12 Moods for Jazz - LINER NOTES
Cultural Exchange
In Negro sections of the South where doors have no resistance to violence, danger always whispers harshly. Klansmencavort, and havoc may come at any time. Negroes often live either by the river or the railroad, and for most there is not much chance of going anywhere else. Yet always one of them has been away and has come home. The door has opened to admit something strange and foreign, yet tied by destiny to a regional past nourished by a way of life in common--in this case collard greens.

A State Department visitor from Africa comes, wishing to meet Negroes. He is baffled by the "two sides to every question" way of looking at things in the South. Although he finds that in the American social supermarket blacks for sale range from intellectuals to entertainers, to the African all cellophane signs point to ideas of change--in an IBM land that pays more attention to Moscow than to Mississippi.

What--wonders the African--is really happening in the shadow of world events, past and present--and of world problems, old and new--to an America that seems to understand so little about its black citizens? Even so little about itself. Even so little.

Ride Red, Ride
In the restless Caribbean there are the same shadows as in Mississippi, where, according to Time, Leontyne comes in the back door. Yet some persons in high places in Washington consider it subversive for ordinary people to be concerned with problems such as back doors anywhere--even suspecting those citizens of color who legitimately use the ballot in the North to elect representatives to front doors. But in spite of all, some Negroes occasionally do manage--for a moment--to get a brief ride in somebody's American chariot.

Shades of Pigment
Oppression by any other name is just about the same, casts a long shadow, adds a dash of bitters to each song, makes of almost every answer a question, and of men of every race or religion questioners.

Ode To Dinah
Hard times endure from slavery to freedom--to Harlem where most of the money spent goes downtown. Only a little comes back in the form of relief checks, which leaves next to nothing for show fare for children who must live in a hurry in order to live at all. Yet in a milieu where so many untoward things happen, one cannot afford to take to heart too deeply the hazards. Remember Harriet Tubman? One of the run-away slaves in her band was so frightened crossing from Buffalo into Canada that on the very last lap of his journey he hid under the seat of the train and refused to glance out the window. Harriet said: "You old fool! Even on your way to freedom, you might at least look at Niagara Falls."

Blue In Stereo
Sometimes you are lucky, or at least you can dream lucky--even if you wake up cold in hand. But maybe with anew antenna you will get a clearer picture.

Horn Of Plenty
Certainly there are some who make money--and others who folks think make money. It takes money to buy gas to commute to the suburbs and keep one's lawns sheared like one's white neighbors who wonder how on earth a Negro got a lawn mower in the face of so many ways of keeping him from getting a lawn.

Gospel Cha Cha
Those who have no lawns to mow seek gods who come in various spiritual and physical guises and to whom one prays in various rhythms in various lands in various tongues.

Is It True?
It seems as if everything is annotated one way or another, but the subtler nuances remain to be captured. However, the atom bomb may solve all this--since it would end the end results of love's own annotation. Meanwhile, although the going is rough, triumph over difficulties at least brings subjective glory. Everybody thinks the Negroes have the most fun, but, of course, secretly hopes they do not--although curious to find out if they do.

Ask Your M ama
In spite of a shortage of funds for the movies and the frequent rude intrusions of those concerned with hoarding hard metals, collective coins for music-making and grass for dreams to graze on still keep men, mules, donkeys, and black students alive.

Bird In Orbit
Those who contribute most to the joy of living and the stretching of the social elastic are not stymied by foolish questions, but keep right on drawing from the well of the past buckets of water in which to catch stars. In their pockets are layovers for meddlers--although somewhere grandma lost her apron.

Jazztet Muted
Because grandma lost her apron with all the answers in her pocket (perhaps consumed by fire) certain grand-and great-grandsons play music burning like dry ice against the ear. Forcing cries of succor from its own unheard completion--not resolved by Charlie Parker--can we look to monk or Monk? Or let it rest with Eric Dolphy?

Show Fare Please
If the answers were on tickets in long strips like those that come from slots inside the cashier's booth at the movies, and if I had the money for a ticket--like the an who owns all tickets, all booths, and all movies and who pays the ticket seller who in turn charges me--would I, with answer in my hand, become one of the three--the man, the ticket seller, me?

Show fare, mama, please.....

Ron McCurdy. All rights reserved.
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