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Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Holy Grails of Jazz


Photo credit: William Gottlieb, photographer.
"Portrait of Dizzy Gillespie, New York, N.Y., ca. May 1947 (playing his horn)," 1947.
William P. Gottlieb - Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz, Library of Congress.


NEGRITUDE 2.0: The Holy Grails of Jazz

By Mark Reynolds
(taken from PopMatters.com)

It's been my experience that when they go, they don't come back. People depart this mortal coil, we cry and mourn their departure, and we try to laugh and console ourselves with the memories and reminders of what they left behind. That is the pattern, irrevocable and unwavering. So it is when relatives pass, when friends move on, and when cultural icons die as well.

The difference is that what our icons leave behind is often for public consumption, not a private experience or a personal anecdote. Our icons leave bodies of work, historic achievements, and lessons in textbooks. We tell ourselves that they are gone but their example remains, and as long as we continue to use the example of their lives for inspiration in ours, those beloved icons will never really be away from us completely. And as we've done this year with the passing of Ossie Davis, John H. Johnson, August Wilson, and Rosa Parks, we also say that someone else must now pick up where they left off.

But every now and then, we're afforded a chance to learn something new about those who've passed, something that may not have been part of the remembrance when they passed. A new piece of scholarship, some sort of buried treasure, or a crucial link in the life's chain emerges, and our knowledge and appreciation broadens just a bit more. There's no better place to observe that phenomenon than the world of jazz, and the jazz record business in particular, a field where the past is not only prologue: it's also a profit center.

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2 Comments:

At 9:11 AM, Blogger defiant goddess said...

Whoa. That was nice. Definitely makes me want to read the whole article, which me shall do this weekend.

You tryin'a make a jazz lover outta me? ;)

I do like to listen to jazz when I need to relax, just have it playing in the background but I don't know much about it. Thanks for enlightening a sista.

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger Laylah Queen of the Night said...

You're welcome. We are both learning more about jazz along the way!

 

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