16 min

33 And 1/3 Under 45 – Track Twenty: A Tribute To Jack Johnson 33 & 1/3 Under 45

    • Music

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. You can find Ryan’s band, Premium Heart, on facebook, twitter, or instagram for upcoming releases and shows.



This column was written on June 14th, 2020.



Johnson portrayed Freedom - it rang just as loud as the bell proclaiming him Champion.



All forms of expression, whether artistic or not, are statements of values from the creator and are inherently political. If you can't accept that and wish people didn't have to be so political in their art, go f**k, and I can't stress this enough, yourself.



In 1970, just about a year after Miles Davis recorded his groundbreaking jazz fusion album, In A Silent Way, he recorded the soundtrack to an upcoming documentary on the boxing champion, Jack Johnson. Johnson was one of the first black boxers who was "allowed" to box a white man and become the world heavyweight boxing champion, owned and operated several desegregated nightclubs in the 1910s, and was arrested, charged, and sentenced by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act because of his relationships with white women before the Act was even passed.



In years, we're about as removed from this record as Miles was from most of the events that made Jack Johnson a household name. But just like I feel that this album is as relevant today as ever, Miles felt a deep connection to Jack's story. Not only as a trailblazer for Black Americans, shattering boundaries that White America fought (and still fights) so hard to uphold, but also as a victim of the system. In 1959, after releasing the masterpiece Kind Of Blue, Miles was beaten and arrested by the NYPD for not "moving on" from the steps of the club he was playing an Armed Forces Day benefit at (the Birdland, one of the most important Jazz clubs in Manhattan) after walking a white woman to her cab. Despite pointing out that he was on the marquee and had every right to be there, (“I don’t care where you work, I said move on! If you don’t move on I’m going to arrest you.” said the cop) Miles was beaten bloody and dragged off. From his autobiography:





For everyone that says it's only about class and that if we pursue economic justice, racial justice will follow suit, you're still as wrong as people who said that to Miles in 1959 were. As wrong as the people that said that to Jack Johnson in 1912 were. It doesn't matter if you're rich, a racist system is still going to abuse you if you're not white. And then make you the villain for being angry. You're the real racist for fighting against the system.



From Davis' liner notes for the record:





Now I don't know a whole lot about Jack Johnson and I've never seen the movie. But I can still really feel what Miles is trying to convey in his soundtrack. The first side, "Right Off" starts with a very rock and blues feeling electric guitar, drums and bass, that immediately invoke the presence that a man like Jack Johnson, a man like Miles Davis, always invokes when they walk into a room. He lets John McLaughlin's guitar, Michael Henderson's bass, and Billy Cobham's drums tell the story for a few minutes, alternating between big fills and mellow lows until Miles comes in at about the 2 and a half minute mark. And he makes it clear that he's the star here. His trumpet fills the space and reminds everyone that people like him are the reason we have jazz. The reason we have the blues. The reason we have rock n roll. Together, they build the song up to something truly magical. Until about 10 and half minutes in, everything drops out but Miles' muted trumpet. Just long enough to remind you that hidden behind every jam that takes music to this kind of level, there's a deep, solitary pain behind it. As much as Miles Davis was the coolest band leader who ever lived,

You can find episodes on frondsradio.com and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, my twitter handle is @stoopkidliveson and I’d love to hear from you. You can find Ryan’s band, Premium Heart, on facebook, twitter, or instagram for upcoming releases and shows.



This column was written on June 14th, 2020.



Johnson portrayed Freedom - it rang just as loud as the bell proclaiming him Champion.



All forms of expression, whether artistic or not, are statements of values from the creator and are inherently political. If you can't accept that and wish people didn't have to be so political in their art, go f**k, and I can't stress this enough, yourself.



In 1970, just about a year after Miles Davis recorded his groundbreaking jazz fusion album, In A Silent Way, he recorded the soundtrack to an upcoming documentary on the boxing champion, Jack Johnson. Johnson was one of the first black boxers who was "allowed" to box a white man and become the world heavyweight boxing champion, owned and operated several desegregated nightclubs in the 1910s, and was arrested, charged, and sentenced by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act because of his relationships with white women before the Act was even passed.



In years, we're about as removed from this record as Miles was from most of the events that made Jack Johnson a household name. But just like I feel that this album is as relevant today as ever, Miles felt a deep connection to Jack's story. Not only as a trailblazer for Black Americans, shattering boundaries that White America fought (and still fights) so hard to uphold, but also as a victim of the system. In 1959, after releasing the masterpiece Kind Of Blue, Miles was beaten and arrested by the NYPD for not "moving on" from the steps of the club he was playing an Armed Forces Day benefit at (the Birdland, one of the most important Jazz clubs in Manhattan) after walking a white woman to her cab. Despite pointing out that he was on the marquee and had every right to be there, (“I don’t care where you work, I said move on! If you don’t move on I’m going to arrest you.” said the cop) Miles was beaten bloody and dragged off. From his autobiography:





For everyone that says it's only about class and that if we pursue economic justice, racial justice will follow suit, you're still as wrong as people who said that to Miles in 1959 were. As wrong as the people that said that to Jack Johnson in 1912 were. It doesn't matter if you're rich, a racist system is still going to abuse you if you're not white. And then make you the villain for being angry. You're the real racist for fighting against the system.



From Davis' liner notes for the record:





Now I don't know a whole lot about Jack Johnson and I've never seen the movie. But I can still really feel what Miles is trying to convey in his soundtrack. The first side, "Right Off" starts with a very rock and blues feeling electric guitar, drums and bass, that immediately invoke the presence that a man like Jack Johnson, a man like Miles Davis, always invokes when they walk into a room. He lets John McLaughlin's guitar, Michael Henderson's bass, and Billy Cobham's drums tell the story for a few minutes, alternating between big fills and mellow lows until Miles comes in at about the 2 and a half minute mark. And he makes it clear that he's the star here. His trumpet fills the space and reminds everyone that people like him are the reason we have jazz. The reason we have the blues. The reason we have rock n roll. Together, they build the song up to something truly magical. Until about 10 and half minutes in, everything drops out but Miles' muted trumpet. Just long enough to remind you that hidden behind every jam that takes music to this kind of level, there's a deep, solitary pain behind it. As much as Miles Davis was the coolest band leader who ever lived,

16 min

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