Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Affirmative Action and Improvisational Music.

Affirmative action by definition is to "reward" an individual based on social inequities of the past. The most qualified candidate for the job is not a consideration, race and sex are the predominant factors. Affirmative action IS legal discrimination against all races, and all classifications used to identify a person including sex, sexual orientation etc.
This attempt to climb the moral high ground from a pseudo-intellectual by the name of Williard Jenkins has just reached face book concerning two works that are just now being released.
You can read Mr. Jenkins race-baiting diatribe for yourself...To attack an artist based on "assumptions" of racial intent is absurd. How does one review sound based on the potential members of an ensemble cast never having been brought together in order to record? Availability, previous shared time playing together, personal creative taste or vision and even recommendations of fellow musicians are all PRIMARY factors in deciding who you will or will not record with. To even imply that someone should "reach outside their complexion comfort zone" is a dangerous and irresponsible statement to make for more reasons than I have time to list here. I'll call it ignorant and move on.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when man was judged by what was in his heart and not the color of his skin. Jenkins forgets that. The collaborative effort in improvisational music and succeeds when chemistry is involved. I would venture a guess Mr. Jenkins considers an individual such as Nicholas Payton a role model of sorts but...I don't judge.
The disingenuous manifesto of Williard Jenkins
Just curious - am I the only one who observes this ongoing jazz phenomenon of how the current 20/30-something generation of African American jazz musicians are more than willing to engage non-black musicians in their exploits, yet the reverse is so often not true with white jazz musicians? Case in point - two brand new releases by contemporary drummer-composer-leaders: Rudy Royston's "303", and Weiss's "Fourteen". Royston's smaller ensemble is quite multi-cultural; Weiss engages no known artists of color among his cast of 14 musicians! What's up with this picture? Don't some of these folks recognize how many different "flavors" are possible when they reach outside their cultural/ethnic/complexion comfort zones? Writing this as Jonathan Batiste's latest is spinning - with his multi-culti personnel - and pondering Rufus Reid's expansive new tribute to Elizabeth Catlett (scroll down), which is also performed by a multi-culti cast of musicians.