Let us again begin with a mindfulness of our Ancestors.
By the rivers of Babylon where we sat down
and there we wept when we remembered Zion.
For the wicked carried us away captivity
require of us a song.
How can we sing out our song
in a strange land?
Our ancestors have sung this song for many, many generations. Its composition is attributed to the Prophet Jeremiah, over 2,500 years ago. When speaking of the slavery days (back in America,) Mr. Barker reminds the student that, “You could sing as much as you wanted...” Our Jazzy Keeper of Memory is also instructing the student that it still is news
The question remains: How?
Despite his great flights of consciousness, insight, and intellectual courage – Daniel Moses Barker was not someone who I would characterize as, idealistic. He was very down to earth and knew full well the command which was given
: “Make that money!” According to Danny, the New Orleans Jazz musician “worked all the loot levels.”
Mr. Barker has told us that we have utilized our song to heal ourselves... our souls, and... feed ourselves, and survive. He taught the Xavier students the “old comic... Gospel song” about the slaves who, “try to get a ham
.” But Danny Barker, the Journey man Jazz musician, is characteristically emphatic and... right to the point in this message, “The greatest medicine...”
“There is no medicine like money!” Thank you, Danny Barker; who is not too mysterious as to where the money comes from – that is, the wealth of Whites. In the following excerpts, he speaks of his own working experiences – both in the 1930's (possibly with Jelly Roll Morton
) and almost 50 years later, playing Jazz in the “Millionaires Haven.”
There is a certain, and curious prerogative that elder African-American men have; and Danny undoubtably seizes it. (Elder African-American women, a slightly different variety of the same achievement.) That is: as you have run this race, and survived the gauntlet of White supremacy – you are granted a degree of humanity by almost all. This allows for the right, when the singing is done, to talk. Jeremiah of old was given that right – and responsibility. Shhh... perhaps Mr. Barker seems to be whispering like a slave as he continues in this excerpt, “They need to be told.”
Peace & Pops,
Maison Musique, New Orleans
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