NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 38

Since August was ensconced in the Blues, he did not have much of an ear for listening to Jazz, where instrumental solos had more centrality than words… until one October night in the mid-Sixties, he came across a crowd of about 200 Black men outside the Crawford Grill, a popular Hill District club. At first, he thought the men were gathered around a recent killing. Drawn to the gathering, he discovered that they were the overflow audience of a packed Crawford Grill, outside listening with intense reverence to the improvisational inventions of John Coltrane, “stunned into silence by the artful power of Coltrane’s exploration into man’s relation to divinity.” It was at that point of bearing witness to the collective spirit induced by Coltrane’s musical voicing that August began to listen to Jazz and discern that the “core of black aesthetics was the ability to improvise,” and the same could be said about Black survival. Upon receiving the Nobel Prize in 1992, Derek was queried in an interview about the African influence on his work, to which he replied: I think the African influence is in the melody of my voice. I think it’s there in the music that I like, certainly in the plays. It’s very strong because it’s a society (St. Lucia) of percussion. It’s rhythmic in its essence and in the theatre, particularly, I try to capture that kind of quality that’s there in the pulse of the country. The pulse of St. Lucia, as it is throughout the Caribbean, can be felt in Calypso, a rhythmic vocalization initiated by plantation workers on the island who were African griots — initially known as chantuelle and later calpysonians — that employed satire to tell the collective history and social concerns of the community. Though mimicry and irony were featured in these vocalized tales, they were often subversive and highly esteemed, as the repository for poetic language that Derek recognized as owning, a “personal vocabulary, the individual melody whose metre is one’s biography, joins that sound, with any luck, and the body moves like a walking, a waking island.”** At times with Calypso, as a poetic call to the carnival, it is difficult to distinguish between a poetic narrative or merely the verbal dexterity of a raconteur or songster like the Trinidadian master of Calypso, Mighty Sparrow, who wryly projects potentially obscene messages in his risqué ballad, Saltfish, cloaking sexual insinuations in double-entendres with poetic beauty: Saltfish stew is what I like So doo-doo, give YH^H[YHZH[H ۸&][YHYB^H]ܚ]KH\H]\HX[[\H[XYHX]][\[[HܛY]\[[\[\܈H\\YX[\H[ HZHH\BYHY[ Y][Y\›]وXB]\ZK]XZH›Z\ZBH[[Hۛ]8&\˜X]\H]^HY]]Y[[K]8&\”[\]8&\Y]\[YX][[H[X][[\Y]\Z]X]\H^Y[[[]KB\وH[\X\X\^B\H\]و\][ HX[]BوH\[[][]Y\΂]8&\X\[]X܈]X[]H\Y[[BY\[H[[[Y[]HوHXHو\܋]\]HHۙY[Hق[X[][\]\H\BHXYH\Hو[\x)]8&\\HXX[[\\ق\][8)HܙX][˜X][YY[\\B[\ۙوH[\BZ\ۈHHوܚ]X^[H[\HY]K]\X\[HH]Hو[\[X[[YK]\[Z\\š]HHY\]]ܛY[Y]YXHY\[ق\]][ۈ[\][ۋ]\[HY\[Y[ [\\\YH[][ۈܚ\[ۙ\]YY\Y\[[][X]B]XX\X]HX[\ܝ\[ۈ[\X܈ۈۚ^Y[][ۜ][X]ܞH]\H˜[Y[[ܘ]HH[HوYY[][ۋ\\Z\\][H\\Y 8'XZ˜H\K[HݙH]X\[X\HYY[\ۙ\[]ݙBX][[Y]H܈ܘ[Y[]\K'B\][ [\H[\Z[Y[H\ۜH[\]Y][ۂH]HZ[ZXܞHو N[\BX\]Y\Y\و[[][ۂۙ\[܈[ ۛۈ\[[^H \Y\K\\Y[][Y[[YY ]\˜XYH[X[[Y\HX\[۞\X[X[[ۛۈ\X\]][\X\[[Xܘ][BYX]H[Y\[XۚXX\˜[][H[\]]H\[BX[ۙYHYX\\YY[\›و[\[]܈وHY[BK[H][[][\\BZ[\YܛH[HYۛܙY ]Z[ZXܞH[\[\][K[H\[X][ۈو\Z\[]HH\Y[ܛX]܈YK[HH8'\[X[]و\][\[ݙ[Y[ 8'HHX]\[]HZYۋZ[H\[HYۚ\Xš[\[HوHY][ۈ˜X[[]HHYH\ܛX[K[\[8'\[\HY܈܈\\[x'B]ܝ\\]H8'X\HYX\\x'B[H\][ۈۈ8'X\BZ[YK8'H[H[H]\\\¸'[\[XYH[Y]\܋8'B[]\XY[ܙH8'[\[['B[8'X\[Z[˸'H \]H\Z&\\\][ۜX]BXX[\Y[\وH\][Y][ۈۈHYK\X\[XZ[Y[YH\[[\X[]\وH\X[\Y][ۂ]\XY]][ۘ\H[\[^]]Y^]Y\]X[YB[\Y[ܚX\X[Hۂ[ۚ^H[[Z[\HH\[[ۂ]Y[][X۝]\\X\B[[XN\[ܛ[X\KH[ۂ[\ H[XH[š[H]ۈH[[Z[H[[[KXZHH]BZ\[HZ[XZH]Z\[ZHHB\وHX[ۈX\ۈ[\XZH]\HBHX\ ZHHX]وBXYۈ\\X[ۈ[ܛ[[H[[Y]ۂ^H^H^H\[]ۂH[[Z[)H[Y[X\[^HZ[ HY[H][][][YܙBH]\H[HقH[ YHXؚ\]K[\X[[[YH\[[Hۙ\[ۈق\\[HY[H\[[[YY [HX][و^HZ[ [BX\\ۙˈH[ Y™[KH\[\˂\H\YH[\Z[H]HX[[[Z[Y[K[H[YHو[Y[[›^H^Y\\HXX\ HYH\X[[[[^HY]ܛHH[[ݙH[ܙKHYK\\X[YY][H܂[[HܞK\ۜXY]XZBHY\^Y\Y^\\\[XYۈH[\]\\]HX]\X[]Y[H[ۙܝ[\ܙX][H\X[]H]\[[Y]X[[XY\]\H\ڝ[]KY]ZY[B[[ۈو\X[\]]KZHBY\]ݚY\H[[ZX]XX\Y\^[ۙH\X\ق][[H^\Y[H܈\]X[YۚYX[K[[Z[][ZXœ[][ۜ[]\Y^HYK]B\X[ۈو^\Y[HXY\ܙ ]\[8'X\^K8'H܈\\BHܘ\X\X][ۈوB][[KHY\[BYH\H\ܛX[\وܙܘKXX]X[[H\X[\[[X][ۂوH^]XY[Y[و^\Y[B][[[]ܞH\]\\\\\]X[[Y[Y[[[ٛܛX][ۈH[[[ۘ[\Z\\]X[\]KH[\ݚ\]ܞH^Y\[و[XY\š[HY\وX\[[B\]]\و]Y\8&\[X]\H\BۈHX\]\˂]\Z[H^Y\Y[\ݚ\][ۂ][H]\Y[Hܘ]ܞBوHY][ۘ[XXX\H\\H[H[ܘ[X[[˜[HX\[X[وXX™YY[][ۈH\[HX[[و\[ۈ]HۚX›و\]X[[YYY\XY\Z[B[]\H^\]H[\وYX[[Y\X[\ܛX[K\H[[[[XXHYYX]܈وZX˜[][[Hܘ\H\]X[XY\]\[[ۜ]H[HZ[]X›\]]H܈\[ۈH[X[وBY\[Hو^\]H]YY\œ[YYHHYX[ܘ[Y][ۋ][Z[X\ܚY\وH^\B\]X[H[\Y]\X[YX[[ˈ[ ]H\H[][ۂوX\[[]Y\8&\ܙX]]BڙXX\[XHXYKYY[YH[\]XHܘ\ق\[ۈ[\\[ۋ\HY\˂H]\\H\[X[HY]H\\&\YH[ۙH\Bܚ]X\H\X]\H[ۂوK[ܙ\[[YY[][ۂH[X]YXK[B \[\H]XH8'[›وX'HY[YB]\Hۚ\HX[[[Kœ\\[YXH[H]\B[\[\[ۈ]X[Y\X[œYY\HܙX]ZYܘ][ۋ]\[[x&\[YY]HۛH^BX[Y\X[[]Y]HZ\[]YY[H]HX[\Y\ݙ\[Xݙ\Z\[]YX[ۙˈ[[[H[[”ۙ[[H؜\\8'\ZHYBHX[H]\8'HYۚYZ[HYHYXوKXۜX[ۈق[YYY[][ۈ]\YHHܙX]ZYܘ][ۋ]\H\\[Z[\HX\[YKX [Z]ۋ]\[ \X[H\ۘ]\Y\^Y\وYX[[Y\X[^\Y[K