MARTIN LUTHER KING AND JAZZ
My mother’s voice was always calm and soothing. She took time from her life to read to me. I still can curl up inside the memory of her pleasantness and the choice of her words.
My father had less time for extended warm moments. His voice was firm, authoritarian and final. It was also loving because he was loving which was reflected in his choice of words.
Martin Luther King Jr came along and just reinforced my appreciation for the spoken and written word.
Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day. Years after his tragic death we continue to honor the man and his words.
SOME OF HIS WORDS
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”
“…the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”
“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.”
Martin Luther King Jr had many gifts. He seemed to see truths clearly. He fearlessly shared these truths and directed us to take action. How the heck did one man seem to know so much and also have such eloquence?
Martin Luther King Jr was challenged every day of his life, as many of his messages were inconvenient. Others dismissed him for being an inappropriate messenger. He may never be accepted by some, but the words that he chose will survive for many Martin Luther King Days to come.
HERE IS WHAT HE HAD TO SAY ABOUT AMERICA’S MUSIC, JAZZ
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF JAZZ
Dr. Martin Luther King’s opening address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:
God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.
Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.
This is triumphant music.
Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.
It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.
Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.
And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.
In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.
“Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for Faith. In music, especially that broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone to all of these.
“NOW’S THE TIME”
When Martin Luther King gave his speech on the Washington mall he used the phrase, “now’s the time” which rings as true now as it did then. He found this command in the music of Charlie Parker. Dr King was criticized for his urgency to affect change. He, however, felt that those suffering from injustice deserved justice now.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” MLK
“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.” MLK
COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
January 17 – January 20
HUGHES SMITH QUARTET
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