This post is the second of three to celebrate Freddie Hubbard’s born day 2023. In this post, I’m going to take a look at his involvement in the Jazz And People’s Movement (JPM). Despite numerous telephone calls and emails, I could only find contemporary views on the JPM, but did discover a somewhat skewed view published in Downbeat. It’s most likely people were critical of Freddie, they wanted him to “stay in his lane”. It wasn’t as simple as that.
This the first post about albums involving CTI artists of the time, working on social / political protest records in the early 1970’s.
As the 1970’s began, the Civil Rights movement had come to a standstill following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other important figures. Thousands of African Americans involved with nonviolent protest against racial segregation and for equal rights fragmented, and raised their demands and changed strategy. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) would come to an end by 1973. Young black men and women were particularly prone to action, black power had become a real force and the Black Panther movement was the most visible manifestation of that.
In 1970, Freddie Hubbard would have been 32-years old and still a young man, the Vietnam war was still raging. Creed Taylor served a year on the front line of the Korean War a decade and a half earlier, They were very different times.
Black Musicians And Jazz On TV
Jazz had long been associated with the civil rights movement and has been integral to African American history and in breaking down barriers to integration https://share.america.gov/jazz-musicians-advanced-america-civil-rights/. There had been jazz collectives in the 1960s and 1970s. Their interests commonly aligned with and benefitted the Black Arts Movement and resonated with African American musicians and writers. Each collective had it’s own way of organizing, and some had their own social systems as a form of cultural empowerment.
Into this environment, 1970 saw the rise of “The Jazz and People’s Movement,” https://www.waxpoetics.com/article/rahsaan-roland-kirk-the-jazz-and-peoples-movement/ https://trackingchange.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/jazz-and-television-qwest-tv-quincy-jones/ (JPM), led by Rahsaan Roland Kirk and with co-conspirators Mark Davis, Lee Morgan, Elvin Jones, and Archie Shepp. It followed on from the “1964 October Revolution In jazz” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Revolution_in_Jazz in which Archie Shepp had been a leader. In the opinion of the JPM, racism was the most significant controlling influence blocking jazz from television, and commercial success more broadly.
I briefly touched on JPM over two years ago while writing about Dave Frishberg’s appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in late 1970, and noted “Frishberg performing “Van Lingle Mungo” fitted their[the JPM] complaint to a T, a white jazz performer doing an entertaining song.” https://www.ctproduced.com/ct-509/
Rahsaan Roland Kirk took the entire summer off from gigging and recording and, with Mark Davis leading the way, visited dozens of clubs around New York City to talk of their plans to protest and to ask his fellow musicians to pledge their support for their crusade. Max Gordon, the owner of the Village Vanguard let the JPM meet at the club on Monday nights before the Village Vanguard Orchestra performed. It was there the plans to launch a petition and statement of goals or demands were hatched.
“We went around to all the clubs and got the musicians to sign the petition. Everyone who played in New York [at the time] signed it.” Davis told John Kruth, who wrote the December 15th, 2021 article for WaxPoeticshttps://www.waxpoetics.com/article/rahsaan-roland-kirk-the-jazz-and-peoples-movement/ and was Kirk’s biographer.
The signatures were in the form of a petition, which read in part:
Many approaches have been used through the ages in the attempted subjugation of masses of people. One of the very essential facets of the attempted subjugation of the black man in America has been an effort to stifle, obstruct and ultimately destroy black creative genius; and thus, rob the black man of a vital source of pride and liberating strength. In the musical world, for many years a pattern of suppression has been thoroughly inculcated into most Americans. Today many are seemingly unaware that their actions serve in this suppression – others are of course more intentionally guilty. In any event, most Americans for generations have had their eyes, ears and minds closed to what the black artist has to say.Jazz And People’s Movement
The petition was signed by a few hundred, among the signatories or members of the Jazz and People’s Movement were Lee Morgan, Charles Mingus, Andy Cyrille, Freddie Hubbard, Cecil Taylor, Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Ron Jefferson, Billy Harper, Roy Haynes, Ron Burton, and Harold Mabern.https://trackingchange.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/jazz-and-television-qwest-tv-quincy-jones/ The Jazz & People’s Movement: Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Struggle to Open the American MediaTo Black Classical Music By BENJAMIN R. TRESS (Honors Thesis, April 2008) … Continue reading.
One of the main actions of the “The Jazz and People’s Movement” was to disrupt the late night talk shows of Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett and Merv Griffin. They would attend the shows as audience members and then disrupt them with chanting, whistles, holding signs protesting for more jazz. They were successful in disrupting the August 27th Merv Griffin show.
They bought the Dick Cavett show to a standstill on October 13th, and as a result, Cavett’s producers promised to invite jazz musicians on the show the following week to talk about their cause https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/oct/09/jazz-and-peoples-movement-revolution-black-genius-us-tv-rahsaan-roland-kirk. The Cavett show on October 22nd featured a 15-minute segment, Hubbard was among five JPM representatives on the panel, that included Billy Harper, Andrew Cyrille, pianist Cecil Taylor and Kirk’s wife Edith. The producers knew at the time they scheduled the piece that Kirk would still be touring and that he would not be able to make it to New York for the Cavett segment https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/oct/09/jazz-and-peoples-movement-revolution-black-genius-us-tv-rahsaan-roland-kirk.
When the segment was actually recorded Cavett elected to extend it and additional 15-minutes The Jazz & People’s Movement: Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Struggle to Open the American MediaTo Black Classical Music By BENJAMIN R. TRESS (Honors Thesis, April 2008) … Continue reading Michael Stewart Foley (2020): Black creative genius matters: Rahsaan RolandKirk, the Jazz and People’s Movement, and the politics of “black classical music.”, The Sixties, DOI: … Continue reading
Clipping from Downbeat, November 26th, 1970.
George Maksian, writing in the New York Daily News the day after the Cavett show disruption was one of the few to identify the JPM demands accurately, he wrote “Among the demands of the demonstrators was greater representation of black musicians and music on TV.” https://www.newspapers.com/clip/122017122/jazz-and-peoples-movement/
On October 28th, a column by Jeff Davis claimed “Militants Hurt Jazz Cause” https://www.newspapers.com/clip/122015362/harsh-music-militants-hurt-jazz-cause/ without mentioning race. Jeff included in his justification “THAT THIS cacophony came from seasoned musicians made the interruption even more disagreeable. Ironically, while this disruption was taking place on ABC, the “Johnny Carson Show” was featuring the Buddy Rich Band, one of the finest big bands in modern jazz, in an extended 10-minute medley from the band’s latest album.”
Ironically indeed. In the various incantations of the Buddy Rich Orchestra and bands, there were few if any black musicians. Lee Morgan made it clear that this wasn’t about getting more black band members though.
Initially Dan Morgenstern, editor of Downbeat, was a supporter of JPM in general terms, he turned against the group in the December 10th, 1970 issue. The full 3-page op-ed can be found at the end of this post. Morgenstern wanted to see more jazz on TV, but didn’t agree with with the JPM emphasis on black jazz musicians. Morgenstern believed that cultural and political could be separated, we know for Rahsaan Roland Kirk these distinctions did not exist https://dlib.bc.edu/islandora/object/bc-ir:102071/datastream/PDF/view.
Five people, ostensibly speaking for jazz, appeared in a half-hour discussion more like spokesmen for a political cause than artists seeking a larger audience. Their purpose, avowedly, was that the music must be heard, but all they uttered was words sounding so much like those heard daily on TV and radio that they seemed interchangeable with—and to the uninitiated, certainly as tedious as—the rhetoric of libbies, yippies, and assorted other factions clamoring for attention. …
If Freddie Hubbard’s introducing himself as “one of the greatest trumpet players in the world” must have taken aback those unfamiliar with his brash charm, it is truly unjust that he has never been heard on American television (even if it was brought out that he had once been invited on the Cavett Show itself, and had to cancel out because of a European tour).
It also, no doubt, is true that black artists are insufficiently exposed on commercial TV (and probably educational TV as well), as was pointed out. But it was patently misleading to say that all the black artists on the long list of guests cited by Cavett had been invited only because they are “entertainers,” while the panelists made it clear that they considered themselves above any attempts to reach an audience by extra-musical means.Dan Morgenstern – Downbeat magazine, December 10th, 1970
In a 2016 speech as part of the Freedom Now series, recorded by the Library of Congress. Morgenstern says of JPM:
In other words, they were a collection of individuals rather than a kind of effective movement. But what they were after and what made them famous during their brief life was that they decided that there wasn’t enough jazz on television, which is absolutely true, and that they were going to do something about it.
So they broke up a rehearsal of the “Merv Griffin Show.” Then they got themselves on Dick Cavett with Freddie Hubbard, Cecil Taylor, and others talking, not playing, and actually saying — I watched this, and I was greatly embarrassed because they said, frankly, a lot of dumb things.
Not what they were saying in terms of what the rights of musicians should be and what some of the injustices were. But they were saying things like that, “Coleman Hawkins was wrapping packages in Queens,” whereas Coleman Hawkins lived in a beautiful apartment on Central Park West and had a Chrysler Imperial in the parking lot. So I mean, this was the kind of thing that was mildly — or more than mildly irritating.Dan Morgenstern – Library Of Congress “Freedom Now: Jazz & the Civil Rights Movement” – 2016 (Full video embedded at end).
The Jazz and People’s Movement effectively ceased operation in the spring of 1971, following a much derided appearance on the Ed Sullivan show https://www.waxpoetics.com/article/rahsaan-roland-kirk-the-jazz-and-peoples-movement/, which Hubbard was not involved in. A video of which is on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRO1W5twBes. Since then the movement has received only tangential treatment in jazz and historical literature.
Kirk didn’t quit and would go on to record and perform in pursuit of his dreams. For his 1975 album “The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color” https://album.link/s/3ug9Fdx5tBToueHauRm6La https://www.discogs.com/master/33335-Rahsaan-Roland-Kirk-The-Case-Of-The-3-Sided-Dream-In-Audio-Color, the opening segment features Kirk responding to God with “Oh, dream? What am I gonna dream about? I’m trying to wake up and live and make some money off the dreams that people been making off my dreams.” In 1976 he formed the Black Classical Music Society which featured Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner for a benefit concert for long time friend Todd Barkan, the owner of Keystone Korner in San Francisco https://www.newspapers.com/clip/122378090/black-classical-music-society-gamble/
As M. Stewart Foley notes in his paper, still today “few jazz artists appear as interviewed guests on those shows. With some exceptions, black creative genius remains at the margins of American television, presented mostly on subscription channels; indeed, one has to pay for Quincy Jones’ Qwest.TV to find jazz on demand.” Michael Stewart Foley (2020): Black creative genius matters: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the Jazz and People’s Movement, and the politics of “black classical music.”, The Sixties, DOI: … Continue reading
Although the Cavett show is widely available on streaming platforms, the October 13th disruption, and the October 22nd show with spokespeople of JPM including Hubbard have vanished.
It is indeed disappointing that there is not available video or even a transcription of Hubbard’s remarks on the Cavett show, especially as one of the goals of the Jazz And People’s Movement was to “preserve jazz as an expression of black culture and history”.
Unfortunately many of the shows from that period are also not available, including the aforementioned show where Dave Frishberg and the baseball star Van Lingle Mungo appeared, whose song Frishberg had written about.
Dan Morgenstern – Downbeat
Here are scanned images of the Dan Morgenstern’s op-ed following the Dick Cavett J&PM panel show on October 22nd, 1970. Morgenstern gave the following talk in April 2016 on Jazz & the Civil Rights Movement.