[Dixielandjazz] Lincoln Center Blues?

D and R Hardie darnhard at ozemail.com.au
Wed Oct 27 17:34:36 PDT 2004

Hi all,
             It's depressing to see such a high profile event being 
based on such drivel masquerading as History. It does nothing for jazz, 
the blues or History.  The real story of the blues is much more  
interesting than  these pseudo African enactments. The blues is 
American music and an integral part of later forms like jazz and rock 
and roll. It has a story of its own that is worth presenting publicly.. 
As the reviewer is clearly aware the story of the African influences on 
American music is quite complex and the links to African music tenuous. 
I know some musicians are reluctant to read the  history of the music 
but they expose themselves to this kind of ridicule if they then 
promote their performances or allow them to be promoted  with a slant 
that is so easily exposed. Surely the Lincoln Centre should set higher 
standards. Perhaps the later evenings were based on better information.

Dan Hardie


On Wednesday, October 27, 2004, at 11:32  PM, Steve barbone wrote:

> New York City Jazz Musicians are fond of saying "Well, you can't hit a 
> home
> run every time," after a disappointing solo performance. Looks like Mr.
> Ratliff thought this first evening of a three night story of the blues 
> was
> somewhat less than well presented.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
> October 27, 2004 - NY Times - By BEN RATLIFF
> JAZZ REVIEW'  Looking for the Roots of the Blues
> Three Shades of Blues: Roots," the first in a three-night series of 
> Jazz at
> Lincoln Center concerts at the Rose Theater tracing the blues from its
> prehistory to the present, wasn't really a lesson enacted upon the 
> audience.
> For the most part it was an ideal notion sent up like a balloon.
> The idea behind Monday's concert was that the blues comes from Africa, 
> and
> Corey Harris, Randy Weston and Taj Mahal were there to prove it. But 
> the
> concert struggled under a truth that's obviously much more 
> complicated. If
> the performers could have been presented on the strength of their own
> complex combinations of influences, the rubric would have been lost. 
> But the
> concert would have been so much more likable.
> Mr. Harris, the singer and guitarist, opened the show diffidently. He 
> was
> the focus of Martin Scorsese's television documentary last year, which
> traced the blues back to West Africa, and he played a few songs with 
> the
> percussionist Darrell Rose. He is an American folk musician who's 
> interested
> in many corners of the world, of which Africa happens to be one; among 
> the
> tunes he played were a Malian song, as well as "Money Eye," a kind of
> imaginary calypso that had little to do with the blues or Africa. 
> Another
> was "Special Rider Blues," a Skip James tune that he recently recorded 
> in
> Mali with Ali Farka Toure. One has to ask: if an African musician has 
> played
> a blues song, does that make it more African? And was the forest 
> obscuring
> the trees? Were we missing the chance to learn something about Skip 
> James?
> Mr. Weston, the jazz pianist, came on next and talked in amiable
> generalities about music as "spiritual mathematics" and about the
> relationship of jazz and blues to African classical civilization. When 
> he
> sat down to play, he was as good as ever; he has a rich, well-defined 
> sound,
> as deep as a well. But the African musician next to him seemed beside 
> the
> point.
> He played two of his most common pieces, "The Healers" and "African
> Cookbook," and as he operated in a continuing clash with the 
> Senegalese kora
> player Abdou M'Boup, the music itself seemed to disprove the concert's
> theory. Had the kora, a kind of 21-string harp, been tuned to the 
> piano? You
> play a single scale on a kora, and you can't change keys; how could Mr.
> Weston's sumptuous harmonies move along with the kora? Neal Clarke's
> percussion solo and Alex Blake's bass solo, flashy applause-getters, 
> pushed
> the questions aside.
> Finally, Taj Mahal arrived with good instincts, putting his shoulder 
> to the
> proposition and meeting Africa halfway. He performed with the kora 
> player
> Mamadou Diabate, confidently reprising a few songs he recorded five 
> years
> ago with that musician's cousin Toumani Diabate, on the album 
> "Kulanja."
> (The instruments were well tuned to each other.) One was a banjo and 
> kora
> duet, and the American banged and scraped the strings while the African
> played little cascades in the rhythm's empty spaces. It was a 
> concentrated
> performance, making sense within itself as well as fulfilling a 
> sociological
> premise.
> For a finale, all hands came on stage to play Taj Mahal's old song "I'm
> Gonna Move to the Country and Paint My Mailbox Blue," making an
> agglomeration of sound but reaching no conclusions.
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