12 September 2013 Volume :1 Issue :1

Renowned jazz musician gives Inaugural Lecture at UKZN

Renowned jazz musician gives Inaugural Lecture at UKZN
From left: Professor Salim Washington, Professor Cheryl Potgieter and Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Nogwaja Zulu.

Professor Salim Washington, a Harlem-based musician/scholar and an accomplished composer/arranger, recently gave his inaugural lecture at UKZN’s Unite Building.

The title of the lecture was: the 20th Century Aesthetic Revolt: The Revolutionary Implications of Jazz.

DVC and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter welcomed Washington to the University stating: ‘The College is honored to have such an academic and researcher for the School of Arts and we thank you for joining UKZN. Washington joins a school which has one of the few A rated researchers in the arts/ humanities in the country and that is Professor Michael Chapman.’

Washington, who has joined UKZN as a music lecturer within the School of Arts, discussed the jazz aesthetic calling it fundamental, pervasive and catalytic macro-antiphonal. ‘Music has social valence and tells us something about the culture and the social practices of a particular community.

 ‘Jazz music is African American music in origin, but has grown to national and international significance with many strains and varieties and contested histories and also with differing practices and receptions throughout the world.

‘Within the United States, jazz is a music and set of cultural practices that chronicle the social evolution of African American history. It is a repository of the aspirations of the people who created and shaped it,’ said Washington

‘As such, it encodes the various freedom movements of black people in musical terms. It is a perpetually avant garde music form that continually reinvents its revolutionary ethos within particular social contexts.’

His lecture focused on pre-20th Century African American music, in particular, African American music in the Middle Passage such as the Pan African consciousness and the introduction of notions of ‘race’, and how music was seen as healing salve for the souls of black folk during the periods of slavery.

He went on further to discuss the notion of swing, avant gardism, dialectical living in the modern world, bebop, post-bop, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement, and the urban rebellions.

Washington played short audio clips of Charlie Parker’s Now is the Time and John Coltrane’s Joy.

Asked if Jazz is dead, Washington replied there were three places he knew of where Jazz was alive; Cuba, Brazil and South Africa.

Washington earned his PhD from Harvard, after the completion of his dissertation: Beautiful Nightmare: Coltrane, Jazz, and American Culture.

He has performed in jazz festivals in the United States, Canada, various countries in Europe, South Africa, Mozambique, Mexico, and Brazil. He leads the Harlem Arts Ensemble and has performed with many of New York's finest musicians.

He has conducted extensive research in African American musical culture and has been an educator and workshop leader in the United States, South Africa, France, and Ireland. As a scholar, Washington has won many honours and fellowships including the prestigious Fulbright Scholars Fellowship, Ann Plato Fellowship at Trinity College, W.E.B. DuBois Fellowship at Harvard University, and Wolfe Institute Fellowship at Brooklyn College.

author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za