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Nicholas Payton and Black American Music.
May 22, 2014 1:20 PM

The fantastic, super-swingin' trumpet player, Nicholas Payton, has some strong opinions on the word "jazz" to describe this music we play. He's a prolific blogger and has a healthy twitter presence from time to time (with over 6,000 followers). In his latest blog post from last month, he says this:

In Black music there are no fields, per se, there are territories and lineages. It's very clear who is a master drummer in the tribe and who is not. There is also a rhythmic lilt to how you phrase that is encoded in your DNA that gives a sign as to where you are from.

Is it true that there's a "rhythmic lilt to how you phrase that is encoded in your DNA," or does that feel and phrasing come from the musician's upbringing? If you grew up in the southern black church playing gospel music, one would assume that your "feel" would be radically different than if you started playing heavy metal in some white school band, no? Is there a "genetic" imprint to this music, or is it all cultural?

There's been a long discussion over the decades as to whether the word "jazz" is derogatory or not to this music and the musicians who play it, but Nicholas clearly thinks that the music should be called "Black American Music," or #BAM in today's Twitter lingo.


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