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Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

Amiri Baraka
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 436
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    For almost half a century, Amiri Baraka has ranked among the most important commentators on African American music and culture. In this brilliant assemblage of his writings on music, the first such collection in nearly twenty years, Baraka blends autobiography, history, musical analysis, and political commentary to recall the sounds, people, times, and places he's encountered. As in his earlier classics,Blues PeopleandBlack Music,Baraka offers essays on the famous-Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane-and on those whose names are known mainly by jazz aficionados-Alan Shorter, Jon Jang, and Malachi Thompson. Baraka's literary style, with its deep roots in poetry, makes palpable his love and respect for his jazz musician friends. His energy and enthusiasm show us again how much Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and the others he lovingly considers mattered. He brings home to us how music itself matters, and how musicians carry and extend that knowledge from generation to generation, providing us, their listeners, with a sense of meaning and belonging.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94309-4
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-2)

    One of the most beautiful explications, as analysis and history, of “the Music” comes from Du Bois, in his grandest work,Black Recontruction in America.So, because the good Dr. combines the material social world with and as the origins of Art. The Earth & the Sky.

    SoDiggingmeans to present, perhaps arbitrarily, varied paradigms of this essentially Afro-American art. The common predicate, myself, the Digger. One who gets down, with the down, always looking above to see what is going out, and so checkDigitaria,as the Dogon say, necessary if you are to dig the fartherest Star,...


    • CHAPTER 1 Griot/Djali: Poetry, Music, History, Message
      (pp. 5-8)

      Griot has grown in significance in the U.S., essentially because of the burgeoning perception here, now, that Afro-America is inextricably bound not only to Africa, but to the U.S., Pan-America (the Western Hemisphere, the actual “Western World”), and, through its Pan-African diaspora (pre & post and always, right now, modern), international culture too.

      So the wordGriot,the poet, musician, historian, story teller, is getting known all over the world. Though “ French” as transmitted “symbol,” it is the best-known term for the West AfricanDjali (or Djeli, but Djeli yaalso means the Djali’s act, his “getting down” to...

    • CHAPTER 2 Miles Later
      (pp. 9-18)

      The fact that Miles Davis is a great African American cultural figure, a musician, composer, more impacting and influential than most, should never be in contention. The work is there. Its history and its shaping force are as obvious as anything in the world of art and social life.

      I can speak, for instance, from my own experience, my own life, having come upon Miles when he was first standing up with Charlie Parker, part of the transforming force of the music called BeBop. Part of that music but also a bearer, in whatever specific identification, of that philosophy, both...

    • CHAPTER 3 The “Blues Aesthetic” and the “Black Aesthetic”: Aesthetics as the Continuing Political History of a Culture
      (pp. 19-27)

      The termBlues Aesthetic,which has been put forward by certain academics recently, is useful only if it is not depoliticization of reference. So we can claim an aesthetic for Blues but at the same time disconnect the historical continuum of the blues from its national and international source, the lives and history of the African, Pan-African, and specifically Afro-American people.

      The Blues Aesthetic is one aspect of the overall African American aesthetic. This seems obvious because the blues is one vector expressing the material historical and psychological source.

      Culture is the result of “a common psychological development.” But the...

    • CHAPTER 4 Blues People: Looking Both Ways
      (pp. 28-32)

      Blues Peoplehas always meant a great deal to me. It was a dramatic self-confirmation, as an intellectual and artistic “presence” the expression of a set of ideas and measures that were to last me for many years. Most, until today.

      First, the book had a presence, even in my own head, of weightiness, that is, it meant a great deal to me as it emerged and certainly when completed, in the sense that I was “shooting from the hip,” though like Billy the Kid said once, I had been aiming a long time before I reached for the machine....

    • CHAPTER 5 Rhythm
      (pp. 33-37)

      Rhythm is the natural motion of matter. What exists presented to us by our sense organs. Though the very understanding of just what sense organs exist is still only primitively partial. “Physical,” for instance, cannot be defined simply as a known paradigm, if we understand dialectical materialism. The contrasting motions of matter, the continuous development as change, understood, perceived, by us (any thing—Consciously), cannot limit what actually exists. Our knowledge limits us, not what exists.

      Our approach to truth is always partial, advancing in stages (some regard as “Gaps”). Motion is and isn’t what is moving. Yet the oneness...

    • CHAPTER 6 The American Popular Song: “The Great American Song Book”
      (pp. 38-46)

      American culture itself is still unbelievably “abstract” to Americans themselves; at the same time it cannot possibly be, since it is their day-to-day lives and expression. “Abstract” only in the sense that Americans do not really understand their culture.

      For one thing, American culture is much broader, much deeper, much darker, than official commentators of the social status quo allow. For another, when these same unworthies talk about Western Culture, relating it principally to Europe, they infer the lie that makes for the abstraction, since the “Western Culture” is the Americas. America is the west, the Pan-American experience is the...

    • CHAPTER 7 Blues Line
      (pp. 47-48)

      In a book of mine,Blues People,which appeared in the early ’60s, I argued that blues was first a verse form and then an extension of that form into music. Not only some attention to history but any scrutiny of the variety of blues forms will verify this, I think.

      Rap, for instance, is a recent co-signature. The music generated by the verse is a panrhythmic explanation of the verse and is intended to expand that verse into a complementary yet dissociative medium.

      Yet at the base of “both” is the rhythm which comes out of the makers’ lives,...

    • CHAPTER 8 Cosby and the Music
      (pp. 49-55)

      Even when you see Bill Cosby doing a Coke or J-E-L-L-O Pudding commercial, there is a kind ofDizzy(Gillespie, that is) quality to his banter with the children in the commercial—his eyes light up, the humor just short of slapstick, but sophisticated because of the obvious brightness of the repartee—not adult to child, but one on one.

      I say Dizzy Gillespie, because Cosby is a humorist, in fact one of the few contemporary jokers, who can reach child and adult with nothing lost in translation.

      Cosby is known for his family-oriented comedy, whether his triumphantly popular sitcom...

    • CHAPTER 9 Nina Returns
      (pp. 56-71)

      In 1984, while I was in Boulder, Colorado, teaching for a week at Naropa Institute, calling home I was told by my wife, Amina, that Nina Simone had suddenly arrived in Newark. In fact she was sitting outside our house in a car driven by a woman named Ja-Neece, who she sent into the house to ask Amina could she use the phone and also could she borrow our car.

      Once inside, Nina told Amina she liked our house because it reminded her of Africa. In fact, she ended up staying, telling Amina that she wanted me to do her...

    • CHAPTER 10 Jazz Criticism and Its Effect on the Music
      (pp. 72-85)

      The contradiction we are dealing with here, at one level, is expression versus reflection. Though both are interchangeable or co-related to exist at all. The dialectic of their relationship is that expression reflects reflection and reflection (as criticism) is expression!

      Criticism, ideally, should be analysis, but also identification andusel, based upon the work and its creator’s intent and values and theirrelationshipto the real world. How exemplarly the work is of this intent and values is what we are analyzing; and what does this meanpractically. Aim and result. But what is key is that the critic actually...

    • CHAPTER 11 Not “the Boss”: Bruce Springsteen
      (pp. 86-87)

      What is refreshing and encouraging about Bruce Springsteen is his capacity to translate both the form and some of the content of the country and urban blues. Springsteen is an American shouter, like the black Country Blues shouters, from Lead Belly on, with perhaps an ear on the urban incarnation James Brown and Wilson Pickett represent.

      This was clear inWe Are the World, the style value Springsteen carried, in that context, as well as his overall musicality. The “social consciousness” lyrics to many of his songs, e.g., “Born in the USA,” have put yeast in his public and commercial...

    • CHAPTER 12 Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes (from the Underground)
      (pp. 88-90)

      Young Wynton Marsalis is already a kind of touchstone of contemporary jazz. In the sense that whenever his name comes up, “you can tell where people are at by where they coming from on Wynton.” And there is a wisdom to it.

      Meaning: that Wynton is acause celebreof the music. For one reason is that there are so many reasons! The son of an estimable jazz pianist, in fact, a jazz family, residing, where else? New Orleans, naturally!

      But the mythological vibes bouncing off the stereotype reveals it to be, in fact, a prototype—and a very productive...

    • CHAPTER 13 “The International Business of Jazz” and the Need for the Cooperative and Collective Self-Development of an International People’s Culture
      (pp. 91-100)

      The title tries to say most of what this essay is about. Yes, there is an international business of jazz, just as there is an international jazz culture. Unfortunately there is not a continuing strengthening of the fundamental source and essential resource of the most profound and important aspect of the music itself, nor of the entire social, political, historical, and aesthetic foundation of that business, and what passes as an international jazz culture is most often mainly a commercial exploitation and diluting of the incredible treasure that the music has provided, as art, social and intellectual development, and economic...

    • CHAPTER 14 Newark’s “Coast” and the Hidden Legacy of Urban Culture
      (pp. 101-105)

      Every city in the world has a legacy, some are known, and if those legacies are known, kept before the peoples of the world, and that legacy is rich with history and culture, the city itself becomes an object of glamour, excitement, and curiosity.

      But when the best legacy, the highest level of civilization that city has contributed to, is hidden or forgotten, and the city becomes identified with a set of negative or dangerous characteristics, then it will look like Newark looks after five p. m. on any evening, like a ghost town, or a warehouse for the moneymaking...

    • CHAPTER 15 Black Music as a Force for Social Change
      (pp. 106-109)

      Imperialist society removes every thing from humans except Appetites. It feeds those appetites’ self-destructive confusion about the nature of the world, and if not stopped will eventually destroy, at least, human life on this planet. For instance, imperialism removes arts from humanity, making “art” a mysterious marketable commodity that must reflect the pathology and philosophy of imperialism to be valued. But art is the ideological reflection of life. Art is Creation. Art versus Aren’t. Imperialism pushes Aren’t. It wants to turn the world into Aren’t. Make all of us Wases.

      Afro-American art is an ideological reflection of Afro-American life and...

    • CHAPTER 16 What You Mean, Du Wop?
      (pp. 110-116)

      One thing about Black People, we always got our music. It come with us. To make a way in the front and the back, like the colors on a map, our music is our path, it shows where we been, where we goin, and where we at.

      We were filled and surrounded by our music even before we arrived.

      Church songs, spirituals and gospel, on this side, are recast from the other side, different but with the same essence, spirit worship. We heard people groaning for the ONE. Moans and screams arising up from the hollows of the world. But...

    • CHAPTER 17 Classical American Music
      (pp. 117-118)

      Classics teach a standard of excellence, by which subsequent expressions of the genre can be evaluated and analyzed.

      Parker, Gordon, Dorham, Garner evoke an era of musical revelation.

      Bird transformed formal instrumental style with Black vocal tradition, falsetto, blues, soulfulness armed with aggressive technology, sleek, swift, streamlined.

      Dizzy’s “BeBop” media-named the genre, but the music was revolutionary, reincarnating Jazz, distancing Tin-Pan Alley. Broadway finessed Blues into the mainstream. Bird reorganized the same materials, using the chordal base of popular song as one resource for improvisation and composition . . . innovative and practical (since only melody is copyrighted).

      “Bop,” Bird,...

    • CHAPTER 18 Singers and the Music: A Theater Piece
      (pp. 119-123)

      BESSIE SMITH is always connected to LOUIS THE SATCHMO, America’s “Pop.” For the combining of Blues and the instrumental diversity and copiousness of the new jass. The original innovation of instrumental Blues. So LOUIS + BESSIE is the beginning of the 20th century.

      Next ETHEL WATERS is the link, from the two-part chamber of America’s Heart, where the slaves were where they were, by chattel condition, set apart. She had absorbed Bessie and the deepest source, Ma Rainey, and got with Louis to get down in that blues, herself. But Broadway was beckoning in its serpentine summons, and the commuters...

    • CHAPTER 19 Newark’s Influence on American Music
      (pp. 124-132)

      The totality of U.S. culture is still mainly shrouded from Americans, who know less about the whole and complex character of American, even North American, Culture than mountains of people all over the world. One reason is obvious, i.e., to the extent that racism, segregation, and discrimination have permeated this society, the ignorance of the whole of the culture is registered in direct proportion.

      The grim commercial of America as the Great Democracy has always been a Lie.

      The inequality of simple Recognition of the multinational multicultural nature of the U.S. is straightforward enough. If we look at the best-funded...

    • CHAPTER 20 Ritual and Performance
      (pp. 133-139)

      From the words and their origins as signs: What is the law, or has been written or, before that, done (i.e., what is RIGHT . . . the weakness of the human evolution is that it is one-sided . . . the RIGHT hand, etc., side of the brain, side of the political aisle). At this moment we are moving sharply to the right, politically, to the more conservative, headed toward Fascist society. That is, the naked domination of the most backward reactionary jingoistic sector of finance capital (see Dimitrov,Against Fascism and War).

      Drama (a smaller portion of life,...

    • CHAPTER 21 Bopera Theory
      (pp. 140-144)

      Theater in the U.S. is obstructed in its development by the same forces that obstruct the general positive development of human life and society. Frequently, we are stalled by our very amazement at the rulers of this society shrieking for years of their “superiority,” when one has only to witness the world, itself, under their Dictatorship of the Beast, to understand that superior they ain’t. Even “lower” animals cause less trouble to the Planet.

      But the superstructural control of intellectual development is critical to our penetration of aesthetic theory in the fake democracy real imperialism of U.S. Life. For instance,...

    • CHAPTER 22 “Jazz and the White Critic”: Thirty Years Later
      (pp. 145-154)

      The second article I published about the music, inMetronome,was “Jazz and the White Critic.” The theme was, broadly, that a fundamental contradiction, sharp, at times antagonistic, existed between American Classical Music, its creators, mainly Black, and the majority of commentators, critics, critical opinion about that music, which historically are not.

      The cause of this is obvious, whatever the slaves created was owned by the slave owners. The fundamental social philosophy characterizing American Capitalism (and feudalism before that) has always been shaped by white supremacy, whether it was slavery or the national oppression and chauvinism that still exist today....

    • CHAPTER 23 Random Notes on the Last Decade
      (pp. 155-156)

      BesidesFo Deuk, David Murray hasFor Trane, Gwo-ka, Creole, Pushkin, a string of important CDs. Murray remains a principal creative force in the music.

      Craig Harris’sSouls within the Veilis a wonderful emotional sounding of the DuBois classicThe Souls of Black Folk.

      The albumCause & Effectby ABRAHAM BURTON AND ERIC MC-PHERSON is, hands down, one of the most dramatic, intelligent, deeply moving CDs I’ve heard in the last ten years! These two young men (and the others on the album) are two of the most intensely creative artists on the set today!!

      D.D. JACKSON is...


    • CHAPTER 24 Panthalassa: Miles Davis
      (pp. 159-165)

      Miles was among the most mercurial of recent jazz masters. His music, a constantly shifting expression of his whole self, though the “persona,” what was projected to his international audiences, might seem less so, in that he was not so easily understood, i.e., what he felt and how he presented it, as a person. The music is somewhat skewed in this sense . . . he could play, would play, whatever he wanted to. Always with that provocative “Meness” that allows us to identify his playing instantly.

      Not many who have actually listened to Miles through the years would deny...

    • CHAPTER 25 When Miles Split!
      (pp. 166-169)

      Someone called me and said you died, Miles. Yeh, that cold. Here in North America, with all the other bullshit we put up with. You know. I know you know. Knew. And still know, where ever you is.

      I’m one of yr children, actually, for all the smoke and ignorant mimmy jimmies . . . you know /I can say that. I was one of yr children /you got a buncha children man, more than you probably dug on the serious side. Not innocent ass fans. But the school of the world you created from inside the world’s head. You...

    • CHAPTER 26 David Murray, Ming’s Samba
      (pp. 170-172)

      Some years ago I wrote, “Albert Ayler is the dynamite sound of our time.” Now, I think, that can be said about David Murray. Not because he comes out of “Albert’s Bag,” whatsom ever that is, but that David is the high fire of this time’s sense expansion. To be further than “the given” as far as this horn, this music, this line of feeling, yee must be into David, oh yes!

      This album is simply further confirmation (in the key of “Smoke!”).

      It is his sound, which beginsbeneathus, as an understanding of what will bring the feeling....

    • CHAPTER 27 David Murray, Fo Deuk Revue
      (pp. 173-175)

      I admit I am on this record, along with one of my sons, Amiri Jr. Still, even without our contributions, or even if they had been done by others, the conception David Murray has projected to put this record together is impressive and the results powerful and innovative.

      I wrote an essay in a book of mine a few years ago called “The Changing Same” in which I proposed that soon the most daring players would begin to use the whole of the music as basis for composition and improvisation. I meant that Black Music, internationally, is a treasure chest,...

    • CHAPTER 28 David Murray, Addenda to a Concert
      (pp. 176-177)

      What makes David, his music, his approach, so important to all of us is that he has stepped back as it were to gather all of the truest tradition of soul music to him, in him, and used that as a forward thrusting recoil like a jet to propel him into the newest regions of feeling. That is the key, to keep to the hot wire of deep funk trad, the rocking, the shocking, niggers with purple stockings, yet at the same time, and because of this to a degree, to be doing the truly fresh the truly new. Because...

    • CHAPTER 29 On Reissuing Trane
      (pp. 178-191)

      I listen to Trane every chance I get. Still. And it’s always a new thing, something valuable and deep, for me. Even when I hear Trane on WBGO (our 24-hour Newark jazz station) I still am genuinely transported. Not in any nostalgic way, but re-ignited emotionally by the continuing power of the music.

      What is that “continuing power,” drawn out of the insides of where he and it and we too been. What we felt and remembered of our lives. That part of the world we are and can feel and be conscious of. What can be described or evoked...

    • CHAPTER 30 John Coltrane: Why His Legacy Continues
      (pp. 192-194)

      “Why does his legacy continue to influence our lives, our music, and the arts?”

      Trane emerged as the process of historical clarification itself, of a particular social/aesthetic development. When we see him standing next to Bird and Diz, an excited younginlookerinside the torrent of the rising Bop statement, right next to the chief creators of that fervent expression of new black life, we are seeing actually point and line, note and phrase of the continuum. As if we could also see Louis and Bechet hovering over them, with Pres hovering just to the side awaiting his entrance, and...

    • CHAPTER 31 Some Memories of Alan Shorter: Interview with Wayne Shorter
      (pp. 195-197)

      “He had some ideas about breaking through the hold of the (commercial) mass-aimed forms. The way that he did what he did on those records . . . speaks to that . . . in that short time . . . limited . . . no bands behind him . . . on arrangements . . . not really equipped with the science of music. . . . It was like he was saying to those people (the companies), ‘Sell THAT!’ He wanted everything . . . to bend to his will. . . . He was, like, a Voice!...

    • CHAPTER 32 High Art: Art Tatum
      (pp. 198-207)

      Art Tatum is a giant who is still not completely understood, though apparently wildly “appreciated.” Tatum’s pianistic “100 Fingered” virtuosity is most widely referenced, his unusual harmonic imagination, even his unbelievably expressed rhythmic drive is mentioned.

      Very often Art’s melodic embellishment is cited either with the highest positive comment or, to the contrary, some critics charge that it is Tatum’s seeming “ornateness,” his decorative melodic complexity, that makes him less than omnipotent.

      And even some of those critics who must drop in every other paragraph the “extraordinarily gifted” or “incredible virtuosity,” discussing the breathtaking arpeggios, arabesques. They speak of Tatum’s...

    • CHAPTER 33 Max Roach at the Iridium
      (pp. 208-209)

      The group, now, together for years, is at a still rising level of aesthetic growth, organic expression and wonderful power.

      Max is still the Master of the trap, the industrial western percussion ensemble, the kit, the set, the Afro-American drum combination.

      From the one-man band of post-slave necessity and invention. Without orchestras, we would have to be the whole thing ourselves! (to paraphrase Max). Like a film I saw of Tony Williams on the West African coast playing his set into the forest. And when the Africans responded to his “call” they thought he was a bunch of us!


    • CHAPTER 34 Paris Max
      (pp. 210-213)

      I’d been to Paris a few times over the years, but never with much registration. A couple of readings, one I’d been traveling with one of my main mens, Linton Kwesi Johnson, the great Jamaican (“Black British”) poet, going through there on the way out somewhere in off-the-beat France for a reading. Another time, another reading, Ted Joans, another of my poetry comrades, he’d taken me down to Shakespeare & Co. (to meet Aimé Césaire). Some other times. But this last time it really registered, to whatever extent I could dig what the Paris thing was.

      I went over to...

    • CHAPTER 35 The Great Max Roach
      (pp. 214-218)

      Almost the only unanimous co-signing of Greatness of still living Musicians is that accorded to Max Roach. For anyone remotely aware of the history and development of American music in the twentieth century, this is obvious. Max Roach is a name at the core and nucleus of the main innovations in percussion and the advanced creativity of the whole of the music for the last fifty years. From the time he first sat in with Duke Ellington at the Paramount for Sonny Greer, at eighteen years old, and with that acquired an instant peer prestige and historic persona, until today,...

    • CHAPTER 36 Billie Holiday
      (pp. 219-221)

      Read “Dark Lady of the Sonnets.” That was written in 1962, for a record calledLady Day in Berlin.It’s out of print now. But recently, and I think I have to give some praise to my wife, Amina, who began using Billie’s works to extend and bring to further life her own poetry, and I feel that has helped reintroduce or first introduce Billie’s works today.

      Billie Holiday said there were two great figures in her life, musically, that she learned from, Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, and Louis Armstrong, the first great soloist in jazz. Louis...

    • CHAPTER 37 The High Priest of BeBop
      (pp. 222-235)

      A story that is factual, but seems to all who have heard it apocryphal, was played out one night near the old “new” Five Spot, on St. Marks Place.

      A group of us, the hip, some hipsters, and no doubt a couple of hippies, were standing around running the world back and forth between our mouths when Thelonius moves by, between sets, on his way to the where ever, which was not far, but far enough out he wasn’t takin’ nobody else.

      “What’s Happenin’ Monk?” I called, as a greeting not an investigation. But let it be.

      Monk called across...

    • CHAPTER 38 Eric Dolphy: A Note
      (pp. 236-236)

      What always seems missing in any discussion of Eric Dolphy’s work is the influence that the great Jackie McLean had on him. Commentators always seem to pick up the Ornette inspiration on Eric, but listen to that distinctive Dolphy intonation, always sounding just a little sharp, like he’s wailing so hard the sound is bending the metal out of shape. Then check any of Jackie Mc’s classic blowings and you should get my meaning.

      The sound of the horn, in both cases, is itself a phenomenon of harmonic shading. Once you heard Eric you can never forget that sound, and...

    • CHAPTER 39 Jackie Mc
      (pp. 237-239)

      By the time I had got fluent in the understanding of BeBop and its revolution, and had begun to recognize the historical development of the music, I heard Jackie McLean. And from the first times I talked to my partners about him it was always Jackie Mac to the hip. He was one of the young geniuses Charlie Parker’s life brought to revelation. Not only the musical innovation that will historicize Bird’s life but the personality of himself as artist, and the social philosophy, the cultural explosion and introspection these elements together worked upon America. Birdland is an actual place,...

    • CHAPTER 40 It Ain’t about You
      (pp. 240-241)

      The night Albert and Black Norman, the Wizard, and I went up to Lincoln Center, my wife, Amina, whom I had yet to meet, was sitting out among the huge audience, with a Newark contingent. But not many people knew Albert Ayler then, and even those of us who knew him never knew exactly what Albert would do. But he had said something on the way up about seeing if the musicians featured up there at a concert this night, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Pharaoh Sanders, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, “and them,” thought the music was...

    • CHAPTER 41 You Ever Hear Albert Ayler?
      (pp. 242-258)

      We are all products of Time, Place, & Condition. What we bring, we are “given.” By heredity, those prearranged characteristics, mostly physical, a range of proclivities, skewed possibilities, &, most profound, the shifting contours ofEnvironment.Including, to me and the most influential whateverinterventions,entrances, shapings, that help construct & reconstruct us as we go.

      Albert, from whatever complex network of all these, arrived in my life in the middle ’60s. I never knew or found out very much about his origins and early life. Only that he’d come from Cleveland, apparently with, at least, striking distance from the...

    • CHAPTER 42 Albert’s Will
      (pp. 259-260)

      Albert spoke singing from the deep mixed up clarity inside us, everybody human, everybody who feels or cries, or laughs, or knows something. Albert erupted from out of the shadowy interior of everybody’s soul, where the sky burns its crazy omen of allness. That blast of ON-ing fire. Hmmmmmmmmmm&c.

      “You mean?”

      . . . Yes,

      “You’re saying . . . ?”

      . . . That’s right,

      “That Albert was in touch with something More Than ourselves?” No, Pilgrim, Albert was in touch with the whole of us with no shucking or one-eyed whispers. Africa, the Middle Passage, Ghost Furnace America,...

    • CHAPTER 43 Sassy Was Definitely Not the Avon Lady
      (pp. 261-264)

      But she was the divinity from Avon Avenue between Belmont and the Circle, Right around the corner from the old Silver Saddle, where we first dug Bird. Her ’50s landmark crib, for little Bop anointed hipsters, going back home, up the, to the, Hill, digging, not pausing . . . Hey, that’s where Sarah Vaughan lives . . . a crazy million times on the way to the Four Corners where we lived. Near Babs and Little Jimmy and Brody and Grachan, the Holy Temple of Belmont Avenue where we got saved every Sunday night by Nat Phipps, Jackie Bland,...

    • CHAPTER 44 Fred
      (pp. 265-266)

      On Feb 1999, at the Aaron Davis Hall of City College of New York, David Murray, Craig Harris, and some others led the way in organizing one of the most artistically sensitive and musically expressive memorials I’ve attended. Fred Hopkins was commemorated by a spectrum of his peers, who showed not only why Fred was so central a figure in the last decade or so of new music, but that those who cared most for him are among the most innovative and moving players out here.

      Read the program, and lament your absence:

      Chief Bey to give the libation and...

    • CHAPTER 45 Fred Hopkins’s Memorial
      (pp. 267-269)

      Tragedy is defined, ultimately, as a Drag. Comedy, the collective orgasm electricity. I first checked Fred as part of AIR, which now, except for its Navigator, hopefully safe in India, the other 2/3rds of 3/5ths of the metaphor for Artist in Residence, Breath Song, or Yes, in the peasant tongue, have gone on, turned completely Spiritual on us.

      What tragedy combines in its dialectic is that both Fred and Steve McCall, the other wing, were new when we first dug them, stayed new when well known, i.e., by the cognoscenti, and were still new when they went on.

      Fred was...

    • CHAPTER 46 Duke Ellington: The Music’s “Great Spirit”
      (pp. 270-275)

      Duke’s collective work sings and “speaks” as a reflection of the social and political economic character of the historic African American culture. Its aesthetic character is itself artistic expression as the most evocative summation of that people, contexted by their mean experience of the “Whole” world encyclopedic African presence as development, journey, summation.

      Africa, the actual, as it disappears into the Been is entrance into recorded history. The music comes from before that, its blue pentatonic polyphonic polyrhythmic human voice. We are carried with and transformed by him in that becoming, voice to instrument, become itself, from what it come...

    • CHAPTER 47 Duke Was a Very Great Pianist!
      (pp. 276-276)

      I know I was guilty of saying this numbness, in print, somewhere, which I understand recently has been attributed to Billy Strayhorn, that “Duke’s real instrument is the orchestra.” And probably, if he said it, he meant that in the way of emphasizing Ellington’s unparalleled creative expressiveness through the artistry of his composition and orchestration, and conducting. But make no missed snake, Duke Ellington was one of the finest pianists in the music.

      Because the piano, like all the other instruments in the magnificent orchestra, is organically linked embedded embossed in the whole cloth of blue lovely wailographic sonifunkestry as...

    • CHAPTER 48 Blind Tom: The Continuity of Americana
      (pp. 277-279)

      Tom Wiggins, born in 1849, a slave, in Columbus, Georgia, later called Blind Tom Bethune (after the slave master), was apparently an “autistic” slave (what they called an “Idiot Savant”), though, with the ugly jumble of white supremacist mumbo-jumbo which passed, certainly in the 19th century, and still passes for science, we cannot really be sure of this. That is, Wiggins could have been just a sightless brother with an amazing skill at playing, almost immediately, any music or sound that he heard. From accounts I’ve read, any piece of music played in his hearing he could duplicate almost spontaneously...

    • CHAPTER 49 Don Pullen Leaves Us
      (pp. 280-285)

      Don, you too, already? So many of us away away. We were here & sang and spoke and danced and played and even made war. Acted. We did

      And from that time I first met you and Milford, your man. That homemade self-made intro side. I donno, people kept saying this and that, you was more or less than this or that one. It didn’t and don’t matter. You was hip as Don Pullen and very few can claim that.

      So, sad, brother, very few of the citizens even know your name. Very few even got to know you your...

    • CHAPTER 50 Black History Month Rediscovers “the Music” in New York City
      (pp. 286-288)

      My wife, Amina, said something like that when I wondered aloud why, this weekend of February 17, 18, 19 (2005), there seemed, very suddenly, given the month’s long near-vacuum of quality music, that a bunch should magically appear. Usually the scene for the last years has been spotty to zip.

      A year or so ago we saw a great gathering at the Iridium, a McCoy Tyner group with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Charnett Moffett on bass and drums. And that was exciting and exquisite!

      A couple weeks later, Jackie Mc, his son Rene, with Grachan Moncur III, trombone, again at...

    • CHAPTER 51 Black History Month Rediscovers “the Music,” Part 2: The Charles Tolliver Big Band at the Jazz Standard
      (pp. 289-291)

      One thing we can treasure and if we cannot it means the “Yet” of this ain’t borned where we can dig it. Amina & I, the next night (after C.T. at the Iridium), had plotted to go first to the Jazz Standard (East 27th Street, NYC) to check the Charles Tolliver Big Band, then to a new Japanese spot, the Kitano, a seemingly haughty glistening nouveau on Park Avenue, to see John Hicks.

      We thought by leaving the house (Newark) at 6:00 we’d be at Jazz Standard in plenty of time to see the Tolliver set. But we found we...

    • CHAPTER 52 Wonderful Stevie
      (pp. 292-294)

      Learn one more time, the heaviest people come from where they mostly is. For instance, let us dig, one more again, the Great Stevie Wonder. The Stevie Wonder boxed setAt the Close of a Centuryis high mastery. So full of the absolutely deepest down of the Black and the Blue. At the same time, packed throughout with an all-embracing musical and lyric social sophistication which is joy, shock, revelation, amazing grace, and Blood hot sweet, burning, beautiful is the word, wonderful grooves to lay in your mind as long as you hooked up here in space and time....

    • CHAPTER 53 Abbey Lincoln
      (pp. 295-303)

      I want to believe that for a broadening circle of longtime listeners to “the Music” Abbey Lincoln is synonymous with “the State of the Art” as far as the instrumentally “re-defined” blues song. After Al Jolson or with Kenny G, it’s difficult to say “Jazz” and attach it to something profound without a grim shrug in acknowledgment of the disingenuous commercialism heaped on the term almost since its inception.

      But if we are meaning blue song, transformed by instrumental adaptation of rhythm and the harmelodic expansiveness of improvisation as acknowledged reorganization of the line the beat the melody the harmonic...

    • CHAPTER 54 Four Tough Good-byes: Jackie McLean, John Hicks, Hilton Ruiz, Halim Suliman
      (pp. 304-310)

      Though “beginning” travels backward into the wherever, this one was Jackie Mc’s. I’ve already written about it for some weird Spanish magazine (Matador,ca. January 2007). That’s the way it goes in the craziness where we live, harnessed to the dead. Those who still walk around with the harshing memory of those who don’t (not visibly). Right now “Little Melonae” is playing accidentally (not) on the box. I played it, maybe, the day I got the news. Jackie’s great albumLet Freedom Ring(which really marked the high-water mark of that generation’s thrust to innovation). The story about how I...


    • CHAPTER 55 Impulse Sampler, Act on Impulse
      (pp. 313-315)

      When they told me about this sampler and the move to reissue the old Impulse catalogue, along with some of the newer things, it gave me a little of that rush of elation that that actual music gives. You mean we’re talking about raising the real, the deep, the genuinely moving American classical music of that period from the ghostly prison of commercially engineered obscurity? Dig that!

      Because during the storied ’60s, the now much-lied-about, disingenuously distorted, purposely covered ’60s of revolutionary political, social, and cultural upsurge, there was also, as there always is in any period of aggressively human...

    • CHAPTER 56 Ralph Peterson
      (pp. 316-317)

      A “new” drummer on the scene is like a new heartbeat. And as the character Heart (played by drummer Steve McCall) says in a play of mine,Primitive World,“If the world survive a drummer must be in it!”

      Hearing Ralph live at Kimako’s Blues People, the artspace my wife, Amina, and I operate in Newark, was not introduction but understanding. With Craig Harris, Ralph was hot as fire, creating a rhythm zone in which everything rocked.

      On this album, the emphasis is on the swing, although the heat mus’ is for the swing to be so. But it is...

    • CHAPTER 57 Andrew Cyrille, Good to Go
      (pp. 318-320)

      Andrew Cyrille first hit with C.T.’ s (Cecil Taylor’s) fabled energy-mobile in 1958 and began to play with him regularly in 1964. He was the main C.T. drummer until 1975. C.T., always the logician, asked Andrew (according to Valerie Wilmer) what he thought rhythm was! “Dance,” was Cyrille’s answer. I think this is more to the deep of Cyrille’s playing than the usual saw that “he does not keep time” but accents the various instruments.

      Klook and Max (and Bu, with his terrible “shuffle”) brought that in 50 years before. Andrew, like the wave of younger drummers out of the...

    • CHAPTER 68 Odean Pope Saxophone Choir, Epitome
      (pp. 321-322)

      A wonderful, refreshing, and very surprising CD. Pope is a longtime Max Roach stalwart, a daring, resourceful, skilled, and passionate player, but alas, too solid and fundamentally “inside” to get much ink from the “Gee whiz, it don’t even sound like jazz . . . ain’t that great!?” school of music insulters, who got regular jobs as buffoons of music commentary.

      But Odean Pope does sound like, swing like, move you, exactly like Jazz can. The record is surprising because it is mashed flat under the detritus of so many World Saxophone Quartet imitators and poseurs. Odean Pope is none...

    • CHAPTER 59 Ravi Coltrane, Moving Pictures
      (pp. 323-325)

      Ravi Coltrane’s debut as leader is a major IS. A birth, a continuum, a re-being but a New Being. Music! (Like we say, Word!) The music, from top, is his, Ravi’s. If we hear the classic “Engine”thatTrane, where can we not? If we are looking for Trane traces, yea, they are in the every. Ravi, like any of the younger Knowers (at work on their own Arks) of necessity, Must dig Trane, otherwise they could not Know! For he is most of them’s father, including this one.

      What is striking though, is that although those now classic “tracks”...

    • CHAPTER 60 Donal Fox and David Murray, Ugly Beauty
      (pp. 326-330)

      As I begin to listen . . . with no names . . . what turns out to be the title piece comes on evanescent, thoughtful, delicate, David flowing above, the piano not subdued but as the lifting element that permits Murray’s flight.

      Next (“Vamping”) Murray uses the Bass Clarinet as a percussive thrusting of the melody. This piece a chromatic climbing and stroll, till they both begin almost to scamper. It is not a march. It is a striding with the percussive clarinet pops like claves, and the piano whipping Bartok. The piano grows aggressive, beating a cadence that...

    • CHAPTER 61 Tyrone Jefferson, Connections
      (pp. 331-333)

      It’s good to hear this kind of set coming back. A wide-open swinging kind of jazz, seeking to combine all the different forms, historic and contemporary that characterize the whole music. Because “the music,” like we say, comes from a lot of different places, a lot of different people, and a broad spectrum of experience.

      We know (except for the lame and the insane) that Jazz (from the Bantu, Jism) is Afro-American. And to show how much work we got to do, many of our most famous jazz musicians resent the name because they think it got to do with...

    • CHAPTER 62 James Moody
      (pp. 334-337)

      BeBop was the righteous explosion of life and change that ushered in the second half of the 20th century in the U.S. and, by shattering influence, the world. It was the redemption of black music from the dead, the grim commercialism of what the corporations had mashed upon us as—no kidding—Swing! Not Duke Ellington and Count Basie, or Pres and Billie, but the sterile dummy bands of Kay Kaiser and Casa Loma, the covers of the Dorsey Brothers and the saccharine appropriations of Glenn Miller. The integrated copping of Benny Goodman.

      All-American music, that’s right. But the originals...

    • CHAPTER 63 Barry Harris: In the Tradition
      (pp. 338-339)

      Barry Harris plays our complex feelings, like a heart/beating History—No, it’sourstory Barry plays, ’s’why it’s BEBOP. Slaves still be trying to sing in African! Trying to respeak our ancient souls, replace the sun above our Mama’s head. That’s why Pops copped!

      Barry Harris is one of those remarkable artists who understand the great innovators and can bring them to uswhole!Unlike the various dissemblers who would play Monk’s heads, for instance, then drift immediately into tired clichés, diluting the Master’s legacy.

      When you hear Barry play the classics, the irresistibleswingis the result of his...

    • CHAPTER 64 Pharoah Sanders, Shukuru
      (pp. 340-343)

      Any Pharoah Sanders album or club or concert appearance is going to produce minimally very good music. More than likely, it will produce a high percentage ofgreatmusic. Because Pharoah at this point in his career, and actually for at least the last decade and a half, has produced some of the most significant and moving, beautiful music identified by the name Jazz.

      The whole general group of Theresa albums is at consistently awesome levels(Rejoice, Journey to the One, Live, etc.).Before that, when Pharoah recorded for various labels, there were quite a fewclassicworks produced(Thembi;)...

    • CHAPTER 65 Don Pullen–George Adams Quartet, Breakthrough
      (pp. 344-348)

      Don Pullen appeared, mid-sixties, almost in full stride. He was part of the social and aesthetic eruption that lit up world skies during “the ’60s.”

      The first meeting I had with Don was on the self-producedLive at Yale Universityalbum, co-created musically and business-wise with the incredibly powerful and innovative drummer Milford Graves. For a time, Pullen and Graves were one of the most awesome new groups in what was called “the Avant Garde” of the music.

      What was clear, from the first, was that Pullen had absorbed the “post”–hard bop pianistic speech of thenew,most often...

    • CHAPTER 66 Von and Chico Freeman, Freeman and Freeman
      (pp. 349-351)

      Chicago was the largest early collecting point of Southern black culture arrived North, from the late 19th century on. The southern out-migration of African Americans in search of jobs, refuge from the Klan, new life, post-slave America, etc., followed the Mississippi north like the North Star’s main highway.

      So even today Chicago is the Blues Capital of Black America. The city has maintained its aura of northern outpost for southern music (white and black). For this reason there is always an outpouring of that experience, from era to era. There are always very important musicians using Chicago as their launching...

    • CHAPTER 67 Alan Shorter, Orgasm
      (pp. 352-355)

      I knew Alan Shorter and his, for the last few decades, more famous brother, Wayne, earliest in the city of Newark, where we all grew up. (See “Introducing Wayne Shorter,”Jazz Review.) As teenagers, Wayne and Alan were active in Newark’s emerging teenage BeBop scene. Wayne was famous, even then, as a widely predicted innovator and star to come, playing with Nat Phipps and Jackie Bland’s widely hailed teenage big bands. Alan, though older and in some ways much like his younger brother . . . “the weird Shorter brothers” was the common wisdom, yet much less was known of...

    • CHAPTER 68 The Work Man: Reggie Workman
      (pp. 356-359)

      Opening with Reggie Workman’s furious bowed lines. It is an aural pronouncement of the whole music. We know that this already almost legendary master bassist, still arguably un-old, has appeared for years with the greatest musicians in this music, Coltrane, Miles, Rollins, name them, list any group of “Top” . . . whatevers, as to number, of the greatest albums of the music, and the Work Man—as I have referred to him since the hottest part of the “new music” eruption during the’ 60s—Reggie Workman will be there. And we will hear, not only the high level of...

    • CHAPTER 69 Roscoe Mitchell and the Note Factory
      (pp. 360-363)

      Roscoe Mitchell is most widely recognized as part of the innovative Art Ensemble of Chicago, which regularly lit up the ears of the Diggers in the ’70s and ’80s. An aggressively “avant-garde” group, whose logo, “Great Black Music from the Present to the Future,” truthfully indicated their mission mind-set and broad musical resources.

      Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors, Famadou Don Moye, brought a tense and carefully worked-out tour of ancient jook joint wanderings as well as a contemporary redux of Trane, Ayler, Shepp, and also the purposeful forwarding of all that, developing as a unique ensemble and performance style....

    • CHAPTER 70 Jimmy Scott, But Beautiful
      (pp. 364-365)

      To listen to Jimmy Scott is to enter a ghostly corridor of unlikely romance. Romance in the older use, the fantasy of life expanded to include the possibility of desire. Jimmy Scott and I go back a ways, to the steel gray memorized reality of Newark, New Jersey, ca. the 1950s, when “Little Jimmy” was already a mythical quality of our lives to be conjured with. Growing up in this postage stamp proto-“hood,” called then the Third Ward. The brick city Nathan Heard pulled his brilliantHoward Streetfrom. Where we young selves could move and know already names like...

    • CHAPTER 71 Malachi Thompson, Talking Horns
      (pp. 366-367)

      The new must be constantly renewed. So these fine musicians from one of the most recent traditions of the music, media-named “Jazz,” are staying on the case of this great music’s renewal. Malachi Thompson, Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett, of the Chicago–St. Louis Connection, early cadre of St. Louis’s Black Arts Group (BAG) and Chicago’s venerable Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM), have continued to “receive,” create, and project perform the new, but continue to develop, sharpen, and rearm themselves with still more sophisticated yet more accessible excursions into the “Say what?” the “Did you dig that?” and...

    • CHAPTER 72 The Nexus Orchestra, Seize the Time
      (pp. 368-369)

      A big band is the most impressive of all music-making ensembles. And I admit I came to that relatively late, i.e., when I really dug Duke Ellington. The Symphonic arsenal, even the big swing bands, I could get too, and even appreciate. As who cannot dig Herr B’s 3– 7-9.

      But the interior revelation that woke me when I actually heard “Koko,” “Black Beauty,” “Diminuendo,” “Blood Count,” etc., was, as Grachan M 3 used to say, Some Other Stuff.

      Still, this raising reorganized my sensibility to dig a big, since from then I could peep more surgically into the offering,...

    • CHAPTER 73 Three Fresh Ticklers
      (pp. 370-372)

      The periodic disingenuous lamentations about the “demise” of the Music are regularly proven to be the ravings of dead people. Usually, like the old folks said, they “ghoses,” without feet, so they got to wait till a good wind blow em ’way.

      The emergence of D.D. Jackson, Rodney Kendrick, and Vijay Iyer is the good wind, so we trust the feetless mouthpieces for commercial despair will shortly repair to the boneyard, where they can be judged by Louis, Duke, Sun Ra, & them.

      But, jubilation is in order, intrepid lovers of the Music! These three young men, all pianists, hence...

    • CHAPTER 74 Rodney Kendrick, Last Chance for Common Sense
      (pp. 373-374)

      Rodney Kendrick is something else. He is coming from Monk, but also Trinidad and James Brown. Plus, he was Abbey’s pianist for a minute. So Kendrick carries a variety of hips, funks, and finesse. He is a Monkish player, with that antic rhythmic and harmonic spontaneity, and with a very lovely melodic sense that gives his music a “hook,” like they say, which brings you very quickly further into the music and all its further emerging deepness.

      It is a songful, quirky, charmingly rhythmic music Kendrick makes. I am always taken by a player’s rhythmic sense. The Music, “Jazz,” etc.,...

    • CHAPTER 75 Jazz Times Review, Multiple Artists
      (pp. 375-377)

      Mitchell’s music is an eloquent paradigm for Du Bois’s “Double Consciousness,” the Afro-American “twoness,” the contradiction, between being Americans or Black, though they are both.

      This record swings between warmly acrid, BeBopish grooves, and a pastiche of Berg, Webern. “Off Shore” is a few kilometers out. “In Walked Buckner” straight ahead, tuneful . . . Roscoe’s baritone, lovely . . . the music too. “Squeaky,” back off-shore, contemplating . . .

      These CDs express the contradictory currents in contemporary music, either near us or “offshore.” The experimentation and “Outness” of the sixties has become, in many cases,academic. An “anti-academy”...

    • CHAPTER 76 More Young Bloods to the Rescue!
      (pp. 378-380)

      Rescue? Who? From What? Well, first from the old deadhead saw that the Music “is daid”! Next, and more formidable, perhaps, is the swash of nonplaying commercial catatonics and call-persons the corporations have set loose upon us to make money by lying that they are dealing with American Classical music, which they smuggle in under the, now, almost meaningless rubric of “JAZZ!” What’s worse, these corporate corsairs put out the termcontemporary jazzfor their various ugly forays into fusion and worse, so that the unsuspecting “marks” can be made to think that what the masters created was some old...

    • CHAPTER 77 Vijay Iyer, Memorophilia
      (pp. 381-383)

      Iyer is an oncoming phenomenon, already up to his fingers in the most advanced music of this wildly contradictory age, where we have got to since a whole couple of generations of giants have swooped. Imagine, just a few years ago, you could stand and discuss Who of the masters you wanted to dig on any particular evening. Duke, Count, Sassy, Monk, Miles, Brownie . . . a few blocks apart on our best nights. Now we’re in another place time where a gross commercialism has seized the center stage of U.S. culture. But, Lo! another promising crop is rising,...

    • CHAPTER 78 TriFactor, If You Believe
      (pp. 384-386)

      An impressive breakthrough, in many ways, because it projects a much-needed “new wave” (one hopes) in the Music. A refreshing trend that can be said to include David Murray’sFo DeukandSpeaking in Tongues, Olu Dara’sIn the World,and several other recent releases.

      It is, stated perhaps reductively, a return to the fundamental and traditional aesthetic psycho-cultural and social elements that have accreted historically to identify the classic presence of the genre as it has existed in its broadest expression. A wily thrust toward reassertion of that oldest form and content.

      The projection of what seems the most...

    • CHAPTER 79 Live Lessons
      (pp. 387-393)

      One thing we can treasure and if we cannot it means the “Yet” of this ain’t borned where we can dig it.

      We thought by leaving the house (Newark) at 6:00 we’d be at the Jazz Standard (East 27th Street, NYC) in plenty of time to see the Tolliver set. But we found we were actually “late,” people were crowded in the place already, so we had to sit in a sideways corner, though close, digging the musicians from the side and rear.

      No matter, Jimmy, this is some of the best music we’ve heard in a long minute! Tolliver...

    • CHAPTER 80 New York Art Quintet
      (pp. 394-397)

      We never really know where we’re going. Though we can usually give an answer. Reflects us then, where we are, where we think we are. In 1963, as it turned out, the end and beginning as always transiting through the present.

      We had been raising the Loft sets and alternative space gigs because the merchants had yet to understand what had already come. Unlike “Abstract Expressionism,” which had emerged at first anathema, or Duchamp’s Toilet Bowls in the Paris exhibition, we were never that IN because too often what seems ALL THE WAY OUT, as, say, to disconnect from the...

    • CHAPTER 81 Peter Brötzmann, Nipples, and Joe McPhee, Nation Time
      (pp. 398-400)

      Two CDs reflecting the impact, influence of ideas and techniques most dynamic in “the ’60s” “new music.” In each case, the impact of the ubiquitously proclaimed “ Freedom” which shaped that period, as social political or aesthetic focus. Here, specifically, this thesis is demonstrated through the arts.

      This is a general phenomenon, historically confirmed, that the most influential political, intellectual, and artistic ideas and trends of any period, whether as a positive confirmation or as a theoretical and ideological rejection of them, will dominate the period. But that influence, depending on the consciousness and ideological character of those influenced, will...

    • CHAPTER 82 Jon Jang and David Murray, River of Life
      (pp. 401-403)

      This is very fine music, a CD of exceptional sensitivity, intellectual depth, and artistic excellence. David Murray is, of course, for those just got to the planet, the “State of the Art” on the tenor saxophone, an innovative soloist, exciting composer, and one of the most imaginative arrangers and band leaders on the set.

      One contributing factor of David’s importance to the music is the diversity of his concerns and the striking ensembles he puts together, the musicians and the instrumentation, to play them.

      When I first heard David, I thought of Albert Ayler, the broad, powerful, sharply aggressive sound...

    • CHAPTER 83 Trio Three, Encounter
      (pp. 404-406)

      These are three formidable musicians. Each with uniquely identifiable sounds and approaches to the music. The seriousness and commitment are never in doubt, especially if you have listened across the last decade or so, you understand that they will move us, involve us, as motif, theme, or where the melodic line and the harmonic path of its whole musical movement is itself a rhythmic paradigm. We calls it syncopation.

      Bobby Bradford’s “Crooked Blues” is Crooked, as in “Monkish,” Oliver Lake threads the seemingly asymmetrical line serving as introduction to the unclichéd, the heaviness, of its lightness. Like that smile at...

    • CHAPTER 84 Jackie Mc—Coming and Going
      (pp. 407-411)

      Amina & I were at Jackie McLean’s Funeral. He went “home,” to Abyssinia (Baptist Church), to be funeralized. Rev. Butts said to us all, particularly the musicians, “You need to come home. Where somebody knows you. And don’t wait till this time, because you know, we all going to go through this sometime. But come before that, just drop in, so we know you. So you know us.”

      That was, it seemed, heartfelt. Especially in a place teeming with the creators of music. Jackie’s son, whom we hugged out on the sidewalk, for once coming early, Rene, is already, himself,...

  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 412-412)