VOTE FOR JAZZ
JAZZ AND DEMOCRACY
America’s music, jazz reflects the best principles of our political system when it is working.
This Tuesday Americans will go to the polls. For those who are hesitating, here is a non partisan reason to vote.
Politicians will make an appeal for you to vote in your immediate best interest and probably his/hers. But whenever you are given the chance, vote for those who would make life better for our children, grandchildren and all the future generations. Vote for someone who asks for your help to help your neighbor and community.
Vote for those who will invest in a community that believes it is important to work together to make a safe place where children can thrive, prosper and concentrate on being children. Vote for those who work to protect our children’s futures rather than their own political future.
MY TAKE ON JAZZ AND DEMOCRACY
I wrote this earlier, but it is still true.
I grew up without television which left our family with a lot of time to sit and stare at each other. We seldom did. We chose to listen to the news as dinner was prepared after which we sat down for our meal and discussed what we heard.
Following dinner we sat around the radio and listened to music. These were the best times. This is maybe why I prefer to listen to music than to the cacophony of the candidates talking about themselves.
I have a personal appeal. Vote for those who you think would like jazz music. They recognize democracy when they see it. Vote for a jazz musician.
Jazz musicians will be missing on the ballot this year. If they were, I do have a long list of candidates who possess all the qualities I would be looking for in a candidate. Some that come immediately to mind are bassist Marion Hayden, Rodney Whitaker, Jeff Pedras, alphe Armstong, Ibrahim Jones etc. etc., along with drummers Sean Dobbins, David Taylor, Jeff Canady, Gayelynn McKinney etc., etc.
These are jazz musicians who are the heart of a jazz band. Their role it is to provide a solid base while pushing for better things. A lot of men and women who play jazz have the character traits that are necessary to bring a community together to produce glorious results. This isn’t all that easy. Keeping a group focused on a common goal requires hard work, commitment, passion, compassion, the acknowledgement of mistakes and the ability to change course. All of these traits are essential to playing jazz and to maintaining a democracy.
“Jazz is like a musical democracy; when you get on the bandstand to play, it doesn’t matter what color you are; what matters is if you can play—and anyone can speak that language.” RODNEY WHITAKER
LESSONS THAT JAZZ MUSICIANS CAN TEACH POLITICIANS
All the candidates could learn something from listening to more jazz and less of the advice from their handlers. What they would hear in their local jazz joint would be a group dedicated to making joyous sounds together. Together they make the group sound its very best. What politicians would find would be that each artist will be listening to the other and making everyone better. This is democracy at work
Successful jazz musicians listen.
Jazz musicians lead by example.
They give everybody a chance to shine.
They respect each other.
They judge people only by their ability.
They care about preserving the best parts.
Jazz musicians welcome the new guy.
Jazz musicians have something to say, and it is seldom about themselves.
RODNEY WHITAKER DIEGO RIVERA
WE ALL CAN LEARN FROM THE JAZZ COMMUNITY ABOUT TEACHING DEMOCRACY
I have had the opportunity to be in the room when some of Detroit’s jazz musicians discussed the roles that the different instruments play in a jazz band. They were surrounded by wide eyed young people who listened intently to these important musical heroes as they demonstrated how important democracy was to allow these different elements to coexist with and actually enhance one another.
Sandra Day O’Connor, a Republican and retired Supreme Court Justice, and Wynton Marsalis, an avowed Musician, joined together to create a children’s program called Let Freedom Swing. The program informs the kids about the structure and purpose of our political institutions and how a jazz band relies on the same principles.
Children in the program are asked to see the push and pull between individual rights and, the “greater good” in both democratic society and jazz performance. Activities and discussion questions center on the system of checks and balances in the Constitution, the importance of listening, and the importance of staying involved in society and music.
One group included Diego Rivera, Sean Dobbins and was led by Rodney Whitaker. Wynton Marsalis had given Rodney the opportunity to bring the remarkable program LET FREEDOM SWING to Michigan and to Detroit’s school children where I saw them in action.
LET FREEDOM SWING
This week will bring a pause to electioneering. Go to a jazz club and enjoy some democracy in action.
COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE´
November 5 – 10
Michael is so gifted. He is also another example of Detroit jazz artists who continue to learn and grow. Each time he comes to the Dirty Dog he brings something new, which he will be sharing with his band mates. Come on out.