Nothing warms the soul like the beauty of the Black voice in musical flight; it is the very essence of who we are. This is why, Jazz has always been and will always be Black culture… know that. Happy Black History month because we matter!
One thing that the marriage of the TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex has revealed, is just how hideously racist Britons are. Naturally, as all bigots especially the most invidious racially predatory will have you know, ‘It has nothing to do with race!’ The DailyMail has made an industry of acting as a de facto wing of the EDL in its campaign of destroying the marriage of the Sussexes.
Every single day its gaggle of writers launch another volley of hate to feed their hate-filled multitude of devotees whom they simply abuse in their quest for more advertising revenue. Last week, their legions of bigots were gleeful when not only was the Duchess of Sussex not at Royal Ascot but neither was her husband. Naturally, the rumour was that Her Majesty The Queen had banned the Sussexes from attending Royal Ascot. Of course, last year when Catherine, HRH Duchess of Cambridge was on maternity leave, she did not attend Royal Ascot. Furthermore, not once did her husband attend Royal Ascot. That is the tradition.
Naturally, when these photographs of this year’s Royal Ascot emerged, the plethora of bigoted DailyMail trolls were celebratory of how happy and wholesome everyone looked. Of course, they were commenting on the homogeneity of the group; their was even talk that the RF looked so much happier without the American in their midst.
The following day, it was announced that the Royal Foundation was disbanding. This not only gave cause for wild celebration by the DailyMail trolls but in hindsight, it was speculated that the group looked as happy as they did at Royal Ascot because at that point, the dissolution of the Royal Foundation would have been known to all. This was seen as more proof that HM The Queen did not want Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex around Indeed, clearly, the Sussexes were headed for divorce and it was only a matter of time before there would be an announcement to that effect.
By no means was tabloid culture then what it is today; however, there was no getting around the fact that there was unrelenting animus that was decidedly racist towards Yoko Ono because she was non-white. Of course, at the time as now and is always the case, there was strident denial that there was prejudice involved in the animus towards Yoko Ono. Heaven only knows that Linda Eastman was not a Briton, yet she was not reviled and hated for being an outsider as was Yoko Ono.
So intense was the racial animus towards Yoko Ono that John Lennon had to relocate to New York City to seek peace away from being unrelentingly reviled by Britons, who were nothing more than unmasked Klansfolk; though there were three other wives, Yoko Ono was solely to blame for the demise of the Beatles. Indeed, Britons have John Lennon’s blood on their hands for having racially preyed on this man and his wife to the point where he had to flee and take refuge in a land where guns rule. Paul, Ringo nor George had to flee England because Britons did not approve of their choice of a wife.
Neither Linda Eastman nor Montréalaise Autumn Kelly were subjected to the same animus as Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex for being outsiders marrying much-loved Britons. True, every woman marrying into the BRF experiences blow-back. Sarah Ferguson, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Catherine Middleton and on and on. Truth be told, neither Linda nor Autumn were subjected to similar animus as Yoko or Meghan simply for being Caucasian and therefore, deemed acceptable.
Britons may well succeed with running TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex out of town as they did John Lennon and Yoko Ono but know this, Tungsten has got powerful players in her corner. For starters, if the Sussexes were exiled, Oprah et al have the power to have her appointed as honorary chairperson of the Academy Awards – some such title of an American-British film society – not the American wing of BAFTA – which would see Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex each year present the award for Best Film at the Academy Awards.
More to the point, when are Americans going to stop kowtowing to Britons because of the latter’s archly over-compensatory inferiority complex, of all things, masquerading as posh, sophisticated, superior and aristocratic. Why should an American actor, after having graduated with distinction from Julliard sit by and watch yet another English actor waltz in and claim the American award for best actor in a film which was not even an American production; this has repeatedly happened in the past. And so like Britons it is; they are the only island dwellers in the English-speaking world who never lose their god-awful accent regardless how long they sojourn abroad. Whether five years or fifty, you can also count on the expat English to maintain their posher-than-though English accent. Some may be readily charmed/fooled by all that posh posturing but it is so much obvious BS.
Glenn Close did not win the Best Actress BAFTA in 2019 that honour went to Briton, Olivia Colman in The Favourite. Ever possessed of this obsequious need to suck up, the Academy and its members voted Olivia Colman Best Actress at an American Awards show when the production was not an American production and Glenn Close was not going to win the Best Actress BAFTA and did not. One thing is clear from her acceptance speech, Olivia Colman is a one-hit wonder and will never win an Oscar again, just as Matthew McConaughey never will; after all, his Best Actor award was by default – so great was the need to deny Chiwetel Ejiofor an Oscar for his masterful performance in 12 Years A Slave.
When Britons prove themselves such ugly racist boors as with Yoko Ono and now Meghan Markle, why indulge, suffer or tolerate these people overlong? Throwing Oscars at them because they talk as though they’ve got a horse’s hoof stuck up their arse, there is nothing much to celebrate when one’s claim to fame is having subjugated 2/3s the world way back when and having enslaved and or brutalised those persons.
Of course, Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex chose not to move next-door to the Cambridges at Kensington Palace. For one, there is every reason to believe that the Cambridges’ marriage currently is nine parts façade and with a numerology attitude of 9, HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, apart from not being the sharpest tool in the box, is also conceited, stubborn, bigoted and intolerant and also is in tight with those pompous-arsed minor royals the Michaels of Kent et famille who with their racist perspective were none-too-shy about showing their true colours, blackamoor and all with Meghan suddenly in their midst and to whom they would have to curtsy.
A den of racial predators is no environment in which to bring up black children and that would also include those generational members of Kensington Palace staff, who would think nothing of being openly racist towards Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex and her children, For Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex the minor royal Micheals of Kent are no different to Samantha Grant and Thomas Markle Jr. She endured the racially predatory bullying in childhood, which is precisely why she has absolutely nothing to do with them and with damn good reason. Trust you me, there is not a single black person on this planet who would suffer any such environment. It is not human, not civilised and a goddamn waste of time.
Carping on about how much better Cressida Bonas would have been as a wife to HRH Prince Henry of Wales, is a moot point. Who knows, perhaps, Harry was being forced into the relationship so that his older brother could have access to Cressida’s older sister, Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe. Is it any wonder why Sam Branson keeps his wife as far away from the isle of England as possible. Of course, had Harry married Cressida, this newfound media love for Catherine, HRH Duchess of Cambridge would not have eventualised. She would be portrayed, even more so, by the DailyMail as workshy and they would even up the practise of only printing photographs of her when her face is at rest, which is a decidedly hard affair. For being blonde, blue-eyed and with an artisan’s fey beauty, Cressida, had Prince Harry married her in May 2018, would currently be eclipsing Catherine, who is now being seen as a fashion icon. No matter how DailyMail repackage and champion Catherine, she is a relative dud when publicly speaking as Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex has time and again proven. The Duchess of Sussex’s commanding performance at the 2018 British Fashion Awards at Royal Albert Hall truly was a study is grace, poise, elegance and commanding stage presence. You’ve either got it or, as in Catherine’s case, you don’t. Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex is quite confidently aware that a mic is Catherine, HRH Duchess of Cambridge’s kryptonite.
The DailyMail and its gang of racist boors can vent and gloat all they want but if HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex were to have married a conservative Muslim and converted, for fear of ending up with their fetid skull on the small of their back, every one of their cowardly racist boors would know to keep their damn mouths shut. Of one thing they are certain, fucking with blacks will earn you no serious repercussions. The DailyMail‘s hacks have proven that England is the isle of the original hooded klansfolk; they are just a little bit more evolved to the point where their hoods have become invisible but no less ugly are they. In the end, who could give a fuck; the boors of the isle of England most certainly did not invent Jazz and speaking of which…
After having pored through this year’s TD Toronto Jazz Festival lineup, I knew that there was only one show that I cared to attend. The Diana Ross show at the Sony Centre though tempting, however, the centre is just too cavernous a space. Jazz needs the warmth and intimacy of a smaller venue. Besides, I knew damn well that coming the day after the Pride parade, there would be queens aplenty in the audience. Most of them would be expecting the usual Diana Ross show; however, this was going to be a Jazz show.
As ever, I did not attend Pride parade, never have. Back in 1986, Merlin and I hauled arse to a dinner party in the Annex where an artistic director associate of his, held court. Frankly, neither men liked each other but for professional reasons one endured much. Among the group of 8 souls was a redhead interior decorator from New York City who was the most vile dirty-arsed bigot conceivable. Naturally, with yours truly present, he just had to wax overlong about what a scourge on human civilisation blacks the world over were.
Merlin stealthily reached across my plate and removed my steak knife from the plate and placed it to his left as I sat on his right. Finally, when we got home by cab as Merlin sought to shift my mood by playing some Miles Davis, I went and retrieved a pair of scissors and demonstrated to him on returning to the living room, “That’s it, I am cancelling my membership in Gay society. God only knows it is not as if these blasted, motherfucking lisping, bottom-feeding people invented Jazz.” For me what really settled it, was the redhead boor’s decree, “Sorry dear but there is no black in the rainbow.”
Of course, a couple of years back the Black Lives Matter delegation, which had been invited to march in the Gay Pride parade, were booed, heckled and pelted with unopened water bottles. That very day on my way home, I was also attached and it was much fuelled by the general anger at having had the Black Lives Matter contingent in the parade. To this day, the pride community are still mad at the Police and had banned them from participating in the parade, all because they allowed the Black Lives Matter group into the parade. Even though the group had been invited, they were treated by spectators as though they did something as irresponsible as simply showed up and high-jacked the parade.
The above photograph was the look for the opening act, one of those regrettable experiences, which alas the Canada Council foists on one, god only knows why. Banal and as sexually intriguing as a live webcam set up on a couple of koala bears in repose, some things just have to be endured to get one through to the real deal. As my date, an ageing Jewish actor/writer with the most wicked sense of humour is always great company, we sat in the back row, all to ourselves, in fits of delicious giggles – we were poring through online photographs of Céline Dion parading in haute couture in Paris in the lead up to Paris Fashion Week; when asked what I thought of her whacky, over-the-top, beyond desperate behaviour, I flatly put in, “it ought damn well to be kept leashed and staked out back.”
Next, it was my turn to come undone when no sooner than having slipped in the breath mint that he whispered, “those are the new mint-flavoured super laxatives, I was telling you about.” How soul-gnawing is emulative institutional Jazz whose practitioners know nothing either of blacks or black culture? Hell, even after the bass solo, there was no applause from the house.
Finally, like a lover with the most foul breath but whose girthsome jousting simply won’t be denied – then the malodorous rogue leaves and you shudder in disgust and return to breathing like a human rather than a goddamn humpback whale – the opening act vacated the stage and when the stagehands were done, only the grand piano was left. Out then walked Cécile McLorin Salvant with a puckish accompanist and it was readily obvious that there is an indelible soul connection between the two, which speaks to intimacy most rare and also more than a dozen past-life connections. Even Cécile’s body had changed, she looked more lived in, she was getting good loving and it showed.
Before proceeding, let me just state that this was the most phenomenal and best Jazz concert that I have ever attended. From Hoagy Carmichael, to Barbara Streisand, to Bessie Smith, every song was her own and every song was a master class in musicianship and phrasing. Then two things happened that blew me even further away; firstly, she sang, Midnight Sun. This is a song that for me as long as I live, will always evoke the most pleasurable memories of living at John Hirsch and Brian Trottier’s Moore Park Home at 187 Hudson Drive in the summer of 1990 after Merlin had passed and I reinvented self and took the time to travel. Until this concert, no one had ever done a better version of Midnight Sun than Sarah Vaughan, whose version daily played at that lovely Moore Park home.
Secondly, Cécile paused and asked if anyone in the audience was French, to which there was a boisterous response and then she asked to sing a song in French. By the time she was done, I was reduced to tears, even my usual jaded friend was blown away. At the conclusion the house went wild and I was reminded of those years living in Montréal and attending all those summer festivals across the province.
Let’s see Canadian, Diana Krall sing en Français in this supposed bilingual country and I am not talking any of that tawdry attempt at French musicianship as with the likes of Emilie-Claire Barlow et al. Unlike those frauds who suffocated the blackness out of Jazz in the 90s and beyond, Cécile is the real McCoy. The primary musical instrument in human civilisation is the voice and when it comes to Jazz, not only is it a language that is the extension of the griot tradition, nothing sounds like, feels like, moves you like the instrument that is the black voice; there simply aren’t any comparisons. This is the voice, the instrument, when on walking through your door can revivify and empower you like no other instrument can and most especially so after having experienced racial animus for the 14th millionth and fifty-seventh time in this lifetime.
During the course of the show, her accompanist did something that I had never before witnessed, Sullivan Fortner got from the piano stool to reach inside and pluck on the strings, making for all intents the most beautiful mbira imaginable. Sullivan proved himself the perfect accompanist to Cécile and it was clear by the end of the concert that these two lovely, magical and gifted souls have thankfully found each other and how we are better for them being in the world. The love and harmony they share, was as rich and smooth as the warmest honey satiating the palate. Even the encores were concerts onto themselves. If there is anything that can be said to be good, to have come from Roy Hargrove’s passing, is that it created the opportunity for both Sullivan and Cécile to form a most productive collaboration.
As we left Koerner Hall, both of us giddy with joy for having been richly inspired, there was a guy outside the theatre, hawking the program for Jazz FM. Brusquely, I declined taking one, I soon explained that I had no desire to be associated with the Jazz radio when they went and hired someone whom Merlin dismissed back in his early on-air days as VJ at MuchMusic as a smug bigoted asshole. Indeed, an ageing leopard does not his spots lose. Just for writing a few hit songs and having made a few million dollars changes nothing. As Merlin always said, “a man changes clothes and nothing else.”
Though last year, there were three good concerts during the Jazz Festival; this year, one only needed to have attended one concert and boy am I richly inspired for having done so. On parting, we both agreed that it really was an awesome concert; more than that, we admitted that it was high time that we saw Rocketman before it goes to video.