At this summer’s North Sea Jazz Festival, when they weren’t leading a band or guesting with a world renowned big band, contemporary innovators Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah and Kamasi Washington found time to sit down for a panel discussion about musicians’ role when it comes to political and social issues. As the festival website describes the panel, “Although the Civil Right movement of the 60s and the anti-apartheid movements of the 80s are seen by many as struggles of the past, discussions about civil right have flared up again. What is the role musicians can have when it comes to social and political issues? Saxophonist Kamasi Washington and trumpeter Christian Scott discuss their experiences and those of fellow musicians.”

Whether it’s Max Roach’s We Insist or Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra (which he continued writing for at least through 2005, when their last album was released), jazz musicians have a history of pushing boundaries politically as well as musically. In fact, as Nate Chinen noted in his memorial to Haden, “Mr. Haden, who liked to say he was driven by concern for ‘the struggle of the poor people,’ hardly restricted his opinions to the Liberation Music Orchestra. While playing a festival with Mr. (Ornette) Coleman in Lisbon, in 1971, he dedicated his ‘Song for Ché’ to the black liberation movements of Mozambique and Angola, and was promptly jailed.”

Though it may be expressed differently, Jazz music still deals with important issues of the day. Scroll down to listen to part of North Sea Jazz Festival’s discussion with Kamasi and Christian, and head over to Funk It for the whole thing, as well as lots more coverage of their appearances at the festival.


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