To AFRICA: Best wishes from GERMANY via the USA

The below playlist is dedicated to the brave African freedom fighters in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire, and all other African countries where the message of freedom cannot remain suppressed any longer.

I never thought it was possible, but I have succeeded, and could assemble almost all leading jazz musicians from the last century in a mini concert of 45 minutes … and 22 seconds, to be exact 😉

We start off with one of the most prolific Afro-American compositions, Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night In Tunisia. This is not the first recording of the piece, but the most authentic one. The master himself can be heard on his then still straight trumpet. Here are the full credits, a who is who in bebop ‘n’ modern swing:

Dizzy Gillespie (tp) Don Byas (ts) Milt Jackson (vib) Al Haig (p) Bill DeArango (g) Ray Brown (b) J.C. Heard (d) – February 22, 1946.

The next track is an African original, Skokiaan, which was recorded in two parts here by Louis Armstrong & His All Stars in 1954. The history of the happy tune and its numerous performers can be studied HERE.

Now, we jump from Pops’ carefree sounds right into the middle of the African-American fight for civil rights, for equality, and last but not least for humanity:

John Coltrane’s Africa Brass from 1961. There was still a very long way to go, but the message was spoken out loudly and clearly, so that it was not possible to ignore it anymore.

It were Black musicians like Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Eric Dolphy, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, Sonny Rollins and Booker Little who stood up, and challenged the white political and cultural establishment of the 1960’s.

The soulful power, the deepness of this music hasn’t lost any of its political relevance; it is indelibly imprinted in all our hearts.

Man From Africa (on Percussion Bitter Sweet, 1961) is an altered blues in 7/4 time. Julian Priester and Eric Dolphy can be heard on trombone and alto-sax.

Les Fleurs Africaines (African Flour) is a very meditative composition by Duke Ellington, who was one of the very first political jazz musicians, if playing jazz wouldn’t be a political affair anyway, disregarding color and background.

It can be found on one of the most beautiful piano trio albums in jazz, entitled Money Jungle — Duke Ellington (p) Charles Mingus (b) Max Roach (d) – September 17, 1962.

Miles Davis didn’t officially belong to any political circles, but he was of course well informed, and totally aware of his sisters’ and brothers’ struggle against racism, and oppression. Since he himself became the victim of several physical assaults, he couldn’t close his eyes on what was going on in the late 1960’s.

His album Filles De Kilimanjaro from 1968 was Miles’ musical commentary to the times, one of the very first and successful attempts in combining jazz with rock elements. — Miles Davis (tp) Wayne Shorter (ts) Herbie Hancock (el-p) Ron Carter (b) Tony Williams (d), 1968.

Dear African sisters and brothers —

The German people know what it means to stand up for democracy. We are supporting your brave fight against tyranny.

May you prevail!

With the sincerest wishes,

Bruno Leicht, trumpeter from Cologne/ Germany



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