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

 

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world building 102

 

“But there is no one left to turn on the stars …”

http://podcastle.org/2018/11/20/podcastle-549-fixer-worker-singer/#more-6187

Elsewhere Jen R. AlbertJen Albert is an entomologist, writer, editor, narrator, game-player, cosplayer, streamer, reader of All the Things, and haver of far too many hobbies.Jen somehow became co-editor of her favorite fantasy fiction podcast; she now wonders if she’s still allowed to call it her favorite. She works full-time as an editor at Toronto-based publisher ECW Press.FIND MORE BY JEN R. ALBERT Jen R Albert ” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/podcastle.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/PodCastle_Jen_R_Albert.jpg?fit=300%2C281″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/podcastle.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/PodCastle_Jen_R_Albert.jpg” style=”max-width:100%;” />

Marlon James on Dylan and Marley, and Beginnings and Endings

Jane Lucas

Marlon James / macalester.edu Marlon James / macalester.edu

Only a few hours after the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize for literature, novelist Marlon James, recipient of the 2015 Man Booker prize, took the stage at Lenoir-Rhyne’s Belk Centrum and said that he was “very excited” about Bob Dylan’s win. James questioned whether the people who opposed the choice of Dylan had heard much of his music. Many ancient epics were written to be sung, James observed, and he challenged the audience to “listen to ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’” and “tell me it’s not literature.”

Turning from Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize to his own writing, James—one of the featured authors in Lenoir-Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series—said that the first sentence that he wrote of his third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), was now on page 458 and joked that the 680-plus page novel was actually an 800-page book, but…

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Wadada At Work ( part 1)

All About Jazz review of the 2010 reissue: “Certainly, composition in jazz has gone well beyond head arrangements that bracket solos and group playing—sometimes approaching areas that sound so open as to seem free-form. Multi-instrumentalist, trumpeter and composer Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith is one of a number of figures in this music whose work has long sought to explore and expand the blurred lines between composition and improvisation; one of the structural/notational strategies he has used (formulated in works of the 1970s and 1980s) is called Akhreanvention.

In 1978, Smith wrote that this concept is predicated on “creating and inventing musical ideas simultaneously, utilizing the fundamental laws of improvisation and composition. Within this system, all of the elements of the scored music are controlled through symbols designating duration, improvisation, and moving sounds of different velocities. These symbols are depicted on two types of staffs; sound staffs divided into low, medium and high, and sound staffs of adjustable sound partials.”

In their audible essence, the motion between areas of notated and improvised components operate on a similar axis, held in a fairly constant range of orbit with one another. Smith recorded Spirit Catcher in 1979 while he was living in New Haven, Connecticut and co-directing the Creative Musicians Improvisers Forum. His group, New Dalta Akhri, featured a coterie of musicians located in Connecticut and New York, such as drummer Pheeroan AkLaff, vibraphonist Bobby Naughton, bassist/flutist Wes Brown and reedman Dwight Andrews. In addition to Nessa, Smith and New Dalta Akhri recorded for ECM and his own Kabell Records.

This reissue, the session’s first time on CD, adds an additional take of a piece for three harps and trumpet, “The Burning Of Stones.” What’s striking about the lengthy opening piece, “Images,” is how utterly rigorous its execution is. A microcosm of how the quintet operates appears in the first few minutes, where vibrato-laden clarinet, vibes, arco bass and martial percussion measure themselves in small delicate progressions quickly joined by a clarion trumpet call. A linkage of short unison horn phrases quickly become slightly opposing, and lead into a few seconds of trumpet/bass duet; when Andrews’ clarinet trills enter, the trio is embroiled in darting collectivity.

Those darts return to a stately sense of pause and are rejoined by lumps of vibes and drum set, brass and wood following atonal lines into loosely intertwined phrases. The title could refer to either side of the improvisation/composition coin—short written sections that demarcate areas of related-but-open play, or the free vignettes that spiral out from collective notation.

The title track is a moderately heavier proposition, and a rare example of Andrews’ throaty tenor at play in the particulates of Smith’s writing. The piece opens with a string of small rhythm unit bursts underpinned by bass and Naughton’s “Air Raid” chords; splashes of cymbal and snare patter support Andrews’ lilting peals and the vibraphonist’s harping refractions. “Spirit Catcher” might be the nearest approach to crackling “free jazz” that New Dalta Akhri got, but the specific rhythmic order followed throughout lends the improvisations a unique quality.

“The Burning Of Stones” use of a harp trio is really unlike anything else in contemporary creative music. At once mimicking the Japanese koto and exploring upper partials in quavering dissonance, the trio is set in active relief to Smith’s Miles Davis-ian mute, like Gil Evans arranging a Toru Takemitsu composition. Like the other pieces here, the trumpet part is made up of a series of improvisational flourishes linked by notated elements (of course, all are of a single piece), each note and tone row a clearly demarked unit that gives rise to inflections and immediacy. Recorded crisply by Rudy Van Gelder (unlike the somewhat murky Kabell LPs), Spirit Catcher presents Smith’s earlier music with clarity and warmth, and it’s welcome news to have this set in print once again.”

Money Dance vs Spirit Dance

DAni NabudereRevolution is a science, but it is one that takes shape socially, both privately as well as publically, and it is essentially experiential. The theory is as significant as the practice. The ironical art of revolution  is comparable to the art of music. One person can compose a symphony in the privacy of their own home or even while walking along as part of a crowd. The symphony will require a number of performers yet it comes from the mind of a single person. In jazz, there is the art of improvisation. While the composer can arrange the music in one way, the music can take a shape of its own in the hands of capable improvisers, but the foundation remains. Is it possible for a whole country to be conducted like a symphony or even a jazz big band, with each musician, audience member and spectator contributiung to a harmonious whole?

The people must first agree to play together, to trust the bandleader, the leader has to have a record of excellence in performance and there must be freedom. Freedom is the prerequisite to more freedom. Afrikan people should or can agree to get off the grid of monopoly foreign capital, we can harmonise. This is what I am learning from listening to Wadada Leo Smith and reading late Ugandan Professor Dani Wadada Nabudere.

While reeling along and ‘taking the pain’, with every other Zimbabwean and even most South Africans amid the seemingly perennial economic crises, we are also edified by the seemingly intangible.  Caught between two worlds – that of pursuing the mental liberation of ourselves and our people from the numerous shackles of neo-colonial existence, by working on a cultural/spiritual revolution while at the same time striving to be entrepreneurial and financially independent, it is daunting work. It is our music that really helps us to get over these black and blues. What would we be without this music?

In all our travails we have had music that either interprets, interrogates, elucidates and presents our struggles and our joys. The music reaches further, it can be a comforter as well as an agitating force, compelling us to seek new ways of being, to be more than just labourers and consumers, but to also catch the Spiritual vibrations that surround us, even as it appears as if we are drowning in endless dept, depraved systems and despair. The music is our campus to our Souls true purpose.  The music is in everything we do because the music comes from within as well as without.

During my regular errands to do some research at the Harare City Library, I came across an book by one of my all time favourite intellectuals, the consummate philosopher and pragmatic Afrikologist Dr Dani Nabudere. The title of the book also caught my roving eye, called The Rise 7 fall of Money Capital, with the name Dani Wadada Nabudere written below on the cover, I could not resist it. I spent a good three hours perusing its contents. I will explain later how discovering that his name was also Wadada, means so much to me. Firstly, about the book. The best way to describe it is to re-write what is written on the back-page cover and thereafter elucidate on its significance for me personally, for Zimbabwe as well as for the whole continent of Afrika:

“This book comes out at an important time in the history of monetary and financial systems which, with the October 1987 crash on bloody Monday and the mini-crash in October 1989, has undergone tremendous  shocks and tremors. The author traces the theory of money and credit in a historical perspective – doing so from a Marxist perspective – and convincingly demonstrates the root causes of monetary and financial crises in the capitalist economy, as well as money’s contradictory role in a socialist economy.  His crucial contribution lies in his exposure of the false acceptance of the notion that money is a neutral’ circulating agent in capitalist economies as well as, to some extent, ‘socialist’ economies. He demonstrates the historical role of money as a social relation in which class relations are counterimposed within the monetary relationships ( This is a crucial point we shall return to and investigate further  ). Commodity-money relationships are seen as lying at the base of the capitalist economies and monetary and credit crises reflect the class struggles that continue on a world level over the political and technical questions that underlie commodity production and distribution. ( This is the part that really interested me in this book, as Zimbabwe suffers the effects of such a crisis. It is usually easier to point to government corruption and bloated state budgets when trying to find solutions to the issue of finances and foreign investments, but very few if any analysts have tried to look at the intrinsically flawed logic of capitalism itself.)

Nabudere is vigorous and so instructive in this work, that I wished I could just make copies of  the requisite chapters and send to some African heads of state and relevant ministers. But one wonders if such people actually make time to read and engage in dialectical thinking in order to steer their countries towards economic well-being. I am not as well versed in financial literacy as I should be, but I often wonder and sometimes even tell my wife that a country such as Zimbabwe has a great opportunity to actually be innovative and be a leader in the electronic and  other online /mobile credit avenues such as the clearly workable eco-cash and the the rest of the electronic alternatives. But somehow we are all use to possessing cash. Are we possessed by cash, perhaps? It is possible that it is our attitude towards paper-money that keeps us otherwise impoverished. Why are alternative currencies such as Bitcoin etc not hugely successful in Zimbabwe? There are explanations for this, but I do believe that Afrikan people should be forging ahead with alternatives to the US Dollar and any other foreign capital. Anyway, the book’s description continues:

“The author brings up the old dispute about a definition of money, demonstrating thoroughly the scientificity of Marx’s insistence that money itself is a commodity with its own cost of production., thus undermining the monetarist argument that it is the state that determines the value of money, and other universal equivalents, still remain at the base of the monetary system, despite the fact that gold may no longer be in the reserves of the central banks. In private hoards, gold still plays a central role in the private appropriation of the social product of labour by capital.” – ( Africa In Transition publishers )

I strongly believe that we as Afrikan people can discover new ways to work, to earn and to learn. We can feed ourselves, find water, remunerate each other and gift each other in various ways beyond this commodity called money. This book shows that this is not mere wishful thinking. There is life beyond capitalism, but we should sow those seeds now.

In this new situation the precondition is that capital now stands on one side and labour on the other. Both are alien to one another and are historically presented with the dispossession of direct producers by merchants’ capital as antagonistic forces. The extremes which stand opposite one another are specifically different in their roles in the process of production. on the one side labour exists on condition that it offers itself as use-value to capital for a wage. This use value ( or labour-power) exists only potentially as the bodily and mental capacity of the worker. It becomes a reality only when it has been solicited by capital and set in motion by it within the process of production. On the other side stands capital as exchange-value which is no longer its original quality, as we have seen, but is now money-capital. It is not money in the simple form of gold and silver, nor is it money in opposition to circulation, but it is now in the form of commodities.

In conclusion, let me just reiterate what has already been said; there is life after capitalism, just as there was life before. But we are not suggesting that we should return to the rudimentary sort of bartering system or to simplistic economies that existed before the industrial era and the advent of globalization, what we are saying is that rather than collapsing along with the failing system of money-capital, we can invent other ways of doing business and forging our existence, the financial markets have done nothing good for Afrika, instead, we are used as the source of raw materials, slave labour and charity cases.  We can be more creative but our creativity should not be wasted on saving a system that is intrinsically harmful to the entire planet, especially to we the Children of the Sun.

Countries such as Zimbabwe and indeed many more so called Third World countries are caught up in debilitating conditions of debt from accruing aid from all and sundry. Nabudere writes:

“In this way an alliance is sealed between the state comprador bourgeoisie which receives the ‘aid’ and the dominant international bourgeoisie, which dishes out the ‘aid’. Under such a situation, any expansion in the economy which generates growth elements immediately leads to a further depreciation of the currency, of neo-colonial Third World countries, ad the appreciation of the currencies of the stronger developed capitalist currency.”

In my next essay, I will expand on why the name Wadada, shared by my inpsirations, is so significant. I will also share how serendipitous it is that Wadada Nabudere finished this particular book The Rise and Fall of Money Capital in the city of Harare, from where I am writing this.

TBC