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putting the bae in baewaqoof // mo melanin, mo problems // nonwestern futurisms // editor, THE STATE, contributing editor The New Inquiry // dxb, uae




Hot Music in a Bombay Hotel—”The idea of ‘freedom’ as a transgression is a central strand in Naresh Fernandes’s book. Jazz gave voice to this aspiration for the ‘modern’. The audiences for jazz in the early and mid-20th century were a restless bunch of hedonists, who may have seemed apolitical but did, in fact, embrace a culture that was born in resistance. The main Indian practitioners of this transgressive music were Roman Catholics, many of them from Goa, a Portuguese colony nestling within India, the jewel in the British Crown. Their upbringing provided them with basic training in Western musical forms, along with a primal distaste for their own colonised state, and rapture for jazz, that music that just “swung”.”

The Indian Who Discovered Ella—”But his front man was persistent and brought over a singer he’d heard at the Harlem Opera House. The drummer was, of course, bowled over by the 16-year-old Ella Fitzgerald and she spurred the Chick Webb band on to even greater success. Young Bardu Ali, who had discovered Fitzgerald, didn’t do badly either. He would go on to lead his own band, the Bardu Ali Orchestra, and eventually open a rhythm and blues club in Los Angeles. No one could quite have predicted this for the boy who had been born Bahadour Ali, the son of an adventurous embroidery trader from the Hoogly region in India.”

Interludes: Egypt in blue—”From the album brilliantly and uncompromisingly titled Egyptian Jazz. Salah Ragab, father of Egyptian jazz, lieutenant in Nasser’s army, and member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra during an all too brief but very important time. Ra had a huge influence on Ragab, and consequently on regional landscapes of cultural production and conceptions of the self as relative to the State. More on this shortly…”

Live from East Shore: Xia Jia, jazz heavyweight—”“Jazz, to me, means freedom,” he declared. Growing up during the Cultural Revolution—a tumultuous period in Chinese history characterized by mass starvation and crackdowns on intellectual dissent—fostered his appreciation for the ability to control the dialogue happening within an artistic medium. “It creates a space for interpretation and personal growth,” he said, though he added a caveat: Most Chinese jazz musicians don’t fully understand the concept of freedom, because the majority of them have grown up without enduring the hardships of the Cultural Revolution. ‘

Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Gatsby’ hears hip-hop where Fitzgerald heard jazz

Jazz and Jasmine:The Scent of a Brothel vs the High Class Rose—””Storyville is often given credit with giving the name to jazz. It seems the women of the brothels, in an effort to counter the smells of the swampy city, would wear Jasmine perfume. When one left the company of the lady smelling of jasmine, one was said to be “jassed.” When musicians at the brothels would make their music sexy to inspire customers, they were said to have “jassed,” or sexed, up the music. Brothel owners would advertise their musicians with signs that would announce “Live Jass.” When mischievous children would come along and wipe off the “j,” owners decided to change the “s”’s to “z”’s in an effort not to offend people.”

 (via elsewhere on the internet 04/05/2013 | THE STATE)

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