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Jazz & Black Music of the Americas


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Jazz & Black Music of the Americas


April 14 8:30pm

IRON POST    120 S. Race St. Urbana IL

MARCELO BOCCATO piano TITO CARRILLO trumpet
GREG WARD alto sax JOHN TATE bass JAY SAWYER drums

 

Sponsored by Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies

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Black Music


Black Music


No matter what he’s playing, it’s the long song that started back there in the South. It’s the remembering song. There’s so much to remember.
— Sidney Bechet
 

The Americas are connected by a history of slavery and colonialism. While black communities created cultural expressions that are unique to the different geographic, national, and urban contexts in the continent, the musics created by these communities are united by common experiences of the African diaspora. This concert explores the diversity of expressions of Black Music of the Americas, focusing on repertoire from Brazil and U.S. and its transatlantic connections. Bringing their own individual voices and using jazz as a common framework for improvised collective performance, Marcelo Boccato, Tito Carrillo, Greg Ward, John Tate, and Jay Sawyer will create new interpretations of music by Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, Stevie Wonder, 2Pac, Thelonious Monk, and Danilo Perez.

 
 
For Bechet, African-American music (...) was expressive of cultural memory, and black-music making was the translation of the memory into sound and sound into memory. And it is so for many black musicians for they have always been highly sensitive to the efficacy, powers, and imperatives of the cultural memory (...) which goes back beyond the slave experience in America to Africa.
— Samuel A. Floyd Jr., The Power of Black Music
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Jazz as Vernacular Practice


Jazz as Vernacular Practice


While still in my teens, I went on the road with a group that played church music for an evangelist. Rock and roll or rhythm and blues. (...) She preached and healed and we played. We had trumpet, saxophone, piano, and drums. (...) I always did play jazz. I mean, I was playing church music the same way.
— Thelonious Monk
Like most black musicians, much of my early inspiration, especially with rhythm and harmonies, came from the church. (…) The Sanctified church had a deep significance for me, musically. I first learned the meaning of rhythm there and all about how music could transport people spiritually.
— Dizzy Gillespie
A lot of my music came from the church. All the music I heard when I was a very young child was church music. I was eight or nine years old before I heard an Ellington record on the radio. The blues was in the Holiness churches—moaning and riffs and that sort of thing between the audience and the preacher.
— Charles Mingus

Bebop musicians were responsible for many innovations that still carry an impact on jazz today. They are mostly recognized by their virtuosity and developments in harmonic language, but perhaps their largest impact was on redefining jazz from a genre of popular music to a framework for improvisation. Bebop musicians had a direct connection to swing bands and thus continued to expand on similar repertoire and stylistic elements, but building from this new approach to improvisation, they were soon exploring with different styles of music. Cuban musicians introduced son montuno to the NYC jazz scene, and in the 1950s, gospel and R&B became central to the development of hard bop. Soon after, with the increasing influence of U.S. culture in the Americas, more genres of music began to incorporate elements from jazz, including many Brazilian musicians who were exploring modern approached to samba and baião. 

The history of jazz has been deeply connected to practices of popular, or vernacular music. and its development continues to depend of this symbiotic relation. Artists like Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Danilo Perez, Miguel Zénon, Joshua Redman, Brian Blade, Kenny Garrett, Robert Glasper, and many others are creating music that, while remaining close to the canon, continue to expand the boundaries of jazz by drawing from funk, gospel, hip hop, rock, bomba, salsa, típico. Musicians from the Americas have encountered in jazz the possibility to connect to transatlantic musical practices while creating music that reflects their individual and collective experiences from different local contexts.  

The vernacular is marked by its ability to speak popular resistance and popular culture to power. (...) The vernacular is adaptable to its situation, able to translate and situate itself in nonnative locales. (...) The vernacular can be exported. Or it can make common cause with other vernaculars.
— Grant Farred, What's My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals
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Afro-Modernism


Afro-Modernism


The ultimate victory of hard bop styles in defining the aesthetic center of this canonic period in jazz, I suggest, represents a blackening of modernist aesthetics, which would ultimately serve as a standard against which any player of jazz would be evaluated.
— Ingrid Monson, Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call out to Jazz and Africa

While hard bop consolidated a blackening of modernist aesthetics in the United States, European classical music continued to be perceived as the standard for modern practices. Samba became the most popular style of music in Brazil, and while it was celebrated for integrating musicians from different racial backgrounds, the inclusion of black musicians was also accompanied by shifting identities emphasizing nationality over race, a process that silenced and marginalized the contributions of Afro-Brazilian musicians.

Milton Nascimento and Gilberto Gil were some of leading Afro-Brazilian musicians who challenged notions of modernity centered around European music and predominant constructions of national identity during the 1960s and 1970s. They departed from samba as the only expression of Brazilianess, exploring other Afro-Brazilian cultural practices. Nascimento drew from Afro-Brazilian religious music that permeated his home state of Minas Gerais, and Gilberto Gil explored modern takes on baião, a style that represented the Northeastern region and symbolized a rural, and to some, backwards Brazil. Nascimento and Gil were not afraid to experiment with rock and jazz, defying ideas of an isolated national identity by seeking transatlantic musical connections. 

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Say Her Name


Say Her Name


Despite some advancements, black culture continues to be marginalized and criminalized, and black people in the Americas continue to suffer disproportionately with poverty, violence, and state repression. While celebrating the geniality and long-lasting impact of these musicians in shaping cultural identities of an entire hemisphere, Black Music of the Americas is also an invitation to reflect on the conditions through which this art was created and a call for action to scholars, students, activists, and the community.

On March 14th, 2018, Marielle Franco, a black city councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro, was assassinated with four shots in the head while waiting on her car after leaving a public event "Black Women Moving Structures." Her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also hit by the shots and died at the scene. Ms. Franco represented a small group of black women in Brazil's legislative branches, and was known as an advocate for LGBTQ and human rights and a vocal critic of police violence at the favelas, Rio de Janeiro's black and poor communities.. On February 16th, President Michel Temer authorized a federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro, giving policing powers to the armed forces in that state. At the time of her death, Ms. Franco was the chair of the committee responsible for overseeing the armed forces intervention, which has already been accused of human rights violations.

In this concert, we remember Marielle Franco and her fight against police brutality, as well as the men and women of color who have died from the rampant state repression. 

 

Embroidery art by Marília Corrêa