US saxophonist against Iraq war


This video from the USA is called Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble trailer.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

The importance of being Ernest

Ernest Dawkins – The Prairie Prophet (Delmark)

Monday 23 May 2011

by Chris Searle

“It’s being relived and replayed over and over again. I lost a gig over that tune, but to lose a gig, what is that? Does that stop me from eating, paying my rent? You have to stand up for what you believe in. No more war. We’re saying we’re not going to tolerate it.”

Thus declared the Chicago saxophonist Ernest Dawkins about his tune Baghdad Boogie, the final track of his 2010 album The Prairie Prophet, a rampaging sonic statement about the war in Iraq.

Dawkins was born in the Windy City in 1953 and grew up as a neighbour of another brilliant jazz reedman, Anthony Braxton.

As a boy he played bass and drums, but was drawn to the saxophone in his late teens after hearing the irrestistible message of Lester Young.

He became a member and activist of the union of avant-garde jazz virtuosi, the Association For The Advancement Of Creative Musicians (AACM), and is now its chairman.

From 1994 he began recording with a band called the New Horizons Ensemble, featuring an array of pugnacious horns.

Their first two albums for the Chicago-based Delmark label, Jo’burg Jump and Cape Town Shuffle, emphasised their connection with Africa’s liberation struggle and the continent’s musical heritage.

They have performed and toured in South Africa and Mozambique, and Dawkins is adviser to the Jazz Club of Maputo.

He also teaches saxophone across the Chicago public school system.

With Dawkins on the Prairie Prophet are his long-time ferocious trombonist confrere Steve Berry and slashing guitarist Jeff Parker.

Two trumpeters, Marquis Hill and Shaun Johnson, complete the horns, with Junius Paul on bass and drummer Isaiah Spencer.

The opener, Hymn For A Hip King, played in quasi-waltz time, recalls Abdullah Ibrahim’s 1976 South African classic, Blues For A Hip King, although Dawkins asserts that his tune is truly dedicated to his homeland heroes, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Both trumpeters in particular are hot and rampant, their horns transcendant and full of potency. …

Dawkins investigated Iraqi scales before he composed Mesopotamia, which begins his focus on invaded lands.

Berry plays a bluesy chorus, Parker picks out a creative trail and Dawkins’ emotive alto pours its notes over the arid lands.

But it is as a haunting prelude to the summative track, Baghdad Boogie, superfically playful but spoofed with anti-war parody.

The horns and guitar make their messages and the burlesque follows on with snatches from the Old Grey Bonnet, Over There and Swanee River.

Dawkins sings out: “Baghdad Boogie, sure aint pretty, 19-years-old, 20-years-old, coming home, losing their soul, losing their limbs. Suicide! Homicide! Genocide! All the ‘cides, no more war! No more war!

It’s a jazz message for peace and anti-militarism, reinforced by Dawkins’ testimony in his sleeve notes: “We as artists need to get funding. Cut some of that funding from the Pentagon and we’ll show you how to win hearts and minds.”

And it’s all in the music of the New Horizons Ensemble – love of peace and unity, hatred of war.

The young Iowa City-born saxophonist Sharel Cassity – who has partially Native American roots and grew up in Oklahoma City – has a unique and ringingly beautiiful sound on her instrument, whether soprano or alto: here.

Also from The Morning Star:

I remember well the first time that I heard the drumming of Terri Lyne Carrington over 10 years ago.

She was playing alongside two jazz veterans, pianist Herbie Hancock and vibesman Bobby Hutcherson at the Barbican, and her huge sound was like a subtle tempest blowing in my ears.

She is a true storytelling drummer. Angela Davis wrote of her, in the sleeve notes of Jazz Is A Spirit, that “her own music embodies profound lessons about our social and personal lives, about the histories that produce us and how we might free ourselves from these histories and simultaneously carry them forward.”

USA: It is time to talk about guns and suicide in the Army: here.

On July 28, 1932, World War I veterans marched on Washington to demand their service bonus. Today, in the face of austerity, we see very little protest like that march: here.

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