NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 47

…So Digging means to present , perhaps arbitrarily, varied paradigms of this essentially Afro-American art. The common predicate, myself, the Digger. One who gets down, with the down, always looking above to see what is going out, and so check Digitaria, as the Dogon say, necessary if you are the fartherest Star, Serious. So this book is a microscope, a telescope, and being Black, a periscope. All to dig what is deeply serious. From a variety of places,,,the intention is to provide some theoretical and observed practice of the historical essence of what is clearly American Classical Music, no matter the various names it, and we, have been called. The sun is what keeps the planet alive, including the Music, like we say, the Soul of which is Black. Kofi Natambu Berkeley, California April 9, 2014 (Paul Robeson’s 116th birthday) Bibliography of published music criticism by Amiri Baraka (aka Leroi Jones): 1963-2009 Blues People: Negro Music in White America, by Leroi Jones. William Morrow, 1963 Black Music, by Leroi Jones. William Morrow and Company, 1968  The Music: Reflections On Jazz and Blues, by Amiri Baraka and Amina Baraka. William Morrow and Company, 1987 Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music, by Amiri Baraka. University of California BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE Finally Digging is an intense, wide ranging, and deeply philosophical and scholarly meditation on, and relentless excavation of, the multidimensional aspects of the music’s varied diasporic genealogies, and a celebration of its ongoing presence and importance on both a national and global level. Amiri incorporates everything he has learned and experienced in both the music and his life (and their endless interconnections). This synergy of the personal and aesthetic gives the book an organic unity and focus that shapes and informs the text as the essays strive to fuse an understanding of politics, history, ideology, and art with a larger vision of “what it all means.” He confronts this complicated task and handles it beautifully in such sage and critical essays as “The ‘Blues Aesthetic and the Black Aesthetic: Aesthetics as the Continuing Political History of a Culture’, ‘Jazz Criticism and Its Effects On the Music,’ ‘Black Music As A Force for Social Change,’ ‘Bopera Theory,’ “Jazz and the White Critic: Thirty Years Later,” “Newark’s “Coast” and the Hidden Legacy of Urban Culture,’ ‘Blues People: Looking Both Ways,’ ‘Miles Later,’ and ‘Griot/Djali: Poetry, Music, History, message,’‘Cosby and the Music,’ and “The American Popular Song: The Great American Song Book’ among others. In other words no one has written about American music with a wider, deeper, and more informed love, understanding and knowledge than Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones. Noone else has captured what this music means to the artists who create it and the millions of blues people/citizens from all over the world who listen, dance, sing and live their lives to and with it. On this and much much more besides, Amiri has — as always — the ‘last word’ (for now) on the subject: 45 In this quest Digging joyously and fastidiously examines the work, philosophy, craft, and vision of such giants as John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, David Murray, Art Tatum, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Billie Holiday, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, Andrew Cyrille, Barry Harris, James Moody, Jackie McLean, Sarah Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Hopkins, Pharoah Sanders, Charles Tolliver, Odean Pope, John Hicks, Von Freeman, Jimmy Scott, and Reggie Workman (whew!). Baraka also writes with great insight, intelligence, and passion about such exciting and important emerging musicians and composers of the past two decades as Vijay Iyer, Rodney Kendrick, Ralph Peterson, Jon Jang, and Ravi Coltrane.