The Races Are All the Prize: Equality in Music from BeBop to Prog Metal

Xarrier or Xarriarai {alumni of the House of Xarrizoundz} has never taken the easy road. In the Blogosphere, it is too easy to fell into either the light fluff category {which would be our naval gazing fates if we only described our own specific musics} or the politico~mental asylum of overactive commentary responding to every political or social tweet from every knucklehead w/ broadband. We have tried to balance our brief though hopefully challenging interactions in the trans-musical subject matters with genuine creative backbone. For example, jh0st who represents his own music formerly preached his “music beyond genres” from this Xarrier platform. His latest post regarding the real repercussion of color or ethnicity on the history of popular music is worthy of further investigation…

Citing Benny Goodman and Led Zeppelin as either getting too much credit for what was in essence a African American invention of the genres of jazz or blues (blues being the root of both jazz and rock) for the former or in Zep’s case literally not giving credit for the riffs or songs they appropriated. Yet in that case where do the ethics resound, in the black light of white light/ white heat (yes Velvet’s reference worked into a Zep tangent!) or is it really down to the color of money: green. Only space aliens are green in epidermal hue, but every red blooded human is after the same trophic cascades of C-notes and Benjamins! In other words are Page/Plant/Jones/ Bonham any more guilty for riff theft because they made a larger profit margin doing it then say John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters or Howling Wolf w/ Hubert Sumlin on lead gtr all reinventing w/ variations each others compositions from time to time?

Pat Metheny’s Groups were a veritable United Nations of backgrounds {with Perdro singing in Portugese and Nana playing rythyms spanning across the Afro-Tropical diaspora} , and Ornette’s style defining harmolodic ‘pianoless’ quartet had Charlie Haden on bass, who oddly enough was also like Metheny later from Missouri. They definitely both “showed me” that jazz is not measured in the tone of one’s complexion yet instead the poetry which flows forth from thine axe. As Duke Ellington from DC, who like Miles Davis from St. Louis (imagine Miles livid response to the de-evolution of civil rights in nearby Fergusson!?!) was part of their respective cities African American elite professional upscale backgrounds. Duke lived in Washington’s ‘Gold Coast’, while Miles Davis father was a dentist who sent his talented son to Julliard to study music with the best teachers available. Miles dropped out to follow the teachings of Bird!

Hendrix blues epic ‘Red House’ was based on Albert King’s song ‘California Blues’ as performed here by Jimi as sideman w/ Curtis Knight & the Squires. Hendrix was African American, Native American & Irish American. King (the original composer of the chord changes Jimi’s ‘Red House’ applied a different lyric and solo too) and Knight were African American. The tradition going back to and before the Robert Johnson/ Mississippi Delta/ country blues era was a continual reworking of eachothers songs under various aliases on different lablels w/ new lyrics. This was explained by Odell Hobbs (who had tuaght at Tuskegee), at VCU when Ellis Marsalis was Jazz Dept boss. Thus, the only difference between Led Zep stealing riffs is they made more money doing it primarily due to Pages top shelf studio production and former pro-wrestler Peter Grant’s ruthless dominant style of handling the business end. Hendrix himself was cheated by mobbed up manager Micheal Jefferies, yet so was Elvis cheated by ‘Colonel’ Parker, both of European descent.

Yet pivitol figures like Charlie Parker regularly played w/ integrated bands like having trumpeter of Jewish descent Red Rodney or Chet Baker {whose movie star good looks and whispering falsetto made some wonder what planet he was from. Far from jazz emphasizing segregation it was bebop itself that was a decade ahead of Jackie Robinson breaking the so~called “color barrier” in baseball, when in bebop African and European descent players working together professionally in public by the early 40’s. Benny Goodman’s only failure was not getting the electric guitar innovator and virtuoso Charlie Christian off the juice before he succumbed to it by age 26! A full year before Hendrix who went at 27…

When Jimi was asked by underground paper the Speckled Bird about his feelings about the racial tension in 1960’s USA (more specifically the deep south where ATL Pop Fest was spot of interview), Jimi said the only differences he was adressing in his music was not between young and old, rich or poor, nor black & white: the Experience’s focus was in bewtween “the obsolete and the new” meaning it was time to banish the anachronistic & ignorant policies to the dustbin of history, while embracing the awareness of progressive tolerance & equality among all.

“Well I stand up next to a mountain, I chop it down with the edge of my hand

Well I pick up all the pieces make an island, might even raise a little sand”

~ Jimi Hendrix ‘Vodoo Chile {Slight Return}’ :Electric Ladyland 2xLP, 1968


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