Letter from the Director


History Doesn’t Stop

I’ve often wondered about history’s memory. Clearly, a major event that impacts our solid cultural icons, like the recent fire at Notre Dame, will stop us in our tracks and remind us that we don’t often get to witness historical events in a way that allows us to draw our own conclusions. But history accumulates on all levels at all times. That’s the good news and the bad news.

In one of Walter Mosely’s recent books, entitled John Woman, the protagonist is a Black professor of “Deconstructivist History,” who calls into question just about everything we think we “know.” I hate to admit to the epiphany I had realizing, for instance, that literally all of the learned history I’ve had was compiled and “created” through a lens of privileged white culture. And, because it overtly excluded Black and Indigenous presence from our collective experience, it was, at best, a series of half-truths.

The core of jazz history (thank God) belongs to Black America without question, though it still faces challenges from racial bias. The good news about history not stopping is in the permission and possibility to change every day, to essentially recalculate our own history. Still, I’ve wondered why history remembers certain moments in jazz, and forgets others.

Since you’re reading this issue, we can assume that we each have our history with jazz. We go through life, and some things stick to us while other things slide right off. I could not tell you why I fell in love with jazz at the age of 10 or 12, but I just did, and it stuck. And over my (many) years, through the accumulation of experience and the blizzard of outside stimuli, the love remained. Now it’s clear to me that, even when life was taking me in completely different directions, I was always pointed toward this organization and work I’ve done over the past 30 years in service to the music in this great city.

It’s a joy to see the young people in this month’s cover feature, working the cultural continuum of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. History doesn’t stop. And this magazine takes very seriously its role as a document of the history of one of the most vibrant jazz scenes in the country. As always, we invite you to join us in support of Seattle jazz.
Thank you.

–John Gilbreath


Posted on

April 29, 2019