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Swing State

Politics, protest & the president's impact on jazz music today

Swing State: Politics, Protest & the President's Impact on Jazz Music Today
Swing State: Politics, Protest & the President's Impact on Jazz Music Today
Terri Lyne Carrington (photo by Tracy Love)
Terri Lyne Carrington (photo by Tracy Love)
Antonio Sanchez
Antonio Sanchez (photo courtesy of the artist)
Branford Marsalis (photo by Eric Ryan Anderson)
Branford Marsalis (photo by Eric Ryan Anderson)
Saxophonist Jimmy Greene with daughter Ana Grace Márquez-Greene (photo by K. Rifkind)
Saxophonist Jimmy Greene with daughter Ana Grace Márquez-Greene (photo by K. Rifkind)
Wadada Leo Smith (photo by Maarit Kyto Harju)
Sonny Rollins (photo by John Abbott)
Sonny Rollins (photo by John Abbott)

It’s a snowy January Saturday during Manhattan’s Winter Jazzfest, and there’s a trio onstage: a drummer, a journalist and a wonk. It’s not an impromptu jam session but they’re certainly riffing, at a WJF-sponsored panel on the subject of “Social Justice and Jazz,” the theme of the festival for 2017. The trio—drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, writer Siddhartha Mitter and A.C.L.U. policy research manager Megan French-Marcelin—are at the New School’s Fifth Floor Theater, discussing the recharged political consciousness that has increasingly taken hold of the jazz scene.

“I would venture to say that the current wave of political jazz begins with the Iraq War—or maybe with Hurricane Katrina,” says Mitter, the moderator. “And then it continues on up to the Black Lives Matter movement. It extends to the surveillance state and, of course, the current national…” He struggles, then finishes: “…situation.”

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It’s a snowy January Saturday during Manhattan’s Winter Jazzfest, and there’s a trio onstage: a drummer, a journalist and a wonk. It’s not an impromptu jam session but they’re certainly riffing, at a WJF-sponsored panel on the subject of “Social Justice and Jazz,” the theme of the festival for 2017. The trio—drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, writer Siddhartha Mitter and A.C.L.U. policy research manager Megan French-Marcelin—are at the New School’s Fifth Floor Theater, discussing the recharged political consciousness that has increasingly taken hold of the jazz scene.

“I would venture to say that the current wave of political jazz begins with the Iraq War—or maybe with Hurricane Katrina,” says Mitter, the moderator. “And then it continues on up to the Black Lives Matter movement. It extends to the surveillance state and, of course, the current national…” He struggles, then finishes: “…situation.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.