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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Paul Miller, AKA DJSpooky

To hell with AARP! Picked up tickets to Birth of the Nation as re-conceived by DJSpooky -- plus a good companion to enjoy the performance with and tonight's the night to get a look at the future through a new art form.

Will meet Doug at the Montgomery Street BART station for the short walk to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at around 7:15 or shortly thereafter. I'm so looking forward to this performance. Been thinking about it for weeks

Located a copy of one of New York poet, Sekou Sundiata's, cds at Amazon.com last night and ordered it. He is said to be the father of the Spoken Word movement. Had both his releases at one time but shared them with a friend and can't seem to remember just who that was ... that's the way it is with the best of art; hard to keep to oneself.

I can recall having the same feeling of excitement when I first heard Sundiata doing his spoken word thing to jazz -- also at Yerba Buena -- a couple of years ago as a part of the S.F. Spring Jazz Festival. I remember thinking at the time that this is what I'm wired for; this truly black art form. I have an intellectual appreciation for e.e.cummings, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliott, and some of the modernists like Ferlinghetti or Ric Masten -- but then there's that black something that's embedded in the music of Duke, and Shirley Horn, and Miles Davis, and yes, Bird, that touches something deep in the center of my being. It's there in Ray Charles' music. I hear it in the work of Jill Scott, as well. The only way to describe it is that it's in my "wiring." It's something beyond intellectual and I feel it when listening to Vanessa Bell Armstrong or Donnie McCurkin singing gospel or watching Rennie Harris or Robert Moses, Traci Bartlow or Robert Henry Johnson, dance ... or Brenda Boykin swingin' the blues.

Whatever-that-is may make itself evident again tonight as I experience this evocative performance. Wish I had the words to describe it -- I only know it emotionally, I think, like something genetic picked up in the womb from a responsive mother-to-be swaying in rhythm.. .

It might be the same for someone born in Guadalajara sitting in a US bar and hearing a mariachi band fire up. Or, someone from Argentina hearing the sharp sound of heels on a wooden floor and the flourish of flamenco from a guitar in the hands of a master. These things I can understand more easily. Those are familiar audio signals from a life remembered. Why then, is it so strong in me? Almost all of my life has been lived in an integrated world -- with few black reference points to claim me, except those already watered down in the mainstream. Yet the strongest influence is African -- "the drum" ties me firmly to black culture as if the other racial biological underpinnings were non-existent. I'm culturally interwoven with black lives everywhere -- and the bonds are so strong that Robert Frost hasn't a chance against Sundiata!

Now let's see what Spooky has.

Stay tuned.

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