Wynton Marsalis Discussion Forum

   

Race and Jazz

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I realized today that I tend to be an idealist. I want to be the ultimate best about people. and want to believe that people can come together despite their differences. But as I reflected on my experiences in the jazz world this year, I think that innocent idealism is pretty much dead. As Christ said, “even the Son of man has no place to rest his head.”

I have no home in jazz and I have no home in the classical world. The classical world has no place for black people and the jazz world just perpetuates classism. If what you say is true Juan that Wynton would never even talk to hip hop artists because he looks down on them, then I want no part of jazz.  After being stabbed in the back by prominent jazz artists recently and left for dead, I see the stereotype of jazz artists lacking integrity and being superficial in their care about humanity is very much true. Jazz artists SEEM to only care about themselves. IF Wynton is as Juan represents him to be and the jazz artists I know are the way they are, then I truly hope that jazz is eventually wiped off the face of the planet.

 

Nothing disgusts me more than when black people harm other black people. All my life I have been surrounded by white people who called me jungle, nigger and the like. They were ignorant and simply a product of 400 years of miseducation and racist indoctrination. Yet, when I sought solace among my own people, they were even more treacherous than white people. I remember when I was a Bonner’s Scholar at Spelman College, they gave students the option of not going into the hood. If we don’t help our own, who will ? Why is it that white people care more about black people, than black people do ? That is why I get so sick and tired of black people pointing fingers at white people for what is wrong with us. We do it to our own selves. Europe can dominate a whole continent 6x times its size because of the selfish ambitions of tribes and ethnic groups in Africa.

 

In America selfish ambition tears apart the closest of black friends and spurs black on black crime. I am classically trained black musician who grew up in the richest County in America. I am a Republican, blessed with one of the best educations in the world. But never in a million years would I look down on one of my brothers or sisters because they are not where I am. It is only by the grace of God that I am who I am, and Wynton is who he is. I don’t know what god Wynton serves, but the God I serve says if you want to be great in his kingdom learn to be a servant of all. I truly weep for jazz, because it has indeed gained the whole world but lost its soul.

     

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Charmaine Nokuri

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Juanmustard said “those guys are charlatans, and couldn’t carry Wynton’s musical jock…what could he possibly be inspired by? “

Damn, I’m quoting myself…Good Dr., you aren’t “hearing” me correctly…I never said he wouldn’t talk to someone from the hip hop community or that he looks “down on them”...in fact, he has spoken to hip hop musicians, he evn played piano with some of them at an event at Dizzy’s…my point is/was, that on a musical level, they have little to offer him in terms of musical inspiration…

 

In the meantime why don’t you address my earlier question:“While you rail against race, class, jazz and sexism…I have yet to hear (see) you address the depiction of women in rap/hip hop music and videos? Don’t you think that your precious Jay-Z and Piddy D have taken women back to the stone age with some of their mysoginistic pronunciations?”

     
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The aesthetic addressed by Jazz at Lincoln Center is acoustic.  I haven’t seen electronic instruments, turntables, beatboxes, or computers being used on stage in shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Although I did speak with Mos Def after his show in the Allen Room.  His eyes lit up and he was enthusiastic about returning to Jazz for anything in the future that might come up.  Now I believe that Mos Def is classified in the Hip-Hop genre.  It’s not as if Jazz has made it impossible for HipHop to advance.  Are the forms adversaries?  Well, it seems that what defines their differences is fundementally acoustic instrumentation and digital-based reproductions of acoustic instruments.  Wynton plays trumpet and composes in pencil.  That is his aesthetic, his values insofaras what defines beauty and the process of creating beauty.

That aside, Wynton directs an orchestra associated with Lincoln Center, one of America’s finest institutes for promoting and housing America’s high culture, which differs from pop culture.  Lincoln Center has a mission that it’s sub-divisions fall under.  It’s like a department at a university, they study various facits of the humanities in a liberal arts school, but the tone of what is presented is determined by zeitgeist of the deans.  Do you think Quincy Jones is right?  That it is in the hands of a jazz man to connect with Hip Hop?  Why is this Wynton’s responsibility?  When he went digging for the roots of jazz, he came up with Congo Square, and it’s impeccably composed and produced.  It took years to ferment, from the first meeting of Yacub and Wynton in 1993 to the first production in 2003, Africa Jazz, to April 23, 2006 in the Congo Square of New Orleans.  And it is all acoustic.  This is not a man who is in a hurry to do anything. 

 

Wynton does what he is moved to do, or commissioned to do, and if it is in accord with the aesthetic values that he, and Lincoln Center, ascribe to. 

 

Come on.

     
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Like Al Pacino said in Godfather Three “Everytime I try to leave, they pull me back in.”

Dang it people I am trying to escape this forum, lol. I have other intellectual endeavors that I have been neglecting and other people to agitate. However, my duties as a provocateur have diminished since I was recently disowned by the International Medical Spouses forum, since I am no longer a medical spouse :( Apparently divorce is the gift that keeps on giving. There is apart of me that is screaming “I WANT MY OLD LIFE BACK”  I was a happy stay-at-home mom, who simply watched Nick Jr., went to MOPS and the gym. I exchanged cookie recipes and discussed potty training techniques, not the complexities of racial and economic politics in music. Just as an aside there is this great song called “After While” that says “it won’t hurt after while…” :_(

 

Anywhoo, okay I am confused why is Quincy Jones saying that Wynton doesn’t connect with the Hip Hop community Juan, if he did concerts with them ? As for aesthetics MTV Unplugged had LL COOL J and Jay-Z. No offense but are there any intelligent young black people on staff at Lincoln Center ? For some season tickets and gas money I will happily volunteer ;) I think I am one of the only black 30 something I know who owned Wynton’s Barque duets with Kathleen Battle. Was it hidden in a Dr. Dre CD case ? Yes. But nevertheless I had it . Don’t I deserve something for being ostracized for my love of Wynton. Seriously man he left me out in the cold when he switched to jazz. I was like dang, now I do look white, lol.

 

As for the misogyny in hip hop. My feeling is this. Black women tend to think all men are dogs. I mean, the movie industry isn’t much better when portraying black men. Maybe because I grew up a tomboy playing sports ostracized by the prissy girls, but I too believe that some women are in fact b@$ches and hos. I’m sorry if you are not going to be respectful of a guy, be real with him and treat him as a king, when he is doing his best to provide for you, simply because the next guy has a bigger car and more money, then you are in fact ACTING like ******. If you are a woman who is sleeping with a whole bunch of guys so you can get their money then you are a h$. On the flip side if you are acting like a dog, then a woman is going to ACT like ******. And if a man is sleeping around with a bunch of women I have no problem calling him a man whore. It is what it is.

 

Also these black men have mothers, so they are talking about a specific type of woman. I am a mother and was a very loving wife, so they aren’t talking about me.  Let’s keep it real too, jazz back in the day was mostly about sex and fast women. Just because they used idioms such as “playing the skin flute” doesn’t mean that they weren’t being misogynist either.

 

If you heard “Bonny and Clyde with Beyonce” you would know that Jay-Z grew up by the way, just like Wynton had to grow up. I think I have heard stories about Wynton in his young days and his record with women wasn’t that squeaky clean ;) Even still I love Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin” and “Is that your chick” it reveals the soul of a young black man growing up in the projects. Something I know nothing about. Hip Hop is the only way these young men have a voice in a society controlled by the liberal media and Madison AVenue. They are no different than Elvis the Pelvis or Jim Morrison and The Doors.  I don’t want to hear what white people have to say about the hood, I want to hear it from the horse’s mouth. I would know nothing about police brutality if it wasn’t for “***** the Police” by NWA.

 

 

And that is my point about what Wynton can learn from these young men. I grew up rich with a mom and a dad, listening to rap music doesn’t invoke disgust but compassion. But then I again I grew up a missionary to the Caribbean and Africa. Listening to how my people continue to struggle despite advancements says that there is still alot work for my generation to do to advance Dr. King’s dream. We have received physical freedom and legislative freedom. The next great battle is economic freedom. Just because Barack was elected doesn’t mean 400 years of oppression has been erased nor have the severe inequalities been balanced.  Jazz must continue to be apart of this struggle.

 

What Wynton has done with the Lincoln Center is AWESOME. I am not knocking it in the least bit. My point is okay you did the Willie Nelson CD and that Joe Cool Blues was cheesy as hell, why can’t he do something with Jill Scott or Erkyah Badu ? I posted this earlier to his Facebook. But on the AMA’s Kathleen Battle did a performance with Alicia Keys and Queen Latifah. Fine if Wynton won’t listen to Jay-Z or Quincy, maybe Kathy can teach him about connecting with today’s black youth. Seriously why is it that women get it so much faster than men ? Maybe because we know how to nuture and you guys just protect. What is Wynton afraid of ? I mean the brother is only like 47 so he aint that old. Plus he is still sexy, I am sure many young sistas wouldn’t mind performing with him :)  I mean I don’t blow a skin flute but I wouldn’t mind blowing that Monet one time, especially if it accompanies a sweet kiss on the cheek, ROFL.

     

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Charmaine Nokuri

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Dr. Wahoo,

I am truly confused by your posts, but I do want to understand. My own story is one of triumph, followed by defeat..time after time. I was raised by a Malaysian mother and a Turkish father. My mother was born in America, and had been a Christian missionary in Brazil, where she met my “father”..a journalist covering Dizzy Gillespie’s tour of SOuth America. THey married and moved to Istanbul, where I was raised until the age of six; my father was killed by in a robbery. We moved to the US, and lived in Chicago.  My mother went back to school to earn her doctorate; she wrote a ground breaking paper on the treatment of Women in fundamentalist religious societies. She sent me to a prep school, but I suffered from Dyslexia, (though it was not known as that at the time.) and found it difficult to continue. I couldn’t relate to the Baptist church my mother belonged to although at times I loved singing gospel music; she didn’t try to force Christianity on me, but strangely, I couldn’t relate to the locale mosque either (except for the music). It was then that my mother admitted that my Turkish “father”, was not my real father. She had become pregnant by a man who was a light skinned black man from Morrocco. By the time I had reached sixteen, I had been a product of the public school system. I identified myself as a neo fatalist/existential/exmuslim/ex gospel singer. I discovered the AACM, and began studying the saxophone. I had tried to sit in with the local conventional jazz sessions, but found the rigors of AACM much more in my style. When I announced that I was going to be a professional musician, my mother ( who had earned her degree, but then strangely renounced all of her polictical leanings, and married a white business man with whom she opened a chain of dry cleaning establishments) disowned me and vowed never to have anything to do with me, until I went back to school to learn a respectable trade.

When I was twenty, I left AACM, and played back up with a Funk band. While I was on the road, I received word that my mother had died. I returned to Chicago, attended the funeral. My white “stepfather” gave me a letter she left me , which was to be read after she died..basically, she admitted that she was not my real mother. She had “adopted” me from white missionary she knew in Brazil, who had gotten pregnant out wed lock from a japanese doctor.  She also admitted that she had indeed an affair with the Morroccan, but that pregnancy “miscarried”. Ours was a complicated relationship. She wrote that jazz and American improvised music confronted her. She couldn’t relate to it. And race seemed to filter into everything between us. The lies, the elaborate stories corrupt my memory of her. My stepfather and I grew close..he took a retreat weekend at a Buddhist monestary in upstate NY and became an Abbott at that monestary until his death.

To make a long story short…I have traveled the world, learning about all of the cultures and traditions of my various lineages..I spent time in Nigeria learning drumming; Japan learning to play the Shackuhachi flute…I came back to the US, and now I am a producer of a small hip hop label that produces uplifting rap music. But at night, when nobody is listening, I take out my old beat up Selmer Mark 6, and I play the blues..admittantly in two or three tonal centers at once and without any iv7 chords, just like I learned at AACM, not like Wynton (who I admire).  But the question always nags me; do I have the right to this music? Is it really mine? What music is mine? Is any music mine? Is any culture? Who am I? Is there one pedigree that is entitled to play the music that you and I love..Jazz? Why does AACM refer to it as “great black music”, and not “jazz”. WHy do they disavow the name jazz because it is related to the whore house in the minds of some. I’ve recently discovered that my birth mother was jewish. What now? Benny Goodman? BIx Beiderbeck. I never sat in the gut bucket, but I feel it. I make my money selling creative rap, no bitches and ho’s..several of the guys and one woman on the label are white/ Wynton may not have grown up in crack house, but Kenner Louisiana is not Scarsdale NY. I am white..I hate that white people did what they did to blacks, but I cannot help that I am white/japanese, malaysian/turkish..sort of.

 

 

 

Downtown…

     
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I have thought about jumping in on this conversation for sometime.  Everyone here knows my feelings on jazz, what is jazz, and Wynton.  Bottom line is this:  I do not care where Wynton came from, or “how black he is”, or “how he can relate to poor people”, Man that’s all BS to me.  All I care about is what he has given all of us.  He has meant so much to me as a player and person.  The man is the best thing to happen to jazz in over three decades!!!!  Wahoo,  keep fighting the fight and believing whatever you believe,  but I sincerely know your views are distorted and incorrect….Now,  I gotta go practice…Many gigs to play!  Neil L. King

http://www.neil-king.com

 

PS.  I also like how people hide behind names in forums…If you notice I always post my name and webpage.  I am always struck by the number of Cat’s in forums that won’t post their own playing or info about themselves, but they are quick to smash people.

     
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Merry Christmas!  Hi Careba!

     
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Why is it a big deal to say that Jazz originates from African American musical traditions?

No one disputes the cultural origins of Classical , samba, or any other ethnic groups music. That is why race will remain a big issue, until people can put aside their crap, and just give honor where it is due. That doesn’t meant other people cant play Jazz music, its just giving honor to the cultural origins of the music.

 

People always ask what have Africans/ African Americans contributed to the world. And in this country they gave it its founding music.

 

No one disputes the race of the pioneers of the computer, so why do they do this with Jazz? Is it 1847 or something?

     
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and the wealth to the “masters” of the South and then some !

     
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<<Why is it a big deal to say that Jazz originates from African American musical traditions? >>

because jazz emcompasses much more than the early ragtime and creole band music. jazz as it is today has expanded beyond that ethnic description.

     
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You could say that about anything,

The point is the creation of the music, and all of its advances all the way up to the 20th century were by African Americans. Same can be said of white people and the computer.

 

The problem is obviously racism.

 

Contributions to the artform, and additions that come later are just that. But the creation and development of the art come from African Americans.

 

The same goes for Asian Martial arts. White people dont have a problem giving them credit for the popularized re invision of their fighting styles. So again I ask, whats the problem with some (racist) white people in giving the credit where it is due?