Fetishizing Black American Music

In the age of information channels that require no qualifications to reach millions, college juries where young jazz musicians are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, and mass exportation and exploitation of black culture, Amiri Baraka’s essay, “Jazz and the White Critic” on the faults and arrogance of white criticism of jazz music has been utterly ignored. He writes about the futility of traditional musicology when evaluating “Negro music” and the arrogance of the white critic in telling a young black musician that what he/she is doing is wrong. Upon reading examples of statements made by white critics on the absurdity of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane as an emissary of “anti-jazz”, I began to wonder about how much of an effect these flagrant statements really had on the imagination of the American people. Whose approval really matters and to whom?

Conversation with NEA Jazz Master, Sheila Jordan

Recently for my Jazz History class at school, I was tasked with interviewing a musician connected with the bebop movement. Sheila Jordan, a friend and mentee of Charlie Parker’s, Duke Jordan’s former partner, a former student of Lennie Tristano (said by Max Roach to be the leader of the “downtown” school of bebop), and of course, an incredibly studied and accomplished musician herself, seemed to be a perfect candidate. I was lucky enough to make contact with her, see her perform for her 90th birthday celebration at Blue Note NYC, and have a wonderfully enlightening conversation at her residence a few days later.