Friday, April 20, 2012

Tapscott and L.A. Local Jamming!

Throughout the section on LA I kept going back to the response book I’d read, Black Arts West by Daniel Widener. While reading the book I learned about local musician, Horace Tapscott. Tapscott was highly involved with his community, he played his music with and for them. The style that was created was in a way “birthed” by the local, but it would later be categorized as free jazz. Leaving that part behind, I think this style of music is awesome to learn about. Sometimes it’s choppy and yes, sometimes it sounds a little strange but I think if you take a step back and realize how much feeling the music has it can be really incredible. Since everything is so improv, the artists’ conditions and the music are inexorably linked, the music is, kind of literally, played with feeling.
I began listening to some recordings, but to fully understand I think it’s better to SEE it being playing (of course there isn’t really an electronic means to replace actually being there) but anyways…the important thing to remember while I go off on tangent is that the music was a community thing

Here's an article about him and his work in the community! -
Click me!!! LA times article on Tapscott
andddd here's a clip of music being played Link to Jam sesh

Improvisational music has always made me wonder.. sometimes I love it and sometimes I'm just a little lost. But then there are those really awesome combinations of people that get together and it's a little awe-striking, thinking about how crazy creative they must be to come in and feel it, just improvise, and inspire and freestyle off one another. A lot of people aren’t too fond of this style; and though odd time signatures, syncopation, and clashing rhythms can sounds a little strange, it can also be like pure awesomeness (clip 4:35 - 4:42 AH!)  All the moments leading to those few seconds have to be there. There have to be some ups and downs, ins and outs, wrongs and rights, evens and odds, for the music to have an impact. It's kind of like Killer of Sheep, life isn't always high rolling and good times, a lot of it is choppy and most of the time people are just trying to make their way basically I think that we might forget or aren’t exposed to the fact that in our own minds, in life, things rarely work out beautifully and in rhythm. This kind of improvisational jazz is about collectively working on expression, and for many that is simultaneously a way to reflect and ‘work’ on life. This can be a beautiful thing in its own right and it is truly powerful.

 From the article!: Tapscott's band was playing. "Somebody told him there was a young guy in the audience with some poetry. Next thing I knew I was performing onstage with them. That's the kind of thing he would do. . . . That simple act opened up my life tremendously."
(the interviewee Michael says this music kept him going, and think back to the cinema production about Treme, where the entire city was influenced/centered around music in the community)

This improvisational style is not only meant to be heard, it's meant to be used and shared,  as Horace’s mentor noted  "I'll teach you...if you promise to pass it on."I think that's such a powerful message and it really makes me wonder about the character of these musicians and the communities that inspired them.  Here's another clip about Tapscott from the paper article - "With his talent, they said, he could have hit worldly heights. Instead he stayed and made "community artist" a noble profession. He played at community events, prisons, schools, on the Black Panthers' albums of the early '70s--and lost work because of his activism. He created the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension, an organization that brought together, musicians, poets and other artists. Art is contributive, he would say, not competitive." 
(this also makes me think about our discussion about the art made at Manzanar. Both challenge, albiet in different ways, what art is, what its purpose serves, and who it is for etc. )
The most well known organization Tapscott helped found was the Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra, which continues to train and play the less well known work of local and global African American artists today. They also incorporate poetry, dancing and singing. These arkestra's  kind of remind me of the colonias we read about in the first section on Padua Hills, the arkestra gatherings served as little "hub spots" all over, bringing the global to each local and vise versa.  Tapscott was involved in his community till the end, and his music came from and was for all. Sharing music was a way to affirm and construct both self and group identity.

-"This is where I learned how to say, 'I love you' . The Ark taught the spiritual aspects of your being and everyone else's. We all learned to love life, the music, the spirit and each other."

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