September 2007


Amiri Baraka and Willam Parker – Plenary Panel The Future of Jazz
Chair: Ron Gaskin
at the Guelph Jazz Festival
September 7, 2007 Macdonald Stewart Art Centre Guelph
The Future of Jazz
by David Fujino with photo by Roger Humbert

Incisive forever, panelist William Parker responded to a question from the audience with this lovely thought, "People who study birds can't fly."

Parker and his chuckling fellow panelist, Amiri Baraka, delivered such zingers all morning.

While mostly sidestepping the ponderous question, "The Future of Jazz", Parker did end up answering that somewhere people will always be playing the music.

On the matter of social change, Amiri Baraka answered that you first have to get together with others and organize around common concerns. You don't let go and you repeat and repeat day after day the same things to the powers-that-be, and eventually you'll get what you want. (Baraka has helped to establish an African-American museum in Newark, New Jersey, where he lives.) But, he emphasized, you've got to keep showing up.

About a funded study of improvisation and its social effects that was underway at Guelph University, Parker suggested the money should instead be given to improvising musicians who'd play for audiences that would then understand something about improvisation.

The panelists stayed refreshingly un-academic in their answers, but they didn't go lowbrow, either. They simply spoke sensibly from their considerable life experience as working and contributing artists.

Amiri Baraka

Later that evening, bassist Parker and poet Baraka would perform as members of the William Parker Ensemble, The Inside Stories of Curtis Mayfield, and here they'd deliver a performance that would qualify even in their own books as solid "innertainment versus entertainment." (Parker/Baraka)

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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