Showing posts with label Jazz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jazz. Show all posts

Monday, July 30, 2012

"How Modern Jazz Figured in the Formation of a Modern African Identity" and Other Recent Jazz Writing

Robin D.G Kelly in Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (Nathan I Huggins Lectures) (published February 2012), gives us a meditation on Africa, jazz and modernity: we see innovation not as an imposition from the West but rather as indigenous, multilingual, and messy, the result of innumerable exchanges across a breadth of cultures. From the prelude:
By exploring the work, conversations, collaborations, and tensions between both African and African American musicians during the era of decolonization, I examine how modern Africa figured in reshaping jazz during the 1950s and early 1960s, how modern jazz figured in the formation of a modern African identity, and how various musical convergences and crossings shaped and the political and cultural landscape on both continents. This book is not about the African roots of jazz, nor does it ask how American jazz musicians supported African liberation or "imagined" Africa. Rather, it is about the transnational encounters between musicians.
Other recent writings:
Musical Echoes: South African Women Thinking in Jazz (Refiguring American Music) by Carol Ann Muller and Sathima Bea Benjamin.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ethiopia: Influence of Malatu Astatke

BBC's Will Ross visits the Mekane Yesus Jazz Music School in Addis Ababa... (more)

Friday, May 27, 2011


Miles would have been 85 on Thursday. Jazz Video Guy's new short film stays in the electric Miles era to, with the help of Sonny Rollins and Gary Bartz, laud the "Picasso of Jazz." The filmmaker drops his meetings with Miles music below:

Check out the "Chomsky versus Foucault face off" over Miles fusion/electric years - here.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Sample cuts from "When The Heart Emerges Glistening," California-born trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire's new album. Released May 5th 2011.

With all the sparseness and patience in there, the Miles-Wayne Shorter and Mile's 2nd quintet comparisons are hard to resist. The first track, Confessions of my Unborn Daughter, below:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Africa: Recalling "Savages", "Primitives," African Stereotypes for Jazz

Boing Boing flagged this public domain 1932 Max Fleisher Betty Boop cartoon in which Betty and pals, walking through some nondescript jungle are swamped by some African savages, who then bizarrely morph into Louis Armstrong's head and members of his band. But before you go WTF, you would recall that in the 30s, jazz--Rag Time to be exact--was seen by an older generation of Americans as something primitive, or as a critic back then put it - "syncopation gone mad and whose victims, in my opinion, can only be treated successfully like a dog with rabies -  with a dose of lead." So a connection of African savages, Armstrong and jazz, which may seem almost surreal now, wouldn't really be out of place in a racially tinged and politically incorrect 30s.

A Boing reader  makes the connection and points to Armstrong's appearance in the 1932 film A Rhapsody in Black and Blue:
It can be hard to imagine today, but in it's early heyday jazz was considered primitive music, invented by innately musical blacks and driven by their wild passions. Before the rise of the big band and swing dance, it was mostly considered novelty music. Here's a non-animated Armstrong living up to the image and performing in leopard skin:

For some more backdrop, the first 30 minutes of PBS' Ken Burns' Jazz  is Priceless:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Saxophonist and Dizzy disciple, James Moody, steps in around the 2:36 in Dizzy Gillepsie and the United Nations Orchestra rendition of Dizzy's A Night in Tunisia, Royal Festival Hall, London, 1989:

 R.I.P James Moody

Friday, December 10, 2010


Recall that viral Miguel Atwood Ensemble-Flying Lotus collabo ? Thanks to Pitchfork and Some Kind of Awesome for the heads up on this BBC Radio 1 Maida live Flying Lotus session with Gilles Peterson. Cop the the whole session here or the embed below, especially the part where if you already own Cosmograma, you can soon use your copy to get new alternate takes and remixes:

Flying Lotus BBC Radio 1 Maida Vale Session by Some Kind of Awesome

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cameroon/ Netherlands: The Revolution will be Embedded

In Need - Ntjam Rosie. Album: Elle. Nov, 2010.

H/T: soul bounce


Spike Lee's main man, Terence Blanchard, breaks down for jazz educator Dr. Bill Taylor, how he went abt the score for Malcolm X (1992).

That score, for me, always brought down the quell and stamp of the epic that made Spike's opening credits for Malcolm X a monument to a specific time in 90s' America.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eritrea: The Revolution will be Embedded

Mondomix profiles the Asmara All Stars debut album, "Eritrea's Got Soul." Asked what the local music scene is like, album producer Bruno Blum says:
Almost the entire population is employed by the state, in a country wholly governed by the military. And that includes musicians. So professional musicians are paid a salary (from £5 to £20 according to their grade), and they play all the time at huge nationalist functions, especially at military camps where the army is posted. They also play in nightclubs to supplement their income. So they are not often available, and I had to have authorisation from their employer, the state, for everything. So there were always long delays because of bureaucracy and the various Party committees who had to approve everything. But they really enjoyed playing something a bit different where they could be more creative.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The bittersweet topic of Miles Davis' fusion years (1968 -1975) gets its Chomsky versus Foucault face off. Jazz critic Stanley Crouch has been discrediting Miles' electric-psychedelic era for, like, forever? James Mtume, a percussionist with Miles from '70 to '75, breaks a long silence on the subject, agrees to a sit down and unloads. For some background to this particular beef, check out the first 7 mins of Murray Lerner's fab doc - Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue (2004).

H/T: Ta-Nehisi

Friday, October 22, 2010

Africa/Cuba: The Making of...

... of AfroCubism. Producer Nick Gold's behind-the-scenes chat with Mark Coles tells what really went down at the Madrid sessions:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Egypt: The Revolution will be Embedded

Natacha Atlas covers a classic - Nick Drake's "Riverman". Below, she spills her thoughts on her 9th album's jazz-Arabic fusion.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Africa: Miles Davis' Psychedelia. Mati Klarwein's Dreamscapes

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Mile Davis' Bitches Brew - the so called "shock heard around the world" and the official crossover of jazz, according to Miles, into psychedelia. Starting with Filles de Kilimanjaro in '68 (or maybe even Nerfetiti in '67), was a definite use of an Afrocentric mystique or packaging to Miles' own 60's mystique, which will continue with Bitches Brew and Live-Evil mainly due to Mati Klarwein's cover art. Sony's 40th anniversary box set cover settles for a synecdoche of Klarwein's original '67 cover.

Klarwein, influenced by Dali, Fuchs and sojourns in Morocco, Niger, Kenya, Senegal, Gambia, feels like he was using the suspended rules of dreamscapes for his own take on negritude, especially on the cover for Bitches Brew. Rob Young, in Klarwein's obituary, talks about the cover's African connection and recalls what Klarwein had to say about it:
"I hooked up with Miles the way I hooked up with everything else in life: through the women I've known. be they friends or lovers, they are all mothers with excellent taste. Without them I'd be a dead spermatozoid in a dry puddle, and Miles saw that in my paintings. The only time he discussed subject matter was for Live-Evil. He asked me to paint a toad for the 'Evil' side. So I painted J Edgar Hoover as a toad in drag—which turned out to be another one of my prophetic insights'... the original painting from Bitches Brew remains lost: sold to an unknown buyer, although Klarwein claims he's not troubled by the loss of an original—the important thing is the image itself. Klarwein's pictures re-ignite dialogue between ancient tribal history and contemporary civilisation. Paintings such as 1964's 'Crucifixion (Freedom Of Expression)', whose multiracial orgies on a backdrop of holy sites and lush jungles caused 'outrage' (as paintings seem to do) when exhibited in New York. You can almost read them like one of Cheikh Anta Diop's histories of Africa as the cradle of civilisation. In Klarwein's world, culture is a perpetual-motion machine where hierarchies are overturned and history collapses into itself, tunnels open up through the Earth allowing cultures, creeds and symbols to project themselves on each other's irises, male and female. Forms are melted through sex into a hermaphroditic anthropomorph.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

South Africa: Jazz that Stayed Behind, 1963-1984

Harsh apartheid restrictions forced many South African musicians into exile. Strut Record's Next Stop Soweto Vol. 3 - Giants, Ministers and Makers: Jazz in SA 1963-1984 chronicles the jazz musicians who stayed in South Africa and performed in defiance of the apartheid government. Tracks from saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, drummer Early Mabuza, the Soul Jazzmen, Heshoo Beshoo Group, The Drive and an unreleased track from the archives of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, featuring a 1961 festival performance of Dollar Brand, Hugh Masekela and alto saxophonist Kippi Moeketsi, as the Jazz Epistles.

H/T: Couch Sessions


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