ARTIST: ROMARE BEARDEN
Jazz is constantly proclaimed as America’s gift to music. It is probably more correct to think of it as music’s gift to America, and for sure, the world. The history of jazz is full of bad times and good timing. It has had a journey that reflects the freedom and possibilities of a nation. It contains also the pain, anger and force of those who have created this music to balm their suffering.
Jazz as a musical form has had many influences, including its path.
MY PERSONAL MIGRATION TO JAZZ
I started to migrate toward jazz when I was a child and easily influenced. My parents didn’t give us kids a vote on what kind of music was played on the Victrola. Jazz was universally popular and that is what we got.. I don’t ever remember being told that the music that made us want to dance was jazz. I assumed that the music was created by an electrical device that moved round and round. If only life were that simple. The story behind that uplifting music has not always been that pretty. Jazz was born out of deprivation, misery and some hope. It survived and grew by those escaping from harm, who migrated to a better place. It has been formed by the path it took and continues to evolve in the places it landed.
EMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION
ARTIST: JACOB LAWRENCE
Emigration is the act of leaving one’s resident country with the intent to settle elsewhere Conversely, immigration describes the movement of persons into one country from another. Both are acts of migration across national boundaries.
People are pushed out of one place and some are attracted to another. There can be a desire to escape negative circumstances such as shortages of land or jobs, or more commonly to flee unfair treatment. People can be pulled to the opportunities available elsewhere. Fleeing from oppressive conditions may lead to permanent emigration.
MIGRATION OF JAZZ IN AMERICA
Jazz’s birthplace is thought to be New Orleans. This assumes that a bunch of musicians just appeared one day on the docks and made up some tunes. The truth is that New Orleans was a hub of commerce for our young nation. A lot of workers showed up and a lot of hard labor was required. Commerce brought goods from Cuba and the Cubans brought their rhythms which had emigrated from Africa. Jazz’s birth is the result of immigration and forced slavery followed by migration. It is the story of hard lives and hard work. It is music of desperation and escape. It is the music that people kept in their back pocket when they were forced to move on. As the people moved around, the music went with them. As they settled in new places the music changed, but the music they kept in their suitcases can still be heard.
ARTIST: JACOB LAWRENCE
Along the path to Detroit jazz has added to its suitcase. By the time it arrived at the strong northern markets of Chicago and Detroit it had added some new stories while coming up the Mississippi. The one thing about jazz is that it always seems to have taken root before it moved on. Even as the cities crowded with folks flush with dollars in their pockets took what they wanted to hear from the music, others heard and understood the original hurt and call for freedom that has survived to this day. Every city on that initial trek north has taken jazz and added its distinct sounds. Jazz, for some time, has had international tentacles. Where there is need, there is jazz. Wherever you are jazz seems to arrive just in time to cheer folks up, help them grieve and challenge them musically.
NORTHERN CITIES HAD JOBS AND PAY
ARTIST: JACOB LAWRENCE
Musicians arriving by boat and and train found bustling economies. They got day jobs with the help of those who preceded them. They soon found audiences for their music.
ARTIST: KADIR NELSON
Soon in the audiences listening to this new music were musicians from all backgrounds. Layers began to be added. Possibilities were explored, and the music grew. When trains arrived from Chicago and St. Louis the musicians getting off had gigs waiting. Detroiters embraced jazz and the blues as they heard a familiar story. They have not left it alone and have added a drive and persistence that is deep in the soul of this hard driving city.
In 2017, Detroit is still a music catalyst for the world.
COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ MARCH 22 – MARCH 25
Ian Finkelstein is a Jazz pianist, producer, composer and educator. He has made short geographic moves from greater Detroit to Ann Arbor and back to the action in Detroit. Ian has not migrated very far. He has had to take his considerable talent for a pretty short ride. Ian not too long ago stepped out of an advanced studies program at the U of M, not from a crowded train. He has, however, brought with him a deep appreciation for jazz’s roots.
Jazz just gets better and better.
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