Many racist, white, chauvinistic, male, Tea Party types have joined in the vote to send Utah’s Mia Love to Congress. Tim Scott was re-elected to represent South Carolina in the Senate helped by votes from hundreds of thousands of southern white racists (probably closet members of the KKK). Susana Martinez was overwhelmingly reelected governor of New Mexico by anglo-chauvinists. Ben Carson, a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon apparently has decided to run for President in 2016 as, yikes, a Republican. There must be some mistake. Well there is, but only if you live in an alternative universe where you are gullible enough to let yourself be manipulated by the lies of the Left.
Utah Republican Mia Love – now on her way to Congress.
The “War on Women,” Republicans-hate-minorities campaign waged by Democrats has been a phony distraction from serious problems like high Black unemployment, stagnant wages, an enormous increase in the federal debt on Obama’s watch, the Un-Affordable Care Act, and the failure of American diplomacy around the world, which has made the world a far more dangerous place than it was just six or seven years ago.
Tim Scott Republican Senator from So. Carolina
Democrat National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ strategy was to: lie about Republicans, use her Democrat friends in media to spread those lies, change the subject when the Obama Democrats’ policy disasters were exposed, lie again for good measure, act cocky. It didn’t work this time. Why? The results of the Obama Democrats’ governing policies are in and they don’t work. Eventually, real issues will trump phony ones.
Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico
If the new Republican-controlled Congress sticks to an agenda that focuses on lower taxes, fewer regulations, economic freedom, fiscal responsibility, the rule of law, national security, and international stability, then we can begin to turn this country around. A rising tide in America will lift all boats.
Ben Carson, likely Republican contender for President in 2016
Sure, President Obama has a veto pen. Let him use it. Then we will see once again who the real obstructionists are. No keen observer expects the Prez to compromise much, although he will give speech after interview saying he is trying, but that the rascally Republican majority is just too extreme and unbending. So why won’t Barack Obama compromise for the good of the country? Answer: Even in defeat, arrogance knows no self-reflection; it merely blames others for its failures. If Democrats decide to stop dividing Americans along the lines of things like race, gender, religion, and sexual preference, it probably won’t be for the right reasons; it will be done because it’s a strategy that has relegated them to minority status in Congress and in many statehouses around the country. How ironic. Frotho Canutus
Most of you who read my blog probably don’t know it, but I am a big-time “jazzmaniac” * and I have been for a long time. It all started around age 16 when I discovered my father’s 33rpm of Louis Armstrong’s ground-breaking recordings from 1927-28 with Earl “Fatha” Hines. Well that was around 1978 or 1979 when most kids I knew who were around my age were listening to rock groups like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones. Most of them couldn’t give a hoot about Jazz. Sure, I dug Rock and Roll then and still do, but I knew that there were other great forms of music as well. Jazz just grabbed me from the beginning and I’ve been in love with this great music ever since. One thing I sensed early on – there was a lot more to Jazz than the music alone.
* A term that was made popular by jazz drummer Kenny Washington.
This has given me a long time to ponder the meaning of Jazz – about 35 years. And for some reason I am now compelled to put my thoughts to (virtual) paper. This will be my humble, incomplete and certainly imperfect attempt to explain what Jazz means to me. And if this gets one person who was formerly apathetic about Jazz to sit down and enjoy it, then I will have accomplished something. Jazz is, after all, also about sharing.
One thing about Jazz, it made me want to know – who were the people who created this amazing music. I think part of this drive to know is the amateur anthropologist/historiographer hiding inside me. Where did the music originate? What culture or cultures did it emerge from? You cannot separate the people from the music. Jazz is the expression of almost everything it is to be human. In this sense Rock and Roll seems far more one dimensional – the product of youthful, somewhat immature concerns and obsessions. What was unique about Jazz was that it came out of the experiences, for the most part, of the American Negro. Therefore, its roots are folk music. It can be argued that it was the Negro’s music that was his or her primary form of artistic expression and the only one visible to most of the outside world. Incidentally, anyone who studies the history of rock music knows that “Negro music” played an essential role in its development. Rock and Roll would not exist if it were not for the blues which originated out of the southern Negro culture.
It is the people who made and created jazz that give it its depth. Lester Young, the great tenor saxophone player who came to prominence in the late 1930’s with the Count Basie Band, once said that he would never play a solo if he did not know the words behind the song. He had to know the song, even if the band was playing an instrumental version with no vocals. Lester knew that if he did not understand the meaning of a song, the human story, the emotions, that his solo would be in vain, it would be meaningless. The ideas behind the song were the compass that gave his solos direction. The mechanics of playing music did not seem to matter to Lester Young.
Lester Young playing tenor saxophone ca. 1940.
Near the end of his life, when he was deteriorating rapidly both mentally and physically, Lester Young played one of his greatest solos ever. Lester may no longer have had the capacity to play some of the jubilant solos of his earlier days, but that did not matter. The song was “Fine and Mellow” and during this recording and filming session for CBS Lester was reunited after several years with female singer Billie Holiday. I do not know if Lester and Billie were ever romantically involved, but there is no doubt in my mind that they loved and respected each other very deeply. Because that’s what their music tells me. Lester was so frail that day that no one was sure if he would be able to play with the band. But oh did he play!
Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster played his solo before it was Lester’s turn. Webster was no slouch. After all, the great bandleader and composer Duke Ellington thought highly enough of Webster to ask him in 1935 to join his band. But when Webster solos on “Fine and Mellow” you know what he is playing – a tenor saxophone. His instrument sounds like it’s supposed to, like you’d expect it to sound. Contrast that to Lester’s solo a little later in the tune – it doesn’t sound like a tenor saxophone at all. It doesn’t sound like any instrument that has ever existed. It is pure Lester, pure emotion. It’s as if there are no mechanics, no reed, no instrument there at all, just Lester’s spirit, Lester’s soul.
Lester’s lean solo contained only about 50 notes or so, whereas Webster’s probably contained two or three times as many. Amazingly, Lester’s playing seems to have a pronounced effect on the band; the tempo slows a bit, the band plays more softly and it’s as if the members of the band are stepping aside for the moment out of reverence and respect for Lester. Compare Lester’s “Fine and Mellow” solo to ones like his blazers on Taxi War Dance, or Woodside, or Limehouse Blues and one cannot help but be astonished at the range and depth of expression that Young was able to communicate through his horn.
Jazz critic Nat Hentoff was in the control room during the recording of “Fine and Mellow” and recalled that Lester’s solo literally brought everyone in the control room to tears:
“Lester got up, and he played the purest blues I have ever heard, and [he and Holiday] were looking at each other, their eyes were sort of interlocked, and she was sort of nodding and half–smiling. It was as if they were both remembering what had been—whatever that was. And in the control room we were all crying. When the show was over, they went their separate ways.”
The great jazz musicologist, Gunther Shuller wrote, “Billie and Lester – two great tragic figures of jazz – never saw each other again. Little more than a year later, they were both gone; they died within four months of each other. Billie was only 44, Lester, 49.
Billie Holiday, 1947 by William Gottlieb.
Billie Holiday, 1949 by Herman Leonard.
Jazz is also a great medium through which to learn about American history, the good as well as the bad. Most of the great jazz musicians were Black. I’ll leave it to someone else to explain this, but there are certainly exceptions, like Bix Beiderbecke and Benny Goodman. So if you study the lives of these great Black masters of 20th century Jazz music, you cannot escape the stain of racism on our history. Some of these all Black bands and musicians tried to avoid touring in the Deep South altogether if they could. Trumpet virtuoso, Roy Eldridge, was one of the first Black jazz musicians to be integrated into an all-White swing band. The trouble was that although Roy was at least on equal footing musically with anyone else in the band, he still felt like an outcast. While traveling on the road with Gene Krupa’s band, Roy could not dine in the local eateries with the rest of the band because of his skin color. And Roy knew the only proper entrance for a Black man at many of their music venues was through the back door. It was too much for poor Roy to take and he had to quit playing with the all-White bands. But Gene Krupa and Artie Shaw both showed guts when they asked Roy to join their bands, they didn’t care that Roy was Black. What they cared about was Roy’s playing and what he brought to the stage and Roy was really great. He wasn’t called “Little Jazz” for nothing.
Gene Krupa even got into a fistfight once when one restaurant owner refused to serve Roy because of his skin color. On another occasion one local police official trumped up charges against Krupa because he didn’t think it was proper that a Black man was playing and travelling with an otherwise all-White band. In addition to being a great musician and performer, Roy Eldridge was one of the nicest, sweetest guys ever and so these stories really break your heart.
One amazing human being who played jazz was a man who went by the name of Chick Webb. Born William Henry Webb in 1905, Chick was one of the greatest swing drummers of his era. His powerful, often melodic solos, were innovative displays of swinging, syncopated rhythms. As everyone knows drumming is a physically demanding part of any Jazz band, which makes Chick Webb’s playing all that more amazing because Chick was a very sickly human being throughout most of his short life. He contracted tuberculosis of the spine as a young child which resulted in a badly deformed spine. Chick wasn’t even 5 feet tall and he looked like a hunchback.
Chick Webb at his drums, ca. 1937.
In the 1930’s Chick and his orchestra played regularly at the Savoy Ballroom, an upscale dance club in Harlem were the “Battle of the Bands” competition was often held. His band often came out on top even edging out the Benny Goodman and Count Basie bands. One might say that Chick Webb deserved the title “King of Swing” as much as anybody. You can really hear Chick driving the band on some of the suggested listening numbers below. Listen to Chick’s drums during the first break on “Who Ya Hunchin’.” Later in the tune you can hear Chick joyfully shouting “YEAH!” as the band pushes to the heights of swing.
Chick died from his spinal tuberculosis when he was only 34. He kept playing almost to the very end even though he was often in great pain. Although small in stature, Chick Webb was big in spirit. He had a lot of heart and played big.
Look for the next Jazz post where I’ll explore some of the other great Jazz personalities and their music.
Note: My use of the words Black and Negro are not meant to offend anyone. These words are simply better choices (in my opinion) for communicating the history of Jazz and are the same words used by jazz musicologists of previous generations. The point of this post is to learn something about Jazz and the wonderful people who made it. The purpose of this blog is not to be concerned about political correctness and self-censorship. P.C. is anti-freedom, and therefore anti -Jazz.
Suggested listening (some can be heard on YouTube):
Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven (Armstrong – cornet, trumpet, vocals):
“Potato Head Blues” (Recorded 5/10/27)
Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five:
“Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” (12/9/27)
“Sugar Foot Strut” (6/28/28)
Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra:
“Basin Street Blues” (12/4/28)
Louis Armstrong and His Savoy Ballroom Five:
“St. James Infirmary” (12/12/28)
Lester Young (tenor saxophone) with the Count Basie Orchestra:
“Jumpin’ at the Woodside” (August 22, 1938)
Taxi War Dance (March 19, 1939)
Lester Young (tenor sax, clarinet) with Glenn Hardman and his Hammond Five:
“On the Sunny Side of the Street” (June 26, 1939)
Lester Young (tenor saxophone) withBillie Holiday (vocals):
“He’s Funny That Way” (8/13/37)
“When You’re Smiling” (January 6, 1938)
“All of Me” (3/21/41)
“Fine and Mellow” (12/8/57)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet, vocals) with the Gene Krupa Orchestra:
I must admit, some Halloween costume themes this year (as in every year) really are in very poor taste and are recognized as such by most civilized people. Ones like “Neighborhood Watch,” which portrays George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin with a bullet wound in his chest or the maimed Asiana Airline crash pilots with the phony names Wi Tu Lo and Sum Ting Wong. These are not amusing. They exploit horrific tragedies and show a real level of callousness, of untaught feelings in the people who are amused by them.
But then there are other costumes that some groups of people feign offense toward. Ones like the Sexy Indian Squaw, or Mexicans wearing sombreros, or the Sushi Chef. I mean really, if someone wants to manufacture offense at something silly like a girl in a Japanese kimono, let them go ahead and be offended. But I don’t believe it. Here’s what Anh Do of the Los Angeles Times reported on October 28th: “Pottery Barn apologized for selling a Halloween costume of a sushi chef and a kimono that an Asian civil-rights group had complained were culturally offensive.The retailer confirmed late Monday that the items had been removed from its website.”
WOOPS ! I HOPE I DON’T OFFEND THE GANGSTERS.
People who are easily swayed or cowered by this manufactured offense need to lighten up. And the perpetrators of this offense need to stop pretending that it’s a sensitivity thing. It is not. It is merely a way to gain power over other people. It’s like those who claim that if you are a White person and don’t like Barack Obama’s and the Democrats’ new health care law, it must only be because you are some kind of racist. These are nothing more than attempts by the political left to publicly flog or delegitimize the people who do not share their world view. Believe me – these things are related.
NOTHING OFFENSIVE HERE.
So don’t worry so much about offending someone with your or your kids’ Halloween costume. If people want to put their energy into being offended they should be offended by things that really matter. Things like politicians who lie and make promises like, “If you like your health care plan you can keep it,” etc. Or the fact that many of our members of Congress show an utter disregard for the U.S. Constitution, or the $17 trillion (and growing) federal debt racked up by irresponsible politicians, which will greatly reduce the living standards of the next generation of Americans. Being offended by things like that would not be misplaced.
George Zimmerman’s nose after getting a beating from Trayvon Martin. Photo: Reuters.
I am a native Jersey boy and a New York Giants fan. I used to really like Victor Cruz. Not any more.
Justice was done in the Trayvon Martin trial. An innocent man is now free. What is disgusting to me is that the left in this country (which includes many in the media like Sharpton, Matthews, etc.) was willing to sacrifice the life of a man for a political agenda. They do not care about people. People are tools, mere pawns in their political world, to be used and even destroyed if necessary. It’s ugly, immoral and evil.
It’s a shame that Trayvon’s parents, family and friends are deprived of their loved one, a real tragedy. But George Zimmerman was no racist. He did not wake up that fateful day and say to himself, “I am white, I don’t like blacks and if I see one today I am gonna teach them a lesson.” But that’s what people on the left were trying to convince the public about George Zimmerman. For them it’s all about keeping black people on the left-wing, Democrat plantation. It’s a successful tactic that will have many black folks seeing themselves as victims of racism in perpetuity – those who allow themselves to be manipulated by this sinister strategy will remain faithful pawns in the left’s bid to seize and maintain control of all political power in this country.
Speaking on MSNBC on Tuesday, civil rights activist Julian Bond tried to defend the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups by saying:
“I mean, here are a group of people who are admittedly racist, who are overtly political, who tried as best they can to harm President Obama in every way they can.”
“[The Tea Party] is the Taliban wing of American politics and we all ought to be a little worried about them.”
This kind of slanderous lying deserves to be answered, so I tracked down Julian Bond’s email address at American University and sent him the following letter:
Racists, Racists, Everywhere!
Dear Julian Bond,
You routinely throw charges of racism at people you don’t even know. This is a strategy you use to discredit, in the minds of others, people with whom you disagree politically. Since you have no evidence that most Tea Party members are racists, it means that you are in essence publicly bearing false witness against thousands of people. You are therefore, guilty of breaking one of God’s Ten Commandments. Surely that cannot be a good thing.
It would be like Walter Williams saying that Democrats should all be investigated because as everyone knows they are all lying, cheating adulterers.
But unlike you, Walter Williams is an honest, classy guy and would never bear false witness against people with whom he disagrees politically. He argues ideas and uses facts.
I am a white, conservative male who has black heroes. You cannot explain this. But I can assure you, you are not one of them.
Another subject: Yesterday Chris Matthews was critical of President Obama on his TV show. In your twisted world this absolutely makes Matthews a white racist. Will you try to get Chris fired or ask the I.R.S. to audit him?
Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of our great men, once wrote a friend:
“I agree with you in deriving our physical calamities from moral causes…. A bitter and unchristian spirit has likewise divided our citizens. We have not, it is true, erected a guillotine in our country, but we enjoy similar spectacles of cruelty in the destruction of public and private characters in our newspapers.” *
Things haven’t changed much, have they?
I’ve watched Maddow, Olberman, Matthews and others similar on MSNBC many, many times, so I don’t need anyone to tell me what to think about them. For those of you who have been told how horrible and racist Fox News is, but haven’t watched it for yourselves, you might want to take it upon yourselves to actually see if what you have been told is true. Give it at least two weeks. Fox News has excellent and fair reporting (not perfect). And they truly have nice, good and decent people working for them – they are not the rotten devils you have been told they are.
Some of you who watch MSNBC and other Liberal news outlets have been led to believe that most Republicans are racist. You have been lied to. Why? Because by demonizing their opponents, the left prevents people from listening to Republicans’ ideas, which may have merit. Another reason the left makes charges of racism is that it provokes in some people an immediate, prejudicial response, which requires no critical thinking. The trumped-up charges of racism and wars on women are nothing but propaganda meant to manipulate the feelings of certain groups. Independent, critical thinkers generally are not fooled by such propaganda. There is no Republican war on Gays, or Hispanics, or Women. These are all distractions meant to control these groups and maintain them as constituents in the Democrat party.
Why did MSNBC run the Rubio sipping water clip over 155 times? Answer: It’s part of a larger effort to neutralize an up and coming Hispanic conservative and make him look like a buffoon. It’s part of the left’s war on conservative minorities. That, is a real war. Many on the left show no respect for conservative minorities and heap nothing but disdain on them.
As far as our leaders go, we must not tolerate politicians who prefer to sow seeds of division, hatred and confusion, rather than discuss the difficult issues facing our country with well-reasoned and substantive arguments. The time they waste spewing their nonsense means less time spent offering solutions. Decent people do not try to manipulate others with false accusations of being homophobic, or racist or whatever.
Benjamin Rush’s observation about the media still applies today. Unfortunately, it appears we have learned nothing in the 220 years since he observed it. It’s time to stop once and for all the public name calling and character assassination that is so prevalent in our politics. We need to begin devoting only our intellects and all of our energies towards solving the dangerous problems that face our nation. That goes for Republicans too.
Our number one issue is economic, so lets start there. We need to revive the economy mainly through private, not public initiative. We must reduce government spending before the federal government becomes insolvent or destroys the value of our currency and our savings. We need fewer regulatory constraints on businesses. We must revise the tort system. If we do these things, there is no doubt in my mind that America will rise again. For that, I am sure, some will call me a racist.
For those of you who are not familiar with him, I would like to call your attention to that great man who was Benjamin Rush. Born in Philadelphia in 1746, Rush became a physician, patriot, author, educator, humanitarian and an early abolitionist. He was one among those brave men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor when they signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. According to L. H. Butterfield, editor of Rush’s letters, “Rush’s fame sprang from his own vigorous and magnetic personality; from his substantial accomplishments in medicine, psychiatry, education, and social reform; from the great body of his published writings; from his gifts as a teacher and lecturer; and finally, from the letters he wrote to scores of friends, relatives, patients, pupils and colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic.”
“Long regarded by everyone except himself and perhaps a few other Philadelphians as the leading citizen of Philadelphia, the recipient of uncounted honors from his countrymen and from European courts and learned societies, Rush had achieved a reputation not surpassed by that of any other American physician for a century or more.”
Dear Reader: Please check back in the future for a page which I will wholly devote to Dr. Rush’s life and accomplishments.)
*Benjamin Rush to William Marshall, September 15, 1798. Letters of Benjamin Rush, Vol. II, p. 807