[JPL] I gave this article five stars.

Eric Jackson eric-jackson at comcast.net
Thu May 3 12:11:07 EDT 2007

On Thursday 03 May 2007 11:01, Lazaro Vega wrote:
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> I remember Jim Wilke when you posted  a critique of this work and told us
> that the critic gave it one star.   I was appalled and let it be known
> then.  When a critic gives a work  like this ONE star, he has an agenda
> that never addressed the work.   There's something else going on..>>
> That's a pretty risky assertion. It suggests (hell, it comes out and
> accuses) that someone who doesn't like the artistic content of the
> work  must have
> dark motives. Might it be that the critic just didn't like it on its 
> artistic merit?
> Ed
> Yes, critics and publishers have an agenda. Branford's had writers
> tell him they wrote a favorable review of one of his dics only to have
> a editor give it back and tell the writer it was too positive, and
> that "we don't do that here." Not out of the realm of possbility that
> an agenda is involved.
> That said, Abby and Max did more musically with these themes than
> Wynton's achieved here. BUT, and it's a huge but, there's been little
> in the way of social insight from the world of jazz lately. Even
> Armstrong, Holiday, Ellington Brubeck and Mingus made powerful social

I'm curious as to how you measure that they did "more musically with these 
themes." And of the works you referred to, do you also rank them in terms of 
which is more musical? If so, I'd be curious to hear your list and why you 
place them that way.

I know that when Armstrong, Holiday and Ellington made their statements it 
could have cost them their lives or their livelihood so they did take a risk 
that Wynton didn't take. Billie had to go to another record company to record 
Strange Fruit because the company she was under contract to wouldn't record 
it. Armstrong did get into trouble in the 50s and I believe it was for his 
criticism of the federal governments civil rights policy. It is said that it 
cost Armstrong some work. The pendulum swung the other way and later 
Armstrong found himself criticized by many African Americans who called him 
an Uncle Tom.

> criticisms through music. It is about time the world of jazz spoke up
> again about the state of American affairs. True, one way to ruin a

Lazaro, I'm glad you used the word again. I'm sure you are aware that a number 
of artists dealt with political themes during the 60s and 70s. There were 
problems with fans and critics alike, and I would imagine, some radio folks 
too, who said that politics had no place in music. I remember long articles 
and arguments on this point. I think that politics has been a part of music 
both in Europe and Africa for centuries. And certainly some of the African 
American spirituals as they were sung in the late 18th century and early 19th 
century were political statements. And also in African American culture, 
hymns and spirituals were changed so they could be used in civil rights 
activity. I think there is a long tradition of politics ans music but some do 
argue the point.

> good meal is to talk about politics but maybe we've all had enough to
> eat for awhile, eh? That, or we leave it up to the Dixie Chicks.

And although this doesn't have words, Wynton has dealt with political and 
cultural ideas from the beginning. Remember Black Codes? I wonder how many 
people didn't even know about the Black Codes until Wynton named his album 
that. Then there is Blood On The Fields.

Are there still people around who feel the same way about politics and music? 
If the artists feel that there still might be problems with critics, fans and 
radio, they may be reluctant to state their views.

Eric Jackson
8 pm - mid Mon - Thurs
WGBH Boston
89.7 FM

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