sonny rollins on django gold new yorker article

I read the New Yorker’s satire article about Jazz legend Sonny Rollins’ self-loathing and hatred for Jazz, and was about to let it go.

“Not funny, but also not worth my responsive energy” was my initial thought.

And then Django Gold, senior writer for The Onion who penned the New Yorker piece, said this:

“The idea that 500 words of text could have any impact on an entire genre of music—or the legacy of someone who has enjoyed a 60-year career at the top of the mountain—is pretty unrealistic.”

Wait. Hold-the-hell-up.

So, I was wrong for ignoring the initial story.

Wearing fake, thick lips while eating watermelon and singing on a Broadway stage today will not lead to you being ignored by your audience — you’ll likely be on the receiving end of a bum-rush and lecture about how the social marginalization of African descendants over the years makes the lips-watermelon bit on the Great White Way an insult with the equivalence of playing “Scat on Your Face” with an unwilling participant who’s been forced to play the receiving end of this game many times before.

So, I’m going to address this insult to Sonny Rollins and Jazz.

Like Rap Music, Rock & Roll, Blues and other musical forms with roots in African culture, Jazz was subjected to a dreadful game of social marginalization in its early days as a music genre for non-intellectuals — that is, if the music wasn’t blamed for being an enabler to the West’s moral degradation. Even the NY Times piled on, through a cabled article written by music critic Ernest Newman on December 25, 1926, where Newman gave advice to Jazz musicians and composers: “Keep your dirty paws off your betters.”

Then comes Django Gold’s contribution. In the form of satire, of course.

Sonny Rollins has been on the front lines to experience the ugly history of Jazz and its lack of social acceptance in America; an experience which explains why he didn’t find Gold’s article funny either…

song currently stuck in my head: “seriado” – Arthur verocai


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