Coronavirus pandemic kills jazz musicians

This 2011 video says about itself:

The Seventh String: The Life and Tales of Bucky Pizzarelli

A documentary on the life of renowned jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, from his experience on The Tonight Show to traveling with Benny Goodman.

Made for Unscripted, a summer class taught at the Jacob Burns Media Arts Lab for aspiring student documentary filmmakers.

By Hiram Lee in the USA:

Prominent jazz musicians die in COVID-19 pandemic

6 April 2020

Numerous prominent musicians may be counted among the more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded globally and the nearly 70,000 lives that have now been lost.

Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, of “Soul Makossa” fame, died March 24 at the age of 86. Pianist Mike Longo, a longtime collaborator of Dizzy Gillespie’s, died March 22 at 83. Songwriter Adam Schlesinger died April 1 at 52.

The 73-year-old British singer Marianne Faithfull was recently hospitalized in London. Beloved country singer John Prine, also 73, has now spent more than a week in an ICU, where he has needed the assistance of a ventilator. Guitarist Larry Campbell, 65, has also been fighting the disease. “For the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling to stay alive,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview published April 2.

In the last week alone, three significant jazz musicians in the US lost their lives: Ellis Marsalis, Bucky Pizzarelli and Wallace Roney. Their deaths are the result, not only of a terrible virus, but of the criminal inaction and deliberate neglect of the US government in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pianist Ellis Marsalis, Jr. died April 1 at the age of 85. In addition to his achievements as a pianist and music educator, Marsalis also founded his own musical dynasty. His sons include trumpeter Wynton, saxophonist Branford, trombonist Delfeayo and drummer Jason. …

Marsalis and Pizzarelli, it needs to be pointed out, were both in the age range considered expendable by American capitalism. As they succumbed to COVID-19, Trump administration officials, right-wing commentators such as Glenn Beck and more “reasonable” figures like New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman all publicly debated whether it would not be better for the economy to let such people die.

The cold calculations of these spokesmen for profit stand in stark contrast to the warmth and humanity exhibited by the large numbers of ordinary people now grieving the loss of these artists. Well into their 80s and 90s, Marsalis and Pizzarelli, continued to give something meaningful to the world they lived in, just as they always had, and just as many countless others do, in large and small ways, most of whose names will never be widely known. In the context of the homicidal debates raging among the various mouthpieces for governments and corporations, the lives of these veteran artists somehow come to represent the humanity of an entire generation.

The deaths of these musicians, moreover, are a further reminder of the devastating cultural dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. We go forward with the confidence that the murderous inhumanity of the ruling elite will not go unanswered by the working class.

Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis killed by coronavirus

This video from the USA is called Ellis Marsalis performs live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Center on December 15, 2018.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

US American jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis (85) has died from the effects of the coronavirus. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Marsalis made his name as a musician in the 1980s and 90s. He recorded over twenty records and also appeared on albums with jazz musicians such as David Newman, Eddie Harris, Marcus Roberts and Courtney Pine.

He also taught. Four of his six sons are also jazz musicians, including trumpet player Wynton Marsalis.

Jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney killed by coronavirus

This music video from Switzerland says about itself:

Live at Moods: Wallace Roney Quintet “Metropolis”

Recorded live at Jazz Club Moods in Zurich, on the 15.05.2018.

Line-Up: Wallace Roney trumpet, Emilio Modeste sax, Oscar Williams piano, Curtis Lundy bass, Eric Allen drums.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Jazz trumpet player Wallace Roney has succumbed to the coronavirus in a hospital in New Jersey. US American media report this.

Roney, who turned 59, was a great admirer of jazz icon Miles Davis, who died in 1991. He first met his idol in 1983 and then received a trumpet from Davis. The two befriended each other. Roney has performed several times with Davis and he was the only trumpet player ever personally mentored by Davis.

Jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington interviewed

This 31 October 2019 music video from the USA says about itself:

Malcolm-Jamal Warner features on “Bells (Ring Loudly)”, from the new album from Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, ‘Waiting Game’.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Monday, November 4, 2019

Interview ‘We do what we can and hope it has a ripple effect’

Jazz musician TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON explains to Chris Searle why themes of social justice in the Trump era inform her latest album

TOP US jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, who’s played and recorded with some of the most luminous figures of post-war jazz including Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, is about to release Waiting Game, a new album by her band Social Science.

It’s to be launched in Britain at two concerts during the London Jazz Festival at Kings Place on November 15 and 16.

As a girl in Boston Carrington grew up “in a house where jazz was on all the time,” she says. “I started on alto sax and moved to drums at seven, when I lost my first set of teeth. I listened to and played jazz but loved R ’n’ B too.”

She was inspired by the master drummers and “I met them and hung out with them all because my dad, a musician like my grandfather, knew them all, particularly Papa Jo Jones.

“I sat in with Max [Roach], Art [Blakey], Roy [Haynes] and Buddy Rich got me my first endorsements.” Her first professional gig was with the Duke Ellington trumpeter Clark Terry and at 18 she began to play with him regularly.

The great drummer Roach, who campaigned tirelessly through his music for civil rights, was a major influence. “I found Max’s work inspiring,” she says, “as well as all of the other musicians who focused on social justice.

“I’ve never been able to separate my music from my being — not so much about my drumming, as much as it is about my writing and production.”

Another inspiration has been her “good friend” Angela Davis, who wrote the sleeve notes of her epochal album Jazz is a Spirit and whose voice contributed to another, Mosaic.

“Echoes of the past are always reverberating in the present,” she says.

“Resistance is a big part of our history and a part of the spirit of jazz itself. We are channelled from our ancestors and evolving from a past that never leaves us, although the foundation of anything I offer musically is the sum total of whatever I am or whatever I’m feeling at any given moment.”

Profoundly contemporary and musically mature, Waiting Game is a album which alerts its listeners in its lyrics that “complacency has a price” in the age of Trump.

“How long can freedom wait/ Before we hear it ring?” it asks and its track titles — Trapped in the American Dream, No Justice (for Political Prisoners) or the heavily ironic Pray the Gay Away — make its themes explicit.

“We have to comment truthfully on what we feel and what we experience,” she declares. “Others will identify with that and find it inspiring, yet others will be disturbed.

“It will serve as a reachable moment for some. So we do what we can and hope it has a ripple effect. These issues are universal, so citizens of many countries can identify with them.”

Go and hear her with Social Science and be prepared to be provoked, moved and inspired.

Waiting Game is released on Motema Records. Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science play Kings Place in London on November 15 and 16, box office:

Painter Frida Kahlo and saxophonist Melissa Aldana

This 2017 video is called Frida Kahlo: A collection of 100 paintings (HD).

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Monday, June 24, 2019

Interview: Connecting with Kahlo

Jazz saxophonist MELISSA ALDANA talks to Chris Searle about the influence of the Mexican artist on her new album

BORN in the Chilean capital Santiago in 1988, Melissa Aldana has saxophone music in her blood.

Both her father and grandfather were eminent Chilean saxophonists and Aldana grew up listening to the records of Sonny Rollins,
Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley. She took up the horn aged six and by her early teens was already a working musician as a tenor saxophonist.

By 2009, having moved to the US and graduated from top jazz academy Berklee, she won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Award at the age of just 24.

“I just knew at some point I was ready to leave Chile and come to New York,” she tells me. “If I wanted to be the best as a musician and keep learning, New York is the city that pushes you to do that.

“It’s a hard place to live but it keeps you moving and growing. I have the freedom to be myself and do what I love and, thankfully, I get recognition for that — which doesn’t happen to everyone.”

Her quintet now plays around the world but her new album Visions takes her back to her young days in Chile when she was deeply affected by the communist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

“Frida to me was an artist who embraced who she was through her art. She talks about beauty, ugliness, being a female, religion, politics, love affairs and sexuality but mostly accepting herself as an individual. This is a big part of how she engendered me to write this music,” she explains.

Her record, she says, reflects Kahlo’s struggles: “The album became a path for my own identity and expression, experimenting both harmonically and rhythmically with moments of frantic movement interspersed with order and structure.

“This is how I conjure the messiness, struggles and heartbreaking contradictions present in those visions of identity and self-worth.”
Her horn sounds create new elements, based on Kahlo’s own visions, which respond to the challenging questions which bubbled up while she was immersed in her paintings. “I felt connected to her personal struggles on an intuitive level — opposing forces in Kahlo’s life that have had a direct impact on my own music, my own self-identity.”

As soon as her album begins, with Sam Harris’s rolling piano, Pablo Menares’s bass, Tommy Crane’s sprinkling drums and Joel Ross’s vibes, you can sense that deep connection with Kahlo in a charged empathy with the Americas.

The track La Madrina is Aldana’s sonic reincarnation of Kahlo’s choice of “either living with inescapable pain due to childhood polio and a horrific bus accident, gangrene and miscarriages or dying and finding peace,” she says.

“To capture the complexity of our life choices, I’ve written layers of tension and resolution into the music. There are tightly arranged sections but also extended improvisation.”

It’s a unique musical excursion into the mind of a sister artist, with Aldana’s beautifully fluid sound sometimes floating, elsewhere delving into the Mexican artist’s consciousness with a keening insight and intimacy.

And it’s an album which shows that Aldana, despite her global achievements, has never artistically left Latin America.

“I usually go back to Chile every year,” she says. “People there are very supportive and proud of me. I have always felt that since day one.”

Visions is released on Motema. Melissa Aldana plays Pizza Express Jazz Club in London on July 9.

This video, recorded in the USA, says about itself:

Visions for Frida Kahlo (2018) Melissa Aldana
orch. Alan Baylock

I. Frida
II. Diego
III. Godmother

Melissa Aldana, saxophone
UNT One O’Clock Lab Band
Recorded live November 20, 2018 Winspear Hall, College of Music University of North Texas

Soloists: Drew Kilpela, Melissa Aldana, Michael Clement Sam Cousineau, Ethan Ditthardt, Michael Clement Gregory Newman, Alex Souris
Guest Instrumentalists: Eugen Kim, violin & Destin Wernicke, vibraphone

John Coltrane rediscovered 1963 recordings

This June 2018 list of music videos is called John Coltrane Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Jazz Albums with Chris Searle: Rediscovered 1963 Coltrane recordings a revelatory treasure from a momentous year

John Coltrane
Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album

AT THE beginning of March in 1963 the John Coltrane Quartet — Coltrane on soprano and tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison playing bass and Elvin Jones on drums — recorded 14 tracks in New Jersey.

Unknown and unissued for 55 years, and only existing on a reference tape Coltrane brought home from the studio before he left to play an evening session at the Birdland jazz club in Manhattan, those tracks were recorded at a momentous time.

This was the year of the Kennedy assassination and also when the civil rights resistance was boiling in the US south, particularly in Birmingham, Alabama, and in August 250,000 people marched on Washington. Eighteen days later, Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed by racists and four girls were killed as they changed into their choir robes. The Coltrane Quartet responded with the memorial Alabama as part of their Live at Birdland album.

Throughout that March “lost” session, there’s a sense of social and musical ferment. Fellow tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter remembers Coltrane describing this inner tumult as “starting a sentence in the middle and then going to the beginning and the end of it at the same time … both directions at once.”

His soprano saxophone surges on opener Untitled Original 11383 before Garrison’s inspired solo, first with his bow, then with his fingers. Tyner lays out on piano, with Jones’s drums ascendant on Nature Boy and, through Untitled Original 11386, Coltrane’s soprano dances and leaps, his notes blithe and full of felicitous life, impacting on Tyner’s sweeping solo.

Coltrane seizes the melody of Franz Lehar’s Vilia from the operetta The Merry Widow and transforms it into an unlikely frolic of black freedom, with Elvin’s drums buoyant with joy. Slow Blues is a reflective and cogent essay, with the quartet in powerful accord with every phrase of Coltrane’s restless horn.

What is in his head as his saxophone reaches out? Is it Birmingham or the campaign against police brutality in Albany, Georgia?

Or is it the words of Martin Luther King? “We must rise above our fears. There is nothing to be afraid of if you believe and know that the cause for which you stand is right.” Those words and their context resonate through ‘Trane’s sound.

One Up, One Down has a walking bass solo by Garrison and Jones’s crashing drums alongside Coltrane’s rampaging tenor and there are four different takes of the classic Coltrane opus Impressions, each one seething with its life and times and the second take especially animated.

Coltrane sounds low-down and very bluesy and guttural on take six of One Up, One Down, which concludes this double album, undertaking an earnest drums-horn colloquy with Elvin before Tyner comes in for a sprinting solo. Beneath it all pounds the eternity of Garrison’s pulsating bass heartbeat — an ending which has no end.

Any retrieval of the music of John Coltrane’s greatest quartet is a precious find. His tenor saxophone contemporary Sonny Rollins likened the discovery of these recordings to “finding a new room in the Great Pyramid”. Quite a hyperbole, perhaps, but not for old jazz-geezers like me.

South African musician Hugh Masekela, RIP

This music video says about itself:

Hugh Masekela – Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) from Paul Simon’s “Graceland – The African Concert” (Zimbabwe, 1987)

I decided to upload this extract of the concert in order to dispose it in decent audio and video quality online, as it is my firm belief that its inspiring edge and indelible political meaning exceed the concept of copyright infringement protection. It is never too late for more people from all over the world to become or get more familiar with the great man Nelson Mandela (18/08/1918 – 5/12/2013) and his troubled yet glorious life, and this song is a bright example of his enormous influence to the people. Therefore, I communicate this performance via the internet as a token of appreciation to both Nelson Mandela and
Hugh Masekela.

More information about the song is here.

From the BBC today:

Hugh Masekela, South African jazz trumpeter, dies

Legendary jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela, a leading figure in the struggle to end apartheid and “the father of South African jazz”, has died aged 78.

In a statement, his family said he had “passed peacefully” in Johannesburg “after a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer”.

Masekela gained global recognition with his distinctive Afro-Jazz sound and hits such as Soweto Blues.

The 1977 song became synonymous with the anti-apartheid movement.

In a statement, South African President Jacob Zuma said Masekela’s death was “an immeasurable loss to the music industry and to the country at large”.

Zuma continued: “His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten.”

Born in the South African town of Witbank in 1939, Masekela was inspired to learn the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in the 1950 film Young Man with a Horn.

He persuaded one of his teachers – the anti-apartheid crusader Father Trevor Huddleston – to buy him an instrument, promising to stay out of trouble in return.

In 1960, aged 21, he left South Africa to begin what would be 30 years in exile from the land of his birth.

Under the tutelage of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, he was encouraged to develop his own unique style.

In 1967, he performed at the Monterey Pop Festival alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.

The following year, his instrumental single Grazing in the Grass topped the charts in the US and became a worldwide hit.

Masekela returned to South Africa in 1990 following the release of Nelson Mandela, whose freedom he had called for in his 1986 anthem Bring Home Nelson Mandela.

In June 2010, he performed at both the opening concert of the Fifa World Cup and the tournament’s opening ceremony in Soweto’s Soccer City.

In their statement, Masekela’s family described him as “a loving father, brother, grandfather and friend” who would be “forever in our hearts”.

“Hugh’s global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memory of millions across six continents”, it continued.

“We are blessed and grateful to be part of a life and ever-expanding legacy of love, sharing and vanguard creativity that spans the time and space of six decades.”

Details of memorial and burial services, the family said, would be released “in due course”.

South African musician Loyiso Bala was among many to mark his death on Twitter.

Death South Africa liberation movement pays tribute to Hugh Masekela: here.

HUGH RAMOPOLO MASEKELA, born on April 4, 1939 in KwaGuqa township in South Africa, died last Saturday of prostate cancer in Johannesburg. Known as Bra Hugh, the rasping sound of his trumpet echoed that of political action and his voice carried the courage of the people in South Africa, even though he and many like him who protested and sang on international stages against the apartheid government were banished into exile and their music banned: here.

Musician Django Reinhardt, new film

This 12 January 2017 video is called Berlin: Etienne Comar ‘Django’ at the 2017 Festival.

Another video which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

9 February 2017

The Berlin International Film Festival opens on Feb. 9th with the premier of Etienne Comar’s “Django.” The biopic is set in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1943 and tells the story of Sinti jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

By Bernd Reinhardt in Germany:

A film about the legendary guitarist: Django

4 March 2017

Finally, a feature film about the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt!

The timelessness of his music makes one too easily forget that it emerged in a very real and troubled world—characterised by an enthusiasm for everything American in the 1920s and 1930s, by socialist aspirations, by the threats of French fascists, by mass strikes—a time when Paris was regarded as a Mecca for American jazz musicians, the period of the German occupation of France, the Resistance and the flood of refugees from the war across Europe.

Django, the debut film of Étienne Comar—who deals relatively loosely with Reinhardt’s biography—focuses on the year 1943, when the Nazis tried unsuccessfully to convince Django to undertake a tour of fascist Germany.

Reinhardt (Reda Kateb, whose father was an Algerian actor) is initially uncertain. He is drawn to the prospect of sold-out concert halls. He is also of the opinion that the war between rival groups of “Gadjos” (non-Gypsies) is none of his business. In the end, artistic considerations lie behind his rejection of the offer. The Nazis, who could not entirely block the spread of jazz in Germany, demand a “clean” jazz from Django, preferably without syncopation, without blues, played only in optimistic major tones and with very brief improvisations; in short, a completely neutered music. This is unacceptable to the artist.

A blonde admirer, Louise de Klerk (Cécile de France), advises him to flee, but the vain musician enjoys his reputation in Paris as the “King of Swing” (following the departure of a number of outstanding American musicians) and continues to rely on the protection of a jazz-loving Nazi officer. Only when the pressure increases and Manouche [Romani people in France] are sent to “work deployments” in Germany—as the deportations are officially called—does Django flee with his family to the French-Swiss border.

For the many Manouche and Sinti [Romani people of Central Europe] in Django, who speak exclusively in their language, Romanes, the film must have been an affair of the heart. Comar (who also co-wrote the screenplay, based on a 2013 novel by Alexis Salatko) dispenses with such banalities as presenting Roma as spontaneous anarchists who instinctively reject bourgeois society, or as representatives of a nature-based, alternative way of life. Roma families playing idyllically in a forest are suddenly confronted with Nazi machine guns. In the next scene we see Django Reinhardt, the acclaimed guitarist, in a magnificent concert hall. This is the tightrope that someone in his position walks.

The illiterate Django laps up the glamorous world of the rich and famous, and imitates Hollywood film star Clark Gable. On the Swiss border, however, the King of Swing becomes a defenseless refugee whose mother (Bimbam Merstein) fights for her son to play for a few francs in a pub in order to feed the family. When Django plays the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” the bar-keeper’s face lights up.

Occasionally Django is contemptuous of Gadjos, but the film refrains from condemning his audiences and refrains from clichés about “other” forms of culture. Rather it reveals the lack of perspective of an oppressed minority, which has internalized its suffering as fugitives and outsiders over many generations. On several occasions Django makes clear that the French police and military hounded Roma with the same ruthlessness as the Nazis. But we also witness Roma joining the Resistance.

Django lives in the middle of Paris. He is not indifferent to the opinion of Gadjos who also play in his band. What Django shared with “non-gypsies” of his generation was, above all, an enthusiasm for America and its music. The arrival of jazz in Europe was a major cultural event and something of a symbol of freedom. Already as a 13-year-old banjo player, Reinhardt listened enthusiastically to bands from the US. Unfortunately, the film makes barely any reference to this formative period that contributed to Reinhardt’s original musical path.

The film’s Django exudes a strong attachment to traditional gypsy music (the film features prominently at the start his well-known “gypsy” song “Black Eyes”—albeit in swing style). In fact, the real Django Reinhardt drew inspiration from many sources. He was interested in the music of Bartok and Debussy (the latter inspired many Hollywood composers), he went to the ballet and began to paint. Unlike many European contemporaries, he was able to swing as well as the best American jazz players and (according to legend) could personally replace a whole rhythm section. This is why so many of the US greats lined up to jam with him.

Reinhardt’s music is finely played in the film by the outstanding Stochelo Rosenberg Trio. Kateb plays the guitarist with the “poker face,” who, with bells attached to his ankles, could entice an entire concert hall of the “master race” into dancing to his tune. Even the hardline Nazis, who raise their glasses and quote the German poet Friedrich Rückert for a “free, a German Europe”, succumb to the power of his music and lose control for a short time.

Reinhardt undoubtedly undergoes a development in the film. At the outset he is very naive. On seeing Hitler in 1943 for the first time in a cinema, Django chortles at the “clown” on the screen. At the end of the film, however, Reinhardt’s “Requiem” is performed; a piece he composed for and devoted to all the Roma victims of the Second World War. His tonal language has changed and become more universal.

The score of the “Requiem” has been lost and only fragments remain. Nevertheless, the score based on the fragments composed by the Australian musician and composer Warren Ellis is deeply touching, in particular during the choral section (sung in Romanes). The notion that Django Reinhardt might have opened up different musical paths is fascinating and, one hopes, may encourage young Manouche and Sinti musicians to go further than the limits imposed by playing exclusively gypsy swing.

Django is to be welcomed for dealing with a neglected chapter of history—the persecution of Roma under the Nazis. At the same time, Comar shows the contradictory nature of his main character who pragmatically tries to survive “between the fronts.” His ignorance of social and political developments and not least his egoism render Reinhardt blind to the impending catastrophe. He is free only in music. In the film, he is able to make it to Switzerland with his family. In reality, Reinhardt’s situation was more desperate. Swiss officials refused him entry due to his status as a “gypsy.”

Picasso’s Guernica, Iraq war and jazz music

This video says about itself:

Guernica Iraq

22 December 2006

Guernica” was painted by Picasso in 1937. It depicts the senseless massacre by the Nazi Luftwaffe in the Basque city of Guernica, Spain. The attack was ordered at the behest of fascist Spanish General, Francisco Franco, during the Spanish Civil War. Guernica was a non-military target, the innocent people of the town were attacked in an attempt to psychologically break the will of those who opposed Franco‘s fascistic nationalist pursuit.

Picasso captured an intense scene reflecting the deeply unjust suffering, agony and despair experienced by the people of Guernica. And in doing so he produced one of the most iconic, powerful and affecting pieces of anti-war artwork ever put to canvas. It is little surprise then that a reproduction of the painting, which hangs outside the entrance to the UN Security Council, was covered while Colin Powell was attempting to sell the Iraq War to the world.

The people of Iraq are suffering what amounts to the similar unjust brutality inflicted on the people of Guernica, except it’s practically on a daily basis. A more accurate comparison would be to imagine having the London Tube and Bus bombings everyday. And have them happen so often that they become a predictable daily occurrence and part of life.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

An assault on the eyes of false consciousness

Tuesday 1st November 2016

Barry Guy
The Blue Shroud
(Intakt CD266)

IN 2003 George Bush’s US media officials in New York hung a blue drape over the tapestry copy of Picasso’s mural Guernica in the UN building, immediately before the US secretary of state Colin Powell announced his government’s intentions of invading Iraq.

This shameful act of the fear of revolutionary culture and the proclaiming of a brutal attack, in which Blair’s government was fully complicit and participatory, is now remembered in the album The Blue Shroud by the London-born bassist Barry Guy’s Blue Shroud Band.

Guy, born in 1947, was classically trained, but became one of jazz’s prime free-form bassists, being an integral part of John Stevens’s and Trevor Watts’ spontaneous Music Ensemble (1967-70), a member of other pioneering free bands like Amalgam and Paul Rutherford’s Iskra 1903 and a founder of the much larger London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra.

I first saw Guernica at the Museum of Modern Art, again in New York, in June 1968 after months of protests against the US war in Vietnam and in support of some of the civil rights movement, including the Poor People’s campaign in Washington DC earlier in June. No other work of public art had ever had such an effect on me.

I stared at its figures — the bull, the agonised horse, the woman with her child, the screaming man with upraised arms below the sky on fire — and wondered about what each of them emblematised.

But it was the whole wall-sized work and its unfettered pain that crushed any illusory defence in my mind and I eventually walked away with a completely new view of art and culture.

That same assault on the eyes of false consciousness is expressed through Guy’s sonic masterpiece, as the shroud of epochal Bush-Blair untruth is ripped from the listener’s ears by some of Europe’s most powerful free music stalwarts.

These include the Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez (whose own remarkable album Songs of the Spanish Civil War celebrated his compatriots’ courage and love of freedom), the Majorca-born and Barcelona-trained pianist Augusti Fernandez, the French tuba virtuoso Michel Godard and the Swiss drummer Lucas Niggli.

Percy Pursglove’s mournful, shuddering trumpet introduces the Prelude, the viola and violin resonate, and Ben Dwyer’s guitar remembers the nightscape of Spain’s horror of fascism and war.

Savina Yannatou sings the words of Symbols of Guernica, written by the Irish poet Kerry Hardie, inside the rumbling drums and Fernandez’s defiant journeys up and down his keys.

In the track called Bull/Mother and Child/Warrior, Godard’s tuba growls below the pain of the saxophones and the crashing percussion.

Julius Gabriel’s baritone horn gurgles, as if it were making its last sounds.

Guy uses extracts of Biber’s Rosary Sonatas to create a sudden sequence of pure viola melodic beauty before Yannatou sings of the futile journey of The Blinded Bird of Hope, underscored by the sawing strings of Guy’s bass.

Picasso’s bulb at the highest point of his mural is written down by Hardie in this way: “The single bulb of torture keeps the faith, wild theories drive the gun’s demented roar. In cities now laid open to the sky, unblinking, the relentless eye of war.”

It is of now-times and now-wars of which she writes and Guy and his bandmates play.

This music video says about itself:

BARRY GUY: The Bird (2016)

From the album “The Blue Shroud” (Intakt 2016)

Percy Pursglove: trumpet
Torben Snekkestad: soprano saxophone, trumpet
Michael Niesemann: alto saxophone, oboe
Per Texas Johansson: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Julius Gabriel: baritone saxophone
Michel Godard: tuba, serpent
Maya Homburger: violin
Fanny Paccoud: viola
Ben Dwyer: guitar
Agustí Fernández: piano
Barry Guy: double bass
Lucas Niggli: drums, percussion
Ramón López: drums, percussion
Savina Yannatou: voice

The Chris Searle article continues:

In Bird and the Biber aria that follows, Godard’s delving tuba sounds like a fanfare of hope before Maya Homburger’s scintillating violin chorus sings throughout the crushed city where “death-smoke hangs in oily black-ended palls.”

Stare at and imbibe Picasso’s images before you listen to Guy’s astonishing soundscape. You will hear Aleppo, Fallujah and their people’s horror, and in the final track, a fusion of Guy and Bach’s Agnus Dei, you will perhaps perceive a distant glimpse of human peace and unity.

Danish government punishes old lady for helping refugee baby

This video says about itself:

Danish human rights campaigner found guilty of smuggling

11 March 2016

* Couple’s lawyer says no money changed hands
* Family of six were driven from a Danish ferry terminal to a bridge crossing leading to Sweden
* Couple has two weeks to appeal

A court in Denmark has fined a prominent children’s rights campaigner for giving a family of Syrian migrants a ride across the country to Sweden.

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad:

She helped stranded refugees and was fined 3,350 euros

Several hundred Danes were given thousands of euros fines because they helped stranded refugees. Lise Ramslog for example, a year ago she helped refugees with a newborn baby to Malmö and was punished for it.

Eppo König

September 5, 2016

On the day Lise Ramslog (70) became a people smuggler, she actually only wanted to go to an ATM. It was Monday, September 7th, 2015, a year ago, when the first wave of refugees reached Denmark.

In her little red Skoda she rode in the afternoon to the bank in Rødbyhavn, a southern port town. “Then I saw a lot of exhausted people sitting and lying along the highway,” says the Danish woman. “Not a pretty sight.”

Around 300 refugees, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, had arrived through Germany by train and ferry in Denmark. Police had halted rail traffic. In the heat then men, women and children walked on the E47 highway to the Swedish city Malmö, almost 200 kilometers away. From some crossovers xenophobes spat on them.

First Ramslog turned her car around. “I did not want to see those people. I thought, I’m going to the woods … But on the way I saw a resident talk to refugees, two couples and a young boy. They pointed to my car and said Sweden, Sweden! They showed me their railway tickets from Hamburg to Malmö. I had better bring them to the station in Maribo, I thought. That was not so far.”

She tells her story in the office of Lisbeth Zornig in Copenhagen. Zornig was children’s ombudswoman in Denmark from 2010 to 2012 and is half of a well-known detective thriller author couple with her husband, former journalist Mikael Lindholm. Like Lise Ramslog she also that September day helped hiking refugees. Both were convicted this year to a fine. This month is the appeal of Zornig and Lindholm. To nearly 160 Danes the same happened last year. This year their number is in the hundreds, appears from media reports. …

The refugee crisis came two months after the appointment of a new Liberal minority government with tacit support of the radical right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF). Strict asylum laws, translated into Arabic published in Lebanese newspapers, refugees had to be put off. Family reunification for asylum seekers is impossible in the first year, they said. The police may confiscate money and [jewelry] property as a contribution to shelter. …

In Denmark you can get up to two years in prison, or a fine, if you deliberately help ‘aliens’ across the border, transport or host them. Danes who do that are legally traffickers. In the Netherlands it is also against the law, but only if it is “for profit” or for money.

“If you offer a stranger a cup of coffee at home in Denmark or allow him or her to sit on the carrier of your bicycle, that’s criminal,” says Mikael Lindholm. Zornig: “They criminalize decency.”

Lise Ramslog does not know how the men and women in her car were called and where they came from. They did not speak each other’s language. Through the rearview mirror they smiled at each other. “They laughed when I laughed. I could see that they were afraid.” She gave them some lemonade and biscuits.

A baby under her dress

“From the back seat I heard strange noises. I looked and saw that one of the women hid something under her clothes: a newborn baby! Then I decided to bring them all the way to Copenhagen. Yes, and there I saw again signs with Sweden on them – to Malmö you just cross a toll bridge. So I just drove on.”

She is used to make mileage. Ramslog is a former professional driver, transporting flowers.

The toll was nearly 130 euros – she had just enough money in her pocket. There was no passport control. “Thank you, thank you, they kept saying when we were over the border. And, money, money. I was not sure whether they wanted money or wanted to give me money. But I said ‘No, thanks’ and gave the boy my glass brooch: a four-leaf clover. I had received it from my sister, because my daughter had died the previous year. They wanted to return the brooch, but I said, he’s still young. I hope he has more luck in life than me.”

On her way back Ramslog came across a police cordon. “I saw large white buses with refugees in them. How nice, I thought. They have arranged buses so that all those people do not have to walk. But they did not go to where they wanted to, they were deported to the ferry to Germany.”

At half past eleven at night she was finally back in her remote home in Nakskov. “My husband was worried and had called friends. I had not brought a phone. I was barefoot all the time. That’s the way I like walking in the woods.”

The next day, her husband said: “You realize you’re a smuggler? So they say on TV about people who help refugees.” Ramslog could not believe it. She put her story on Facebook. They drove back to the bank and met radio and TV journalists. “I told them what had happened. It really popped out. And that was in the news.”

Sometime later a policeman called. “You know why I call?, he said. I said it probably will not be for my speeding ticket. He asked me to make a statement. I do not know what will happen, he said. Maybe you will be prosecuted. ”

She began to worry only when she received a summons and was advised to find a lawyer. “You know what that cost? My husband and I live on 940 euros per month. I just told the judge the story myself. When the decision came, I almost fell off my chair. A fine of 3,350 euros! Since I am retired, they were so “nice” to halve the amount. They did not hang me, but just chopped my hand off.”

I do not regret it

The couple Zornig and Lindholm was fined 6,000 euros together for smuggling. Zornig that September day was also near Rødbyhavn for lecturing. They took to their beach house six refugees. Her husband later in Copenhagen put them on the train to Sweden. She was also filmed by journalists and put a photo of the group on Twitter. “Refugees Pit Stop”, she wrote.

“When people saw that, many more drove to the south with food, drinks and diapers,” says Zornig. “The police can only prosecute people who themselves told to have helped refugees, like us. And people against whom complaints were made by people who were angry about the helping. I am being sued by more than ten people, even by people from Norway and Iceland. We know their names, but we do not know them.”

Acquittal for the same offense

Last month something interesting happened. Two cohabiting women were acquitted for the same offense: a councilor of Aarhus city and a candidate for parliament. They allowed two refugees to stay overnight and bought tickets for them for the ferry to Norway. The court was not certain that they helped “aliens” “intentionally”.

Lindholm: “So it goes then with two politicians. My faith in our legal system has been considerably eroded. … A man who has got a 670 euro fine when he spat on refugees last year. And we get a 6000 euro fine? What example do we give that way?

Things turned out well with the penalty for Ramslog. The Danish jazz musician Benjamin Koppel started a crowd-fund action for Zornig and Lindholm. In a short time he raised nearly 22,000 euros. That also paid Ramslog’s fine. But they still can not tell the story without tears. “I have no regrets and I’m not angry. I just can not understand and do not accept that I’m convicted of something I do not consider to be criminal.” …

If Ramslog goes to the shops, she always passes a refugee center. “There is no bus. If people want to buy something, they have to walk five kilometers. But if I drive along, they know they can get a ride. They are very grateful. I simply will keep doing it. And that is not illegal, because those people have papers.”

This is a jazz music video by Marie Carmen Koppel & Benjamin Koppel – Cause It Reminds Me Of You.