Monday, January 17, 2005

Quote & Music of the day -- 1/17/05

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -- Martin Luther King Jr.
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Charles Mingus - Let My Children Hear Music

While MLK was certainly one of the main voices of social justice and political discontent during the 1960s, Charles Mingus chose to express his opinions on such matters on occasion in the jazz world. I have an unreleased live recording of his from 1965 where he concluded the show with a song called "Don't Let It Happen Here". He began the number by reciting an altered variation of Martin Niemoller's famous poem "First They Came...", which included a part he added on:
Then they took me, and I could say nothing
for I was as guilty as they were
for not speaking out, for saying that
all men have a right to freedom on any land
I was as guilty of genocide as you, all of you
for you know when a man is free
and when to set him free of slavery
so I charge you all with genocide
same as I

This particular album of his is not as highly touted as some others, but is my personal favorite aside from his most famous album, Mingus Ah Um. I especially enjoy listening to the piece entitled "Don't Be Afraid, The Clown's Afraid Too", which opens and closes with sound effects that evoke a circus atmosphere, complete with the roar of a lion and the trumpeting sound of an elephant. No other Mingus album in my collection is as complex and able to stir all of my emotions as this one.


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