Tuesday, April 01, 2014

About the Value and Excellence of Jazz


About the Value and Excellence of Jazz 

The tendency to believe that people with lighter skin have more value than others is a direct result of the mis-education of the masses. From the time we start school we’re taught that anyone who has ever achieved anything whatsoever, or had a cogent thought that benefitted humanity or contributed to the intellectual journey of mankind was White - Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. Certainly someone had to be thinking in other parts of the world other than White folks, but according to our educational institutions, that wasn’t the case. That fact has contributed greatly to White feelings of superiority, and the acceptance of same by many Black people, and the people of other cultures.
I stumbled upon that fact by accident, but the reason I know it is true with near certainty, is because when I was a very young child, I was falling victim to the very same mind-set, but fortunately, my father was a jazz fanatic, and he introduced me to jazz and the jazz culture before I was ten years old. As a result, all of my heroes were jazz artists, and I measured the relative value of people by how well the music of their various cultures stood up to the musical intellect and style of Charlie Parker. Since I have yet to find any culture that has, that gave me a strong sense of cultural value and pride.

That’s why it’s so important to raise our kids with a strong sense of cultural pride. As a direct result of my lifelong attitude in that regard, I’ve never felt the least bit self-conscious about competing with my White counterparts on an eyeball-to-eyeball basis, and I’ve always prevailed. And there’s a very simple reason for that as well - because you are what you think.
There’s actually no difference between people, but the ones who tend to prevail are those who BELIEVE they are superior. That accounts for why so many White people call me arrogant (at least those who are out of touch) - because I tend not to know “my place.” But the fact is, I know my place very well - on top - not because I was anointed by God to be on top because I'm a Black man - anyone who thinks like that is a fool - but because I work very hard to be the best as an individual. Life is not about WHAT you are, but WHO you are; your character, your knowledge, and your willingness to pursue and nurture both.
Thus, I never try to prove myself to White folks. I make sure they have to prove themselves to me, and the same goes for everyone else. Don't merely bring me your receipt from Harvard and expect me to accept you as an intellectual: "Congratulations on your accomplishment. Now show me what you got. Can you play 'Parker's Mood' or have a scheme to cure cancer? Okay, well at least play 'Misty' for me."
Is that arrogant?  Maybe, but it works for me. 
A Swingin' Affair
Was told as a child
Blacks had no worth,
Not a nickel’s worth of dimes.
I believed that myth
‘Til Dex rode in
With his ax
In double time.
Horn was soarin’,
The changes flyin’,
His rhythm right on time;
My heart
Beat with the pleasure
Of new found pride, knowing,
His blood
Flowed through mine.
Took the chords
The keyboard played,
And danced around each note;
Then shuffled ‘em
Like a deck of cards,
And didn’t miss a stroke.
B minor 7 with flatted 5th,
A half diminished chord,
He substituted a lick in D,
Then really began to soar.
He tipped his hat
To Charlie Parker,
And quoted
Trane with Miles,

And then paid his homage to
Thelonious Monk,
In Charlie Rouse's style.
He took
A Scrapple From The Apple,
Then went to Billie’s Bounce,
The rhythm section, now on fire,
But he didn’t budge an ounce.
He just
Dug right in
To shuffle again,
This time
A Royal Flush,
Then lingered a bit
Behind the beat,
Still smokin’
But in no rush.
Then he
Doubled the time
Just like this rhyme,
In fluid 16th notes,
Charlie and Lester,"your baby boy, Dexter’s,
On top of the
Bebop you wrote.
Like a banshee,
This prince of saxophone,
His ballads dripped of honey,
His Arpeggios were strong.
Callin’ on his idles,
Ghost of Pres’
Within in the isles,
Smiling at his protege,
At the peak of this new style.
His tenor
Drenched of Blackness,
And all the things we are--
Of pain, and pleasure,
And creative greatness
Until his final bar.

Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


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