A review of Think Tank April 26.1999 with Billy Taylor on PBS

Hi,

I watched your program with Billy Taylor and I kept seeing please write
us about five or six times on the TV Tube.  So, I thought may be you are serious about this?
Think Tank wanted to read this on their show, but I ask them not too incase they
quoted only part of the review and not the entire review. I am not trying to hurt anybody just trying to bring out some facts.
 

        * Well, to put it simply when you talk to a black jazz
          artist you will get a bias viewpoint pointing to a black
          jazz artist.  They have a marketing promotional
          conspiracy pointing to the fact that they are jazz
          musicians and white musicians only steal from them. And
          you will never hear a black artist mention a white
          artist.  I wonder what they do with a brown artist?
          But somehow I do not think they have a sense of humor
          about this subject.  This attitude has gotten beyond belief.

I was visiting Toronto for a funeral last week (Alfred Schmielewski) and I called an old
musician friend and he goes to the clubs to see the groups from the states and one of his
friends ask the bass player if he would like to get together and play during the day.  The
bass player did not say no he said, "I do not play with white musicians."
 

        * Billy Taylor is an old tired musician and should stay in
          his school environment where he belongs and not be out in
          public promoting his racist musical ideas.

I would like to define racist for you so you will not get upset. (1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.  2. discrimination or prejudice based on race.  Mr. Taylor in his interview said he was bias so you should not be upset by this statement and point me out as a racist whiich I am sure will happen.)

I would hope that music would be beyond race, but I say it cannot because
of the low moral character of most musicians.  This is why classical music has such a
high level of morality in the music because the music is written down note for note and cannot
be changed my the performing artists like it can be in jazz.  And classical musicians just cannot compose music and there is so much music for them to perform that the performer knows that if they play a certain piece of music they know so many people will come and listen and make their concert successful.
 

        * JAZZ: The black race did not invent the harmony, song
          form, musical instruments, improvisation, or
          orchestration.  This all came from white musicians as
          they call us.  I would say that they may have invented
          the song form of the blues.  The harmony came from hymns
          that they sang in Christian Churches.  So what part of
          jazz is black jazz and what part of jazz is white jazz?

        * I would say the the drumming or rhythm of jazz comes from
          a certain tribe in Africa and this rhythm was used to
          communicate from village to village like a language
          would.  So this was a very precise way of speaking not so
          much a free for all that we have in jazz with the rhythm
          now.  I believe a few people in South America still know
          this tradition of speaking with the drum.  They had a
          forum at the UN with this demonstration, but I do not
          remember what tribe.  There are many rhythms that came out
          of Africa and one of those rhythms came from a black tribe
          not the whole black race. What about all the Afro-Cuban Rhythms
          for an example of this idea of one tribe with one thythm.

        * Jazz is a mixing of the races and cultures from both the
          black races and the white races.  So to say that jazz was
          a black art form is really silly.  But we have so many
          egos out there and people taking positions for economic
          gain.  The blacks want the present whites to pay for the
          mistakes of the past.  Which to me is extremely bias and
          unforgiving, but that is what we have.  I never knew a
          black person until I went to college.  Does this mean I
          am guilty of all the crimes against the blacks?

Can a white man get up and call Al Sharpton a racist?  Can a white man
get up and call Billy Taylor a racist?  But a black man can get up and call any white
man a racist.  I believe that the white race should get up and make a stand about this name
calling that is going on.

Some how this wild talk by the communities has to be gotten under
control!

About your show with Billy Taylor, I thought it was a terrible show
because Billy Taylor is so fixed in his mind about his music that new ideas or new musicians
are not there.  His piano playing sounded so tired and the sound of the
piano was terrible. I do not know who your sound man is, but you should get a new one or
take more care in the sound presentation.

To conclude:  It is the over all lack of respect for music in general
that is the problem.  The Conductor of the Met got convicted of child
molestation and is on probation.  Does this reach the public?  Why is
Strawberry so persecuted and not the Conductor of the Met?  Two major Conservatories of music closed in Chicago in the last 15 years due to
lack of support.  Is this the kind of America we  want?  I do not think
so, but it is the kind of America we are getting. Having people on your
show dividing the races and promoting bias opinions is not a way to
promote a better and freer America.

A personal note, music is an art form that is said to be closes to God.  "I wonder
what God would say about choosing musicians because of race?"
 

Greg Waters
Music Critic, artists of music in classical and jazz

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