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KenteClothtoJazz.pdf


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V
have been an understandable reaction to innovalions that r,vere difficult to
understand for their newness. But the failure to give the benefit of the doubt
to master musicians such as Dolphl' and Coltrane: perhaps due to the critics'
sense

a kind of "halÊconsciousness."
firmly established, he was able to weather

of entitlement, amounted to

Because Coltrane's career was

CIIAPTER

2

the storm of negative press and keep working steadily. Dolphv. howevet was

not similarlv entrenched in the music business, and he was soon having trou'tn
t96+, and beble finding work. IIe rejoined Mingus for a European tour
fore leaving, told the critic A. B. Spellman, "I'm on my way to Europe to live
for a while. V\4ry'l Because I can get more work there plaþg my own music,
and because if ,vou try to do anthing different in tlÌis countrv) people put 1'ou
down for it.'I22 Dolphy left Mingus during this tour to work in Paris, telling
a German critic that'I'd like to stay in Europe, there is no race trouble.'r23
Soon afterward, he died in Berlin of a heart attack caused by diabetes.

l\4rile it was marginalized, Dolph/s art embodied holistic musicality
manifesting "planetarv humanism." His story thus embodies both dre tragedy of United States of America, its "war," as well as its unique vision, its
"second sight."
As we have seen, genre, race, and nation are "invented traditions" that are
strategically invoked to further particular agendas. In the same wav. "planetary humanism" is an unabashedlv strategic and utopian reaching-out for
universalism. By usurping the unmarked category to refer to jazz and by
appropriating Euro-classical influences, African American musicians seize
power. This power manifests itself not only in ideas about music and in the
musical experience, but even in the mind-set tìat remains when the sound
stops. So lvhile it cannot be divorced from the polver-plays that permeate
social life, jazz consciousness creates an aesthetic space that reconfigures the
mind-set. Reed player Anthony Braxton articulates an overt vision of musical utopianism. He argues that "trans-African musíc" is a means of humanizing the world, a means of liberating all people'l2a fl4rile he developed in

the black nationalist milieu of the AACM, Braxton esPouses an inclusive
approach that embraces Euro-classical music (especially Schoenberg) as
well as the music of white jazzers (especially the sa-xophonists Warne Marsh
and Paul Desmond). Braxton argues that, as survivors of slavery, African
Americans have a special place in world culture, that the humanizing power

I(ente Cloth
anlttÞ

As Duke Ellington once said, "there is no more of an essentiallv African
strain in the typicai American Negro than there is an essentially French or
Italian strain in the typical American of those ancestries.,,r rhe fact, however, that race is a social and not a biological reality does not mean that
there is no cultural continuity between Africa¡-influenced cultures. shift-

exposed me to many aesthetic parallels between the many modes of Afro_
diasporic musicality.z I believe that scholars sometimes throw the baby out
with the bathwarer as academic fashions swing back and forth. since the
mid-twentieth cenrury, we have moved from Herskovits,s quantification of
African "survivals" (those cultural influences that remained as Africans set-

essentialism, . . . weighing the similarities and differences between black

black music can liberate all people from the shackles of closedmindedness.I2s Du Bois agreed that Africa¡ Americans have "a contribution to make to civilization and humaniq', which no other race can
make.'126 Jazz consciousness is central to this contribution.

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