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Monday, November 08, 2010

Free Thinker: Soweto Kinch - Freedom: A Guide To Listening. The Sage, Nov. 7 - Review by Harley Johnson

Rana Mitter (Radio Presenter/Professor), Soweto Kinch (Speaker/Alto Saxophone) On my way to the Jazz Cafe Jam Session and subsequently the Ingrid Laubrock gig at the Bridge Hotel, I called into the Sage Gateshead for a large cappuccino and a 'free' discussion/lecture by Jazz Saxophonist/Composer/Rapper Soweto Kinch.
Joining Soweto was the BBC Radio 3 Presenter of the programme 'Night Waves' and Professor of the History of Modern China at Oxford University, Rana Mitter.
There was a fairly large crowd present in Hall Two and I couldn't help but notice a table on stage with an alto saxophone placed on top. Was this going to be a lecture and discussion through music rather than words?
Before the session commenced, Rana informed the audience that this would be recorded and broadcasted on Radio 3's 'Night Waves' in the near future. We also had a practice run of Rana's hand gesture for applauding to make this broadcast sound conventional. We welcomed Soweto with a massive applause and, instead of moving towards the saxophone, it was to his notes on the relationship between music and emancipation.
He would, however, pick up the saxophone when he began talking about the blues and how it changed over the years in coherence to the black man's civil rights in America. Soweto first played a blues from the Duke Ellington Orchestra, before moving onto the bebop era and began playing Charlie Parker's 'Now's The Time' with a short but elegant solo.
Although this was all we heard from Soweto's alto, there were some musical intervals in between his speech; again relating to the civil rights: including Sonny Rollins 'Freedom Suite', Max Roach 'We Insist - Freedom Now' and Charles Mingus 'Fables of Faubus'.
Jazz wasn't the only thing on the menu! There were also clips from English punk band 'The Clash' and The Specials 'Ghost Town' in relation to the radical poltics in the punk/rock era of the 80s. During the discussion between Soweto and Rana there was an opportunity for members of the audience to give their own views on matters which ranged from emancipation to the origins of Soweto's name and T.V. talent shows.
To sum up the event, I think we can all agree that music can still be used to portray our feelings and thoughts on the current climate of society, politics and world affairs. Or how I would also say that music should not be abused by record labels and popstars for fame and fortune.
There was no standing ovation but there may well be at the Soweto's gig at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival 2011 and will be playing songs from his new album 'The New Emancipation' which is available now.
Harley Johnson.

1 comment :

Russell said...

Good review Harley. Hearing Soweto play Jeep's Blues was great.

Russell

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