They call It jazz

alice-3

They call it jazz but this music is much bigger and broader than any definitions.

Miles Davis called it Social Music, Nicholas Payton calls it BAM (black american music) but the closest description has to be Wayne Shorter’s “I Dare You” music.

Call It what we may, this phenomenon known as jazz is fun, intricate, witty and full of whimsical freedom and wisdom; It is music at its most sincere, although often highly enigmatic.

As Amiri Baraka poetically stated “jazz listen to it at your own risk”.

It can literally either heal your soul or blow your freakin’ mind .

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RJbGQ2wWSR8&sns=fb

 

poetic reflection: thaka

IMG-20170508-WA0036ngiyabuvuma ubuthakathaka bami

Kanti futhi nobubi bami ngibubonile

Ngibuthaka ngimubi ngijalo nje

Angiyigqizi qakala inkulumo yabangibandlululayo

ngiyishaya indiva imicibilisho yabangizondayo

eminye sengenze ngayo imbuthuma yomlilo esithangamini lapho sesiyoxoxa khona sidingide umsuka nesisombululo sengxabano yethu …

its all natural

There is a sacred relationship between the natural and the spiritual worlds. I want to write about and for Black people. The people of Afrikan descent who are found all over the world. But we are going to use all knowledge and all the language we have inherited through our oppression and subjection to colonialism and imperialism to express some of the colors we exude. To express the way we were, the way we are and the potential we have to become whatever we collectively seek to be in the future. There is a song by Bheki Khoza called The End of The Blues, it is an interesting title for a deeply moving song. Although it is a guitar led instrumental, one can discern the sighs and existential pains of the people who are going through great tribulations. The musician as a prophetic vessel of the spirit has the freedom to paint a picture of a future where All Blues are gone, the proverbial How Long Blues of yesteryear, when the social, cultural and economic death of a people has come to an end. Even though surely the memory shall remain. But it is the nature of all things to change. Nothing really stays the same, even shades of blue can become black or white with the passage of time.

Since what I write emanates from a place of blackness, there will be a lot of Blues, more Blues then Greens, more Sepia, Browns, bloody red and all the rhythmic colours that define us a people. As Amiri Baraka wrote : We are the Blues people. What does that mean exactly, when there are so many colours in the spectrum of life? Beyond the Afrikan Amerikkkan musical evolution, is there anything that can explain why the Blues are so called? Has it anything to do with the colour of the night illuminated by the Moon? Does it have anything to do with the night rituals of our ancestors as they sat or danced around bonfires in the Deep Southern plantations during times of slavery?

Poet and former president of Senegal, Leopold Senghor writes: “Rhythm is the architecture of being, the inner dynamic that gives it form, the pure expressions of the life force. Rhythm is the vibratory shock, the force which, through our sense, grips is at the root of our being. It is expressed through corporeal and sensual means; through lines; surfaces; colours and volumes, in architecture, sculpture or painting; through accents of poetry and music, through movements in the dance. But doing this, rhythm turns all these concrete things towards the spirit.”

This is about Nature. Nature and Music, Music and Sacred spaces in which we make and enjoy or engage with music. There are patterns in nature which parallel the human existence, it is our work to strive to understand or at least find some meaning in the suffering, the joys and the tensions in between.

Patterns in nature are beautiful. They help create order. The universe possesses such beauty and perfection. It has been the objective of many brilliant scientists for thousands of years to find ways to explain and express the universe using math, geometric shapes and even music. While most of us jazz musicians are not trying to explain the meaning of life in our solos, we are trying to express something meaningful. Improvising a combination of knowledge, technique, thoughts and feelings.” – Ted Nash ( How To Use Patterns to Enhance Your Creativity …)

So What About Nature?

So What do we Not Write About?

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ARTS and Nature ( Isigaba Sokuqala )

Firstly there is Nature, and the way all the elements of Nature are felt and are treated by we the human race.

Water, Food, Shelter and all the resources that we use to continue our explorative and exploitative lives; these are all almost wholly given freely by what some may call providence, but for some it is hard work and the wilful exploitation of Nature. How does Nature, Arts and Humanity interlink to find a harmonious and symbiotic relationship?

We may write about politics and the intrigues therein, we may have sincere opinions about what policies are correct and deal with matters of justice and injustices that we commit, we may try to correct others behaviour through many dialogues and theorize and set up various social and innovative business programs and projects, but if We do not write about our varied yet essentially dependent relationship to Nature/ Our Environment we are neglecting a really essential element in all our lives.

The spaces we inhabit in our various occupations, lifestyles, our psychological, political/social and private and even dream-lives are all secondary.  They are all the stuff of our minds, our passions and ambitions as sophisticated animals. While our preoccupations or works may tend to divine who we are eventually, our initial or primary Well-being is all centred on our relationship with Nature, what it provides and what we make of it and how.

So then, when we write; it may be works of Art, Criticism, Opinion Pieces, Essays, Poems, Music, Stories of different kinds, we are telling just a fragment of the story. While each fragment or each facet of our human stories is relevant to a particular context, it is the collective reception, or the impact each story has on the individual that matters most.

Today I wish to write about the Collective Cohabitation of Arts – Spaces, places and the Ground beneath our feet, The Air we breathe and the quality of the lives we lead –  My opinion is that every conceivable space is a platform for the expression of Artistry. Akukho sikhala noma shashalazi lapho ubungcweti nobuciko beSintu bungevezwe khona.Kepha umbuzo uthi siyihlonipha kangakanani imvelo, leyondawo esisebenzela kuyo siyazisa kangakanani, futhi siyayinakekela ngokufanele na?

Amaciko maningi, nobuningi bawo buluphawu lokugcizelela lokhu esengikushilo, ukuthi, Imvelo nendlela esiyiphatha ngayo nendlela esemukela ngayo konke esikuthola kuyo – ibaluleke kakhulu. Maciko kusamele sijule ngokwemvelo, sibuyele emhlabathini, othulini, ezihlahleni nasemithini eyehlukahlukene.

Iyini na imvelo, kanti futhi ihlangana kanjani nezobuciko?

Ngiyakholwa ukuthi konke esikwaziyo nokubambekayo sikuthola emhlabeni, umhlaba ophilayo nonothe ngendlela exakayo. Kukhona abanye bethu abamba igolide namanye amatshe nezinye izinto eziligugu emhlabeni osewakhiwa ngokuhwebelana. Kukhona abaziphilisa ngokuvuna izithelo zonke ezitholakala emithini, bephinde behwebe ngayo imithi uqobo lwayo. Eminye imithi isitshenziselwa ukwakha izindlu, nezakhiwo ezahlukahlukene, eminye kukhandwa ngayo amaphepha, amathuluzi nezinye izinsiza-kwakha, kuphinde futhi kwakhiwe nezinsimbi okanye izinto zokudlala umculo, ezemidlayo nokunye okuningi.

Esikhathini samanje esesivamise ukuthi izinto ebezakhiywa ngezandla zabantu sezakhiwa yimishini ngemishini, kuningi okusilahlekelayo. Izinto zibonakala sengathi ziba lula uma sisebenzisa ama-rubber nama-plastics kanye namathuluzi akhiwe ngezinhlobo-nhlobo zezinsimbi, kepha ngokweso elijulile kuyabonakala ukuthi siloke siqhela njalo kancane kancane kwiMvelo ekuyiyo imvelaphi yethu.

Lokuziqhelisa kancane kancane emvelweni, kungabonakala kuyimpucuko noma  ukwenziwa lula kwezinto, kepha ukukhaxhumani noma ukungabi nabudlelwano noma ubunye nemvelo kuyasibulala singabantu, ikakhulukazi abantu bendabuko.

Ngifisa ukuloba ngomdanso, imisebenzi namakhono amaciko. Ngifisa ukubhala ngomculo, abaculi, abadwebi, abalaleli kanye nezingqinamba ezibhekene nokulalelwa komculo nokwamukeleka kwemisebenzi yamaciko emiphakathini yethu, kepha ngiloke nginomuzwa wokubhala ngeMvelo – nami anginayo incazelo eqonqile ukuthi lokhu kungani. Okungicacelayo ukuthi, vele imvelo iyikho konke. Siyayilondoloza noma siyayazisa na, ikakhulukazi thina esisemkhakheni wezobuciko? Sinendaba yini ukuthi ama-instruments ethu avelaphi? Siyazihlupha yini ngobunjalo bamathuluzi esiwasebenzisayo. Lombuzo unokuba nopupolitiki, kanti futhi singawubheka ngeso lezomnotho. Kepha ukuze singachezuki kakhulu ephuzwini noma emongweni wendaba, asike sizibuze imibuzo embalwa ngemvelo nobuciko.

  • Kuyiqiniso kangakanani ukuthi kukhuna abantu abazelwe bengamaciko?
  • Ukuzalwa Uliciko kuxhumekeke ngangakanani ofuzweni
  • Luyini lona ufuzo?
  • Izikole ezifundisa noma ezicija amakhono zibaluleke kangakanani?
  • Ukufundiswa kwamakhono kuphelele yini uma kungafundiswa ngomlando okanye imvelaphi yamagama nezinsimbi ezisethseziswayo?
  • Ulimi esifunda ngalo ubuciko lubaluleke kangakanani ekwakheni isizwe?
  • Amaciko angaluthola kanjani usizo oluqhubekayo noma olunzulu olungenza imisebenzi yawo ivele ebantwini ukuze kube khona ubudlelwano phakhathi komphakathi namaciko/nobuciko?
  • Imvundo Ekhululayo nemahhala ingasisiza kanjani ukuthi silonde imvelo/umhlaba/namagugu esizwe?
  • Imvelo Ne-Tekhinoloji = Kuyosetshenziswana Kanjani Ukuze Okunye Kungachithi Okunye, kodwa kube khona ukubambisana?

And so we write a lot about everything else, but we hardly ever seriously write about Nature. We are caught up in our human affairs, much of it is really petty and insignificant and spurious and we neglect to write and talk and do works that help us to draw closer to Knowledge Of Nature.

As I have already stated, Nature is everything, Land is everything, Good unpolluted and undiluted Water is everything. The Air we breathe is everything. All else is trivial and honestly, a waste of precious time. But the so called intelligent animal, the human being, is pre-occupied with entertainment, and not attainment of a mutually beneficial relationship with the Natural world. We forget so easily that we are Water beings, Spiritual beings, Earthen vessels whether we acknowledge it or not.

The rebirth of a people

  Although the beginnings of civilization of each country vary in time, the fundamental factors which gave impetus to each country to awaken and embark on the road to progress to reach their present level of development, are those qualities which are enshrined in the nature of man, namely desire and fortitude.

The partner who places his own short-range ambitions ahead of the long-range interests of the partnership has embarked on a course which will ultimately result in the dissolution of the partnership itself.” – Qadamawe Haile Selassie

A Blues Portrait

Growing up in the township of Kwa-Mashu it was inevitable that I would be surrounded by the sounds of a certain kind of music. Indeed there are many types of genres of music that come through the various radio stations but, one can hear Maskanda, African Jazz, Local flavors of Afro-Pop and the so called bubble-gum sounds that was popularized by artists who would loom larger than life one year and then forgotten by next year.

But my experience has shown me that aside from Gospel music in all its forms, there has been just one kind of music that has endured through out my conscious life and that is the sound they call R&B or Rhythm and Blues. To me the sound of R&B contains elements of all the above mentioned genres and it has the ability to transcend the clearly demarcated demographics.  These days I have noticed that what was simply called R&B during my younger days is now either termed Adult Contemporary Music or even Smooth Jazz.

Yet there is a certain type of Rhythm and Blues which appears to outclass the rest of the popular music just through its sheer quality. Most African American names such as Teddy Pendegrass, The O’Jays, The Manhattans (both the local and the overseas old school balladeers), Curtis Mayfield and many others appear to be immortal due to a certain quality in their sound. Despite the passage of time and the come-uppance of many recording sensations that even break world sales records; there is something which now appears missing even in the R&B styles. Perhaps it is what the rapper Common Sense mentioned in one of his songs from the album Like Water For Chocolate, I quote “my last album u felt it because of the texture…”

Indeed it is that emotional texture in the music that gives you that feeling that is so hard to explain in plain words, it is a feeling that you cannot get from listening to Jazz, Classical music or even various types of Traditional songs.

While this essay is beginning to sound like a paean to the lost flavors and sounds of one kind of music, in fact this is not about music at all, I am simply using music as a metaphor for something more tangible, it is just that music has played such a pivotal role in the social and personal development and mobility of We as a people.

One particular song that always comes to mind each time I consider how Africa’s state of wellbeing or lack thereof is one by the Isley-Brothers, it is called The Caravan Of Love, one of the lines goes “The place where mankind was born is now neglected and torn apart…so everybody take a stand, join the caravan of love…”

This anthem from the late 80’s has remained with me and carried me over many troubled waters, acting as a comforting antidote and also a call for a real solution to Africa’s seemingly insurmountable problems.

I am not naively assuming that the wellbeing of an entire continent and its people depends on a few melodious lines from a song, I am simply saying that this fabled, troubled and infinitely wealthy place has produced many sons and daughters who continue to sustain the economies of the world through their talents in the arts, physical, chemical and spiritual sciences and knowledge systems can recover from its seemingly deathly state. It can begin now through the Words, Sounds and Powers inherent in our Rhythmic hobbies and occupations.

Yes, we may not all agree to be Muslims, Christians, Animists or any of the worlds great religions, but what we have and had for many years before can be had again if only we could See Ourselves for who we truly are.

Who, What and Why Are We?

 “The fallacy of the biological race concept must be incorporated into our collective thinking on an everyday basis. For example, dictionaries and encyclopedias need to be revised to include comprehensible and correct definitions of ‘race’ and explanations of human genetic diversity. We also must begin to talk about our own identities outside of the racial paradigm. We must build a new common language that accurately describes individuals within our populations. We must abandon the practice of describing ourselves as ‘black’, ‘brown’, ‘red’, ‘white’, or ‘yellow’.” – Joseph L. Graves Jr (The Emperors New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at The Millennium

 People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“All is thought and thought is all. Nothing happens in the physical world which has not been preceded by a thought. If thought is imbalanced and destructive, so will be the physical world. If thought is balanced, loving and constructive, that is the society that will emerge. We create our reality and that is why vision is so important.”

– David Icke in The Robots Rebellion (Chapter 15: The Economics of Enough).

“There is a need for us to know the truth/There’s a reason why the trees bear their fruit, how much do we care about ourselves, the children and their future…” – Sizzla Kalonji from the title of his collaborative album Liberate Yourself

I have chosen to quote from no less than four sources in order to allow the reader to see for themselves why the issues I am raising are meaningful to all of us irrespective of skin pigmentation or nationality.

A lot of intelligent and well meaning men and women have spent a lot of time grappling with issues of national identity, personal identity and even the ethical matters that come with investigations of private or even ancient storybook identities. Recently I have been reading a book called The Tut-Ankh-Amen Conspiracy, which among other vital topics, also deals with the national and racial identity of Moses/Moshe of Old Testament fame.

The fact is that we have spent many years believing blindly without seeking out the truth. Ignorance and blind emotion are the beginning of all conflicts.

While there may be some substance in living a life of religious faithful and there are a lot of people who are content with not knowing the historical details of what they believe in, they simply rely on the supposed faithfulness of their predecessor’s interpretation of all those events that construct their faith, be they mythological or factual. I am not one of those blind believers although I do have my own convictions that I cannot prove. I am among those few who would rather live and believe the truth instead of the lie, the reality instead of the romanticized mythology.

But then again, much of what we presume to be reality is based on myth. The music we consume is largely based on make believe and the substantiation of things we hope for. This is where the words of the Emperor come ring true. Life is really about the sustainability or the utility of relationships. There has to be some trust ….