[JPL] Barack Obama: Jazz Politician
drjazz at drjazz.com
Sun Aug 17 23:05:46 EDT 2008
August 17, 2008...5:19 am
Barack Obama: Jazz Politician
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It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally think I know why so
many White folks are having a hard time getting into Barack Obama.
I think it's because Barack is a jazz politician in a culture used to
country and soft-ass pop politicians. America respects jazz. It just
doesn't want to listen to it.
Maybe because unlike pop music, jazz demands you not just /listen/, but
Changin up the groove
Changin' up the groove
When I was a kid I was into soul music, pop music and rock music. I
wasn't even slightly into jazz music. Jazz was "old people's music."
Now that I'm older than I've ever been I love jazz. I love it more than
any other type of music even though I still have a soft place in my
heart for some quality old school soul and every now and then I've got
to hear some rock n' roll guitar riffs blowing out of my car stereo.
Barack Obama is a jazz politician. You can see him improvising,
deviating from the script, and at times he's way ahead of the audience.
Barack is no Miles. He's not Coltrane. Miles and 'Trane were not just
innovators, they were revolutionaries. He's more like Herbie Hancock or
George Benson. Guys who didn't so much blaze a path as they followed it
and took it into their own direction. That's Obama. A brother with
serious chops and a even more serious education in politics, but aiming
for a bigger audience; a crossover audience and the success that comes
All of which throughly pisses off the purists. "He's too brash and he
hasn't payed his dues," they sneer. Mediocre minds always throw stones
at someone who doesn't represent the status quo.
Real improvisers/innovators don't play for critics. They play for the
people. The hardcore few don't give the people what they want. They
give them what they want first and make the fans realize they needed it
The trick of it is to not lose your authenticity even while you're
bringing the message to a wider audience. It's a tricky move and just
like Herbie and George, Barack has at times wandered a little too far
from jazz into impure Kenny G. pop/sludge.
And there's /nothing/ authentic about that.
But play on Barack. Play on brother.
/"We all have to open our minds, stretch forth, take chances and venture
out musically to try and arrive at something new and different." ~
Change "musically" to "politically." Otherwise the meaning doesn't change.
Dr. Jazz Operations
Oak Park, MI 48237
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