the art is so intoxicating. Sometimes you never want to stop playing because you get in this space and you’re improvising, creating this thing with these other musicians. If you’re playing with really good musicians, it’s an indescribable feeling because everything is coming very quickly — and you’re responding and they’re responding and you’re responding and they’re responding. And you have the rhythm and the time, and the time is constant. So not only are you responding, there’s also a constant thing, and that constant thing is called “TheTime.”

The time is Doom Doom Doom Ting Ting Doom Doom Tingtating but the time is 2 and 3 at the same time. So, on one hand, you’ve got a 2 time which is 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2; then you have a 3 time, Ting Ting Tating Ting, then 1, 2, 3, 1 ,2 ,3, Dahtahdah Dahtahdah Dahtahdah. So, you have this kind of pull that goes with an odd and an even thing working together — male, female.

That’s like the essence, Ying and Yang, the essence of everything you know about life — how opposites come together. That is what that swing rhythm is. So you are riding the wave of that [time], and while you’re doing that, you’re addressing the harmonies which are changing, and you’re creating melodies which go all the way back through the consciousness of your people, and you’re giving logic and form to it. You’re expressing the deepest feelings you can possibly express, and they’re being changed by the other people who are playing. So, there’s a lot going on, and it’s very difficult to play and to play well.

So, when you hear a master like Charlie Parker, man, you’re hearing so much music in one minute, and you’re listening to a guy that’s been dead for 50 years, 55 years, and every time you hear him you think, “Man, who is this guy? How could he-? What was he thinking about? How can you think that quickly and that accurately, and how can you be that honest about something and that truthful? How can you know that much music? How can you respond that quickly? How can something be so beautiful and so harsh at the same time?” It’s when you hear these masters play, you’re hearing a lot. That’s when you understand why it is the democratic art form.

Passing the baton: From the jazz Masters to American democracy: Wesley Watkins, Ph.D at TEDxFillmore

Malachi Thompson: The Evolution of Jazz and the Survival of Our Democratic Society

By Malachi Thompson

I've written about jazz as a model for American democracy before, but only in passing. However, in light of voting rights issues that arose during the 2000 presidential election, the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks and what's most important - the government's response to those events — it dawned upon me that "Now's The Time" (Charlie Parker) for deeper reflection on the evolution of jazz as it mirrors the development of the American democratic process.

Jazz forms, like our American constitution, are dynamic, living, evolving ideas that became cultural institutions. If jazz is truly a reflection of an ideal American democracy, jazz — like our constitution — must have the ability to evolve. The constitution has the capacity to be amended to meet the needs of the electorate as the society evolves toward its ideal. Likewise, jazz potentially has the ability to respond and adapt to changes in our culture. Jazz needs an environment where it can benefit economically from aesthetic and technological advances, yet maintain the spirit and character that makes the jazz ensemble the embodiment of freedom in a democratic society.

Jazz, the product of the African-American community, was created by the descendants of former slaves. "So What" (Miles Davis) could a former slave know about freedom, liberty and democracy? A state of being that is "So Near, So Far" (Miles Davis) for the African slave. Even in the most oppressive period of slavery, the principles of freedom were expressed in the music of the slaves. You hear it in the sorrow songs, the work songs, the spirituals and the blues as an ideal to strive for or as an expression of joy when that ideal is realized. After all, the idea of freedom can be reduced to a state of mind. In the musical pursuit of happiness, it was revealed that the slave was actually free in his mind and spirit. What the slave lacked was liberty and the civil and human rights to own, develop and benefit from his own creations.

Even though jazz was declared the music of America by an act of Congress (HR 57), some citizens may not fully understand the parallels between the principles that govern jazz and our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and liberties inherent in our democratic society. Here are the three principle lines of thought.

  1. Jazz requires that the performers be informed. To play jazz you must know and apply the theories that govern jazz. How can you "jam" on a tune if you don't know the "Changes" (Charles Mingus)? Likewise, the participants in a democratic society must be informed not only of their civil and human rights but of their responsibilities to the collective. If you don't know what your rights are, how can you insist upon them. Citizens in a democratic society must take the responsibility to learn, know and understand the components of important issues so that they can make informed decisions concerning self governance.

  2. Jazz sounds best when there is group cohesiveness. Each member must understand the role that the other members play in the group because the jazz group is only as strong as its weakest member. Each member is expected to make informed — even inspired — contributions to the group in stylistic context, within the musical form. Likewise, for a democratic society to survive and evolve, it takes the full participation of an educated, informed electorate contributing toward the common good of the body politic. The individual member must understand the role that each member plays. It's also important that citizens hold each other accountable to the process.

Most jazz groups require that each member contribute as a soloist. This is the individual's opportunity for his/her voice to be heard. Members in a jazz ensemble are not required to blindly follow or back-up the soloist or leader. Your solo is your chance to lead and for others to listen and follow. Likewise a democratic society must require opportunities for individual voices and minorities to be heard and even lead when the message seeks to create the greatest good.

Let Freedom Swing...
Swing is the element of jazz that best reflects the principles of freedom. I don't mean swing as a type or style of jazz that became popular in the '30s, but "swing" being a transcendent goal to be reached or a level of awareness. Each individual in the ensemble is responsible for his own sense of swing. You can swing at any tempo. Any rhythmic pattern can swing. Swing creates a sense of joy and celebration that causes the body to move and dance, a kind of "Freedom Jazz Dance" (Eddie Harris).

When a jazz band swings it reveals a hidden interconnectiveness between band members. In the best jazz groups this interconnectiveness approaches Extra Sensory Perception - "ESP" (Wayne Shorter). Within a swingin' jazz group, the relationship between time and space changes. Jazz that swings can put you in a relaxed or meditative state of mind or ignite the creative process in both the performer and listener. When listening to jazz, keep this in mind: "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" (Duke Ellington).

The energy that the individual contributes to the ensemble becomes multiplied, greater than the sum of the whole. Jazz at its best is democracy at its best. In great jazz there will always be an exchange of energy and information between the band members, between the band and the audience and even between audience members.

The principals of freedom that governs the performance of jazz is at the heart of what makes jazz a universally loved art form. Jazz is performed and enjoyed across the planet by many ethnic groups. Jazz is perhaps America's best contribution to world culture while the jazz ensemble serves as a model of democracy for the world to experience. As Americans and jazz lovers, let's do our part to keep freedom swingin' here at home! The late Lester Bowie, when asked about solutions for the world's woes, he replied, "Play more jazz!"

Andy Narell - Chocolate Fog

Children's world - Maceo Parker

Eddie Harris and Les McCann "Set Us Free"

East Side, West Side - Eric Gale

Rodney Franklin - Fiesta

Stanley Clarke- passenger 57- At movies

Ralph MacDonald - The Path (Full Version)

Hiroshima - Midtown Hagashi/East

Havana Moonlight - Spyro Gyra

Grover Washington Jr. - Only For You

Tito Puente - Oye Como Va (Live)

South African Jazz

Albert Murray

The Literary Lion in his Den
The Literary Lion in his Den

The Musing of Murray...

I would be amiss if I did not include the musings of Playthell Benjamin who adds a unique perspective about jazz, its affects and effects, energetic and swinging life in the African American community.

The perspective by Playthell clarifies the role and meaning of jazz, the musicians and the fashion trends as espoused by them, were not fitting with the stereotypes Whites and some Africans have about Africans in America and elsewhere.

The author he is talking about, Albert Murray, was indeed one of a kind, and reading his works, as Playthell stated below, will be one way to begin to think about Africans in America, and urban Africans globally and the Caribbean, have a culture that needs to be known, respected and celebrated. I agree, so that, I pick up on Playthell's soulful and jazzy article below:

"The Blues Philosopher's Last Chorus"

Life as a Fully Orchestrated Blues Statement

Albert Murray was not only one of the most original thinkers in American letters during the 20 century, he was also a tutor to a couple of generations of American intellectuals trying to understand their country and its culture. For many intellectuals and artist making the trek up to Mr. Murray’s apartment in Lennox Terrace, the experience was like a religious devotee making a pilgrimage to a sacred shrine to sit at the feet of a holy man, or like the seekers of wisdom and truth who sat at the feet of Plato in ancient Greece.

Some of the most illustrious names in Literature, Art, Music and cultural criticism have found their way to this book laden temple of learning. Professor Murray was Harlem’s senior sage. He was 97 years old when he danced to his last blues chorus, and his status was unassailable. In fact, Mr. Murray’s shoes are so hard to fill we will probably have to dip them in gold, hang them in an honored spot on a wall of heroes, and leave the position of Senior Sage open for the foreseeable future.

While I am not certain that I could define a philosopher in language that would satisfy the academic guardians of the canon, like Supreme Court Justice when asked to define pornography: “I know it when I see it.” Since the subject of this panegyric, Professor Murray, was a master of language who was also devoted to improvisation and therefore no slave to convention, I shall feel free to take liberties in defining what I mean by philosopher in reference to him.

For me a philosopher is one who contemplates the deeper meaning of things and finds hidden connections between phenomena that escape the rest of us, with the ultimate aim of defining reality. While the common lot of us look upon the world and our obvious predicament and ask why? Philosophers dream of things yet unseen and ask why not? Albert Murray was always opening our eyes to hidden truths that revealed new possibilities.

I was first introduced to his ideas by Larry Neale – the distinguished poet, essayist, editor, and teacher of literature at Yale. And it changed the way I saw the world in important ways. I remember well the first time he mentioned Mr. Murray to me. I was living in an apartment in midtown Manhattan, thirty-two stories above Broadway. I was a Professor on leave from the University of Massachusetts, and was managing the Great singer Jean Carn.

A friend of mine, Tanya, a tall fine blond lady who could bust some moves like a Soul Train hoofer, was grooving to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” when Larry told her that she was not white. He said her whiteness was a great American fiction, a superficial matter of pigment. I was shocked at his announcement because the alabaster beauty was as white as any white person that I ever saw. But Larry went on to explain that she was a cultural mulatto, and Omni-American! And he held up a copy of Mr. Murray’s book.

Larry was such a serious intellectual and devoted teacher he died of a heart attack while presenting a lecture. He was the sort of person who would slaughter his own sacred cows in deference to a greater truth. This is what happened when he encountered the writing of Professor Murray. A founding father and avatar of the Black Arts movement of the 1960s, who along with Amiri Baraka, aka Leroi Jones, co-edited Black Fire, the seminal anthology of the early writings produced by the Black Arts movement, it was no easy task for Larry to accommodate the ideas in Mr. Murray’s book.

An unsentimental and uncompromising literary critic, Professor Murray cavalierly dismissed most of the writing produced by the Black Arts movement as aesthetic mediocrities….And some as literary atrocities. And he irreverently referred to the lot of us black cultural revolutionaries as, “The Bam Bam Boom Boom Brillo Head Crowd.” In a startling commentary on a reading of works by some of the Black Arts luminaries he attended in Greenwich Village, Mr. Murray denounced their works as little more than public temper tantrums devoted to ostentatious racial exhibitionism of questionable literary merit. But he reserved his most caustic criticism for the largely white, affluent, artsy fartsy audience who applauded wildly and treated the performers as cultural heroes.

He concluded that with “friends” like this the black artists was doomed to mediocrity, and he placed them even lower on the scale of reliable friends than white boxing managers. For even if one assumed that the rumors of financial exploitation of boxers under their management was true, Mr. Murray argued: “at least they were trying to produce world champions!” The profound truth of this revelation hit me like a ton of bricks and I carefully devoured the rest of the essays in his remarkable wide ranging eclectic collection of essays, the “The Omni-Americans,” his first book.

I was hooked on Mr. Murray’s learned, unique, and insightful commentaries on life, literature, the essence of artistic creation and its implications for society, as well as his penetrating iconoclastic views on politics: cultural and otherwise. But what I loved most about Mr. Murray was his quiet assumption that Afro-Americans were the hippest and most stylish people on earth.

This is very important to note for this is a rarely known nor know perspective from a unique intellectual with a grasp of the nuances and realities of African American people, not as a suffering people, but innovative and very progressive entity given their American experiences and their efforts to give their lot a much more human, intelligent and very High Cultured character.

Blues Idiom Dancers

The Elegance Albert Murray Witnessed
The Elegance Albert Murray Witnessed

This is most apparent in his discussion of the “fakelore of black pathology,” and “the folklore of white supremacy,” a bogus intellectual construction that compelled white editors to privilege any story of black pathology over a tale of black heroism. A rule that is still all too true, as is evidenced by the muted attention being given to Antoinette Tuff, a black female bookkeeper who talked down a white male armed with an AK 47 and 500 rounds of ammunition that had begun to shoot up an elementary school in Georgia. Ms. Tuff talked the gunman into laying down his weapon and lie on the floor until the police came to arrest him. An although not one person lost their life, Ms. Tuff has yet to receive the kind of media adulation a white woman who had talked down a black gunman would have received.

Mr. Murray was an indefatigable defender of Afro-Americans against those who would attempt to play us cheap by portraying us as something less than what we are. He constantly pointed out that humanity is no less complex and fascinating in a black skin than in a white skin. Disproving that myth was a major impetus for his novels: Train Whistle Guitar, The Spyglass Tree and Seven League Boots.

One of the most interesting aspects of Mr. Murray’s critique of the study of Afro-Americans is his dismissal of the way sociologist have approached the subject. Referencing them as mere “statistical survey technicians” he has called their method “an elaborate fraud.” In order to demonstrate his point he critiques two studies that were considered the state of the art, one by a white social scientist and one by a black. An American Dilemma,a massive study conducted by the distinguished Swedish social economist, Dr. Gunnar Myrdal, and Dark Ghetto, written by Social Psychologist Kenneth B. Clarke.

Both of these scholars were prominent in their field. Kenneth Clarke, the first tenured Afro-American scholar in the City University of New York, was world famous as the result of his “Dolls” study. This study was appended to the NAACP brief in the landmark Brown v. The Board of Education case in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were “inherently unequal,” and it was credited by many with swaying the Judges’ decision. Dr. Myrdal, who headed what was the most massive research project on Afro-Americans in history, was chosen not only because he was a distinguished social scientist – since there was no paucity of able social scientists here – but also because he came from Sweden, a country with no black/white racial problem.

They funders of the study reasoned that Myrdal would be more objective writing about the volatile race problem in the US than an American scholar by virtue of his background. The result was a text of nearly a thousand pages that was roundly hailed as the final word on black life in America. Professor Murray was unimpressed with the results of both studies and emphatically dismissed them. He said the most obvious thing about Dark Ghetto was that it was “written by a Negro who hates himself.”

Murray observed that things in Harlem could not be as grim as Clarke described them “even if half the residents robbed the other half every night.” He took a similar position on Claude Brown’s bestselling novel “Manchild in the Promised Land,” which was being widely acclaimed as the real story of what life was like in Harlem. Mr. Murray said it was no such thing! He said it was merely the story of what it was like for one Negro who grew up in Harlem “and evidently had a hard time doing so.” The book told you nothing about “what it was like to be the Society Editor of the Amsterdam News,” or “one of the people who ran the most complex mass transportation system in the world.”

As for Mr. Myrdal’s “landmark study,” Murray thought it had been a great waste of money if the objective was to help us understand black life in America. His indictment of the study was spurred by the fact that nowhere in those hundreds of pages filled with numbers and sociological jargon, no one thought to ask what was the meaning of the blues among black Americans, who invented the art form and based the great American art of Jazz on its deeply moving changes?

This question reflected Mr. Murray’s conception of art and its function in human society. His view was summed up in his contention that “an art style is the refinement and elaboration of a lifestyle.” If this assumption was true, then the question of the meaning of the blues in Afro-American culture was no picayune consideration. Mr. Murray thought it was critical to understanding the amazing grace that Afro-Americans had shown during the long night of racial oppression. He would go on to answer this question in the text that I consider his magnum opus: Stomping the Blues; and many critics believe is the best book ever written on Afro-American music –this writer included.

Bill “Count” Basie Master of the Fully Orchestrated Blues Statement

In this text Mr. Murray waxes philosophical about the meaning of the blues and corrects some widely held misconceptions. The most pervasive of which is that the blues is sad music. He skillfully dispels this myth by exploring the origins of the concept of blues by dividing his quest into “The Blues as Such” and the “Blues as Music.” Mr. Murray shows that while the blues as such is a feeling of sadness and melancholy, and can be traced back to the idea of “blue devils” in Elizabethan England, the blues as music is the antidote to the blues as such. Hence when viewed in its proper cultural context, the “down home Saturday night function” i.e. a dance party held among Afro-Americans in the south, the blues becomes a music of celebration.

Black musicians played the blues to chase away the blues as such; they “stomped the blues.” This is the meaning of the title of Mr. Murray’s text:Stomping the Blues. He pointed out that there are several ways of dealing with the blues as such. One could commit suicide, turn to alcohol and drugs, or get sharp and go out dancing to a blues band. His central point throughout this amazing text is that contrary to conventional wisdom the blues is a music of affirmation not resignation – as both the Black Nationalist activist/intellectual Mualana Karenga and the revolutionary black psychiatrist Franz Fanon had concluded.

This was the basis of his criticism of both the portrayal of black life in Richard Wright’s Native Son and the nihilism that characterized so much of the rhetoric of black radicals in the 1960’s. Murray thought we relied far too much on the grim pessimism of the sociologists – who were mostly square white boys who knew little of real life and could be taken off for everything they had by any fourth rate Harlem hustler once they stepped outside their class rooms – rather than rely on the wisdom of the blues. He pointed out that the blues sensibility was the antithesis of the “sack cloth and ashes” view of life. While the blues admits “life is a low down dirty shame” we have to keep on swinging.

Through his eyes musicians became heroes and “blues idiom dancing,” his description of typical Afro-American popular dance, was a heroic exercise. For Mr. Murray, the ability to dance gracefully is a core value of Afro-American culture; it is so widely shared that it is disgraceful to be awkward on the dance floor. The importance he placed on this as a signature of ones integration into the Afro-American cultural idiom is clearly demonstrated in his essay on Gordon Parks, a brilliant multi-talented Afro-American contemporary.

In his description of Gordon Parks upon their first meeting as young men he describes Park’s talents and concludes with the comment “and he was graceful on the dance floor.” But when he describes Gordon Parks later in life, after he had become enormously successful and was lionized by white society, Murray notes his many successes then comments wryly: “But he was no longer graceful on the dance floor.”

Albert Murray’s writing was a revelation to me, and many other black intellectuals who took the time to carefully read him. He offered new perspectives on many levels and prompted us to rethink a lot of our ideas. For instance he considered the description of Harlem and other black communities as “ghettos” to be erroneous, the result of “too much pillow talk between black intellectuals and their Jewish lovers.”

He thought that Malcolm X’s preachment about the white man convincing Afro-Americans to hate our looks was nonsense, and said all one had to do was watch “American Negroes” on the dance floor to see that it wasn’t true. He said that Afro-Americans who were good looking knew that they looked good, and those who thought they were ugly probably were.

Mr. Murray

Source

The Jazz Gentlemen and Intellectual

Playthell Benjamin further added the following on the article on Albert Murray:

Larry was such a serious intellectual and devoted teacher he died of a heart attack while presenting a lecture. He was the sort of person who would slaughter his own sacred cows in deference to a greater truth. This is what happened when he encountered the writing of Professor Murray. A founding father and avatar of the Black Arts movement of the 1960’s, who along with Amiri Baracka, aka Leroi Jones, co-edited Black Fire, the seminal anthology of the early writings produced by the Black Arts movement, it was no easy task for Larry to accommodate the ideas in Mr. Murray’s book.

An unsentimental and uncompromising literary critic, Professor Murray cavalierly dismissed most of the writing produced by the Black Arts movement as aesthetic mediocrities….and some as literary atrocities. And he irreverently referred to the lot of us black cultural revolutionaries as, “the Bam Bam Boom Boom Brillo Head Crowd.” In a startling commentary on a reading of works by some of the Black Arts luminaries he attended in Greenwich Village, Mr. Murray denounced their works as little more than public temper tantrums devoted to ostentatious racial exhibitionism of questionable literary merit. But he reserved his most caustic criticism for the largely white, affluent, artsy fartsy audience who applauded wildly and treated the performers as cultural heroes.

He concluded that with “friends” like this the black artists was doomed to mediocrity, and he placed them even lower on the scale of reliable friends than white boxing managers. For even if one assumed that the rumors of financial exploitation of boxers under their management was true, Mr. Murray argued: “at least they were trying to produce world champions!” The profound truth of this revelation hit me like a ton of bricks and I carefully devoured the rest of the essays in his remarkable wide ranging eclectic collection of essays, the “The Omni-Americans,” his first book.

I was hooked on Mr. Murray’s learned, unique, and insightful commentaries on life, literature, the essence of artistic creation and its implications for society, as well as his penetrating iconoclastic views on politics: cultural and otherwise. But what I loved most about Mr. Murray was his quiet assumption that Afro-Americans were the hippest and most stylish people on earth.

This is most apparent in his discussion of the “fakelore of black pathology,” and “the folklore of white supremacy,” a bogus intellectual construction that compelled white editors to privilege any story of black pathology over a tale of black heroism. A rule that is still all too true, as is evidenced by the muted attention being given to Antoinette Tuff, a black female bookkeeper who talked down a white male armed with an AK 47 and 500 rounds of ammunition that had begun to shoot up an elementary school in Georgia. Ms. Tuff talked the gunman into laying down his weapon and lie on the floor until the police came to arrest him. An although not one person lost their life, Ms. Tuff has yet to receive the kind of media adulation a white woman who had talked down a black gunman would have received.

Mr. Murray was an indefatigable defender of Afro-Americans against those who would attempt to play us cheap by portraying us as something less than what we are. He constantly pointed out that humanity is no less complex and fascinating in a black skin than in a white skin. Disproving that myth was a major impetus for his novels: Train Whistle Guitar, The Spyglass Tree and Seven League Boots.

One of the most interesting aspects of Mr. Murray’s critique of the study of Afro-Americans is his dismissal of the way sociologist have approached the subject. Referencing them as mere “statistical survey technicians” he has called their method “an elaborate fraud.” In order to demonstrate his point he critiques two studies that were considered the state of the art, one by a white social scientist and one by a black. An American Dilemma,a massive study conducted by the distinguished Swedish social economist, Dr. Gunnar Myrdal, and Dark Ghetto, written by Social Psychologist Kenneth B. Clarke.

Both of these scholars were prominent in their field. Kenneth Clarke, the first tenured Afro-American scholar in the City University of New York, was world famous as the result of his “Dolls” study. This study was appended to the NAACP brief in the landmark Brown v. The Board of Education case in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were “inherently unequal,” and it was credited by many with swaying the Judges’ decision. Dr. Myrdal, who headed what was the most massive research project on Afro-Americans in history, was chosen not only because he was a distinguished social scientist – since there was no paucity of able social scientists here – but also because he came from Sweden, a country with no black/white racial problem.

They funders of the study reasoned that Myrdal would be more objective writing about the volatile race problem in the US than an American scholar by virtue of his background. The result was a text of nearly a thousand pages that was roundly hailed as the final word on black life in America. Professor Murray was unimpressed with the results of both studies and emphatically dismissed them. He said the most obvious thing about Dark Ghetto was that it was “written by a Negro who hates himself.”

Murray observed that things in Harlem could not be as grim as Clarke described them “even if half the residents robbed the other half every night.” He took a similar position on Claude Brown’s bestselling novel “Manchild in the Promised Land,” which was being widely acclaimed as the real story of what life was like in Harlem. Mr. Murray said it was no such thing! He said it was merely the story of what it was like for one Negro who grew up in Harlem “and evidently had a hard time doing so.” The book told you nothing about “what it was like to be the Society Editor of the Amsterdam News,” or “one of the people who ran the most complex mass transportation system in the world.”

As for Mr. Myrdal’s “landmark study,” Murray thought it had been a great waste of money if the objective was to help us understand black life in America. His indictment of the study was spurred by the fact that nowhere in those hundreds of pages filled with numbers and sociological jargon, no one thought to ask what was the meaning of the blues among black Americans, who invented the art form and based the great American art of Jazz on its deeply moving changes?

This question reflected Mr. Murray’s conception of art and its function in human society. His view was summed up in his contention that “an art style is the refinement and elaboration of a lifestyle.” If this assumption was true, then the question of the meaning of the blues in Afro-American culture was no picayune consideration. Mr. Murray thought it was critical to understanding the amazing grace that Afro-Americans had shown during the long night of racial oppression. He would go on to answer this question in the text that I consider his magnum opus: Stomping the Blues; and many critics believe is the best book ever written on Afro-American music –this writer included.

In this text Mr. Murray waxes philosophical about the meaning of the blues and corrects some widely held misconceptions. The most pervasive of which is that the blues is sad music. He skillfully dispels this myth by exploring the origins of the concept of blues by dividing his quest into “The Blues as Such” and the “Blues as Music.” Mr. Murray shows that while the blues as such is a feeling of sadness and melancholy, and can be traced back to the idea of “blue devils” in Elizabethan England, the blues as music is the antidote to the blues as such. Hence when viewed in its proper cultural context, the “down home Saturday night function” i.e. a dance party held among Afro-Americans in the south, the blues becomes a music of celebration.

Black musicians played the blues to chase away the blues as such; they “stomped the blues.” This is the meaning of the title of Mr. Murray’s text:Stomping the Blues. He pointed out that there are several ways of dealing with the blues as such. One could commit suicide, turn to alcohol and drugs, or get sharp and go out dancing to a blues band. His central point throughout this amazing text is that contrary to conventional wisdom the blues is a music of affirmation not resignation – as both the Black Nationalist activist/intellectual Mualana Karenga and the revolutionary black psychiatrist Franz Fanon had concluded.

This was the basis of his criticism of both the portrayal of black life in Richard Wright’s Native Son and the nihilism that characterized so much of the rhetoric of black radicals in the 1960’s. Murray thought we relied far too much on the grim pessimism of the sociologists – who were mostly square white boys who knew little of real life and could be taken off for everything they had by any fourth rate Harlem hustler once they stepped outside their class rooms – rather than rely on the wisdom of the blues. He pointed out that the blues sensibility was the antithesis of the “sackcloth and ashes” view of life. While the blues admits “life is a low down dirty shame” we have to keep on swinging.

Through his eyes musicians became heroes and “blues idiom dancing,” his description of typical Afro-American popular dance, was a heroic exercise. For Mr. Murray, the ability to dance gracefully is a core value of Afro-American culture; it is so widely shared that it is disgraceful to be awkward on the dance floor. The importance he placed on this as a signature of ones integration into the Afro-American cultural idiom is clearly demonstrated in his essay on Gordon Parks, a brilliant multi-talented Afro-American contemporary.

In his description of Gordon Parks upon their first meeting as young men he describes Park’s talents and concludes with the comment “and he was graceful on the dance floor.” But when he describes Gordon Parks later in life, after he had become enormously successful and was lionized by white society, Murray notes his many successes then comments wryly: “But he was no longer graceful on the dance floor.”

Albert Murray’s writing was a revelation to me, and many other black intellectuals who took the time to carefully read him. He offered new perspectives on many levels and prompted us to rethink a lot of our ideas. For instance he considered the description of Harlem and other black communities as “ghettos” to be erroneous, the result of “too much pillow talk between black intellectuals and their Jewish lovers.”

He thought that Malcolm X’s preachment about the white man convincing Afro-Americans to hate our looks was nonsense, and said all one had to do was watch “American Negroes” on the dance floor to see that it wasn’t true. He said that Afro-Americans who were good looking knew that they looked good, and those who thought they were ugly probably were.

He also thought Malcolm’s contention that house slaves were more impressed with the master than field slaves ignored the fact that it was the house slaves who saw the masters for the flawed creatures that they were, because they were all up in their business i.e. no man is a hero to his butler. And he pointed out that it is déclassé intellectuals that lead revolutions because ordinary working people don’t spend their time thinking about the things one has to think about in order to organize a revolution. That is the province of the intellectual.

Although I would come to have my disagreements with Mr. Murray, sometimes about culture but mostly about politics, and even argued with him personally on the value of sociology, accusing him of throwing the baby out with the bathwater….I regard his presence among us as a blessing, and his literary legacy a benefaction.

His collaboration with Count Basie on his autobiography “Good Morning Blues” provides us a look into the world of the Jazz musician and the evolution of the big band that is unprecedented, and his intellectual repartee with the great visual artist Romare Beardon, even naming some of his master works, along with his critical role in the founding of Jazz At Lincoln Center – a seminal event in the history of American culture, is further evidence of Mr. Murray’s widespread influence on American civilization. Mr. Murray has been justly showered with many accolades in recognition of his singular contribution. I believe we are not likely to see his kind again. For the elements so blended in him that such a man may come along once in a century.

A career Air-Force officer and a refined gentleman, an intellectual of great depth, a prolific writer and iconoclastic thinker, a professor and philosopher, an epicure, elegant dresser and graceful dancer, a devoted husband and good father, and pater-familias to a tribe of intellectuals and artists who are shaping the culture of the world. When one considers that he taught literature and military aviation, was a novelist and essayist of distinction, an equally able and insightful critic of literature, music and the visual arts – all of which he wrote highly original treatises on – we are compelled to place him among the modern renaissance men.

Mr. Murray was an exemplar of a type of black southern gentleman that is fast fading from the scene. He was cut from the same cloth as my Uncle Jimmy Strawder, who also danced and joined the honored ancestors just days before Mr. Murray played his out chorus. Both were men from small southern towns, Mr. Murray from Nkomis Alabama, Uncle Jimmy from St. Augustine Florida. Both men grew up during the era of American apartheid, when the ruling ideology was white supremacy, and although life in their birthplace was really a low down dirty shame they kept on swinging for a nearly a century – Jimmy Strawder for 90 years Albert Murray for 97!

One could say their lives were like “fully orchestrated blues statements,” a term Mr. Murray coined, in that they were complete and left nothing to be desired. They were “Killer Dillers;” handsome hep-cats who dressed to the nines and strutted their stuff like peacocks on the dance floors of elegant ball rooms that were all the rage in their youth; places with names like the Savoy Ballroom, Grand Terrace and Paradise Lounge. This is where the fabulous big bands like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Cab Calloway, Chick Webb, and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm played the fully orchestrated blues statements Mr Murray wrote so insightfully about, music played at “the velocity of celebration.”

The fact that one gets no hint that “Fatha” Hines and his great orchestra was playing for dancers at the elegantly appointed Grand Terrace, a scene so hip Al Capone came by to dance to the music, in Richard Right’s wildly acclaimed novel Native Son, which was set in Chicago during this era, is one of Mr. Murray’s most potent grievances against the text.

Mr. Murray would become a military officer and a writer, Uncle Jimmy became a military officer and would have become a writer if Columbia University – to their everlasting shame – had not turned him away after congratulating him on his distinguished war record as a decorated combat officer, and his outstanding performance on the entrance exam, part of which he took in Latin, with the cold announcement” ‘Columbia College already has its quota of Negros.”

As I noted in my eulogy to Uncle Jimmy: “If white Americans who survived the Great Depression and fought World War II can be considered “The Greatest Generation,” men like Uncle Jimmy and Professor Murray” are the greatest of The Greatest Generation! Thus I bid these good men… officers and gentlemen, hail and farewell.

The fact that one gets no hint that “Fatha” Hines and his great orchestra was playing for dancers at the elegantly appointed Grand Terrace, a scene so hip Al Capone came by to dance to the music, in Richard Right’s wildly acclaimed novel Native Son, which was set in Chicago during this era, is one of Mr. Murray’s most potent grievances against the text.

Mr. Murray would become a military officer and a writer, Uncle Jimmy became a military officer and would have become a writer if Columbia University – to their everlasting shame – had not turned him away after congratulating him on his distinguished war record as a decorated combat officer, and his outstanding performance on the entrance exam, part of which he took in Latin, with the cold announcement” ‘Columbia College already has its quota of Negros.”

As I noted in my eulogy to Uncle Jimmy: “If white Americans who survived the Great Depression and fought World War II can be considered “The Greatest Generation,” men like Uncle Jimmy and Professor Murray” are the greatest of The Greatest Generation! Thus I bid these good men… officers and gentlemen, hail and farewell.

Milt Jackson

Milt Jackson "Great African-American Classical Composer"
Milt Jackson "Great African-American Classical Composer"

Milt Jackson

Before Milt Jackson, there were only two major vibraphonists: Lionel Hampton and Red Norvo. Jackson soon surpassed both of them in significance and, despite the rise of other players (including Bobby Hutcherson and Gary Burton), still won the popularity polls throughout the decades. Jackson (or "Bags" as he was long called) was at the top of his field for 50 years, playing bop, blues, and ballads with equal skill and sensitivity.

Milt Jackson started on guitar when he was seven, and piano at 11; a few years later, he switched to vibes. He actually made his professional debut singing in a touring gospel quartet. After Dizzy Gillespie discovered him playing in Detroit, he offered him a job with his sextet and (shortly after) his innovative big band (1946). Jackson recorded with Gillespie, and was soon in great demand. During 1948-1949, he worked with Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Howard McGhee, and the Woody Herman Orchestra. After playing with Gillespie's sextet (1950-1952), which at one point included John Coltrane, Jackson recorded with a quartet comprised of John Lewis, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke (1952), which soon became a regular group called the Modern Jazz Quartet. Although he recorded regularly as a leader (including dates in the 1950s with Miles Davis and/or Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, and Ray Charles), Milt Jackson stayed with the MJQ through 1974, becoming an indispensable part of their sound. By the mid-'50s, Lewis became the musical director and some felt that Bags was restricted by the format, but it actually served him well, giving him some challenging settings. And he always had an opportunity to jam on some blues numbers, including his "Bags' Groove." However, in 1974, Jackson felt frustrated by the MJQ (particularly financially) and broke up the group. He recorded frequently for Pablo in many all-star settings in the 1970s, and after a seven-year vacation, the MJQ came back in 1981. In addition to the MJQ recordings, Milt Jackson cut records as a leader throughout his career for many labels including Savoy, Blue Note (1952), Prestige, Atlantic, United Artists, Impulse, Riverside, Limelight, Verve, CTI, Pablo, Music Masters, and Qwest. He died of liver cancer on October 9, 1999, at the age of 76.

Milton "Bags" Jackson (January 1, 1923 – October 9, 1999) was an American jazz vibraphonist, usually thought of as a bebop player, although he performed in several jazz idioms. He is especially remembered for his cool swinging solos as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet and his penchant for collaborating with several hard bop and post-bop players.
A very expressive player, Jackson differentiated himself from other vibraphonists in his attention to variations on harmonics and rhythm. He was particularly fond of the twelve-bar blues at slow tempos. He preferred to set the vibraphone's oscillator to a low 3.3 revolutions per second (as opposed to Lionel Hampton's speed of 10 revolutions per second) for a more subtle vibrato. On occasion, Jackson would also sing and play piano professionallly. (Alvin Carter-bey)

Milt Jackson & Benny Golson & Art Farmer & NHØP - Bags Groove

Milt Jackson Ray Brown Monty Alexander Clark Terry at Montreux '77. 01. Slippery

Jazz Etched Into History

Source

Jazz: The Music Of Struggle and Liberation Of Africans Worldwide

Rashid Booker wrote the following piece:

Jazz: The Soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement

Although no longer the popular genre of music for young African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, jazz music played a pivotal role in the development and sustainability of the Civil Rights Movement. Jazz musicians and the jazz subculture and music scene played an indispensable role in creating the necessary social conditions for the Civil Rights Movement in multiple ways. By creating an integrationist subculture within American society and the large numbers of progressive jazz musicians who publicly and financially supported the Movement, the fall of de jure segregation in the American South was achieved. Thus, jazz was essential for the Civil Rights Movement by contributing the prerequisite conditions of integration, black consciousness, and the well-known jazz musicians who denounced racism through their music, concerts, and political affiliations. This essay will first focus on the general ways jazz music paved the path for integration and then examine the lives of jazz artists such as Nina Simone, Max Roach, Charles Mingus, Louis Armstrong and others to determine how each musician contributed to the Movement.
Perhaps the most significant factor in jazz’s contribution to civil rights was its role as arena of racial integration. Since the Swing era, some of the most popular big bands and jazz groups were interracial, such as Benny Goodman. Dave Brubeck, another popular white jazz musician of the 1950s, employed Eugene Wright, a black bassist in his group, and refused to play at Southern universities that demanded he hire a white bassist. In these instances, jazz clearly operated as countercultural to mainstream Jim Crow in the South. Jazz music also contributed to the decline of segregation in popular music in the 1950s and 1960s through television, where role TV programs such as Sound of Jazz featured integrated bands often under black leadership. Any television program in that period that did not portray blacks as servile and submissive often used interracial bands to directly challenge white assumptions of black inferiority and the segregation of the races. Moreover, the Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts of the 1950s organized by Norman Granz were integrated bands playing at integrated venues, another way of overturning segregated venues and concert halls across the country. In addition to challenging segregation by creating opportunities for integration in social spaces on television and concerts, jazz musicians were significant in the integration of the American Federation of Musicians in Los Angeles and New York City, which led to an increasing African-American musician presence in film and stage productions in the pit. Likewise, integrated jazz clubs, such as The Savoy in Harlem, and the Café Society, where Billie Holiday first sang “Strange Fruit” in 1939, were important scenes of leftist intellectual activity and interracial solidarity against racism. Written by a Jewish communist, and likely inspired by the 1935 lynching in Marion, Indiana, Meeropol’s song was often performed in leftist circles sympathetic to antiracism that were integrated spaces because jazz brought whites and black audiences together. Fats Waller and Andy Razaf also critiqued white society for racism and Jim Crow as far back as 1929, when their composition “Black and Blue” was first performed on Broadway in Hot Chocolates for largely white audiences, using another space dominated by whites to subvert segregation and racism.
Furthermore, jazz appealed to Americans as the perfect musical accompaniment to democracy: the jazz world is based on meritocracy and celebrates individual expression through improvisation. For this reason, jazz has been promoted by aficionados, the State Department, and jazz musicians themselves as the great American art form, rooted in democratic institutions and individualism. Indeed, after Brown v. Board, the jazz community was increasingly politicized and black musicians were expected to not perform at segregate venues because jazz was perceived by African-Americans as democratic music connected to the aims of mainstream civil rights organizations like NAACP and CORE. For example, when Nat King Cole played at a segregated Alabama venue with a white band and was beaten for it, black newspapers chastised him for singing at a segregated venue in the first place. Cole soon joined the NAACP and performed at several benefit concerts in order to win black support again. Jazz musicians were supposed to boycott and refuse segregated venues and shows in order to show solidarity and support for integrationist organizations since jazz was perceived as music of democracy and freedom to both blacks and whites. For the State Department, however, jazz was a powerful tool to export for cultural diplomacy to the decolonized nations during the Cold War to show American progress on race by sending black musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Duke Ellington around the world. Of course black musicians did not foolishly accept the State Department’s attempt to manipulate and exploit them in order to provide a false portrayal of American race relations. Artists such as Charles Mingus had the titles of their compositions changed to not reflect racism in America alongside other government attempts to co-opt the militancy and pro-civil rights sentiments of jazz musicians.
Another example of jazz’s vital role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s was the development of a unique black aesthetic. Part of this unique black musical and cultural aesthetic included an internationalist, or Pan-African dimension, which is obvious with the increasing incorporation of Latin rhythms and instruments in bebop during the 1940s with Dizzy Gillespie’s recordings. The very song titles alone also hint at an increasingly Pan-Africanist or Afro-modernist consciousness that linked domestic freedom struggles with anti-colonial groups in Africa and the diaspora. Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia,” Coltrane’s “Africa,” and Max Roach’s “Tears for Johannesburg,” a dirge for the victims of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in apartheid South Africa, demonstrated African-American Pan-African solidarity and opposition to racism and imperialism before the rise of the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s. In addition to embracing freedom struggles abroad and at home, jazz musicians searched the African-American past for affirmations of positive black identity and consciousness. Thus, the development of hard bop, a sub-genre of jazz often perceived as a response to the “whitewashed” cool jazz, emphasized the blues and gospel roots of African-American music and remained popular in black communities. Endeavors to honor and revive elements of black culture and music had surfaced even earlier in jazz, when artists like Duke Ellington composed a suite on black history for a concert at Carnegie Hall that praised black identity. As a result of black jazz musicians emphasizing the black blues, spiritual, and gospel traditions, jazz as a genre was increasingly perceived as black in the public eye. The white mainstream’s perception of jazz as black music was reinforced by the Afro-modernist aesthetic that demanded creative and artistic independence from what were seen as white or European sources and styles by blacks. That is why Dizzy Gillespie and other jazz musicians experimented with congas and Cuban rhythms, incorporated Caribbean melodies and styles in their repertoire, like Sonny Rollins, or used African and Latin rhythms together to explore music in different time meters, as Max Roach did before Dave Brubeck won fame for doing just that. The burgeoning popularity of soul and R&B with young, urban blacks during the 1960s also led to some jazz musicians developing soul-jazz, a distinct sub-genre marked by blues and soul influences as an attempt to maintain jazz’s popularity with youth despite overall declines in sales which Cannonball Adderley and Lou Donaldson succeeded in doing. An independent black aesthetic and pride in black identity strengthened civil rights insurgency and jazz musicians’ willingness to perform benefit concerts for organizations and to challenge the white-controlled dominated music industry, as Mingus and Roach did when they established Debut Records, one of the earliest artist-led labels. Inspired by and wishing to add to the Civil Rights Movement, Chicago-based musicians established their own collective the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, to challenge white-owned clubs and promote African-inspired and artistically autonomous forms of avant-garde jazz, with the motto, “Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.” Other musicians, like Art Blakey, recorded multiple albums of African and early examples of world beat jazz, such as Holiday for Skins, Orgy in Rhythm, and The African Beat, each one emphasizing percussion solos and African and Caribbean musical genres of highlife, calypso, and Afro-Cuban. The Afro-modernist aesthetic of jazz musicians, tied to their increasing participation and contributions to activist and musician organizations, furthered the development of black cultural nationalism before the rise of Black Power and the Black Arts Movement that embraced free jazz.
Though insulted and ridiculed as an Uncle Tom by future generations as an Uncle Tom, Louis Armstrong represents one approach to civil rights that actually reveal him to be a staunch defender of black rights. Referred to as an “Uncle Tom” for performing with a silly grin for mostly white audiences by Dizzy Gillespie, Armstrong actually stood up for civil rights as early as the 1930s, when he refused to straighten his hair. Blacks had been expected for decades to straighten their hair if they wanted to go anywhere as entertainers for whites, so Armstrong’s refusal to do so is another example of jazz’s independent black aesthetic and affirmation of human dignity playing a role in antiracism. In 1957, during the Little Rock High Nine controversy, Armstrong also canceled a scheduled tour of Russia on behalf of the State Department, defiantly saying, “The way they’re treating my people in the South, the government can go to Hell.” As an integrationist, Armstrong also demanded first-class treatment and hotel service from hotels that excluded blacks before agreeing to tour anywhere. Armstrong’s public persona also directly challenged restricting white-imposed social expectations by celebrating the body, thereby embracing a countercultural, almost carnivalesque lifestyle that was part of an early black aesthetic modeled on independence from whites and Western culture. Of course, Armstrong’s belief in the transcendental power of music, aided by his own ability to emotionally connect with any audience, display a liberal universalism that placed jazz music as the intermediary for racial integration.
Like Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis also supported civil rights. For Monk, it was not usually explicit, but his numerous benefit concerts for SNCC, including “A Salute to Southern Students” at Carnegie Hall on February 1, 1963. In fact, benefit concerts became a regular component of the New York jazz scene during the first half of the 1960s, with Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jackie McLean, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Clark Terry, Dave Brubeck and many others playing benefit concerts for various civil rights organizations. Monk, intriguingly questioned the viability of nonviolence as a strategy, but pledged to support SNCC organizing black voter registration drives in the South anyway. Monk also performed benefit shows to fund the 1963 March on Washington and for CORE after the murder of four young women in Birmingham, Alabama from the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Indeed, as he watched the March on Washington on television, Monk reportedly told him that he contributed with his music, showing the importance he attached to racial justice and his pride in being able to help out. In addition, Miles Davis also aided the Civil Rights Movement by playing benefit shows for SNCC in support of voter registration in Louisiana and Mississippi, which became two of his live LPs, My Funny Valentine and Four and More. Davis, like Mingus, also demanded the respect and attention from white audiences that white performers often received, thus rejecting white stereotypes of black entertainers as servile beings without sophisticated music. Davis also shocked white audiences by not recognizing their applause and not introducing musical selections, avoiding accommodation of white expectations for black musicians. Moreover, Davis employed white musicians as he saw fit, using Bill Evans, for example, for Kind of Blue, but never conceded to white demands for deference. His righteous anger at the New York police officer who beat him in 1959 only fueled his antipathy toward whites and his resolve to do whatever he wanted.
More inclined toward Black Nationalism, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln represented the most radical of jazz musicians who responded to and played an integral role in Black cultural, musical, and political resistance to Jim Crow and racism. Roach’s history of radical black nationalism began as early as 1956, when he composed and recorded a song entitled “Mr. X,” in honor of Malcolm X because he believed in his importance as a leader against racism. Roach and Lincoln, along with lyrical assistance from Oscar Brown, Jr., released the most political and civil rights-related jazz album of the 1960s, “We Insist! Freedom Now,” the album cover featured a photograph of three black college students at a Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter sit-in, obviously referring to the student sit-ins of 1960. Originally intended to be a longer choral work to be performed at the 1963 centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, Roach released it in 1960, ensured copies would be free for any civil rights organization, and performed the entire suite live as a benefit concert for CORE at the Village Gate in 1961. The album traces African-American history, from slavery with “Driva’ Man,” to the massacre of protesters in Sharpeville, South Africa, with “Tears for Johannesburg,” which got the album banned in South Africa. By connecting the music, all composed by Roach, and the lyrical content, with Pan-Africanist, and antiracist movements within the struggle for civil rights and anti-apartheid movements in South Africa are examples of the Afro-modernist black aesthetic and political consciousness promulgated in jazz since the 1920s. Roach and Lincoln continued to compose politically-charged, Black Nationalist work demanding civil rights for the rest of their careers, leading to white backlash and a decline in the number of recording opportunities for both. Nevertheless, Lincoln formed the short-lived Cultural Association for Women of African Heritage in the early 1960s, organized a protest at the UN after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, and continued to compose feminist and pro-civil rights songs. Roach also continued to make political music, with is evident in song titles such as “Garvey’s Ghost,” “Man from South Africa,” and his continued experimentation with traditional forms of black music that he radically transformed with unusual meters, tonal ambiguity, and unconventional techniques. Roach and Lincoln also defended their views in debates with white jazz critics and panels, emphasizing black autonomy and cultural identity in jazz and politics, especially because they were accused of racism for defending black economic self-determination and the necessity for jazz musicians to make their music socially relevant.
Charles Mingus, the Angry Man of jazz, also recorded many political compositions and involved himself in the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps most famously with his composition, “Fable of Faubus,” Mingus satirized Arkansas governor Orval Faubus for preventing the Little Rock Nine from desegregating the white high school. First recorded without lyrics because Columbia believed them too controversial, Mingus later recorded the song multiple times live and added lyrics that parodied the lines of white protesters, “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate,” changing it into “Two, four, six, eight, they brainwash and teach you hate.” Mingus’s political involvement with the civil rights movement also inspired several other compositions: “Haitian Fight Song,” “Eclipse,” “Meditations on Integration,” “Pithecanthropus Erectus,” and “Prayer for Passive Resistance.” “Haitian Fight Song,” an obvious reference to the Haitian Revolution which overthrew the French colonial regime, abolished slavery, and created the first independent black state in the hemisphere, was an ever-present inspiration for black nationalist and civil rights activists, including Mingus. His other composition, “Pithecanthropus Erectus” was described by Mingus himself as a “tone poem” and allegory for the Hegelian master-slave dialectic, which he likely interpreted from the historical relationship between whites and blacks in the United States. In Mingus’s explanation of the song:
My conception of the modern counterpart of the first man to stand erect—how proud he was, considering himself the “first” to ascend on all fours, pounding his chest and preaching his superiority over the animals still in a prone position. Overcome with self-esteem, he goes out to rule the world, if not the universe, but both his own failure to realize the inevitable emancipation of those he sought to enslave, and his greed in attempting to stand on false security, deny him not only the right of ever being a man, but finally destroy him completely.
Mingus essentially contributes to the long tradition of African-American modernism that questions the myth of progress in society from the slave’s perspective, which would obviously come from the collective black struggle for liberty. His obvious allegory for race relations in 1950s America suggests progress can only come through struggle, which ensued during the Civil Rights Movement. Mingus broadened his struggle for artistic and creative control as well, establishing an anti-Newport Jazz Festival in 1960 because black artists were always underpaid. Although he was ambivalent on black separatism and never openly affiliated with Black Power, he supported and shared the self-conscious collective effort of promoting black art for black communities. Mingus’s adoption of the Afro-modernist aesthetic also included incorporating blues and gospel to connect his music to black history and reject white ownership of jazz musicians. Indeed, in his autobiography, Mingus states, “Agents and businessmen with big offices who tell me, a black man, that I’m abnormal for thinking we should have our share of the crop we produce. Musicians are as Jim-Crowed as any black motherfucker on the street and the...the...well, they want to keep it that way.” Black musicians were exploited slaves for white club owners and record industry companies, so an alliance between the jazz artists and blacks fighting for civil rights was inevitable. What some consider his greatest album, Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, a suite released in 1963, is also related to Civil Rights since his psychologist’s liner notes for the album suggest Mingus’s music was about his struggle for emotional compassion and racial understanding in addition to the obvious reference to the “Black Saint.”
Mingus was one of the more vocal jazz musicians in favor of civil rights, but singer-pianist Nina Simone was the most outspoken critic of segregation and racism. She similarly played multiple benefit shows for SNCC and other civil rights, including coming to perform at the Salute to Freedom 1963 concert in Birmingham, organized by SCLC, SNCC, and other civil rights groups. Her concerts raised 9,000 dollars for the upcoming March on Washington, and Simone herself gained firsthand experience marching in the South instead of solely criticizing the South from New York. While performing at venues, her audiences were mostly white, but Simone courageously attacked racism and openly criticized white moderates in songs such as “Mississippi Goddam,” written after the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham resulted in the murder of four young girls. In the song, Simone defiantly declares that the white moderates demanding civil rights come gradually are morally culpable for the violence against blacks, warns of retribution, and proudly states, “You don’t have to live next to me, just give me my equality.” When first recorded, at a live concert in front of predominantly whites, Simone referred to the song as if it were only a little show tune, gradually shocking the audience with her anger and rejection of mainstream civil rights goals in favor of aspects of Black Nationalism. At that same concert, Simone also performed “Go Limp,” a satire on nonviolence as a tactic from a feminist perspective, as she also did with “Pirate Jenny,” threatening vengeance on oppressors of blacks. Consequently, Nina Simone continued to provide a black cultural nationalist and feminist perspective on the Civil Rights Movement, which included wearing her hair naturally and adding folk and world music to her repertoire. Simone’s more radical feminist black national did not preclude involvement in mainstream civil rights organizations, so her contributions financially and physically in concerts, marches, and protests in the South in addition to her revolutionary songs have made her crucial for the Movement. Indeed, her song “Mississippi Goddam” became the anthem for SNCC organizers in Mississippi.
As one can clearly see, jazz music was imperative for the success of the Civil Rights Movement. Jazz opened the door to an independent black aesthetic and racial consciousness that connected African-Americans to the diaspora, and the struggle against imperialism abroad to the battle for equal rights here. Jazz musicians were pivotal for the creation of spaces for interracial collaboration and activity in concert venues, clubs, television programs, and eventually, desegregation of public facilities and institutions. Jazz’s importance as a symbol for democracy and equality was appropriated by whites and blacks, but used positively by blacks to demand equal rights, as one can find in the cases of Nina Simone, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Charles Mingus, and many other jazz musicians from Louis Armstrong to Sonny Rollins. Their lives indicate the necessity of studying the relationship between music and social change. Social movements and music can cooperate and continue to do just that in social movements all over the world. Jazz, as the soundtrack of the generation of elders and some of the youths and black nationalists of the 1950s and 1960s, provided an impetus and base for black racial solidarity, pride, and justification for claims of equality.


Jazz had a largely unappreciated role in hastening the arrival of the civil rights movement, according to veteran jazz writer Nat Hentoff. As early as the 1920s, white and black jazz musicians played together in after-hours jam sessions. But it was not until the 1940s, Hentoff said in the January 15, 2009, issue of the Wall Street Journal, that jazz musicians and their audiences mixed publicly in clubs—tentatively at first, but then freely and openly, in violation of local laws and mores. As jazz captured more and more avid listeners, white Americans started to understand the effect of segregation in all aspects of American culture.


Here is a favorite excerpt of mine from Hentoff’s article:

A dramatic illustration is the story told by Charles Black, a valuable member of Thurgood Marshall’s team of lawyers during the long journey to Brown v. Board of Education. In 1931, growing up white in racist Austin, Texas, Black at age 16 heard Louis Armstrong in a hotel there. “He was the first genius I had ever seen,” Black wrote long after in the Yale Law Journal. “It is impossible,” he added, “to overstate the significance of a sixteen-year-old southern boy’s seeing genius, for the first time, in a black. We literally never saw a black then in any but a servant’s capacity. It was just then that I started toward the Brown case where I belonged.”


Another favorite excerpt:

[Louis] Armstrong himself, in a September 1941 letter to jazz critic Leonard Feather, wrote: “I’d like to recall one of my most inspiring moments. I was playing a concert date in a Miami auditorium. I walked on stage and there I saw something I’d never seen. I saw thousands of people, colored and white, on the main floor. Not segregated in one row of whites and another row of Negroes. Just all together—naturally. I thought I was in the wrong state. When you see things like that, you know you’re going forward.”


Hentoff quoted Stanley Crouch, whom he called a keenly perceptive jazz historian and critic:

Once the musicians who played it and the listeners who loved it began to balk at the limitations imposed by segregation, jazz became a futuristic social force in which one was finally judged purely on the basis of one’s individual ability. Jazz predicted the civil rights movement more than any other art in America.



Right now, we are in a period of profound change in nearly all sectors of our society. What forces are at work right now—appreciated—that will have a profound influence on the future of science, culture, politics, economy and global relationships?


Jazz Musicians Spoke Out for Racial Equality;

From the days of bebop, when jazz ceased to cater to popular audiences, and instead became solely about the music and the musicians who played it, jazz has been symbolically linked to the civil rights movement. The music, which appealed to whites and blacks alike, provided a culture in which the collective and the individual were inextricable, and in which one was judged by his ability alone, and not by race or any other irrelevant factors. “Jazz,” Stanley Crouch writes, “predicted the civil rights movement more than any other art in America.”
Not only was jazz structured similarly to ideals of the civil rights movement. Jazz musicians took up the cause, using their celebrity and their music to promote racial equality and social justice. Below are just a few cases in which jazz musicians spoke out for civil rights.

Louis Armstrong

Although sometimes criticized by activists and black musicians for playing into an “Uncle Tom” stereotype by performing for mainly white audiences, Louis Armstrong often had a subtle way of dealing with racial issues. In 1929 he recorded “(What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue?,” a song from a popular musical. The lyrics include the phrase:


My only sin
Is in my skin
What did I do
To be so black and blue?
The lyrics, out of the context of the show, and sung by a black performer in that period, were a risky and weighty commentary.

Armstrong became a cultural ambassador for the U.S. during the cold war, performing jazz all over the world. In response to increasing turmoil swirling around the desegregation of public schools, Armstrong was outspokenly critical of his country. After the 1957 Little Rock Crisis, when the National Guard prevented nine black students from entering a high school, Armstrong canceled a tour to the Soviet Union, and said publicly, “the way they’re treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell.”

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday incorporated the song “Strange Fruit” into her set list in 1939. Adapted from a poem by a New York high school teacher, “Strange Fruit” was inspired by the 1930 lynching of two blacks, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith. It juxtaposes the horrid image of bodies hanging from trees with a description of the idyllic South. Holiday delivered the song night after night, often overwhelmed by emotion, causing it to become an anthem of early civil rights movements.

Lyrics to “Strange Fruit:”

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Benny Goodman

Benny Goodman, a preeminent white bandleader and clarinetist, was the first to hire a black musician to be part of his ensemble. In 1935 he made pianist Teddy Wilson a member of his trio. A year later, he added vibraphonist Lionel Hampton to the lineup, which also included drummer Gene Krupa. These steps helped push for racial integration in jazz, which was previously not only taboo, but even illegal in some states.

Goodman used his fame to spread appreciation for black music. In the 1920s and 30s, many of the orchestras that marketed themselves as jazz bands consisted only of white musicians, and played a mawkish style of music that only drew sparingly from the music that black jazz bands were playing. In 1934, when Goodman began a weekly show on NBC radio called “Let’s Dance,” he bought arrangements by Fletcher Henderson, a prominent black bandleader. His thrilling radio performances of Henderson’s music brought awareness of the jazz of black musicians to a broad and mainly white audience.

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington’s commitment to the civil rights movement was complicated. Many felt that a black man of such esteem should be more outspoken, but Ellington often chose to remain quiet on the issue. He even refused to join Martin Luther King’s 1963 march on Washington, D.C.

However, Ellington dealt with prejudice in subtle ways. His contracts always stipulated that he would not play before segregated audiences. When he was touring the South in the mid 1930s with his orchestra, he rented three train cars in which the entire band traveled, ate, and slept. This way, he avoided the grasp of Jim Crow laws, and commanded respect for his band and music.

Ellington’s music itself fueled black pride. He referred to jazz as “African-American classical music,” and strove to convey the black experience in America. He was a figure of the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic and intellectual movement celebrating black identity. In 1941 he composed the score to the musical “Jump for Joy,” which challenged traditional representation of blacks in the entertainment industry. He composed “Black, Brown, and Beige” in 1943 to tell a history of American blacks through music.
Max Roach
Max Roach was not only one of the great innovators of bebop drumming, but also an outspoken activist. In the 1960s he recorded We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960), featuring his wife at the time, and fellow activist Abbey Lincoln. The title of the work represents the heightened fervor that the 60s brought to the civil rights movement, as protests, counter-protests, and violence mounted.

Roach recorded two other albums drawing focus to civil rights: Speak Brother Speak (1962), and Lift Every Voice and Sing (1971). Continuing to record and perform in later decades, Roach also devoted his time to lecturing on social justice.

Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus was known for being angry and outspoken on the bandstand. One expression of his anger was certainly justified, and it came in response to the 1957 Little Rock Nine incident in Arkansas, when Governor Orval Faubus used the National Guard to prevent black students from entering a newly desegregated public high school.

Mingus displayed his outrage at the event by composing a piece entitled “Fables of Faubus.” The lyrics, which he penned as well, offer some of the most blatant and harshest critiques of Jim Crow attitudes in all of jazz activism.

Lyrics to “Fables of Faubus:”

Oh, Lord, don't let 'em shoot us!
Oh, Lord, don't let 'em stab us!
Oh, Lord, don't let 'em tar and feather us!
Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!
Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!
Name me someone who's ridiculous, Danny.
Governor Faubus!
Why is he so sick and ridiculous?
He won't permit integrated schools.
Then he's a fool! Oh Boo!
Boo! Nazi Fascist supremacists
Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)
Name me a handful that's ridiculous, Danny.
Faubus, Nelson Rockefeller, Eisenhower
Why are they so sick and ridiculous?
Two, four, six, eight:
They brainwash and teach you hate.
H-E-L-L-O, Hello
“Fables of Faubus” originally appeared on Mingus Ah Um (1959), although Columbia Records found the lyrics so incendiary that they refused to allow them to be recorded. In 1960, however, Mingus recorded the song for Candid Records, lyrics and all, on Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus.

John Coltrane

John Coltrane, while not an outspoken activist, was a deeply spiritual man who believed his music was a vehicle for the message of a higher power. Coltrane was drawn to the civil rights movement after 1963. That was the year that Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech during the August 28th March on Washington, raising public awareness of the movement for racial equality. It was also the year that white racists placed a bomb in a Birmingham, Alabama church, and killed four young girls during a Sunday service.

The following year, Coltrane played eight benefit concerts in support of Dr. King and the civil rights movement. He wrote a number of songs dedicated to the cause, but his song “Alabama,” which was released on Coltrane Live at Birdland (Impulse!,1964), was especially gripping, both musically and politically. The notes and phrasing of Coltrane’s lines are based on the words Martin Luther King spoke at the memorial service for the girls who died in the Birmingham bombing. Mirroring King’s speech, which escalates in intensity as he shifts his focus from the killing to the broader civil rights movement, Coltrane’s “Alabama” sheds its plaintive and subdued mood for a crackling surge of energy, reflecting the strengthened determination for justice.

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Jazz and Democracy by Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis...
Wynton Marsalis...

Democracy In Jazz

We are informed by Wynton Marsalis that :

Democracy, libertarian democracy, our form of democracy deals with the power of the individual – how that power of that individual can be used in combination with other individuals, the diversity of federal power and states’ power – the one and the many, always going against each other. That’s what jazz is. I solo, you accompany me. You solo, I accompany you. There’s a lot of choice in it.

So, when I say it’s a model of democracy it means the first thing that is prized in jazz, the number one thing you learn is that “you have something about you that’s creative and special.” Sound like yourself. That’s the first thing Danny Barker taught us when we were eight or nine years old. You have something about you that’s creative, that is special, that only you have. Jazz informs you not to be discouraged even if people tease you about your sound and to express your individually through your horn because it sounds like you; and, it requires honesty and a truthfulness about who you are. Let me hear that come through your horn. Every note you play, let me hear that because that’s the only thing you have that’s worth playing. I want to know, I want to feel you.

Now second, everyone else in the band has their own unique sound. So what are you going to do when they start playing? Will you play with them, respectfully and complement what they’re playing, or play louder than them and drown them out? So he would say, “When the clarinet starts to play, what does that tell you? There are some notes up there that you can’t hit. When a trombone is playing, what does that tell you? There are some notes down there that you have to stay away from. If the clarinet is playing fast, what does that tell you? You’ve got to play slow. If he’s playing slow, you can play fast. Don’t abuse my rhythm section.” We have a lot of little sayings. Don’t abuse my rhythm section. It means a soloist will play all night. The rhythm section accompanies you. In the history of the world of music, there’s never been anything like a rhythm section. It’s a group of musicians, piano, bass, drums, guitar, who improvise along with your improvisation. So, they’re adjusting and making changes to accompany you. So, not only are you making up what you’re playing, they’re making it up. They’re improvising an accompaniment part. In the Baroque era, musicians improvised, but not on every instrument.

In jazz, yeah, everybody can make up something. It’s very easy for all that “making up” to sound like noise. So, the concept of swing is the most democratic of all the aspects of jazz, and that is the one that many times gets the shortest shrift because that means you can’t solo as long as you want. It means you cannot play the drums as loud as you want to play them. It means that you have to find the time of the other person that you think is rushing. It means that you have to play with these harmonies that the piano players play, and you don’t have any idea why that person is playing these substitution chords while I’m playing. You don’t have the time even to do this. The only thing you can do is ---- [nonverbal playing gesture].

So, it’s a group dynamic, and it breathes. When a jazz band is playing, it’s like all of life – it’s in and out. It’s like what we do all day. We breathe in and out. It’s like you’re rocking the whole time, and you’re doing this because you’re trying to keep your equilibrium, and you’re just kind of getting in the flow. That’s why the art is so intoxicating. Sometimes you never want to stop playing because you get in this space and you’re improvising, creating this thing with these other musicians. If you’re playing with really good musicians, it’s an indescribable feeling because everything is coming very quickly – and you’re responding and they’re responding and you’re responding and they’re responding. And you have the rhythm and the time, and the time is constant. So not only are you responding, there’s also a constant thing, and that constant thing is called “TheTime.”

The time is Doom Doom Doom Ting Ting Doom Doom Tingtating but the time is 2 and 3 at the same time. So, on one hand, you’ve got a 2 time which is 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2; then you have a 3 time, Ting Ting Tating Ting, then 1, 2, 3, 1 ,2 ,3, Dahtahdah Dahtahdah Dahtahdah. So, you have this kind of pull that goes with an odd and an even thing working together – male, female. That’s like the essence, Ying and Yang, the essence of everything you know about life – how opposites come together. That is what that swing rhythm is. So you are riding the wave of that [time], and while you’re doing that, you’re addressing the harmonies which are changing, and you’re creating melodies which go all the way back through the consciousness of your people, and you’re giving logic and form to it. You’re expressing the deepest feelings you can possibly express, and they’re being changed by the other people who are playing. So, there’s a lot going on, and it’s very difficult to play and to play well.

So, when you hear a master like Charlie Parker, man, you’re hearing so much music in one minute, and you’re listening to a guy that’s been dead for 50 years, 55 years, and every time you hear him you think, “Man, who is this guy? How could he –? What was he thinking about? How can you think that quickly and that accurately, and how can you be that honest about something and that truthful? How can you know that much music? How can you respond that quickly? How can something be so beautiful and so harsh at the same time?” It’s when you hear these masters play, you’re hearing a lot. That’s when you understand why it is the democratic art form.

African American Jazz

"The Great African-American Classical Art-Form"  Bird  The Open Door Quartet, artwork by Michael Symonds Saxophonist Charlie Parker was a virtuoso, whose music embodies the contradictions of the man. He demonstrated complete control of his horn.
"The Great African-American Classical Art-Form" Bird The Open Door Quartet, artwork by Michael Symonds Saxophonist Charlie Parker was a virtuoso, whose music embodies the contradictions of the man. He demonstrated complete control of his horn.

Brief Overview Of Jazz

The Blues behind Jazz / African-American Classical Music
By: KujichaguliaPhavia Kujichagulia

Oakland Ethnic Community Examiner:

Jazz is to America what the pyramids are to Africa. Both are classic expressions of black cultural genius. Yet to this day, many people remain hesitant to admit the African roots of both Jazz and the pyramids.

America has always had a love/hate relationship with so-called Jazz music. So it was not surprising that weeks ago some bigoted, inhumane being scribbled a racist statement on the bathroom chalk board at one of Oakland’s popular Jazz & Blues night spots, Cafe Van Kleef. Once made aware of this heinous act, owner Peter Van Kleef refused to ignore what had happened. He stopped the Blues Band and called on the scribbling coward to step forward. Of course no one did. However, kudos to Peter Van Kleef for making it clear that racial ignorance and racism are not welcomed at Cafe Van Kleef, located at 1621 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA

Although the racist comment (“Happy N____ Day!”) was quickly erased from the bathroom board, it is bigoted behavior like this that gives Blacks the Blues. It’s a fine psychosis that allows one to listen to great Black music, while harboring deep animosities for the creators of that music.

While Jazz is America’s only thriving, indigenous art form, the very word was meant to be insulting. People were urged to “cut out that mess” or “cut out that jass” because jass was synonymous for mess. Over the years, many words have been used to mislabel Jazz and devalue the African-American/Black inventors and innovators of this musical art form. The word Bebop, an onomatopoeia, has been used to describe some aspects of Jazz. Avant-garde, a French term, has also been used to identify some forms of Jazz. At the turn of the century, the term Ragtime was applied to the syncopated music of Scott Joplin and other African-American artists because the timing of the rhythm was considered ragged. Hard-Bop, Cool Jazz, Fusion, Latin Jazz, Jazz Funk, American-Classical Music, and Great American Music, are some of the words and phrases that have categorized this music. However, none of these terms acknowledge the social significance or identify the Black creators of this music.

Jazz is the classical music of the Africans terrorized under racism in America. It is constructed along the conventional guidelines of traditional African music in that it is syncopated, it has breaks, and it incorporates elements of improvisation. Thus it is African-American Classical Music. It contains the chords and cadences of traditional African music, played with European instruments on the violently colonized landscape of Indigenous American soil.

Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddamn, and John Coltrane’s Alabama are just a few examples of both the liberating and healing capacities of this Great Black Music. In fact, African-American Classical Music is so powerful that it is not played outside major metropolitan cities and is relegated to the remote zones of the radio dial when it is given air time. In spite of such all-too-common discriminatory practices, this musical phenomenon destroyed racist stereotypes globally while standing firmly on the front-lines of Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements nationally.

Alas, American culture remains unwilling to admit the social power, historic significance, and cultural origins of America’s only true indigenous art form. The Chicago Art Ensemble called it Great Black Music thereby acknowledging the Black innovators behind the music. Unfortunately, that’s why the conspiracy to distort the history of African-American Classical Music is as evident as the nose upon the face of Africa’s Great Sphinx; it is there, yet it is not..

Jazz And Democracy: Global Sound From Slavery To The Digital Age

Jazz Is A Democratic Idiomatic Art form: Or Is It?

Jazz.. Global Human Musical Idiom With A Democracy... Today, You Can Call It Anything...
Immediately that term makes one to conjure a musical form akin to or somewhat mimicking the African American idiom and art-form which was raised to global recognition, performance and adoption by all humans globally. Yes, its history and formulation was based on the slave songs African American churches, and their domicile(Plantations, Ghettoes/Slums, Metropolitan Inner Cities, rural areas and the like. There is also an added fusion of the Cuban melodies and Rhythms and melodies that have been part of the infrastructure of the building of the Jazz Genre.
For instance, Black people in the southern States of America and those blacks living elsewhere in America, through slavery, have adopted some of the many values as Whites, but their African music style reflects mostly the inherent dichotomies blacks have faced in being "Americans" in the US. Slave music was for blacks a distinctive cultural form. There was no clear distinction, for blacks, between secular and sacred music, and like their ancestors from West Africa, they sang a variety of songs for work and spirituals.
This music of black people had its musical origins from the 'hollers of plantation laborers and black city street peddler cries. It is from the haunting spirituals of slaves that such gospel singers like Blind Gary and Mahalia Jacksonthat we witness the phenomena, The role played by whites, creole and blacks in the musical amalgamation in the end creating Jazz was a very important element if this genre. Black music style has never been limited to a single style of musical tradition.
Although today, we tend to view African American musical styles in terms of all types of genre, for example, ragtime, blues, classical jazz, fusion, Afro-Jazz, spirituals, R&B, Soul, Funk, some are not informed the fact that black musicians still treat their music as oral rather than written art form, because the culture of black folks is still an oral culture throughout the United States, akin to that of African culture and oral traditions in Africa.
It is also true that black musicians, living in a culture that is overtly and covertly hostile against them, had to try and accommodate overall different cultures, fitting into them very well with their own music, leading them to learn and incorporate these new repertoires that would also be acceptable as part of their music in the early stages of the formation of jazz music.
In the 1920s and 1930s many producers were marketing the blues, then called race records because these enabled them to target the black audience and they were also likely to make more money from it. In their musical variety, blacks played music that was blues influenced performed by French speaking creoles. They also played music brought from Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica gotten to be known as Afro-Caribbean music. This also included many ethnic styles as perform by Cajun, Germans, French and Spanish creole.
Then there was a situation wherein African Americans played Folk music and Jazz, and they shared a repertoire of this type of music with white Americans. In 1940 many cities in New Orleans had growing numbers of foreign born citizens. In these cities,in the 1840s brasswind ensembles like the Richmond Light Infantry Blues got to be enlisted in the South, along with the Allen's Brass Band.
Some states at this time had were a slave-free society some freemen and slaves were earning good reputation as performers and musicians in the nineteenth century; thatis why we had Legends such a s "Klondike," "John the Baptist," Ferdinand "Jelly roll" Morton and Anthony Jackson. We had some southern such as William Grant Still, Mahalia Jackson, Roland Hayes ; also, rural blues singers like Tommy Johnson, Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind lemon Jackson, to female performers like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Chieppie Hill and all the way to the modern urban Blues of the Mississippi Delta, with musicians like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King.
We also had the reels and buck dancers of slave fiddlers and banjo pickers evolving through fife drum bands of Northern Mississippi, jug band of Memphis and Charleston and brass bands of New Orleans into early Jazz. All these musical performers contributed to the world of music and realized their dreams of international recognition for their artistic talents. Jazz , as it came to be known, was the frontal thrust of the African American musical systems
According to rogerrowne, in terms of Ragtime music:
They didn't use sound recorders back then. They used a piano modified so that when you played a key, a pen made a mark on a roll of paper. They then cut a master Pianola Roll by making rectangular holes where the pen marks were. The Pianola Rolls could then be played back on any Pianola to reproduce the notes. Pianola Rolls were fairly accurate for timing, although they don't record how hard the notes were played (not such a problem for ragtime music).
There were three major forms of African Americans that were associated with the blues in the twentieth century south: blues, ragtime piano and the music of Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb. There were two types of blues forms,urban and rural blues. This music functions as a vehicle enabling people to share hardships, complaints, exorcising sorrow, laughing at the world's absurdities, mocking whites and maintaining the integrity of black culture. Dixieland Jazz is one other form of ensemble jazz, which was not totally an exclusive preserve for blacks, but it brought together the Afro-American and the Creole cultures together. It is worth noting that Louis Armstrong is totally linked with the birth of jazz. The true strength of southern black music is its ability and diversity to capture tensions as well as the achievements of blacks, and how much this music is indebted and was contributed to by southern music; also, its heritage of preserving older performances even to this day is the hallmark and the quality music jazz is. The history of jazz, that amalgam of African musical traditions and European instruments was evolving, and was more often heard at picnics, parades, dances throughout the cities. Jazz musicians also played in brothels in New Orleans and Pearl Primus's 'Strange Fruit', dealing with the lynchings of blacks in the sun were featured and sung by Billy Holiday, too. There was also another peculiar institutions called the 'Jook' or 'Juke house'... Jook came to mean a negro pleasure house: either a bawdy house or a house for dancing, drinking and gambling. It is in these Jooks that negro dances that circulated over the world. These dances, before they made their rounds around the country and the world, started inside the Jooks.
Jazz as musical genre has helped spawn many other styles of music. In its own democratic way, jazz, for many generations and years has assimilated into its form and structure different cultural and musical expressions and realities of other people. Black Gospel music, Catholic and protestant hymns, Cajun songs, Ragtime piano music, the blues, big bands, Afro Caribbean, African Jazz,and so on, all these forms of music merged together to form what we call jazz. When African Americans moved from the South to the North, the religious music, jazz and blues they had created evolved and splintered into other forms of music. Jazz has many meanings today to many people. The following are the different kinds of classification of Jazz we know of today.
I could go ind-epth, but for lack of space, I will point out that evolution of jazz around the world took on a democratic art form. Many people who played and were involved with the music, and many in Europe, through the Americans who went to play there,adopted and adapted it to suit themselves. They never tarry farther from the Master African musicians-but the indigenized and localized it to suit their own tastes, form and the whole bit
That is why today we can talk about Ragtime, Bebop,HardBop/Post bopAvant-Garde Free Jazz,Fusion, Smooth Jazz, Latin Jazz, African Jazz, Hip-hop Jazz, and so forth.. At one time I have responded to Playthell Benjamin's articles on Jazz, and he spun them into an article, like a good editor he was, and that can be read here on My FB Wall- or see Playthell's "Commentaries On The times", wherein The Article Titled, "May The Circle Stay Unbroken" I gave a response to his article he had written titled, "An Evening With Edward Kennedy Ellington", by giving a short and broad historical response, which like I have indicated above, was given the title, "May The Circle Stay Unbroken.
In this latter article, I gave a very short history of the influence and evolution of Jazz in South Africa. I had at one time responded to his article about Music and Jazz, and he, Playthell, posted this response, by making it into an article titled, "Afro American Jazz And Black South Africans", which can be found on his blog called "Commentaries On the Times". Both the articles were me giving a short response, from a historical and cultural point of view about how we in South Africa listen to, and like jazz and how this affected us, just so as to give another perspective about Jazz around the world. And the article dubbed "May The Cirle Stay Unbroken" can be found on My Facebook Wall-if one scrolls down by clicking on "highlight" as they appear when one scrolls on the Wall.
Now, Playthell proceeded to post two more articles, which can also be found on my Facebook Wall/Timeline, titled, "Jazz Around The World," and another one, on my Wall too, titled, On Race , Culture And sport," That this would really make for some serious reading and a much more deeper understand of Jazz, than what I have barely scrawled above, in a form of the history of the origins and making of Jazz.
This article has been prompted by some things that bother me about people who talk about Walls being for 'pure Jazz'. Well, My point is that All music is now Jazz, and some of us, in the other places around the world, understand this. We know that Jazz is an African American idiom and invention, along with many other things that have been added to it. I recall an interesting paper written by the now late Amiri Baraka(Leroy Jones) he titled, "Riffin' On Music And Language" which if one can find, can make up also for an interesting read about Music, Culture and Language.
So, on this Wall, I will not name it, I came across that 'type' which tells you what is jazz and what is not.. I wrote the article above just make my point that we do understand the importance and joy of Jazz, too, even if we are not American, whom we respect(the Jazz Musicians) for what they did and continue to do. Strangely, the musicians like collaborating with musicians from other countries and cultures, but the ones who are fans and appreciators, have set up these phony and fake demarcations as to what is Jazz. For me, I will reiterate, Jazz is all and any music, because embedded in all forms of music, Jazz Reigns supreme.. This was my short response to the Jazz Wall-owner who wanted nothing else but Jazz.. Well... I say..
In Jazz: Everything Is Everything... And Anyone Can Call It Anything..
One thing about music, to me, all is Jazz.. I do not want to infringe on anyone, nor do I want to be corralled into a supposed jazz-straight jacket.. I think I will quit this group, and go where music is music is music, is music, and no demarcation or borders-nor 'tired' straight musical jacket-definitions. And it is music to me so long as it it is played by African/Balck people - Whatever it is that they are playing. That, is Jazz to me.. I have never been able to come across anyone who could define what is Jazz.. Even Miles, in his "thirty five minute"s of Jazz/Or, as he said, "Call it what You Want" Concert... disliked this labeling that some appreciators decided to impose on Jazz and what it was. He went to play Cindy Laupers's song, Michael Jackson's song, etc-and every critic was on his case- and he simply said he is enjoying himself- in the latter half of his msuical trip.....
For he saw the whole fallacy/farce and fiction of some Jazz "Doctors" who prescribe what the art was.. You find Jazz Musicians in all genres across the musical board.. So to me, Jazz is Everything that is played by African people all over the world.. Obviously this is not the case where in some Walls, where some people hold the definition of what Jazz means what they say and think it is.. Well.. Loved this Wall, but time to go where people are not looking to define the music, but listen to and and enjoy the music. This can either be blocked or whatever.. but Jazz, as Miles said "Is Anything You Can Or Wanna Call It..
Miles Davis - "Call It Anything" - Isle of Wight Festival - August 2(Over 600,000+ People saw this 35 Minutes performance of Whatever You wanna Call It-Gig)....

Call It Anything - Miles Davis At The Island Of wight Festival - August 29, 1970

Miles And Trane

The Wattree Chronicle: Reflections on the Stanley Crouch, Mtume Debate on Modern Jazz

I recently watched the debate between columnist Stanley Crouch and percussionist James Mtume on the evolution of modern jazz with great interest. Crouch, the steadfast jazz purist, essentially took the position that much of what’s passing for jazz today is actually a corruption of the art form, while Mtume took the position that Crouch was simply out of touch with the new face of jazz.
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In my opinion, Stanley Crouch was right, and James Mtume was simply remaining consistent with what his musical philosophy seems to advocate - playing to the audience and giving applause priority over substance. But Crouch made the mistake of not framing the issue in a way that would allow him to sieze the bottom line. It’s not about the new versus the old; what the discussion is actually about is quality versus lesser quality, and that can be measured.
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First, just because something is new doesn’t mean that it’s better. The problem with a lot of electronic music is electronics is being used to camouflage a lack of technical competence. There’s so much noise and electronic distortion going on that it gives the musicians the "freedom" to play bad notes, be less than melodic, and play musical nonsense. Where, on the other hand, acoustic music is intimate. It’s purely about the musician and his technical ability. Period. If Bud Powell played a bad note, or played the wrong chord progression, it would stick out like a soar thumb. But if he was playing electronic music there’s so much chaos and distortion going on that nobody would notice.
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Michael Bolton and Kenny G shred

Mtume was also talking about "technical exhaustion." He said that after a given time, in a given context, everything has been played that can be played in a given form of music. That’s also nonsense - in fact, the ability to do something new with the rhythm and chord progressions of "Stella by Starlight" is exactly what we mean by art.

Seven Cords

Wattree's Chord Chart

There are only ten basic numbers known to mankind - 0 to 9. Yet we can take those ten numbers and combine them in an inexhaustible number of ways. On the other hand, there are TWELVE notes in music, and just like with numbers, you can build an infinite number of scales, chords, and rhythmic constructions with those twelve notes. So Mtume’s claim that you can "exhaust" the possibilities of what can be played on a saxophone is total and demonstrable nonsense.
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The fact is, Miles started having problems with his chops so he went into retirement. But he loved music so much that he wanted to get back into the game, so being the genius that he was, he simply INVENTED a form of music that he could play. Then we had a generation of musicians who came along behind him, who didn’t have a vision of their own, that built an entire musical movement based on what Miles created to accommodate his old age and disability.
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And finally, Mtume justified this "new music" by saying that it inspired young people who weren’t previously into jazz. But the fact is, art is NEVER suppose to lower itself to accommodate the tastes of the lowest common denominator of the people. Art is suppose to raise the consciousness of the people up to it. That’s why it’s called art.

Animated Sheet Music: "Giant Steps" by John Coltrane

But the fact is, there’s a very simple way of resolving this debate over the relative merit of this so-called "new thing" over what I'll simply call conventional progressive jazz. Much like with good parenting, you can measure quality by what quality produces. So we can easily measure the relative quality of the two eras by measuring the quality of what the two respective eras have produced. Where is today’s equivalent of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, or Jackie McLean? And where are today’s jazz standards, like 'So What,' 'Round Midnite,' 'Moody’s Mood for love,' 'Impressions' or 'A Night in Tunisias?' I’ll tell you where - they don't exist.
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The great jazz standards of the past are no longer being produced because the towering jazz giants who produced them have become all but a thing of the past. I can’t think of one person of the stature of Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, or Jackie McLean that’s been produced in over thirty years, and there’s a good reason for that - the quality of the music that’s been produced over the past thirty years is not conducive to producing people of that stature and creative ability. That in itself should close the case on this debate.
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But now let’s look at how young some of the old-school giants of jazz were when they reached their musical maturity. Charlie Christian, the father of the modern jazz guitar - died at 25. Charlie parker - died at 34. Clifford Brown - died at 25. Booker Littler - died at 23. Paul Chambers - died at 33. Fat Navarro - died at 26. So John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy were relatively old men when they died - John Coltrane died at 41, and Eric Dolphy at 36. So many of the giants of the past made their mark on the world and moved on long before many of today’s musicians have even gotten all of their scales together. And there’s a reason for that - because in the past young musicians were held to a much higher standard, and exposed to a far superior quality of music, and musicianship.

Jazz Crusaders 'Young Rabbits' on Frankly Jazz

The musicians of the Bebop and Hard Bop eras understood from the outset that they weren’t going to get rich playing the music that they loved, so they sought to validate themselves through excellence, while many of today’s musicians are in a hurry to learn their chromatic scale so they can run out and achieve wealth and fame - they figure they can learn to play in Gb Maj while they're on the road. Then they get out and play distorted chord progressions, add a thunderous beat and loud electronic distortion to camouflage their limitations, and label it as "The New Thang." Thereafter, they slap one another on the back as brilliant, and dismiss those of us who recognize it as noise as being "out of touch."
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So the bottom line is, many of the so-called musical "revolutionaries" never took the time to learn what jazz is really about. Jazz is more than just another form of music, and it's not just fun-n-games. Jazz is also a way of life. There’s a political component to it - a way of thinking that reflects a unique way of viewing reality. So jazz purists are not simply upset over a modified beat and the introduction of electronics, they're also upset over the caving in to mediocrity and the abandonment of the political principles and qualities that jazz represents.
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After all, one of the greatest contributions that jazz has made to the black community is informing the world that we're not the frivolous and thoughtless people in which we'd previously been portrayed. The harmonic complexity of bebop served to bring the dazzling intellectual capacity of black people to the world stage. So naturally, jazz purist are both reluctant and hostile to going back to the people-pleasin' days of what is essentially a musical form of Steppin'-Fetchism.
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Jazz has traditionally been the cultural anthem of social revolutionaries - both Black and White - who are willing to fight the good fight. Thus, jazz purists resent the mongrelization and surrender of those principles in lieu of "Can we all just get along?" To them, that represents the selling of our principles. That's why the word "commercialism" is looked upon with such disdain by those of us who have come to be known as jazz purists. We're not merely fighting to defend our right to be snobs. We're fighting to defend excellence from sliding down the slippery slope of corporate profit and mediocrity; we're fighting for a way of life, and we're fighting a political battle against the dumbing down of America as a whole. Our fight is an essential part of our jazz tradition. It's expected of us, because that's what jazz is all about - pushing the envelop, and never caving in to convention.
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So you can’t just put a funky beat behind noise and call it jazz, because once you go frivolous, the spirit of jazz has been abandoned. While jazz does kick up it's heels on occasion, it's a very serious form of music that’s designed to appeal to the mind, not just the ass. For that reason, a logical and organized structure is essential to its character. Without that, and it’s arrogantly distinctive swagger, it's not jazz - Period.
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Jazz Standards As An Art Form: The Trio

It's Good To Keep And Revisit Jazz Standards.. It's Not Good To loose the Listening Masses and the keepers of the idom
It's Good To Keep And Revisit Jazz Standards.. It's Not Good To loose the Listening Masses and the keepers of the idom | Source

Response To Watrree's Reflections On Modern jazz

African People Say That When An Person or Griot Dies, It is like a library disappearing and lost

Yeah, Eric, I have really grown up in a house of Jazz musicians in South Africa, and nothing you have said is new, and I have heard lots of it before. It is indeed a snobbish and elitist way of treating a form(Jazz) as I have shown historically whence it begun. One thing, though, I am certain, nothing stays the same, as change is always inevitable. Generations come and go, and preservation of Jazz, if the standards of Jazz are to be taken as a measure you so eloquently talk about in your article, I do not think those will ever change, and they have been made permanent by their own composers.

Evolution, if we are to believe Darwin or his ilk, is not a state of permanence but evolvement of whatever changes. Nothing is static. I do not believe we should forget the classic Jazz artists, but I also think what is lesser music forms, is still the African experience, which in many ways cannot be put into words of us mere mortals who appreciate the art form in its diverse manifestation. I think that People should be exposed to all the Giants you spoke about and then some, but also, the African Experience, all over the world has never been static, but changes with time and circumstances. The problem I have is these lines of division and demarcation of an experience of a people and those who try to capture it in a time capsule or whatever they might use to arrest its(Jazz's) evolution or development.

The original cannot be the same as the product or what comes out of the original. I think that, I do not only listen to the music, but all the time I am looking at the African social/political/cultural and economic reality and circumstance/experience that gave rise to this mosaic of diverse and variegated music form. True, I regard the purists as snobs who are removed from the masses, from whence it all begun. I think we begin to define it(Jazz) to be 'something' apart', and yet, new people always come into our ranks, and they bring different sensibilities.

They should be taught, like I was, about the different Jazz of old, and that which is new. It is really, downgrading what would otherwise be a unifying musical theme reality and development, if the young ones were to be made aware of the old, and be shown how and why the new is there. Not just throw out their tastes and musical ideas and berate them in a condescending manner, which really, does not even help the youth understand what Jazz is all about. Those who are Jazz Purists are quickly fading out of the music scene, with all that steadfast tightly held belief/preferences and all the jive about one being better than the other. Mtume has a point, so does Crouch..

What they think they differ about is the quality of music, but from the same social/historical/ economical environment-albeit it bereft with contradictions and differences... but it is the people's experiences that produced this music.. And it is not pure, as I have given a short historical synopsis of it and its origins. What's the use if the guardians of this so-called-pure music die off, as they are doing, and then what.. Jazz will never die as it is already recorded.. I see the problem being a lack of cultural transmission on the part of the snobs and elite who keep on insisting on its purity and exclusivity.. but do not have the wherewithal or know-how of transmitting it from one generation to the other. As these Ancien jazz lovers die-off, Eric.. Then what? Why not use the lesser form of the music, then to draw interest of the less sophisticated. What's the use of sophistication when it is walled in and shared amongst a motley crew of out of touch listeners who do not know how to involve the masses.

The Musicians have done their job compositing the music.. How do you maintain the consistency of making it reach kids without being so hard nosed, until one can get them to the Masters. I do not hear more of that, but more of put down, and trying to maintain that fictive sense of a divided listening preferences-of the same group of suffering people-some very rich, and not wealthy in the Chris Rock(the Comedian) sense, and others face abject poverty-yet both fall under a race of oppressed African people-in South Africa, America and globally...

There is no way one can degrade what has already been composed.. Maybe the later compositions may not be the same as the Geniuses/Master musicians.. but it will help as a stepping ladder to their works-for the lower caster to even have some modicum of understanding.. I do not know how you see art as raising a people's consciousness when it is so snobbishly articulated, and kept from the masses by the so-called jazz purists.. In reality, one has to look at its origins, evolution and so forth..

It[Jazz], was never stagnant.. How it evolves from the past and reaching its zenith as an art form, it lacks continuity by not being culturally transmitted amongst the so called/or as you say-'art is NEVER supposed to accommodate the lowest denominator of the people. Art is supposed to raise the consciousness of the people up to it? How? Since some have already been condemned to being the 'lowest of the lowest in our communities/societies.. so, What is being said here? Serious contradiction in what I call lack of efficient cultural transmission. The music is already there, how then do you look down on the very people you say need to be conscientized.. I like Paulo Freire's works of mass consciousness raising.. Asa Hilliard talks about this when he discusses how to affirm African Indigenous Socialization in the face of the culture Wars.

Which side are the Jazz purists on this when they cannot even see the contradiction facing them and are impotent to do anything, except to wax musicallly-sophisticated, and their analysis ends up being irrelevant to the very masses they say need this art to help them become conscious. This has not happened and is not happened because we have a motley crew of those who purport to know about the art form, ignorant of how to bring it back to the masses-from whom and who originated it! tThey demand that the people must be like them: sophisticated and knowledgable without a way of easing them into acclimatizing themselves with hard-core standard Jazz.

I have a lot to say about this Eric, I just need more space.. but, I keep on saying this often.. The Jazz that has been created by the Master Jazz men is not dying.. It is the unmoving "Jazz Purist" who have no idea how to apply this and transmit it culturally to the masses.. That, has always been my problem. That is why other nations have taken it upon themselves to move it along..and as these other nations around the world acquire their own jazz taste, interpretation and playing it to adapt it to their cultural understanding, Our Jazz connoisseurs, those who know more and listen to cream of the crop of these composers, and rehash their histories, are dying out in the very communities where jazz was founded,originated and elaborated..

What's going to be left.. Mmmm? I wish I had more space.. there are a few things I would have liked to flesh out.. anyway, I still say it is a music with a democracy in its technical execution and being adopted and adapted by other people throughout the world... Would be more than happy to add and elaborate more on these points raised in both articles much more thoroughly, Eric. But I will do so ..

Jazz Crusaders 'Freedom Sound' on Frankly Jazz

Bra Hugh...

Legendary Soouth African Trumpeter, influenced by American and Many South African Musicians
Legendary Soouth African Trumpeter, influenced by American and Many South African Musicians

American Jazz And South African Jazz In The Afircan Musical Scene And Idiom

I once wrote an article tin response to Playthell Benjamin's post, which I am going to post below. I would like to preface my post below by noting that, there's still needs to written, a story of the music of Jaz(American) and South African Jazz, along with its various genres from an African centered perspective, of course, utilizing as much research as one can access. This is important, for this small piece below, because, after I fill in the yawning gap about the hisotries I am talking about, it will be an introduction to an even much more bigger and broader subject about the Jazz Of SouthAfrica. This might take years.

I have been a DJ from my own street, then into various weddings, parties and stockpiles and was exposed to all types of musica audiences and appreciators in our country. With the Jazz fans, in South Africa, one runs across a gamut of appreciators who are of the mind that they are the ones who are listening to Jazz, and are imbibing a much more higher culture(Musically), than any other genre. They somewho showed an outright disdain of any other genre scept for them what mattered was Jazz.

Then there were those that listened to R&B. Soul, Funk, Hard Classical Rock, Gospel, and all types of women and men's Blues, and Pop music(Whatever that means). Accordng to the Lovers and "Diggers" of Jazz in Mzantsi, all these rank and file untutored listeners did not know any better. Yet, the listener and appreciators of the other genres I have listed above, there's a different feel to hanging with them, and playing plus listening along with this crowd. Be that as it may, music has and still is a way of life for the Africans of South Africa. And below is my brief story as to how I was inducted into the Townsip local music scene, it's Jazz and then some.

On the Transformative Power of Black Jazz

Growing Up in Mantzi I have been Fortunate enough to come from a Township of Soweto that in the early sixties and all the way to the rule of the ANC had electricity and telephones in our community. Why is this important? I grew up with uncles who were playing 78 rpm dicks on a gramophone, and we gradually upgraded to what was called Pilot FM radio (big and huge like caskets which contained a turntable and a FM radio. Eventually we came to be exposed to Hi Fi systems in the late 1960’s and 70’s and graduated to more sophisticated name brands like Marantz and the like.

Music was the driving force in the evolution and American Jazz was one of the most powerful influences that we were exposed to. Our elders, uncles and big brothers collected all of the great artist such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and all the seminal figures Playthell Benjamin cites in his essay “Wynton Marsalis and the Great American Art, as the produced this music. And we sought to get in their favor by our recognition and approval of the importance of their treasure troves of LP vinyl Jazz albums.

Furthermore, we were living amongst musicians who played Jazz and formed big bands here in Mzantsi; we were also imbibing a lot of South African Jazz that embodied all the diversity characteristic of South Africa in its sound. As we grew older we extended our listening and appreciation of the music by forming Jazz Clubs in the late Sixties whilst still in high school.

Our weekends were spent getting together bring new vinyl recordings we might have bought on Friday, and sample it with other members. If they could not identify the record one was made Jazz Appreciation King for the day and it lasted the entire week until we met again. Exposure to American Jazz was very important for us and it affirmed and solidified our beliefs that we were not mere “Kaffirs” (niggers) who were backward in all we did or were – African American Jazz told us, that those who looked like us, that those who looked like us, were the best in the world in this art form.

This told us too, that we are the better people in the world, just from the Jazz perspective. We imbibed art forms and so forth from our African American brothers, but Jazz was paramount in entrenching and embedding beliefs about ourselves. Some of us went as far as to walk, talk, and dress like our Afro-American brothers. Others named themselves accordingly.

As we became more mature and refined in our understanding of the wide world of Jazz, we began to travel overseas to Jazz concerts all over the states, Canada and Europe. This expanded our horizons beyond the brutal apartheid world of South Africa. We became well marinated in the Jazz Milieu, which knew no national boundaries because of the recording industry. What has all this to do with Wynton Marsalis, the subject of Playthell’s recent essay? Everything!

Playthell’s analysis of the heroic role of Wynton in the advancement of Jazz as a vibrant art form supports the fledgling arguments of those among us here in South Africa, who have been insisting that Wynton has advanced Jazz beyond what the hard core Jazz classist here in Mzantsi think of a real Jazz, in fact they insisted that Wynton was not playing Jazz at all.

I think the fact that he came from the Baroque side of classical music was lost to these detractors here for they knew nothing about the fact that Wynton had become the Master Jazz/Trumpeter /Composer/Innovator of the art and literally lifted and elevated Jazz into the 21st century. They just couldn’t wrap their minds around that fact.

I also suspect that they have lost touch with what Wynton was doing and saying, and hung on to the old ways of understanding Jazz. Wynton blew some of us away when he merged modern Jazz with African drummers on the same stage. We were amazed and fascinated as we watched his rehearsal sessions with these Africans, especially the way that he was able to show the similarities and the origins of Jazz as an African art form.

This edified us and lifted our long held beliefs that the music we were listening to called Jazz had melodic signatures which can be found in our own traditional songs and Jazz music here in Mantzsti. Playthell’s essay “Wynton Marsalis and the Great American Art,” is for me and Jazz Aficionados of kindred spirit, is so filled with erudite analysis about the art of Jazz and Wynton’s role in preserving and advancing the best of the tradition, that I feel compelled to post it on all the African sites I have access to.

There are some pretentious self- proclaimed Jazz gurus and avid fans who cannot accept anything new in Jazz. Not since Babatunde Olatunji took his “Drums of Passion” orchestra to Carnegie Hall – industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s gift to New York City and the art of music –has anyone achieved that. Wynton, however, took it a step further; many levels higher in fact, by merging both ensembles – African American musicians and a choir of African master drummers – on the same stage as part of one group. To me it was one of the things Wynton did that silenced the howling jazz dinosaurs in the Appreciators here in Mzantsi.

I concur with all that Playthell wrote about Wynton Marsalis….and then some. I have learned so much from reading this article that I immediately went over to my collection of Wynton’s records and have been following on some nuggets he doled/dropped in the essay. This kind of study will upgrade one’s understanding, appreciation and listening skills; enabling you to better grasp the techniques Wynton is employing to make such marvelous music. I am happy to have found Playthell’s article, for it confirmed what we had long believed. Jazz is an African art form and it resonates loudly with us here in Mzantsi and wherever it is played.

JAzz African, Music Of The People

African Jazz n Jive: An Authentic Selection of South African Township Swing Classics from the 50s & 60s
African Jazz n Jive: An Authentic Selection of South African Township Swing Classics from the 50s & 60s

Jazz Was It; Our Local Counds The Bomb.. Muisical Is Our Lives

The challenge of writing about South African Music, any genre, is that, since 1948, we have been "Disappeared by Apartheid" , and the world saw us as an "Oppressed People", and it is that view that has caused me to pen some few ideas, and begin to reconstruct the "UNknown" side of African South Africanss appreciation and "Digging" their Jazz, both South African And American, and everything in between.

There was ans still is a life of African people of Mzatnsi around Jazz and much of the American Cultural Imperialsm. This relationship goes back from the days when gold and dimness were found in South Africa, and the recruiment of cheap labor led to hostels that were called mining compounds, where these rural people were employed, cheaply, to dig for the gold and diamonds. This is one history that has been written about a lot, and for the purposes of this Hub, I am touching a bit about it, to bring about the bit of history as to what was the life of Africans of South Ariv=ca in the Mines and the Labor Domitries(Townships), at the height of Aparthied.

Music was the umbilical cord through which we hung to the sane world and International going-ons, that sustained and anchored us towards knowing that what we are facing, Apartheid, is not real and forever, and someday it was going to be destroyed. But, saying it now, and saying it then, was different, and very difficult, if not impossible to attain.Why I am writing about this part of our lives and music as its background, is the fact that I believe just as much[more-so-now than ever], as I did then that music, in all its forms, will see us through our decrepit existence.

This is the second installation I am making of an article I had written as a repsonse to Playthell's Article, and he Plaaythell, took my response and made it the following article I am about to post below. He did a great job in his Blog, of this article below, and the one I have just posted above, in his blog, "Commentaries Of The Times", that I am deeply indebted and gratefully to his designed the article, with impressive images, that, although this was a response, it became an article I have posted here. I did not include all the pictures Playthell had attatched to this response/article, but I will use the writing as I responded to his post.

Jazz and Modern Black Culture in South Africa

It is interesting to read Playthell’s article, “An Evening with Edward Kennedy Ellington;” it got me thinking of life in the Ghetto of Soweto, in South Africa. The Townships might not have had the architectural wonders of New York and its chic urbane life-style, but, Duke still affected and influenced the life, music and self-esteem of Africans under Apartheid. There has long been a struggle against Apartheid by the indigene refuting the claim that we were uncouth and backward.

As the Township of Soweto expanded and grew, so did the music scene: the South African Jazz Scene. Some of the jazz groups had “American” as their names. There were Jazz big bands; the fashion of the day were Dobbs brim hats, Florsheim shoes – some two tone – double breasted jackets with broad lapels and the whole dress code as was worn by the Americans of the ’30s, 40s and 50s.

I guess what I am saying is that, because of the inhumanity of Apartheid we witnessed an oppressed people immerse themselves in the American Jazz music and African American culture, language and mannerism as a way of keeping our souls intact.

The sleeve jackets of the LPs were the point of discussions from the Shebeens – Taverns/Speak Easies – of the day. Discussion about music, styles, musical signatures of The “Duke”, the “Count”, Hodges, Archie Shepp, Philly Jo Jones(some People even renamed themselves after their favorite artist here in Mzantsi), Coltrane, Monk, Miles, Bessie Smith, Sonny Rollins, Stitt, Sidney Betchet, Stachmo, Jelly roll Morton, Fats Waller, Charlie Parker, Ida Cox, Lucille Hegamin, Rosa Henderson, Bertha “Chippie” Hill, Sara Martin, Trixie Smith, Lizzie Miles, Sarah Vaughn, Mahalia Jackson, Mamie Smith, Josie Miles, Edna Benbow HIcks, Eartha Kitt, Mae Harris, Lulla Miller, jimmy Lunceford, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Charlie Christian, Ron Carter, Yusef Lateef, Ella Fritzgerald, Scot Joplin, and a host of other many American musicians-too numerous to list here.

The American Jazz idiom was dominating thoroughly and completely here in Mzatnsi. How do I know all these name of all these musicians. Well, as kids in the early sixties, we would sit with our Uncles and fathers and hear them argue and debate that was the best on drums, saxophones, composition and arrangements, and passions would rise to pitch level.

There were people who never thought of other artist as deserving mention or to be listened to because they did not meet their standard of what was Jazz or the like. So as we grew up in the late sixties, we were exposed to a variety of different artists of this American genre. Well, in most cases, my generation was scoffed-at by our old timers for not listening to real and classic Jazz when we listened to Jimmy Smith, John Patton, Harold Mabern, Blue Mitchell, Lou Donaldson, Billy Cobham, Booker T., Soul Music and funk.

We were ridiculed by these stalwarts and keepers of the Old Jazz, as me and my peers referred to Classical jazz as “not listening to Jazz,” and knowing nothing about it. But today, with most of them gone, and many of those who survived apartheid – the old timers I referred to above – have formed Jazz Clubs here in South Africa. They meet on weekends and bring out their best collection and spend the whole day listening to jazz, eating and imbibing large amounts of alcohol.

And whilst engaging in this celebration of jazz here in Mzantsi, you would hear talk like Playthell’s, whom I will cite below, as being what was said about these musicians by our elders. Most of the other stuff was learned and read from the LP liner notes by some Jazz critic or aficionado, and From Down Beat Magazine and so forth. It would go something like this passage from Playthell’s essay:

“Some of these people had crossed an ocean to attend the concert earlier in the day. After a while, it was clear that several of the guests had seriously followed Duke’s work for thirty to forty years. … As Duke responded to requests and moved from one tune to another, I was impressed by the fact that most of these songs were now part of the standard repertoire of American music. … I wondered at the artistic sensibility that could conceive these elegant tone poems, based in sophisticated urban blues and surrounded by consistently inventive orchestrations…. ….When he composed his suites to various regions of the world he never wrote the music when he was in those places.

‘I don’t want to be overly influenced by the local musical traditions, so I always wait until I’m back home to write my impressions.’ And he also confessed to me after a few rounds of Champaign: ‘I’m a sophisticated savage.’ Before I could persuade him to elaborate on his colorful claim our conversation was disrupted by others demanding the attention of the great man. I understood and bowed out. That enchanted evening in July, 1974 demonstrates that rest the world has long recognized the extraordinary creative contribution of the Duke. It is long past time this prophet became s hero in his own land.”

To be honest, what Playthell wrote above would be taken by these Jazz aficionados, turned on its head, made theirs. And included in their folklore about Jazz, as if it was they who spun the yarn above, and had experienced it, so that they have a one-up on their fellow Jazz buffs.. But, with time, those with the means, have been visiting The Newport Jazz Festival, Montreux Festival, and many of those in Europe.. And the comeback with fantastic tales of their visits and so forth, today (Most of it exaggerated, somewhat, but with some kernel of Truth.

Today in south Africa, we have come a long from the days I described above.. People are not more able to listen to jazz without the pressures of apartheid dehumanizing us. But African American Jazz in South Africa made our lives more bearable and full of hope. We never gave the Boers a chance to tell us nor believed we were barbarians or savages. Duke and the rest of the African America Jazz Masers, confirmed to us, since most of us looked like many of them and vice-versa- we knew that we were better than what the Apartheid monsters said we were.

There were many Jazz bands that were spawned as a result of our exposure to the American music scene and its Jazz Masters. These I might talk about in another palaver we might have on this subject. But Playthell’s article, with its cultural opulence and high art life-style, is still what makes our world go round. Duke was our demi-god when it came to Jazz, Style, dress/fashion, comportment and Class. He personified all this and then some to my uncles and their friends.

Our Elders copied many of Duke’s mannerism that Playthell describes above, which he observed on his visit to the Maestro’s apartment. As you can imagine, many have tried, albeit not on par with Playthell’s analysis, to be what the Duke represented and even added they own spin to the act. Apartheid, in its evil intent to dehumanize us, failed dismally because many Africans in South Africa knew that their Nazi-like oppressor’s claims of racial superiority were lies.

We lived our lives full of Jazz and our spirits danced above the concentration camps they built for us Called Townships… Like the humongous one called Soweto (Southern Western Townships) Digging jazz is still the way to go.. although the present-day youth in south Africa – as in the United States – are out of sync and do not know any better.. Some of us still know what time it is when it comes to Jazz music…


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Jon Green profile image

Jon Green 7 years ago from Frome, Somerset, UK

Really interesting hub, and ambitious with it. Another splinter form of jazz you didn't cover - Gypsy jazz as typified by Django Reinhardt, and currently by Bireli Lagrene. Interesting in the way two different cultures clashed and formed something else, brilliant in its own way. Anyway Jazz is definitely the music of freedom and will carry on mutating!


ixwa profile image

ixwa 7 years ago Author

True that! I might try in the future and focus on different genre styles of individual instrument players and sound systems they produced, and their effects. I had a feeling that I would not be able to cover every part of the mutated jazz forms, but will attempt to incorporate them in future articles as I dig deeper into Jazz as a world-wide phenomena. Thank you very much for responding to the article and I am glad you think it is interesting- that makes my day for me and the effort worth it. Thanks again!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I like Jazz music very much. my favorite is fourplay, james ingram. thanks for information. two thumbs up for you!


ixwa profile image

ixwa 6 years ago Author

Hi Prasettio30! Thank you for the response and I am very happy to see that you love Jazz. You should listen to my Internet Radio Station on Live365.com/stations/djtot12. You will find a lot of Fourplay, James Ingram and a lot more. I hope you use the Shoutout on the Station Page to talk to me and make some requests. There's a lot on this station, and if you take your time, you'll love it for sure. Thanks again for the comment. I appreciate it very much!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

My kind of Hub - very comprehensive and well done - thanks.


ixwa profile image

ixwa 6 years ago Author

suziecat7: Hello, and welcome to the Hub above. I am very grateful that you have read and commented positively on the Hub above, and I really do appreciate it very much. Thank you for the vote of confidence you have given me through your comments and making me your favorite(you know what I mean, right?) and for the comment above and I am very appreciative of that. Thank you very much!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Great Hub - gald to have found it.

Love and peace

Tony


ixwa profile image

ixwa 6 years ago Author

tonymac04! Welcome to the Hub and thank you for your comments. I hope you found the article interesting and on the point about the history of Jazz. I really do appreciate your comments because they encourage me and give me a sense that I am am doing something right. Again, thanks for the comment and support...


Rashid Booker profile image

Rashid Booker 21 months ago from New York, New York

The Great African-American Classical Art-Form

The Beginning of The Great Art-Form; Be –bop

The Rashid Project ~ Be-bop (1940-1955) — with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in New York, New York Bop style of so-called jazz, was sometimes called bebop or rebop, but common usage shortened it to bop. One explanation for the name is that players sang the words bebop and rebop when vocalizing their new way of phrasing.

Developed between the early and mid-1940s - "bebop" expanded upon many of the improvisational elements of the swing era. Young musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk, influenced by the innovative compositions of soloists of the swing era (e.g., Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young) began exploring more advanced harmonies, altered chords, and chord substitutions.

Important Factors:

* A revolutionary style changed from swing era of so-called jazz.

* Inspired by the most advanced swing styles.

* A new vocabulary of musical phrases and methods of matching improvisation to chord progressions.

* Mastery of this style is considered the foundation for competence as a so-called jazz improviser to this day.

The Climate of Change

A combination of social and economic events helped to usher in bebop era. As World War II ultimately drafted many of the veteran musicians needed for the popular big bands of the swing era, many teenagers too young to be drafted were instead enlisted into the ranks of the touring road bands. Young musicians like Gillespie and Parker, as well as Stan Getz and Red Rodney, developed their craft at an early age by working with established swing masters.

There were hundreds of big bands and although a few played so-called jazz, such as Ellington, Basie and Goodman - others played none. This stimulated a need for the so-called jazz artist to find a new means, beyond the big band, for development. In New York City, many afterhours’ clubs became breeding grounds for small group explorations, especially in Harlem. Clubs like Minton's Playhouse witnessed the development of this new music by bebop innovators including guitarist Charlie Christian, bassist Jimmy Blanton, and pianist Thelonious Monk.

A different social climate existed for the Generation of African-American musicians born around 1920. The 1930's saw a growing consciousness among whites, especially on the political left that in a democracy African-Americans could not be treated as second-class citizens. Unlike the disrespect so-called jazz musicians received in previous years, by 1940, music critics were calling so-called jazz musicians artists who were worthy of respect. This resulted in the development of a strong distaste by young African-American so-called jazz artist for the show-biz antics associated with commercial music and turning away from the swing style of the big bands whose commercial tendencies made it suspect. However, this was not a reaction against the true so-called jazz artists of the swing era, but it was a catalyst to further the development of the musical language.

The war also forced cut backs in dance halls and cabarets due to the Government issued the Cabaret tax, which collected money from any nightclub or restaurant which permitted dancing.

Due to these issues and the fact that in the 1940's the United States was entering a war; there was more tension in the music of this era than in the music of the swing era. So-Called jazz, as well as the other arts, has always been influenced by the mood of the times. The musical tension was created by tonal clashes, unusual harmonies, and fast tempos with complex rhythms.

Rashid "The Jazz Aficionado" Booker


ixwa profile image

ixwa 21 months ago Author

Rashid Booker.. Welcome to the Hub above. It is also great that I have received a response to you, which is in effect an addition to the article above. I have cited some of your writings to edify my Hub because I have believe in utilizing all those informants who know certain apsects about the history and story of the African American Jazz more deeply and intimately than any other musicians or writers that I have come across thus-as you can se from my citations of various peoples above.

Your article, which has been cited extensively in this Hub above, is very important in the larger/broader sense I was writing about Jazz, and its capacity to effecct and affect democracy on all levels of the meaning of the Word-is duly noted by me, and my aim was to show the Democracy that is embedded and inherently bolt-in into the Jazz Classical form.

I used that same approach in citing, in a demcoratical sense, all those writers that I think give a much more serious perpsepctive about the History of Jazz, and your response, was adding more FYI to what's needed by the Hub above and what it strives for.What I know, for a fact, is that African Americans have had a love-hate relationship with the South. On the one hand, it symbolizes the worst that America had to offer to African Americans-racism, poverty, and oppression. but it also represents the roots of African culture, history, art, music, dance, was 'home'. It was and still is "down home" to Africans in America born there; a "homeplace" for people whose fathers and mothers left deades ago.

In community lore and joking it is a place to be escaped from; and yet, a place that cannot be escaped. And finally, after the Civil rights Movement, it became a place to embrace: embraced less in optimism than in pride, because yet another generation had staked a blood-wrenched claim to its equivocal legacy; embraced both for a sense of possibilities it offered and in historical vindication for the many thousands gone.

The issues that you mention in your last paragraph and response above, it is to my knowledge, having studied and visited and hung around America, that I saw the how African Americans have had a profound influence on Music(All Genres), language, manners, and food ways[I will touch more on this aspects more fully as I expand the Hub above].. Most if not many of the African Americans(Of African descent), finally became familiar in the that were brought to the Americas(Specifically, the US, in this case), that much of the African origins within their culture have somewhat been partly blurred, and somewhat forgotten, that your last statement makes much more sense-and buttresseds that notion-but instead shows that the African element is still present.

Thus your assertion: "Due to these issues and the fact that in the 1940's the United States was entering a war; there was more tension in the music of this era than in the music of the swing era. So-Called jazz, as well as the other arts, has always been influenced by the mood of the times. The musical tension was created by tonal clashes, unusual harmonies, and fast tempos with complex rhythms."

This was during the era of the pre- and post WWII, which you have duly observed/noted above. Also, the social climate that you talk about above, of the 1920, and 1930 time-frame, were important in that we saw the consciouseness of White becoming evident, you sagely note that the 'so-called jazz' and its artists were afforded the 'respect long overdue to them by the 1940s, but this[White Big Bands] was not well received by young Africans in America(the Big Bands), because of many parties involved(commercialism), made them turn away from that Big Band Genre; but in this case, you acutley note that it was more not a "reaction against the true so-called jazz artists of the swing era, but it was a catalyst to further the development of the musical language."

You astutely show that "this was the coming in of the Bebop genre with the like of Dizzy, Parker, Red Rodney, developed this classical musical style of Bepob and developed their craft by working with [and through] craft with well established Jazz masters", just to paraphrase what you have added to this Hub.

So that, you trace for the readers here how Bebop came about-wherein you write: "[Gebop/Bop] Developed between the early and mid-1940s - "bebop" expanded upon many of the improvisational elements of the swing era. Young musicians including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Thelonious Monk, influenced by the innovative compositions of soloists of the swing era (e.g., Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young) began exploring more advanced harmonies, altered chords, and chord substitutions."

In your response above, you started by writing:

"The Beginning of The Great Art-Form; Be –bop:-

The Rashid Project ~ Be-bop (1940-1955) — with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in New York, New York Bop style of so-called jazz, was sometimes called bebop or rebop, but common usage shortened it to bop. One explanation for the name is that players sang the words bebop and rebop when vocalizing their new way of phrasing."

This is very important for the Hub above, for in your response you fill-in the yawning gaps of the story and history of Jazz and give context'content and dovetail your addition to the Hub above by informing us as to what really happened to the birth of "Bop"[as you say it was called when shortened. My writing the Hub above, was driven by the fact that I grew up in a family of musicians, so that, my mother was a Jazz lover, and sang in the classical musical choir called the Ionians. My father was a legendary Jazz musicans, and my life as a young boy was being exposed to and sitting and listening to various top Jazz artists and giants in South Africa at that time. I will one day write a whole Hub on the story and history of Jazz in sSuth Africa. But I had to throw in my lot by first writing about the history of Jazz in the US amongst African Americans, in it discussing prominent musicans and Jazz Masters. You have just added to that research with your comment above.

What your repsonse has down for for this Hub, is that, with your permission, I will add it to the Hub above under the section where I cited some of your works within the Hub. I would also be very grateful if I could get more information that will help edify and strengthen the Jazz music Story/History above, which I regard in the Hub above as a form of Democracy, and although I did not touch on many other aspects of the influences upon it as an African American Classical Form, your input does that for me easily and solidly.

I will wait patiently and follow your writings about Jazz should you start posting from them, and I hope you will grant me permission to use it on the Hub above, and some other Hubs I have written here on HubPages about Jazz. I am glad you have come to HubPages, and for me, I could not have asked for more, Rashid.

Thank you for the important and very useful input above in the response column, and I surely need that information.. Thanks, again, Rashid, and Welcome to Hub HubPages...

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