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Interviews

Gary Bartz

By Published: July 15, 2005

AAJ: Wow.

GB: That's who invented the saxophone. Okay. When I show you our money. slave owner, racist, killer, murderer, rapist that's who we have on our money, rapists, murderers. That will tell you something right there.

AAJ: Are you okay with me printing that?

GB: Yeah. It's true. It's true. That's what we have on our money.

AAJ: Yeah, it's true.

GB: So that's what this country is based on. This country is based on racism. It's based on slavery. And so we haven't addressed that. This country is in denial. We are in denial about that. Reparations is something. Every other group of people have gotten some kind of remunerations, some kind of reparations. We, the African Continent, the African peoples, who have been abused more than any other group of people, other than maybe the Indians, okay, who did get reparations ...

AAJ: Right. Well they (Inaudible)...

GB: have gotten nothing.

AAJ: five dollars for California, or something.

GB: Yeah, I know. I mean, they want to give us welfare. That is not going to do it.

AAJ: When you turn on the news

GB: (Inaudible) don't want to give us that(?).

AAJ: (Inaudible) 20 people died today in New York City, that's every day in the newspaper. That's not the news, that is depression.

GB: Yeah.

AAJ: That is sadness. That's why I stopped reading half of the newspapers around here. I read the New York Times just because they have the arts and whatnot.

GB: Yeah.

AAJ: But it's just depressing. I feel sorry for these people who died in a car wreck yesterday, but that's not the news, really.

GB: No, that's not the news. [Laughter] That's (Inaudible). I mean, I always thought news was something you had never heard before. And Ill turn on the news, I'm seeing the same thing over and over and over again. That's not news. Give me something new. Isn't that what it means?

AAJ: So what do we do to change this, to get like a kid, and who is five years old, in Brooklyn, to say, I want to play like that guy, play like Coltrane or play like Charlie Parker?

GB: Well, firstly, they need to hear it, and they need to understand what it is. It needs to be taught in schools. It needs to be taught in the home. For instance and in some respects, I don't think that its a true that they don't know who Charlie Parker is, because I work with a lot of young musicians in the so-called and once again, I don't like these labels, but they call it hip-hop or the rap genre, the more popular music they all know who we are, because they wouldn't be sampling us if they didn't know who we were.

AAJ: Right, yes.

GB: And they know who we were because their parents knew who we were, and their parents listened to it. That was the music of their parents. You didn't have Walkmans and things like back in those days, so you had to listen to whatever your parents listened to. Nowadays, the kids, they don't even listen to what their parents they're just listening to their headphones.

AAJ: But it is interesting some of the younger musicians, like my age, they all say, Well, my father took me to see Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

GB: Right.

AAJ: So that still happens. See for me, I don't worry about the music. I think the music is a source of nature. It is a power of nature, and it will always be, as long as we exist. I worry about the musicians, because the musicians are the ones who are not taken care of.

AAJ: Definitely.

GB: The music is going to be taken care of. The musicians are the problems. I mean, we have no benefits. What goes for a musicians union has never done anything for me or most of my friends who are musicians. And so therefore, they have failed us. I mean, they are not even a union. They go under the guise of being a union, but what they really are is a musicians protective agency. I challenge anybody, look on your union card and see what it says. It won't say you don't see union on there too much.

AAJ: It is just a jam session on Monday nights from what I can tell.

GB: Yeah. Big deal. I mean, if they really wanted to do something, that's where it would start: I belong to AFTRA. AFTRA is a valid union. I mean, that's the same union that Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis, Jr. that's a big union. They have taken care of me, too. They take care of their members. It's a real union. But that's a problem. Another problem is that I'm insulted and embarrassed that as much money as musicians have made and people in this industry, we don't even own a radio station. We don't own a TV station. I mean, we have enough money to own a TV station, a network. We could set up our own network and have twenty-four hours of what we want to program. We would not have to see these Kenny G.'s and I don't have anything against Kenny G., but I'm just saying, he is not the end all of the soprano saxophone, that's for sure, we all know that. But if you stop, like you say, in Times Square, ten people, and you ask them, Who is your favorite jazz musician, a lot of them would probably say Kenny G.

AAJ: Sad, but true, yeah.

GB: And so that is a problem of the media, that the radio stations, the record labels.



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