Scholar and literary icon Albert Murray (1916 – 2013)

Sad moment in American history

Roots Rhythm and Rhyme

The world is mourning the loss of one of its most prolific cultural figures, Mr. Albert Murray, who passed away August 18 at the age of 97. The author and critic was a sound force in the integration of the blues and other forms of African American culture within literature. Murray was a part of the generation of writers who transformed the perception of black literature. Those include his good friend and Tuskegee Institute classmate Ralph Ellison, whose novel The Invisible Man, was a milestone in African American fiction.

Murray shared acclaimed poet Langston Hughes philosophy that the blues were an integral part of American culture and should be celebrated on the same level as European art.

He wrote a series of acclaimed works including the highly-praised book, Stomping the Blues, which presents a thorough, well documented musical analysis of blues as a form of music and as a…

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Wynton Marsalis: Hitting The Road With Gospel Celebration

Praise 107.9

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Jazz great Wynton Marsalis is hitting the road with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Damien Sneed, and the 70-piece Chorale Le Chateau for the “Abyssinian: A Gospel Celebration Tour.” The historic hand–clappin’, tambourine-slappin’ celebration scheduled to take place in performing arts centers and churches in the U.S.

The tour will include songs from Marsalis’ composition “Abyssinian Mass,” a landmark collaboration of jazz, gospel, instrumentation, and vocals. The Abyssinian Gospel Tour kicks off in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Oct. 3 and ends in Boston, Massachusetts on Oct. 27.

Since Marsalis composed and recorded “In This House, On This Morning” two decades ago, he has remained committed to projecting a theme of universal humanism — and raising a joyful noise —while reflecting the form of the African American church service.

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Kenny Kirkland – Delfeayo’s Dilemma


Below is a transcription of Kenny Kirkland’s solo on “Delfeayo’s Dilemma” from Wynton Marsalis’ fantastic album Black Codes From The Underground.  The solo starts at 4:27.  The lick from measure 30-31 is the same one from the Ana Maria solo.  The lick in measure 74-75 is a nice minor pentatonic sound, but with scale degrees 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, and 6 instead of b7.

Check out my other Kenny Kirkland transcriptions!

PDF available on Box for download.

Check out my other transcriptions!

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What I love about Kanye & Drake

What I love the about Kanye West and Drake, as figures in American culture and more specifically Black America is that they represent the invisible. They represent the dynamic that is not ever seen in the black male among other prominent American literature and media. They are the hulking brute or the pensive thug. They are the hot shit talking, middle class, fast times at ridgemont high school attending, weed smoking, club going, college accepted, educated drop out, dichotomy of a black man in America. They represent what King and Malcolm X as well as the many other leaders of the black power and civil rights movements were really attempting to create. They were trying to create a space were black people didn’t have to be better than anyone else to be seen as equal. They helped create a space where black people, men and women, could be normal or mediocre like everyone else, namely the predominate social and racial power base, “white people.”

Kanye & Drake represent that invisible group that Toni Morrison writes about in her landmark work “Black Matters.” In that wonderful work of persuasive argument and eloquent prose Morrison asserts that American literature posits this extremist view of African culture “Africanism” in order to help define what White Culture is in American and the world. Have you ever thought about what White culture is? How can  you define it without the opposite, supposedly,  of it? Drake and Kanye are part of that group of young men and woman that to many older people of color’s dismay, represent the exact thing they were fighting for. I think the biggest misconception to the Dubois & Washington argument was that through freedom we would have to be better, but true freedom allows even the best of us to “just be.” 

They are just doing that, just being themselves. The last work, album, from both “artist” and I use that monicker loosely, is a perfect example of self exploration in the sense of being normal. They aren’t thugs, drug dealers, ex-cons, or addicts. They are just regular American, red blooded, young men. That is really what I love about them both. They represent, to me the dichotomy of being young, black, and rich in America. They are just like any other young rich person in America. They make bad decisions, are selfish, create a dynamic around their image, and sometimes do really cool shit. However, they aren’t Malcolm, Martin, Medgar or W.E.B. for that matter. 

The change that Obama rang in during the 2009 inauguration was the old guard to the new guard. Black people could be normal, regular and just like white people. But, their is still this disenfranchisement and bias that is programmed deeply within the system. Despicable ill, and malice has been perpetrated with such voraciousness that it has been engrained in the fabric of American society for, it seems like, forever. When will we be able by both groups to be more than a Martin, Malcolm, Medgar, Hughes, Obama, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Biggie, Tupac, Gil Scott Heron, Miles Davis, Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, etc. We are bigger than that and have more facets and range of spectrum than ever before. Now is the time, and it seems appropriate to work on what is American, America and our vision of not only what is black or white, but what is right and wrong in our society.