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Saturday Panels
The Unfinished Emancipation: Jazz and Freedom
April 25, 2009

In many ways, jazz and freedom are synonymous. Jazz improvisation relies on the structure of melodies and chord changes for the purpose of individual and group expression. “Freedom,” within the context of the United States, is an idea based on individual and group expression within the political and social framework of democratic ideals. Freedom without structure, however, is chaos that can descend into anarchy and anomie.

The history of the United States is a bittersweet tale where the founding of the country was based on emancipation from the bonds of mother-country England, yet with the tragic irony of enslavement of African-Americans and Jim Crow laws, the promise of emancipation from the fetters of birthright based on aristocracy and royal bloodlines became muddied by hypocrisy and greed.

Today’s panel discussion will confront the intersection of ideals and history, aspiration and disappointment, art and politics, and the role of jazz as a cultural response and reflection of the human desire for freedom in the 20th century and beyond.

Our panelists this month will be author and critic Stanley Crouch, along with Professor of Ethnomusicology at Stony Brook University Frederick Moehn. Observing and writing about American culture for the past three decades, Mr. Crouch has authored numerous volumes, and is currently a weekly columnist for the New York Daily News, as well as a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast websites. Professor Moehn teaches courses such as "Jazz Historiography and Discourse" and "Music and Race" at Stony Brook, and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.

L to R: Prof. Fred Moehn, Loren Schoenberg, lovely patron, Stanley Crouch, Jonathan Scheuer

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