Saturday, June 2, 2007

Censorship - San Francisco Style

Fucking typical... news from the capitol of political correctness...

Jazz Fans Decry Exclusion
From SFGate

When Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland released its much-anticipated 10-year anniversary CD last month, local jazz aficionados were outraged that no African American musicians were included.

The tension grew days later when the Bay Area's jazz community learned that the Berkeley Downtown Jazz Festival had invited only six African American musicians to perform at the five-day event in August.

Together, the two revelations upset musicians, club owners and fans, some of whom say racism is at play in the local jazz scene. Anna DeLeon, owner of Anna's Jazz Island in Berkeley, complained to organizers when she learned who was scheduled to play at her club during the festival.

"There were 17 musicians in four bands, and none were black," said DeLeon. "It is hard for me to imagine how this could happen, how they could not notice."

Word spread quickly as people voiced outrage via e-mail over a problem many said had been simmering for a long time. Jazz professionals met to plan a response. Club owners and musicians went on Doug Edwards' "Music of the World" show on KPFA-FM on May 19. A week later, Susan Muscarella, who books the jazz festival and runs Berkeley's Jazzschool, appeared on the same show to respond.

Muscarella says the situation is being overblown. She said she hasn't finished booking the festival but has so far confirmed four African American acts, and it was coincidence that none would perform at Anna's. Last year, 30 percent of festival performers were black, she said.

"These allegations are outrageous," Muscarella said. "Diversity has always been at the top of my list. I hold African American heritage in high esteem. But I do choose quality and not ethnicity alone."

Many artists said that holding black heritage in high esteem is not the point. Inviting six African American artists to a major jazz event that includes dozens of performers and excluding black artists from a selection of 10 performances at the East Bay's most prominent jazz venue is simply unacceptable, they said.

"It is like going to a Chinese restaurant and there are no Chinese people," said Howard Wiley, a local saxophonist. "It is very disheartening and sad, especially from Yoshi's, which calls itself the premiere jazz venue of the Bay Area.

"I mean, we are dealing with jazz and blues, not Hungarian folk music or the invention of computer programs." (THE FACT THAT THIS RACIST STATEMENT GOES COMPLETELY UNCHALLENGED SHOWS JUST HOW NUTLESS THIS CITY IS).

Jazz grew out of the African American experience, and many historians call it the most significant contribution from the United States to the music world.

Well-known jazz artists, festival organizers and academics say the two incidents show how African Americans are being squeezed out of the art form more broadly.

"This is stemming from a much larger dynamic with regard to jazz and what is becoming a legitimized and institutionalized lack of inclusion of African Americans," said Glen Pearson, a music instructor at the College of Alameda and a full-time musician. "Jazz was once looked at as inferior music from an inferior culture, and now it has become embraced socially and academically, so there has been some revisionism."

Pearson said some music critics believe the African American roots of jazz and its black contributors are sometimes featured too heavily in education and portrayals of jazz, such as in Ken Burns' television documentary series. There were complaints that the PBS series, "Jazz," focused too much on African Americans, Pearson said.

"I am comfortable saying that every significant white contributor to jazz studied from someone of African American descent," Pearson said. "So for a world-class jazz venue to not include an African American performer in a 10-year tribute is just so sideways."

Over the years, countless prominent African Americans have performed at Yoshi's, including Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis, Howard Wiley, Abbey Lincoln, Mulgrew Miller, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Shelby, McCoy Tyner, Shirley Horn and Elvin Jones.

Peter Williams, Yoshi's artistic director, said the exclusion was an oversight and that the club does not have the right to record all the performers that appear there.

"We apologize to anyone who feels slighted by the omission of African American artists on this project, as that was never our intention," he wrote in an e-mail to concerned supporters. "This compilation CD was meant to celebrate a milestone for us in the Bay Area and not necessarily meant to be a representation of all the artists and music styles ever played at our club."

DeLeon said she and others angry about the CD do not suspect that Yoshi's conspired to leave out African Americans; they are upset it happened without anyone noticing.

"The Bay Area is a jazz mecca, considered one of the top three or four markets in the country, so for its premiere venue to leave out African American artists is amazing," said Herve Ernest, executive director of SF Noir, an arts and culture organization that highlights African American contributions, and a co-founder of the North Beach Jazz Festival.

"From what I have perceived and what I've witnessed, there is a certain whitewashing of jazz both locally and nationally," Ernest said. "I think it is done from a marketing standpoint and is a response to the largely white audiences that patronize an establishment." (AS USUAL, IT"S ALWAYS WHITEY'S FAULT)

Ernest said one of the reasons he founded SF Noir was that he noticed the jazz festival audiences were 90 percent white, and he wanted to try to appeal to a more diverse crowd and put a stronger focus on black contributions to the art. (MAYBE HAVE MORE JAZZ SINGERS SCREAM "BITCH" AND "HO" AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS!)

"It really gets me upset that people like Norah Jones (who is white and East Indian) get pushed through with heavy marketing when there are dozens of African American female jazz vocalists who, in my opinion, are 10 times better," he said. "I'm not sure if the exclusion is intended or an honest overlook, but we created jazz and we are still playing it, so we should not be overlooked."

Local jazz artists said they see the discussion as positive in that it is offering a chance to address an issue that has been stewing for some time. A desire to organize has been lacking, said local jazz singer Rhonda Benin, but now a number of musicians are ready to take action.

"It's an ongoing problem that was brought to a head by these two events," said Raymond Nat Turner, an Oakland-based jazz poet. "That set in motion a chain of e-mails and unleashed an energy that had been dormant for years.

"People who had not been communicating have started talking and networking," Turner said.

At a forum at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music last month, about 35 people discussed how better to support black-owned venues and artists and recruiting more African American children into the world of jazz.

"We are becoming the minority as Europeans and Caucasians take over," Turner said. (DON'T FORGET THE JAPANESE!)

Those who attended the forum plan to meet again Sunday to develop a long-term strategy.

"This is an African American art form, and they are excluding the very people who created it and continue to play it," said Benin. "It's a travesty."

...And how did Yoshi's respond to this RACIST vileness? They caved, of course...

Shamed, Yoshi'd Pulls CD, Apologizes
From SFGate

The managers of Yoshi's jazz club said Friday that issuing a 10th anniversary CD with no African American musicians was "a huge mistake" and "a major oversight." In the wake of complaints by some African American musicians and community leaders, the club issued an apology and withdrew the disc.

With "Live at Yoshi's: Anniversary Compilation" off the market, the club plans to create a new recording that more accurately reflects the musicians who play the 340-seat venue at Oakland's Jack London Square, said Joan Rosenberg, marketing director for the club. (AFFIRMATIVE 'JAZZ'-CTION?)

Yoshi's had sold about 500 of the 1,000 CDs it began offering on its Web site last month. The disc, the first made by Yoshi's, was not distributed to stores.

"We really messed up on the CD," said Yoshi's owner Kaz Kajimura. "We apologize to anyone who feels slighted by this omission, as that was never our intention."

The musicians on the disc include pianist Marian McPartland, singer Madeleine Peyroux, the late guitarist Joe Pass and Latin percussionist Poncho Sanchez.

Kajimura and Yoshi's artistic director Peter Williams attributed the botched CD to haste and expediency. "This was done on the spur of the moment, and we didn't have a lot of time and research to put into it," said Kajimura. Yoshi's began working on the project in late March to mark the club's 10 years in Oakland in May.

Eight of the 10 tracks, from four different musicians, came from Concord records, one of the world's largest recording labels. The other two came from San Francisco radio station KFOG's archives.

"That was the easiest, quickest thing to do," said Williams. "We assumed Concord would have the most music recorded live at Yoshi's." When the new CD is made, he added, it will include African American musicians recorded live at Yoshi's on such labels as Verve, MaxJazz and Blue Note. That will involve more elaborate negotiations for rights and licensing fees.

"If Yoshi's is calling this an oversight, then maybe there needs to be a larger discussion about the dynamic of what jazz is all about," said Glen Pearson, an African American musician and College of Alameda instructor. "Diversity is a word that gets kicked around a lot these days. But how sincerely or honestly is that concept really being applied? Or is it just a politically convenient term to use?" (I DON'T KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN WITH THIS... IT'S JUST INDICATIVE OF THE TOTAL DOUBLE STANDARD OF RACISM THAT EXISTS HERE. THIS SHIT DOESN'T HAPPEN IN NEW YORK - OR REALLY ANYWHERE ELSE BUT IN THIS SOCIALIST 'FRUITOPIA')

Williams said race and ethnicity are "things that I just never think about when I'm booking the club. It always comes out that we have a great mix. I'm very comfortable with what we've done."

Kajimura said that more than half of the musicians who play Yoshi's are African American.

Orrin Keepnews, the famed Bay Area-based jazz record producer who put out classic albums by Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and many others on his Riverside label, calls the Yoshi's CD affair "an embarrassingly small deal.''

"With all due respect to the venerable Marian McPartland, whom I love and have always loved, there's nobody on that record of major current importance," said Keepnews. "The club put out an anniversary record that was thoughtless and not very well put together. They limited themselves to material recorded live at the club. You have a half-dozen things here that don't have the making of a significant or representative record, regardless of what color anybody is.''

As for Yoshi's pulling the CD in reaction to the controversy, Keepnews said: "It's become very customary when you make a big public mistake to then withdraw as much as you can. (I AGREE THERE... THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE WITHDRAWN, THEY SHOULD HAVE CALLED THESE BASTARDS ON THEIR REVERSE RACISM) It's been going on at all the networks recently. It's childish. If you're insulted, you haven't removed the insult by removing the product. I don't think Yoshi's necessarily insulted people, but it wasn't a very bright thing to do. But I don't really think it's any kind of fatal mistake.''

Black saxophonist Howard Wiley thinks Yoshi's had no choice but to pull the CD. "I think it's the right step, to turn a negative into a positive. Let's all come to the table now and play some beautiful music together." (NO WHITES ALLOWED)

The racial mix of musicians in this summer's Downtown Berkeley Jazz Festival also came into question this week. Susan Muscarella, who is booking the festival through the sponsor, Berkeley's Jazzschool, was in a diversity committee meeting there Friday afternoon. "We're addressing the issue across the board, in all our education and performing programs," she said, calling charges of racial imbalance "unfair and ungrounded."

Muscarella said the Aug. 22-26 festival is about halfway planned. "My problem now is how to book African American artists when they might think they're only being invited in response to the controversy."

In the afterward to "Farenheit 451," Ray Bradbury prophesized that it would not be some fascist conspiracy that would bring large scale censorship to the arts - it would be the whining minorities slamming art for not being 'minority' enough (this was way before the coining of the term p.c.) - and that, when real censorship came, we would welcome it... and think we were doing the right thing.

Now, perhaps we can address the real issue... which is why the hell there are so many blacks in the NBA. Our white game is so underrepresented now. It was invented by our people, and it is high time that we whites got the representation we deserve!

BTW... that last comment was a joke, and, if you didn't get it, then there is no hope for you!

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