BoMuse News, vol. 19, no. 7
BoMuse News is a monthly newsletter from BoMuse Music. It presents items of interest related to jazz, and advocacy for music education, as well as news of releases from BoMuse Music and the performing activities of Paul Combs. Questions and comments should be sent by visiting “Contact” at Paul Combs’ Web-site.
1. Independence Day Thoughts
3. Video News – Tadd Dameron
1. While it appears that most people look at the 4th of July as an occasion for jubilation, I usually find it an occasion for reflection. This is not to to say that I have not enjoyed myself on July 4, especially when it has been an opportunity to gather with friends. However, I find our nation and society to be far too complex in both its history and its present state for evoking just one emotion. There are many things that make me happy to have been born an American, but there are also many others that have troubled me, even since childhood.
So far, I have not reacted publicly to the almost pornographic images of the murder of George Floyd. Not because of indifference, but because his inexcusable murder is just (I choke on writing the word ‘just’) one more, in a long, long line of such exercises in excessive, unnecessary, and vile abuses of police power and authority. People are saying that this time something may be changing, and I certainly hope so, but the level of willful ignorance and a seeming incapacity for critical thinking among all too many of our fellow citizens gives me cause for continued concern.
Just to be clear, I am not one to call police in general “pigs.” I have a late family member who worked for the NYC Police Department, and had a wonderful mentor when I was a teen-ager who was a policeman. I have also had unpleasant and unjustified experiences with police officers. If anything good is to come out of these recent unfortunate events, both well publicized, and “under the radar,” it will take diligent and thoughtful action on the part of all people of good will, whether in petitions, at the ballot box, or in attendance at public meetings. The peaceful demonstrations have indeed been powerful, but they are only the beginning. The hard work of bringing about change still lies ahead.
2. AAJC stands for the African American Jazz Caucus. Rather than try to present the history of this organization, which you can read about here, I will tell you briefly why I am a member, and more importantly news of AAJC’s current activities and plans going forward.
As a jazz musician and educator, I had long been troubled by the disconnect between the art form’s roots and history in the African American experience and history, and my own day to day, gig to gig experience, as well as my experiences in the educational field. Of course, this is a reflection of the larger problems of our society coming to grips with the transgressions and contradictions in its development from colonization to the present day.
While flying to LA, on my way to attend an International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) Conference in Long Beach, I happened to meet Andy Goodrich. I had recently read an article he wrote in the IAJE Journal about the jazz education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that existed before the day of degree programs in jazz and jazz education. As fellow historians, we connected right away, and Dr. Goodrich invited me to attend the AAJC session at which he would be presenting his research for his article. I recognized that this organization, dedicated to raising the awareness of African American music educators in the larger jazz education community, and facilitating their networking among themselves, as well as the larger community, was something I wanted to support. I paid for a membership, and the next year, if I remember correctly, a call went out for musicians to play in a big band organized to perform at a closing night social dance. The bari chair was empty, and so I filled it. I have remained a member ever since, and now I am one of the two editors of a recently revitalized newsletter.
The Newsletter is just one part of a big push among the membership to bring AAJC to a new level of effectiveness, that includes development of a database to facilitate communications among members, and efforts to better fund the Caucus and its programs. Please go look at the AAJC Website from time to time to see what is happening there.
In line with the first item in the newsletter, this is one example of the many opportunities for us, regardless of race or ethnicity, to help to move our society forward, and out of the darkness of our nations past transgressions. Whether through your profession and its organizations, your place of worship, or organizations in your neighborhood, please do what ever you can, and as the title of one of Tadd Dameron’s compositions says, “Stay On It.”
3. While it has become something of a guilty pleasure for me, YouTube has also become a useful resource. Friends of mine recently made me aware of a channel full of fascinating interviews with jazz musicians of the second half of the 20th Century: The Leigh Kamman Legacy Project. While I neglected to look more carefully at this when I shared the link to a short interview with Charlie Parker in the June issue, it was a recent posting of an interview with Tadd Dameron, which I had not known existed, that got me to go to the channel and see all the treasures posted there. If you have taken an interest in my research into the life and music of Tadd Dameron, this will give you a chance to hear him speak. I always find that hearing the voice of historical figures helps to bring them to life in my imagination, and I hope this will bring Tadd to life for you, too. This goes for the others in this collection, as well.
One other recent discovery regarding Tadd that was brought to my attention was sitting right under our noses, as it were. My friend Bertrand Uberall, who was my guide at the Library of Congress, asked me about a photo of Earl Hines and band in the William Gottlieb collection at the Library of congress. In this photo you can see Tadd conducting a rehearsal of one of his compositions, “Stay On It.” I love the photo, and can only wish that it got into the book.
We are still waiting on word of our return to Wednesday afternoons at Carlsbad Village Faire. Frankly, I am getting the feeling from the news that we may have to wait for an effective vaccine before any kind of live performance environment can return, at least enough of one that will provide adequate opportunities for the many of us who are out of work. When I combine this with my age and the need for some caution in either going after or accepting gigs, I am not ‘holding my breath’ at this point. That being said, I will be delighted if we get to return to the Village Faire.
While it isn’t a public performance, I am happy to report that later this month I will go into the recording studio to add my tracks to the 40th Anniversary recording of Bob Franke’s Meditations, his Good Friday Cantata, which we did not get to perform live due to the COVID19 crisis.
Normally, I list some sources for gig listings. Included are my local jazz radio station and listings provided by a few organizations. Please, if you can, continue to support your local jazz radio stations, and any others you might listen to over the Internet, as well as jazz societies and support organizations.
As always, thank you for supporting LIVE MUSIC, once it can return.