Jazz Came Home

Black music left Africa in the slave ship and later became work songs, gospel music, the blues, Afro-Cuban and jazz. September 1-3, 1972, Black music returned to its source. With the First International Jazz Festival in Tangiers, Morocco, jazz came home.

The last night of the Festival, the homecoming was held in an old opera house. Carvings of little chubby-faced angels, red velvet curtains, a faded backdrop painted to look like some Italian city, were part of a scene that lacked only the "La-Laaa" of Aida.

Instead there was Billy Harper and his sax. Odetta moaning about how it's gonna feel "when your biscuit roll is gone." Mandrill's man in the big straw hat talking about 'Oooh shake some boo-die. Get it on. Right on." Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers making the transition from a mellow "summertime and the livin' is easy" to some Latin and the livin' is hot.

The musicians were of many Black musical persuasions, yet their different sounds have one commonality--rhythm, the gift from Africa. Rhythm is existence, the beating of a heart, the in-and ex-hale of breath. Rhythm is life. It has to be, for as Duke Ellington tells us, "a drum is a woman."