The truth is, it doesn’t really matter where it came from. The phrase is the kind of non-sequitur that I thought might stir people in a positive way. It’s just odd enough, just off-topic enough that I hoped people would react to it and create their own relation to it. Sometimes you know things but don’t really understand things and I knew but didn’t truly understand how radical and revolutionary jazz was, how deeply imbedded and truly diverse jazz was from its very inception. We take so much for granted but it was very easy to see and to imagine how wonderful that moment must have been when the world first heard this music. It must have been absolutely liberating. It’s impossible to hear early swing jazz and not start to move. And on more then one occasion, a different musician or historian would state that “Jazz is freedom.” And that jazz is the basis of American artistic culture. Wynton Marsalis went on to state unequivocally that jazz is what democracy can be, will be. As an aside, there was a tangential, throw away line by the great critic, Stanley Crouch, when discussing the ultimate inclusiveness of jazz, something to the effect of “After all, if there is one word that defines civilization, it is the word ‘welcome’” — that makes what you do a practice of true civilization.
From our friend JB. You can get one of these only at Ace Portland — the shirt, not the handsome man, pictured here.