Ken Burns PBS Jazz documentary

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Fri Jan 12 13:49:38 MST 2001

> lnp3 at 01/12/01 12:53PM >>>
I believe that once a music such as Jazz breaks its ties with its
indigenous dance roots, it almost inevitably is forced to go down the trail
of all "art forms", with their attendant woes in late capitalism. That is
why I continue to regard African and Latin music, which never lost those
connections, as the most vital music in the world today and one whose
spirit alone can serve to re-invigorate Jazz today.


CB: Angela Davis,( in a tape I have misplaced) has an analysis of what she calls the
blues tradition of African Americans, in which she situates jazz. I agree that much of
the freshness of these folk and urban folk musics is rooted in their creation as
workers' work music ( this is a critical African root, as Davis points out all areas
of African life , including labor, had music and rhythmic accompaniments integrated
with them) and workers' party music. On the other hand, blues and jazz etc. had an
ongoing reciprocal relationship with Black church music ( the documentary mentioned
this). Note that Black church custom permits more active responsiveness and
participation by parishoners in hymns and the whole service ( call and response).
Anyway, the generalization between parties and church services is the greater active
participation of the audience than at a European church or classical concert hall. A
European classical music hall custom enforces passivity and quiet on the !
audience in response to the music, emphasizing their role as spectator rather than

In this regard, the continuation of the blues tradition is rap , hip hop, soul ,rock
and roll, and rhythm and blues - today's party and dance music. Of course, technology
has provided that there is no need for a live band, changing the dynamic a lot, and in
itself alienating the dancers ( and choruses and singers, for that matter) from the

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