With the current political and social issues that have heated up debate in America, I’ve found myself struggling to find ways to address my thoughts on these issues using jazz. I love being a Jazz musician, and I love being an instrumentalist, but when these huge important issues come to the forefront it makes me question my importance and my impact. How can I say what I feel if I don’t use words? How can I use my art to express my feelings? Can I even do so? Well luckily while doing some research I have found prime examples of people using jazz music to address problems in America.
Alabama- John Coltrane
This tune was written by John Coltrane in response to a burning of a Church by the KKK in Birmingham, Alabama. Which unfortunately, is still relevant today as many Black Churches have recently been burned in acts of hate. This song is powerful and absolutely gives us a dark feeling. The fact that it’s origins are well known helps strengthen it’s message and is a prime example of using jazz music to speak out against injustices.
Terri Lyne Carrington Money Jungle: Provacative in Blue
Terri Lyne Carrington’s Money Jungle: Provacative in Blue is an album that revisits Duke Ellington’s Money Jungle and takes it to a new place. She uses the original music and adds audio clips to address and criticize capitalism here in America. Even though there are audio clips to make the meaning of the music rather clear, this is a still a daring new take on a classic album.
Robert Glasper “Dying of Thirst”
Robert Glasper has been breaking the rules and revolutionizing jazz for a while now. His newest album Covered is no exception. On “Dying of Thirst” Robert Glasper covers the rap song “Dying of Thirst” by Kendrick Lamar and adds the voices of Children reciting the names of Black people who have died from police shootings. This song is as somber as they come and a powerful reminder of how many lives we have lost.
Although jazz music may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of addressing social and political issues, clearly it can be used to send a powerful message. There are many other examples of musicians rising up to speak out about important issues that transcend music. We all have a voice, music has the power to inspireus, to motivate, to feel. Let’s not waste this power we have. Let’s use it to say something, to rise up, to make a change.