MARTIN LUTHER KING JR AND JAZZ
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
This week we celebrate the life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Few Americans have achieved as much change for the good of the country. We can count on only one hand the Americans who have a national holiday dedicated to remembering their lives. Dr. King’s legacy has grown each year since his tragic death. Each year we get a chance to rediscover anew the depth of his purpose, the truth of his message and the sacrifice of his actions. Dr. King sought to correct the course of our nation, he stood fast and he succeeded. We honor him with a special day to express our thanks for his clarion call to embrace change when it is needed.
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.
MARTIN’S WORDS STILL MATTER
Every year on Martin Luther King Jr Day we continue to honor the man and his words.
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.
Martin Luther King Jr had many gifts. He seemed to see truths clearly. He fearlessly shared these truths and directed us to take action. We are so lucky that one man seemed to know so much and also had 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.
Martin Luther King sought the truth before he spoke the truth. He listened. Maybe that is why he admired jazz musicians.
Most nights at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café jazz musicians listen to and speak truth to each other. When I look around at those gathered at this jazz club to listen to jazz, I hope it might make Dr. King smile. Let us keep in mind what he mentioned to us fifty years ago.“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.
COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
January 23 – 26
Steve Wood and Carl Cafagna, a couple of Detroit’s finest artists, will bring their tenor saxes to the Dirty Dog. for four nights. They will help us celebrate MLK’s life by listening and learning from each other. They are really good at that.