Tuesday, October 02, 2007

black keys

The early 80s is also when the performance and cheap housing possibilities for free jazz musicians pretty much dried up in lower Manhattan. So, where in 1977 you could go out on any given evening and hear Julius Hemphill, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Davis, and Arthur Blythe in one loft, and Lester Bowie, Cecil Taylor, and Jimmy Lyons in another, Oliver Lake and Michael Gregory Jackson dueting in a third, all for the cost of a couple beers, by 1982 when I actually moved to the city that deal was pretty much done. The strain of music those players represented didn't die out, of course, and became the foundation for the range of things being done by people like John Zorn and Bill Laswell in the 80s. Yet the demise of that musical scene was also the last time relentless, progressive Black jazz musicians had a street presence on the ground, as it were, in NYC bohemia.
- Greg Tate, "Black Jazz in the Digital Age"
  1. Does it matter whether progressive Black musicians play jazz now or in the future?

  2. Does it matter whether Black people ever listen to another lick of real jazz from now until the end of time?

  3. Has jazz more than fulfilled its sociocultural, esthetic, and political mandates for Black people given the advances well-educated Blackfolk have made in American society over the past 25 years?

  4. Have jazz's possibilities as a Black art form been exhausted, or does the virtual absence of a coherent community of Black jazz listeners explain the creative stagnation of the art form at present?

- Greg Tate, "Black Jazz in the Digital Age"
As I survey the stage of the Black intellectual conversation going on today, I find that the self-conscious engagement with philosophy I once heard in 70s jazz, politics, religion, and literature has migrated to contemporary African American visual art where one is expected, after Basquiat’s example, to wrestle with race, politics, history, identity, and knotty conceptual questions as a matter of course. Why this is no longer the case in jazz has something to do with the class aspirations and subject position of most younger musicians who are not, at the end of the day, social rebels, but middle class arts professionals whose art has no significance even among a Black middle class—American mass media oriented consumers who prefer soul and hiphop to postbop.
- Greg Tate, "Black Jazz in the Digital Age"

[via SoundSlope]