“To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group--a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project.”
― Cornel West, Race Matters
When it comes to jazz, it is hard to break the labels and preconceptions that have been built and associated with the art form. What has been regarded as “America’s Classical Music” and studied across many disciplines of academia has become digitized and well-preserved, like a frozen loaf of bread. There is nothing wrong with experiencing jazz this way, but it does take away from one of the greatest musical gifts that jazz pioneered- improvisation. Live jazz is a wonderful and inspiring experience!
What we are discussing involves nuance, subtly, and a fluency of a musical language.
A language with many different dialects, vocabularies, and standardized forms
A language capable of empowering artists and promoting social change,
and a language that can transcribe emotion.
It is through this language we find poems, epics, sermons, and social commentary from a diverse yet unified community.
It is not the blending of these musical heritages that led to the creation of jazz, but rather the confrontation between them. Jazz both reflects the sociological conflict between once opposing cultures, yet also progresses the equality and mutual understanding between them. Jazz is a melting pot of innovation and creativity, and the driving force behind 20th century music innovation in America.