[JPL] An Open Letter to Oprah: A Jazz Alternative

Gregory Thomas gtjazz22 at yahoo.com
Wed May 2 09:25:37 EDT 2007


We should reach out to Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, etc., to do just that. 

Grady Tate is an elder jazz master who could speak eloquently about these topics too. I've heard him do 
so at the Jazz Museum in Harlem's "Harlem Speaks" dialogue series. 

Quincy Jones would be perfect also.

The star power of Marsalis, Redman, McBride and the big star wattage of Latifah was 
definitely a part of my reason for choosing them as an entry point. 

Their relative youth was also a factor for me.

Yet more important, inside the critical community of jazz writers and programmers, is the 
range of ideological perspectives they represent. 

No one with ears to hear will deny Redman's or McBride's jazz chops. Yet both are more open than Wynton to 
experimentation with electronic instrumentation, playing fusion-influenced styles, and performing with MCs and others 
connected to hip hop. Joshua and Christian are both highly intelligent and can articulate their views well.

Wynton ain't budging re: his stance on hip hop, and like him or not, he expresses his ideas well too.

Latifah serves as a bridge between hip hop and jazz, and, I suspect, between the viewpoints of these three gents.

So they'd cover a range of positions, speak with due respect and civility to one another and the audience, and then 
perform together. 

The effect could be dynamic: not only would Oprah's audience of millions hear high quality jazz among some of the best
on their respective instruments, they'd see Latifah sing and swing with them, and, say, Lewis Nash on drums and Mulgrew Miller on piano.

The dialogue wold move them from the role of "entertainer" and into the realm of public discourse. And the performance, if done well enough (w/that personnel, how could it be anything but?), will ascend to aesthetic heights rarely heard by Oprah's audience.

This would be good for the music.

We should surround and inundate Oprah with the request for her to have jazz on her show. It would certainly be fine if other talk show hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman would feature jazz musicians, but since Oprah opened a dialogue about negative words and images in popular culture, her top-rated show would be a great place to begin a sea change in the recognition and appreciation of the intellectual brilliance and artistry of jazz musicians.

Greg Thomas


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 1 May 2007 08:36:32 -0400
From: "Lazaro Vega" <wblv.wblu.fm at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [JPL] An Open Letter to Oprah: A Jazz Alternative
To: "Jazz Programmers Mailing List" <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
    <3862cff90705010536m6d3caee8v723b9aa2aeefa98f at mail.gmail.com>
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The star aspect is certainly her bag -- we're talking Harry Connick
type star power.

Greg's letter was wonderful; and Jae's ideas are right on, too. How
easy/hard would it be convince Natalie Cole or Knight to "go to bat"
for jazz with O?

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