(b) Joplin, Beiderbecke, Bird, Miles, Kenton, Brookmeyer, Christian, Carmichael, Hawkins, McShann, Goodman, Tatum, the Jones brothers, Don Cherry, Jon Hendricks, Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Chet Baker, Albert Ayler and Andrew Hill; all from the Midwest. The Basie band and the AACM were formed in the Midwest. These are just a few ground-breaking jazz musicians that exemplify the region’s influence. Although academia suggests otherwise, jazz did not originate solely in New Orleans; much of its roots are Midwestern.
5. What would you say about the idea that jazz is part of the American mainstream? What about the analysis that root music has been co-opted by more modern forms (i.e. jazz, rock, & pop)?
(a) Jazz created the current American mainstream. Ironically, it’s assimilation into the American Culture Machine that originally rejected still marginalizes it; so, its original subtext of social egalitarianism is assuaged. But I think the pendulum will (pun intended) “swing” around and, as jazz works its way into the core of the Machine, improve it. It’s probably happening now.
(b) I was fortunate to befriend saxophonist Jim Pepper when I started out. We played at the 1976 Native Arts Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, and I was introduced to root music by the Tikigak Dance Troop of Point Hope. I’m finally learning to express it without compromising my identity. Jazz, its African American relates (funk, rock, hip-hop, etc.) and, especially, “Latin” music co-opts elements of root music – irregular rhythms and non-tempered scales, for example.
6. What are some of your current projects/collaborations? What generates your interest?
(a) A trio with hyper-pianist Denman Maroney and drummer Bob Meyer, Alt.Timers. We're finishing a CD that includes “Hamlet,” my composition that focuses on aspects of root music.
Composer/pianist/vocalist Cynthia Hilt’s nine-piece group, Lyric Fury. We just finished a month-long engagement at Miles Café in New York.
An electro-acoustic group with saxophonist Hayes Greenfield and percussionist Todd Turkisher. We just played the 21st-Century Schizoid Music series at Cornelia Street June 27 and play Wednesdays at Queen’s Vic in New York.