Hey Marcus, I'm cool with agreeing to disagree about this matter. At least you're engaging in a rational way, defending your position without the poison of personal insult. I appreciate that, and, as always, will greet you like we do, bruh, when we see each other again.
A few final points, though.
Sure, seminal thought can most certainly come from one's own generation, and even from oneself (and younger folks than we as well). No doubt. I'm inspired by my heroes and use what wisdom and knowledge I can from their example, but strive to synthesize all my study and life experiences into an intellectual statement applicable today, with my own particular voice.
Just as musicians who play Complex Afro-American Improvisational Music--one of the antecedent terms to BAM, and a more descriptive one, in my estimation--learn from the masters of the idiom, incorporate aspects of their stylistic genius into their own playing, all while striving to develop their own voice. Developing one's own sound used to be a foundation principle of jazz but too many schools are producing cookie-cutter cats. (That's a topic for another day.)
Based on my study, I find "blues idiom" very useful. Once you check out the concept as authored by Murray you might also. The only way to know fo' sho is to check it out.
Regarding the example of another group using jazz as a marketing scheme, if I were Italian, and playing this great music, I too would be proud of those from my ethnic/cultural group who have played it well, and who do so today. I see nothing wrong with an organization--the Italian Cultural Institute--creating a series of jazz events with Italian musicians. As long as they don't try to lay claim to having ORIGINATED the art form, cool.
But you're right, it would be redundant to call it Black American Jazz. Jazz, as with any great art form, is now in the world, played and beloved by folks of all backgrounds. If we can accept the premise--one that you'll find time and time again in my writings--that black Americans originated and innovated what we call jazz, then we don't have to be defensive or insecure about that. And if others are defensive or insecure about that reality, so be it, but let's always try to bring the light of understanding as well as the heat of passion, so that growth and learning results, not just bitterness and resentment.
But we don't live in a perfect world, I know. The combination of black folks not supporting the music (jazz) in large numbers coupled with black folks not being significant enough players on the business and media side complicates matters. The history of jazz is littered with examples of non-black musical groups and non-black musicians getting a heap of press and heaps of money that the black musicians who influenced them didn't. This isn't just true for jazz, of course, but other genres of music too.
These are historical facts, and it continues to today, though not to the same degree.
Such disparities occur because of systemic racial hierarchies as they play out in social power and money dynamics. That's why I stomp on the concept of race, and clarify, as often as necessary, why culture is the better basis for human understanding and interaction.
I think I feel about the word "race" as some of you BAM cats say you feel about "jazz." (But claiming that jazz is as insulting as the word "nigger" is just plain silly. I really could've blasted that idea even more than I did, but wanted to cut your boy Nic some slack, even though he was being slack in his thinking about that.)
Lastly, I hope that the disavowal of the word "jazz" won't backfire when it comes to playing in "jazz" clubs, "jazz" festivals, and being covered in the "jazz" press and publicity apparatus. Some might call the implicit bluff and say, hey, if you don't want have anything to do with jazz, we who do celebrate "jazz" don't want anything to do with you. I truly hope not because, as master drummer Michael Carvin says, I don't want to take food off of any man's table.
I just don't yet get why the point can't be that jazz is a branch of BAM; to completely diss the word as if it only has bad connotations goes too far for me. And, man, you know good and well the word jazz is here to stay.
But whatever you call your music, I look forward to hearing you in person soon, 'cause you can play!
And be on the lookout for the Race and Jazz columns to come; they'll give some important historical perspective that I hope will be useful for all who care enough about these issues to engage and think about the discourse we've been engaging in.
Verve Jazz Ensemble
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