On Jazz and Protest – David Adler

From Z Word:

David Adler will be known to readers of this blog as an occasional contributor of both posts and comments. He’s now written an essay for the main Z Word site entitled Jazz and Protest: A Reappraisal. As one of New York’s most prominent jazz critics, David is uniquely placed to tackle some of the contemporary interpretations of the notion of jazz as “freedom music,” particularly from such unsavory characters as Amiri Baraka and Gilad Atzmon.

Continue reading ‘New on Z Word: Reappraising Jazz and Protest’

5 Responses to “On Jazz and Protest – David Adler”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    A fascinating article, and deserving of close reading. As a jazz fan, it’s good to know that I don’t _have_ to listen to Atzmon to hear the sort of jazz he’s playing. Just note the following 2 quotes from p. 5 of the article, especially the section emphasised thus ** ** – these are the players I’m going to hunt for!:

    “Profiting from shrill anti-Zionist sentiment that has gone increasingly mainstream, Atzmon has found it easy to string along a growing number of music journalists, and apparently editors too. But what of his music – an intricate hybrid involving oud, various reeds and percussion, Middle Eastern vocals and conventional jazz instruments? Admittedly, it is worth hearing. **It speaks to jazz’s longstanding ability to absorb influences from around the globe – something all the more pronounced as gifted players are emerging from West Africa, South and Central America, East Asia and, yes, Israel (Anat Cohen, Omer Avital, Reut Regev, Gilad Hekselman, more). Children of immigrants from Iraq (Amir ElSaffar), Iran (Hafez Modirzadeh), India (Vijay Iyer), Pakistan (Rez Abbasi) and elsewhere are also bringing diasporic elements to bear on jazz’s core language. Thus we see that Atzmon’s concept, though skillful, is not unique.** His political agenda is what sets him apart. Some recognize it for the poison it is; others give the benefit of the doubt to anyone spewing venom at Israel.”

    Then there’s this, on Adler’s personal politics:

    “After years as a guitarist, editor and activist, I began writing about jazz in 1999. Since then my taste in music has grown steadily more radical, my politics the reverse…I’ve come to understand and love sounds that are far more extreme, that even some jazz players wouldn’t consider music…even as a staunch liberal and social democrat, I’m increasingly turned off by what Ian McEwan has called the “cloying self-regard” of today’s antiwar street-protest left, the very place on the political spectrum where adventurous, experimental musicians and fans tend to gather.”

    Hmm…just a complicated person, with all sorts of possibly contraditory tastes – just like most of the rest of us! And that last comment might just have come from a jazz-loving Nick Cohen.

  2. Ben Cohen Says:


    Glad you enjoyed the piece.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Thanks, newcentrist, just listened to a couple of minutes of the video (pressed for time this am), and this is one I’m definitely planning to add to the cd collection.

      And, Ben, you’re most welcome.

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