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A. I'm watching the prison radio. Program of music and conversation from the Smithsonian Institute. Today we complete our three part exploration into the world of jazz. Jazz has been where it is today and the significant road jazz has played in American cultural life.
Julian you know our guest moderator for this series is a Jazz basses. Sociologist and now special assistant for public service here at the Smithsonian. Our guest is Dr. Donald. Chairman of the Department of Justice that is at Howard University and himself a jazz trumpeter great renown. For. The last two weeks Donald has been talking. About the influences of jazz and where jazz is going. I wonder if today we could talk a little. About the role of the university in jazz education. More specifically what made you decide to go into the university scene. Well. Two reasons.
One is that I think I was going to make it and I don't want to take any chances I'd like to keep away from this thing alive put all your eggs in one basket. So I decided to go into academia. Another thing it was that I always enjoyed teaching because that kept me on my toes. You know why are you pointing out somebody else's fault you think of your own. And then I started assessing the field and I noticed that quite a few classical people who were attached to academia and the more I got into it the more I begin to appreciate the whole set it was that people aspiring to do things and that gotten bogged down busy every day and one of the real type of living. Then it's nice to draw a check. Lisa Howard so you don't have that so you can relax now and then.
You know what you're saying is important and it seems to me to have been lost a little bit. You know I went to school in the in New York and most of the schools universities as well as conservatories really didn't stress within their departments you know having jazz played much less having a jazz musician teaching there. I wonder what happened between Lunsford and those guys who started out many years ago with a jazz thing and then somehow the but in particular I'm thinking of a black university to sort of just drop that and went classical. Well during that period the 30s and so forth when you had these jazz bands coming out.
There were very few schools that have that. Sort of gave in they actually recognize it as a legitimate or intricate part of the music. As a matter of fact they were never it was never. An accepted music form say as far as academia is concerned I was extra curricular activity. You know now when you talk about the black schools at Bama state I noted that it was greatly encouraged there because I've seen letters where the president actually booked Erskine Hawkins. Now at Howard this was forbidden as a matter of fact this was have been up until two years ago. Students aren't even allowed to play or to rehearse in the practice areas. They had cars that came around and threw the students up for rehearsing or anything of playing any jazz lines
whatsoever. This still exists in black academia doesn't exist at Howard because we have a new policy there. But most of the black schools say that these things exist and they also exist that most of the white schools there are changing. But this came about by a group of what happened to bring this change about was a group of people that I had worked with during the summers in the early 60s. They used to call it the stand Canton stage band clinic and had people like Clem De Rosa stand and Dr. Eugene hall kin more as John poured a few of the people from was it Leon Braden from Texas north Texas Teachers College
people from Berklee School of Music Herb Pomeroy you know Ray Santis and all that crowd. Well they started these summer clinics then. The thing just started spreading and not too long ago they started. An organization called the Jazz music educators which is an offshoot of the music educators and just to show you an example of how it's sort of form of prejudice still exist that is not just called the Music educate it is called The Jazz music educators and that by implication was still separation right and if you use the word legitimate I remembers starting out as younger musicians hearing that term and I started with most of the teachers I started work classical. People and they would always refer to themselves as a legitimate music raising everybody else and they were like you know like you know and you know and I was the bass that
I haven't heard the term used so much now. What attracted you attracted you to Howard. Well being that. I knew I didn't really know I had heard so much of how conservative black institutions were and. Having experienced a couple summers a North Carolina college and just seeing the attitude is like my real first exposure to a totally black school I felt that they needed my services much more than when I was teaching that Columbia wrecker's Brooklyn College and New York University because there they gave big fees and they're right there on the scene and they can hire anybody you know. So like I really wanted to get into the thick of it in class I want to become involved in black studies anyway so I
decided that I would pick out your specialty now is over a book you're playing as as a professor Your specialty is non-Western music is right. So even though you say you've been on to this you have been in this direction for a long time. I'd say about 15 years. And how do you. So do you incorporate. I know it's interesting because I had an experience teaching a course at NYU in the music and you're familiar with that whole process. A couple of years ago and I found myself having to speak to a lot of things in terms of history and and so this sociology if you will of about the music rather than the music itself you know in other words a lot of people came expecting to be taught about music and I had to in order to give them they were so lacking in background.
It is in past art right where I had to approach it from there was two things that I tried to stress. One is that well you know that you're aware of that. Maybe a lot of people aren't aware of that black music opposed to Western European music differs and one aspect of that as Doctor of A-list one day I thought Howard was an ethnologist stated that music starts before birth and ins after death with black people and there's so many it is just bound up in these sociological cult like every day living it right you know. You know like I'll tell you the interesting example. Black people never do anything without music and European people I get the impression that they could care less if they never heard a song. Example would be is that it's only been in
recent times that you find Muzak music in a restaurant. Music in the elevator music on the Metroliner music on the airplanes and always the wrong tunes that played at the wrong temple in the wrong type of style. You know what I mean but it is this there. But you know as probably you have very well aware. Have you ever been to a black anything is that where they didn't have music. You know you see that it just doesn't exist. That's the difference. This new idea of music therapy where music makes people work better. Blacks always they never work without saying bar. Everything was done in a rhythm like the dance was very very much integrated around the music everything was centered around it. Right I mean it's a lesson that they just realize that that lessens the burden.
You know it takes some of the tension out of working just standing up straight. OK when you can perform and longer if you're relaxed just moving about and standing up straight and one particular area that's hard on your feet. You say if you don't something that say some type of mechanical job some very repetitive type thing. Well it's easier to get the rhythm of it and start moving with the rhythm of it that it is than just stand up there like a dummy and to move against Iran or not have any movement and be inflexible. Right. You say What do you say now if we take a break about here and listen to another one of your earlier compositions. Yeah this is a tune called Nay nay if you will recall it was Wayne Shorter on tenor or very fine pianist Herbie Hancock on piano which Warren made about D.C. on bass and the great Billy.
But you know one of the one of the most important things as you mentioned earlier about
having to teach history. That is one of the things that most people are afraid of is that they don't know anything about it. It's just they don't know anything about it. They don't want to touch it. And because it's been written up in such a determined derogatory way you take one of the earlier writers that Leroy Jones or Mahmoud Rocca mentions in his book Blue blues people. He talks about a writer who used to write for The Tribune in the. Late 800 and early 1990 came out with a book in 1914. Cried Beale. And some of the way he talks about the natives the way that some of the accountings of African music that they were lascivious. You know the rhythms were ridiculous the language because
even though the expression the Dark Continent the problem was who was actually in the dark was the Africans or was it cried Bill. Because I'm sure that they knew exactly what they were doing. And you say it reminds me of like when African ballet first came to Boston a few years back that the natives had to put on bras into the African ballet just to do the dances. Now who actually had a dirty thought in mind wasn't the audience but the dances the dance has been dancing like that for years and so when they come to America they have to bridge their whole thing for the for the thinking of the people in this country. Now today they can dance bare breasted but four or five years ago because a puritanical type thought. Conception that they had to dress you know they had to do with a lack of understanding of where where people were coming from and what lack of understanding or respect for the culture that you know other cultures you
can't teach. Like he used to teach anyway. People are going for the 0 0 0 0 things that used to marshal purses bear it or make his blood pressure rises something like that because that you can't teach that the same old style the classical way of teaching so that it used to be I can see where 30 40 years ago all those people going to school then probably were somewhere immigrants like first generation removed and the folks are still waving the flag about the old country. And there's some close relationship but now you're talking about third and fourth generation. They don't know anything about the old country and it's very little. Right. You say it so they're removed from there. They are American people. You say it's always funny because another thing you probably noticed I used to pull as it was when I used to teach it it's a lot of predominantly white schools.
I'd ask the kid to get up and say. What nationality. No what are you. And he'll say I'm Italian. Next thing I was I'm German and there's some time when I really got to if I wanted to be evil that day I would say Okay say something to me and I tell you is that I was really the language I said Well everybody I know as a dad is big and Italian and German is big German you know and then after I go around the room and ask I say I think any Americans in this class. And because this is the only country that I know of where there is no America. Everybody is something else you say. And that said law American you Franco-American you know Graco America you know everything except America but now you're coming into an un-American situation. These students they don't think of themselves as Italian they don't have nothing to do with it. You say they don't think of themselves as being this and you can't give them that kind of that their melting pot is finished in America right. You say there's no more melting pot it is
melted and congealed and you know it's alloy or whatever you want to call it is not ceases. That kind of thing so you can't use that abroad and then you had these. Mythological societies the hiden society which establishes itself and says of the criteria as to what Haydn thought or the Beethoven's aside other Wagnerian types like Willis face the people in the Haydn Society and in most cases a new less and most of the people that were in it say like weren't even musicians they were just perpetuating the myth. But what the point I want to get to was that education in this country really of reinforces itself with the other and that education itself is like more education whereas like a one big yellow umbrella. And there are many subdivisions are music and so forth. As you know and the methodology that I was taught it was Columbus Day.
You have in the art room you'll have the ships and you have that in history you'll have this music classes you will sing along was the gem of the ocean. Well that's one thing reinforcing the other and the other you know and are noticed in some company saying that the Italians have been crossing the ocean from fourteen ninety two. And this whole thing about Columbus. But I have read some books that Columbus was Jewish. I didn't hear anything right. But anyway let me have you aside from that that these things reinforce each other. Now what do you do when it comes to blackness when you come to black music. You teach black spiritual in a vacuum. If anything you reinforce it with the ideas of the slave was a happy fat greasy black person and very content and so forth but what they never told you is that if he was that content or why
didn't the slave owners walk out and feel among them while he was saying and if they were so contented I would have bitten me. Did my dad turn that kind of thing. This is another thing that's unfortunate to lose his own mission and they leave us out. I remember attending a conference where there was a professor from Columbia who had moved into an area. One day I was teaching at nearby university and decided that he had to get out of there and he was why progress. And this youngster brought home a book that had pictures when they got to the whole slave question had pictures or cartoons of blacks coming off the boat with suitcases you know and so I said all of that and I think the whole that whole thing what you're talking about really is how attitudes are formed and shaped and certainly what has happened to black music in all the
universe is black and white is a result of this kind of love. Projection where it's it's funny it's not valid it's not legitimate and it's being greedy and have always been their right to really develop. It's just a lack of recognition of the fact that we that we that we had an important art form and I mean on the part of the administrators I'm sure it was some of them wouldn't really recognize it because they were looking for like a legal team price and they forgot. I never gave credit to people like Roberta Flack out Don Elise Howard or a recent graduate who just wrote has been writing and years time he has his own production company he sold 70 million albums his first year out of school he's only been out of school a year now maybe a year and a half His name is Alphonso myself from Howard.
Oh yes it's a Manhattan School of Music when I first started in Manhattan Manhattan School of Music reputation was built off of jazz musicians. That's true Max rose in July because John was John Lewis. Stix Evans jumper Blair Joe Wilder everybody that I met was at the Manhattan School of Music. Her main man Sam most of the white and black musicians all came out of a school of music and then 10 years later you try to recommend somebody who had some might have held an aversive they tell me they would come back and say them is that they would ask me am I a jazz musician. So for them that tell of you tell them that's right you are a jazz musician and your school reputation with built and off a jazz musician. Well Don was just about that time. I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here with me. To the. Program. Maybe this is just the. Beginning. Perhaps.
You're again. Doing when you have been talking with Donald chairman of the rap and jazz studies at Howard University in the concluding paragraph of a three part series on the world of. Radio Smithsonian presented. By Dan Office of Public Affairs Frederick him sort of. Synthetic. This is the national educational radio network.
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Radio Smithsonian
Episode Number
Jazz Scene Part III
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Identifier: 70-17-32 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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