In Baghdad, you can't exactly go to some downtown dive and sit in with the cats. In fact, if one is not actively seeking such answers, there seems to be no evidence that jazz or any serious art music ever existed in Iraq. During the former Iraqi Regime, music, just as any art, was greatly persecuted. Iraq has always been a breeding ground for the greatest singers of the Arabic vernacular, and possibly in the world. However, due to the environment created by Sadam Hussein, even today all great Iraqi musicians live, for the most part, in Egypt, which has ...read more
Often I find myself asking, How can I be doing this? I find that my role in the military and my musical goals are both completely comprehensive tasks. At this particular time in my life, my reaction to the sound of AK-47 fire is comparable to how I once perceived the sound of a passing car. One other, of many examples, is the call for prayer that resonates throughout Baghdad more than five times a day. These prayer callers sing verses from the Koran through horribly loud speakers. The only likable comparison that comes to mind is the ringing of ...read more
There is a war in Iraq. What you see on you television is one thing. I imagine that the news available to anyone interested is at best, stranger than fiction. War is reality here. However, I'll be the first to say that art can exist, even in such a place as this. In this column, I plan to cover many subjects from the perspective of a musician and a soldier. To start, here is a brief introduction as to my personal situation.
My name is William A. Thompson IV. I am a jazz pianist and composer ...read more