Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians
The trouble with 'jazz': Ahead of a weekend at Jazz Gallery, Henry Threadgill talks about the limitations (and racial coding) of the term
“So what I’m trying to say about people describing [jazz]: It’s like saying, suppose we stopped short and we never got around to seeing Jackie Robinson or Obama or Jesse or anybody. This is all about becoming—people are still becoming. Black people are still becoming. People act like everything’s been attained. Nothing’s been attained yet. You come out of [hundreds of] years of pure slavery and then you enter a period of Jim Crow where people still can’t become anything. There’s no such thing as really integrating into America—it’s still a struggle, so people are still finding out who they are, how they exist in this country. So the art they produce—the art is parallel. That’s being put together as the people are being put together."(1)
“In my kind of doing electronic music, there is always an upfront notion of the machine's subjectivity,” he said. “You can't turn it off, you can't have it do exactly what you want. But it's obvious that it's listening, though it doesn't always imitate what you do. … It also contributes things that are nice that you want to deal with. That's a very difficult thing for some people to accept, because they're used to the encounter with machines as one in which there's a strict hierarchy, where humans are at the top. That gets smashed in my work, where basically there’s a subject relationship.