In belated celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, much of this week’s “Living Jazz” will be devoted to exploring some of the native influences in jazz. An astonishing number of great jazz players claim Native American ancestors, including Duke Ellington (Cherokee), Charlie Parker (Cherokee), John Lewis (Cherokee and Comanche), Miles Davis (Cherokee), Max Roach (Tuscarora), Dizzy Gillespie (Cheraw), Pee Wee Russell (Cherokee), Mildred Bailey (Coeur d’Alene), Lena Horne (Haudenosaunee, part of the Iroquois Confederation), Oscar Pettiford (Choctaw and Cherokee), Thelonius Monk (Tuscarora), and Don Cherry (Choctaw), among many others. In a single performance of Charlie Parker’s “Constellation” that we’ll hear, four of the players (Parker, Roach, Davis, and Lewis) have Native American ancestors.
In another, Don Cherry is playing a Native American flute he borrowed from a museum. We’ll also hear trombonist Steve Turre (Aztec) playing a seashell, a brand new composition by bass player William Parker (Choctaw) called “Lakota Song,” and a snippet of vocalist Sheila Jordon’s 2018 concert at the Cooperage Project in Honesdale during which she spoke about her Native American roots. In a nod to my Danish roots, the remainder of the show will be devoted to the latest recordings of Jakob Bro, the Danish guitarist who will be playing and recording a new album at the Village Vanguard in mid-November.
“Living Jazz” airs Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. on WJFF, 90.5 F.M., and streams online at http://wjffradio.org.
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