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After Lancaster left France for the final time, he returned to New York in 1978 and then back to Philadelphia shortly after, as a return to his roots. He "always [has] to return to Philly," and it holds a special connection for those who have come up through its ranks. "Philadelphia is a tribal city... it is the spiritual capital of the United States and rivals Mecca. The laws of the country and its culture were born there, and we are the root of all culture in the world because we're running the world culture now and the root of America is Philadelphia."
Lancaster's labels Dogtown and Philly Jazz both reference the history of Philadelphia and its height as the cultural capital. "Even though we call it 'Philly Jazz,' it really means music," and Lancaster wants to bring jazz, R&B, rock, reggae and all other forms of music to the streets, schools and to the people. "I've been organizing since I was born, and [finding time to practice] is one of the reasons I play on the streets, because I sit there for about three or four hours without moving. It's a great marketing schemeif I want to sell 20,000 records to the people in my community, then the people should know me and the next thing is that I should create music that they really love."
Byard Lancaster knows that building from the ground up is the first step in the process of sonic and spiritual liberation.
Sunny MurraySunny Murray Quintet (ESP, 1966)
Bill DixonIntents and Purposes (RCA-Victor, 1967)
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.