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.That s what I was hearing on that afternoon long ago at the Blues Alley inWashington, D.C.In his extraordinarily illuminating memoir Jazz Odyssey (Continuum, 2002),the prodigious pianist Oscar Peterson speaks of Max not only as a drummer whocould rivet an audience all by himself but also as a virtuoso accompanist: Max.has a flair for  floating  playing patterns between the soloist sphrases without interfering or disrupting them.This kind of  sensitive intrusionis a very special gift.Only a handful of percussionists can separate themselvesbodily from the time in order to add another separate linear, yet rhythmic, stringof improvisational phrases without altogether shredding the musical fiber ofthe performance.Max didn t like the term  jazz, regarding it as too limiting because he couldnot be limited.With his music certain to endure as long as there is civilization(itself not an entirely safe bet), Max exemplified what Duke Ellington told melong ago about not heeding such transient definitions as  modern,  postmodernor  cutting edge.During a break in the recording of the Freedom Now Suite, ColemanHawkins himself an imposing individualist was marveling at Max s strong,bold, often towering melodies.He kept asking Max,  Did you really write this,Max? Max just smiled. My, my, was all Hawkins could say.And in the erupting protest section, Abbey Lincoln startled us with fierceyet musical roars and screams of rage that, in Max s composition, told of the How Jazz Helped Hasten the Civil Rights Movement 113centuries-old black roots that led to what A.Philip Randolph, architect of the1963 March on Washington with Martin Luther King, called  America s unfin-ished revolution. I ve learned a lot from Max Roach in recent months, Abbey told me thatafternoon,  about being me when I sing.Max had what Oscar Peterson calls the  will to perfection in continuing tofind out through his music who he was.Oscar says that will is a prevailing forceamong jazz musicians, explaining that  it requires you to collect all your senses,emotions, physical strength, and mental power, and focus them entirely onto theperformance with utter dedication, every time you play. And if that is scary.It is also uniquely exciting.you never get rid of it.Nordo you want to, for you come to believe that if you get it all right, you will becapable of virtually anything.But Max also knew, as did Coleman Hawkins, that it s essentially the strivingthat keeps musicians and the rest of us going.During one of Hawkins s best solosin the Freedom Now Suite, there was a squeak. Don t splice that! Hawkins toldme. When it s all perfect in a piece like this, there s something very wrong.What Max had created was in real, raw time for all time.37 How Jazz Helped Hasten the Civil Rights MovementOn January 19, Martin Luther King s Birthday, Jazz at Lincoln Center and theRockefeller Foundation, also focusing on the next day s presidential inaugura-tion, presented at Kennedy Center A Celebration of America.Headlining the castwere Sandra Day O Connor and Wynton Marsalis.As Jazz at Lincoln Centerdeclared, Dr.King called jazz  America s triumphant music, and the presenceof Mr.Marsalis is to  illustrate that American democracy and America s musicshare the same tenets and embody the same potential for change, hope andrenewal.This focus on jazz as well as on then President-elect Barack Obama (who, I wastold, has John Coltrane on his iPod) should help make Americans, including ourhistorians, aware of the largely untold story of the key role of jazz in helping toshape and quicken the arrival of the civil rights movement.For a long time, black and white jazz musicians were not allowed to performtogether publicly.It was only at after-hours sessions that they jammed together, asLouis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke did in Chicago in the 1920s.In the early 1940s, before I could vote, I often lied my way into Boston s SavoyCaf, where I first came to know jazz musicians.It was the only place in townwhere blacks and whites were regularly on the stand and in the audience.This ledpolice occasionally to go into the men s room, confiscate the soap, and hand the 114 Finding the First Amendment Groovemanager a ticket for unsanitary conditions.There was no law in Boston againstmixing the races, but it was frowned on in some official circles.I had heard, however, of a New York jazz club, Caf Society, where there wasopen, unquestioned integration.In Caf Society: The Wrong Place for the RightPeople, a book by Barney Josephson, with Terry Trilling-Josephson (Universityof Illinois Press, 2009), Mr.Josephson, Caf Society s founder, is quoted as hav-ing said:  I wanted a club where blacks and whites worked together behind thefootlights and sat together out front.There wasn t, so far as I knew, a place like itin New York or in the country. He hadn t ever been to imperiled Savoy Caf inBoston.But Jim Crow was so accepted in the land that when Benny Goodman, dur-ing the 1930s, brought Teddy Wilson, and then Lionel Hampton, into his trioand quartets, it was briefly big national news.And Artie Shaw later hired BillieHoliday and Roy Eldridge, both of whom often met Mr.Crow when having tofind accommodations separate from the white musicians when on the road.When booked especially but not only in the South, members of black jazzbands had to be put up in homes or other places in black neighborhoods.Norwere they seated in restaurants outside of those neighborhoods.In a 1944 NewYorker profile of Duke Ellington, Richard Boyer told of a white St.Louis police-man enthusiastically greeting Duke Ellington after a performance, saying:  Ifyou d been a white man, Duke, you d have been a great musician.With his customary regal manner, Duke, smiling coolly, answered,  I guessthings would have been different if I d been a white man [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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