My thoughts on Amiri Baraka…
About ten years ago, my good friend Mr. Jim Harris heartbreakingly lost his life but not before introducing me to many elders in the DC area. Jim loved coming out to gigs to hear my trio. He invited many of his friends.
One of the elders, Mr. Tom Porter, took an interest in my playing. Tom would say “more people should know about your music.” When his friend Amiri Baraka came to town, Tom would hire my group to accompany Amiri Baraka. The first performance was at a house in NW DC where Amiri Baraka performed “Somebody Blew Up America.” He asked us to play Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” behind him and interact with the words he spoke.
Mr. Baraka was part of the band. He listened and shaped his lines like a great spontaneous composer.
I was blown away. I was familiar with some of his poems but at that moment I wanted to read his books. We had about five more engagements with Mr. Baraka including a function honoring activist Damu Smith. He left such an impact on me that I named one of my sons Baraka.
Whatever activist spirit I had in me before meeting Baraka, became intensified after meeting, listening, talking and internalizing. Thank you for sharing your light and truth with us.