Notes from the Montreal Jazz Festival 2 of 2

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Displaying more energy and a better voice than people half her age, Ms. Bridgewater brought the house down with her set. An accomplished jazz singer, Grammy winner and NEH Jazz Master, she has taken a self described “detour” into the Memphis soul music of her teenage years. Lucky us. She has released a new album called “Yes I’m Ready” and performed some of the album’s songs for her set. They ranged from an obscure Gladys Knight song to Elvis and B.B. King with stops in Memphis Stax-Volt along the way. Although in her sixties her voices is undiminished

Notes from the Montreal Jazz Festival 1 of 2

In the next couple of blog entries I am going to write about what for me were the highlights of the Montreal Jazz Festival I attended.

John Medeski/Marc Ribot trio.

Medeski and Ribot are matched well. They both can move from deep in the pocket to way outside in a New York minute. Communication between them was instant, as one picked up what the other was doing to repeat it, elaborate on it, or respond to it.  This despite the fact that they sometimes had to rely on hand signals and nods to indicate they were handing off the soloing duties to

Numb and Number

This was the week that was: this week we had school shooting number 22 of 2018. This is week 20 of the year. Let that sink in for a minute. We have also had incidents where police roughed up an innocent black person, though thankfully haven’t killed anybody this week. I don’t know how many people of color that makes for the year. Another black man was exonerated and released for jail after serving a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. White people have again called police when they see black folk doing innocuous things and businesses have accused

America WTF is wrong with you?

In my final blog entry on the George Yancy situation I will presume to take a stab at analyzing America’s current situation. My analysis is free, take it for what it is worth. It’s just my two cents added to the conversation. What we have seen since the end of the 1970’s is twofold:  a belief among many folks that we are living in a zero sum game where if someone else is winning they must be losing; and a loss of a sense of community that people outside of our “tribe” are part of our community. “Tribe” can be

Racism as Self Delusion

Blog entry 3 of 4 on the George Yancy situation.

What did George Yancy say that has brought all this backlash. His New York Times opinion piece from December, 2015 is written as a letter addressed “Dear White America.” In it he asks white America to listen with love to what he has to say. He admits he is sexist despite his best efforts, because he harbors subconscious beliefs that oppress women and he participates and benefits from a system of male privilege. His words:

“Yet, I refuse to remain a prisoner of the lies that we men like to tell ourselves

The Importance of Black Professors

The first group of responses to George Yancy’s New York Times op ed piece that I want to talk about are those responses which deny that he could be an intellectual or even someone who reasons. He received comments like: “This belief that niggers even reason is blatant pseudo-intellectualism,” “The concept of there being an intellectual Negro is a joke,” “Another uppity Nigger. Calling a Nigger a professor is like calling White Black and Wet Dry,” “This coon is a philosopher in the same way Martin King was a PHD and the same way that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton

Ugly Truths

A friend asked for my thoughts on a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “The Ugly Truth about being a black professor”. It is written by George Yancy, a professor at Emory University and it is here if you want to read it. In it the author recounts hate mail and death threats he received after writing an op-ed piece for the New York Times in 2015. Another version of his response to the backlash is here. The op ed piece is here if you want to read it. He is writing a book about the reaction

New Gumbo

On this day four months ago my wife of many years, who I had been with for two thirds of my life, passed away. I have dealt with my grief many ways. I have stayed busy with chores, done those things which I avoided doing with her (like eat red meat, she couldn’t, eating shrimp, she was allergic), spent more time with my son and his family, cleaned the house, and did the things I normally do as well as those things I haven’t in a long time (e.g. cooking and going to the gym.) Many friends, colleagues and former

Re-Creating

A scholar I know has just written an article bashing a jazz group for re-creating Miles Davis’s classic “Kind of Blue”album note for note including the solos’ of the musicians. She makes the point that this is a Western way of seeing music as property rather than the African American one of what Henry Louis Gates calls signifying. Gates defines signifying as “repetition with a difference” which is at the center of black art and culture. This Western way was fetishizing the form of the music rather than the experience of the music. A long time ago I read something by C.S.

Old Friends

If you are lucky, and I mean really lucky, you have a friend you haven’t seen in a long time with whom you pick up where you left off as if it were just yesterday. One of my friends like that just visited me for a few days and little in our friendship had changed. Oh sure we had a few more pounds between us and our hair was grayer, retreating, or both, but the core of our friendship was as strong as ever. If you have spent time in the foxhole of undergraduate college together, supporting each other from