... especially if you share and enjoy our liking for engrossing, sinuously expressive guitar in a communicative band setting. Found perhaps in something resembling an archetypal Peter Bernstein-like sound space, from an already popular draw on the international circuit with a stack of albums to his name already the buzz behind Gilad Hekselman has really grown in the last few years and rightly so. 

Expect Ask for Chaos in early September.

Listen to a single from the album, above.

Motéma are the label behind the release. In 2010 if you care to recall, this New York city jazz indie run by Jana Herzen was very significant in beginning to show the world the phenomenon that is Gregory Porter and have developed a credible back catalogue in depth and stylistic width since: http://motema.com/new-gilad-hekselman-album-to-be-released-in-september/

23 May 2018 Wynton saying how much he does not like rap in a new podcast... above of course voilà: years ago Wynton raps. I get the broader point that he is making, and realise his beef is about lowest common denominator stuff rather than the form of rap within hip-hop culture itself, although do not agree with it particularly. You cannot really dismiss a style of music for ascribing to it even if not entirely the ailments of society.

Why? Well, Aristotle and Plato writing about “the poet”, let’s for the sake of argument replace the poet with “the artist or the rapper”, saw the object of their philosophy as an imitator and the art becomes an imitation of things as they: were or are; said or thought to be; should be.

The crucial bit then if you have not nodded off already, stay with me, is an instinct ultimately for harmony and rhythm that the rapper aspires for, yes a rapper is an artist too and can grow from the roughest of raw materials.

Also the curveball: what happens when jazz musicians and rappers work together? Hmmm. It happens and very credibly too in the work of Soweto 'Jazz Planet' Kinch (who Wynton himself has jammed with, I seem to recall them on stage playing the Jazz Cafe although Soweto confined himself to saxophone) and how about the brilliant emergent supergroup August Greene? (Black Kennedy audio via the link.) 

The whole jazz-bebop thing also exists even if it never really succeeded as an ultimate fusion and has done since the 1990s, Guru kicking things off maybe and a parallel running in acid jazz club culture. More topically two words: Kendrick Lamar. Or one, Damn shows how hip-hop can and is being recognised as art.

Tracing back: Blameless jazz has been in this same position before in the style wars vulnerable to the strictures of the times, and condemned in some countries for moral reasons eg in Ireland; or even worse for political reasons, eg deemed as American propaganda during the cold war.

Neither actually were fair accusations even when you bear in mind the so-called soft power aspect which is a very cynical whether seen as effective or not view. Artists ultimately have the great tendency to subvert the wishes of their patrons whether accidentally, deliberately or randomly, for the sake of yes their art which means everything. 

The whole point beyond the provocation of the entertaining and archly contrary banter but actually pretty stimulating conversation about serious issues eventually particularly race in America let us not be naive is ancillary promo from Wynton's point of view particularly for The Ever-Funky Lowdown on the way. Podcast for the interview via the Washington Post: here. Result I suppose: listen to the rap (of course Wynton is delivering an uncomfortable message via the means of a rap itself that mainstream hip-hop would completely abstain from issuing or acknowledging) and think about its many nuances. SG

UPDATE 24 May 2018: Wynton has posted a lengthy statement on Facebook:

“To all who were generous to post their comments about a tweet from my interview with Jonathan Capehart

1. When someone makes a general comment and does not say ALL, it is assumed that they mean some.

2. I am not an expert on any form of music, including my own, but have a considered opinion and have the right to express it.

3. I stand by what I say about those products that express the things I take exception to. The vast majority of works, which don’t present the type of material I was referring to, are not included in observations about mainstream vulgarity and pornography. I have been public with these concerns since the mid to late 1980’s (when I was in my twenties) and have not and did not say ALL at any time in recent memory.

4. A number of (NOT ALL) hip hop musicians have gone on record saying that the marketplace and the industry encourages them to make their material more commercial by adding violent and profanity laced, materialistic and over-the-top stereotypical images and concepts to their work. They too know that this mythology reinforces destructive behavior at home and influences the world’s view of the Afro American in a decidedly negative direction. If you love black people how can you love this? Hmmmm.....Because someone will pay to go on a safari (and watch you) doesn’t mean they admire the hippos.

5. When we lose the right to critique (especially inside of groups we belong to) and have to accept mob rule, it is a step back towards slavery. George Bush said it best in quieting dissenters after 9/11 during the push to launch the ill advised but lucrative (for some) Iraq War, ”You’re either with us or against us.” Meaning if you disagree, you are our enemy. In our country, the Constitution is designed to help us negotiate these types of ultimatums. It’s imperative that we refer to it, debate over it and ultimately accept what is decided when it is consulted, OR amend it and accept the amendment.

6. Those who disagree with my assessment (of those pieces that I am talking about which were not identified by name but by content) are entitled to their disagreement and are entitled to express it, and I welcome their comments. I was not disparaging to any individual person and will not be, because these are general observations not specific ones.

7. Those who wish to talk about “ALL” of any form are discussing another subject that I didn’t cover, seeing as how I have not heard ALL of any form of music nor do I expect to.

8. Human beings are creative in everything we do regardless of form (be it hip hop or any other form of art). There are, by the nature of how we are endowed, many many creative people in the world. To dismiss an entire form would indicate ignorance and refusal to accept fact. To question the mainstreaming of explicit adult content should not be considered irrational, prejudiced, close minded or high minded. It is a normal question that anyone with kids or who is just concerned about the general cultural atmosphere is forced to ask.

9. So far as the pornographic products and the minstrel show ghetto routines that are very popular, I can only say: THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN. We want to consume these products and want them for our kids. It is people’s right to choose this, as it is mine to express my thoughts and perhaps dissuade some from the specific products to which I refer. I accept the will of the people as what it is, but don’t change my opinion of the products I’m talking about.

10. So far as Robert E Lee and his statue goes:

The Robert E. Lee Statue is a symbol of a bygone era whose ideology still resonates with a segment of the population. That ideology has been rightly decried by many (me chief amongst them) as a hurtful reminder of the past that many believe has no place in the country today.

Today, Robert E. Lee is not widely or openly celebrated in the country and does not hold a position of prestige or power in the cultural marketplace. The irony of the situation is mind boggling because, I’m sure that many people who have called for the removal of Lee (and other Confederate monuments as racist symbols that have helped to perpetuate age old stereotypes) are also defending some of the most popular and most promoted products (THOUGH CLEARLY NOT ALL OF ) an art form that is doing the exact same thing-except now, the perpetuation of negative imagery and stereotypes are self-inflicted for a paycheck.

There are a finite number of Confederate statues in the country that could be physically removed tomorrow, political ramifications notwithstanding. While this will not remove the ideology that the statues represent, it would at least remove them from public spaces and end their reign of public celebration.

Those who believe these symbols represent their view of an imperfect America today are fighting to keep those symbols alive - blemishes and all - the same way that many are standing in line to defend the free speech of some of the most popular aspects of hip hop products (NOT ALL) with all of it’s warts.

The big difference is that the Civil War was waged and definitively decided. The cultural war is ongoing and fortunately or unfortunately depending on your vantage point some of the most popular aspects of hip hop (THOUGH DEFINITELY NOT ALL) is providing much needed capital via the marketplace to both sides of that war and as such will continue it’s reign as the soundtrack for American popular culture. Until it doesn’t.

At 56, I’m pretty sure I will not be alive when our country and the world (of all races and persuasions) no longer accepts being entertained by the pathology of Black Americans and others who choose to publicly humiliate themselves for the appetites of those who don’t share the same ongoing history and challenges. Over the years, I have come to accept this, but that doesn’t mean I have to like and endorse it. So I don’t.”