Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dewey Redman and Marvin X's Black Arts West Theatre, San Francisco, 1966

Oh, how fondly  we remember Dewey Redman and all the Black Arts West Theatre
musicians, San Francisco, 1966. especially Rafael Donald Garrett, bassist, drummer Oliver Jackson,

BJ, Monte Waters and his Big Band, trumpet master Earl Davis who is still with me. Recently Earl performed with me at the Black Arts West Conference, University of California, Merced, Feb-March, 2014. Earl also performed at the Malcolm X Jazz/Arts Festival, Oakland. He was/is part of the Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra who closed out the festival produced by Eastside Arts. Below is sax man David Murray and Earl accompanying my reading of Amiri Baraka's classic poem DOPE.

But Dewey, Rafael, Earl, Monte and the other musicians taught us (playwright Ed Bullins, actor Danny Glover, actors Hillery Broadous, Karl Bossiere, Duncan Barber, and Ethna Wyatt (Hurriyah Asar) and Vonetta McGee, et al., who to break free of the Western theatrical form, the main challenge of the Black Arts Movement. How do we transform the Western esthetic and return to the African and Eastern tradition of myth-ritual artistic expression. The musicians taught us how to transcend the script into an improvisational mechanism. They taught us ( and later Sun Ra would expand on the lesson) how to have discipline and freedom simultaneously. They demanded and we gave them free range of the theatre, including stage and audience (which become one in the BAM ritual theatre, ala Baraka, Marvin X, Ed Bullins and Robert McBeth and company at Harlem's New Lafayette Theatre, and of course Barbara Ann Teers National Black Theatre). During our plays, the musicians would appear on stage or enter from the rear, to accent or expand on the script.  To help us promote our productions and their concerts, they would play on the street in front of Black Arts West Theatre on Fillmore Street, across the street from Trees Poolhall. Fillmore was bumper to bumper cars mostly with North American African riders. The musicians would play along with the car horns and other street sounds, thus art and reality became one. We are so thankful the musicians showed us the way. Of course, we would meet Sun Ra in Harlem and our world of Black Arts was smashed by the Ra machine or Myth-Science Arkestra. Ra transcended the other musicians with his deep knowledge of African science and esthetics. He took us deeper with his demand for discipline as opposed to freedom. We were born free, he said. "Stop teaching your actors freedom, teach them discipline, there were born free."
What is so wonderful about Dewey Redman is that he gave us his son, Joshua, and the world knows the rest.

 Ancestor Dewey Redman

Joshua Redman, son of Dewey

 Marvin X and Sun Ra, Black Educational Theatre, 1972. During this time, Marvin X and Sun Ra both lectured in Black Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

 Fly to Allah, poems, 1968,established Marvin X as the father of Muslim American literature, according to Dr. Mohja Khaf, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. All the BAM poets and artists were deeply influenced by Islam, especially taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad through his spokesman Malcolm X. We think of Askia Toure, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Last Poets, Haki Madhubuti, et al.

photo Doug Harris

 Marvin X and the Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra, Malcolm X Jazz/Art Fest, May 17, 2014

photo collage by Adam Turner

 Dance Amiri and Maya, dance. Do the funky git down! Look at Amina enjoying herself (center).

 Marvin X wants to revive Amiri Baraka play The Toilet for a manhood training ritual or rites of passage.

 Marvin X and violinist Tarika Lewis, a member of the BAM Poets Choir and Arkestra

 Elliott Bey, keyboard genius, works with Marvin X coast to coast. See their DVD Marvin X Live in Philly at Warm Daddies

 Ancestor Goldsky works

 Francisco Mora Catlett, Afro Horn Ensemble, son of ancestor Elizabeth Cattlett Mora, a BAM master herself. His mother gave Marvin X refuge in Mexico City during his second exile from resisting the draft, for which he was deported from Belize and returned to US custody. He served five months in Terminal Island Federal Prison for his beliefs, including the notion promoted by his associate in the Nation of Islam, Muhammad Ali, "No Viet Cong never called me a Nigguh."

 Ed Bullins and Marvin X founded Black Arts West Theatre (BAW) in San Francisco's Fillmore District, 1966. Ed joined Eldridge Cleaver and Marvin X at the Black House, political and cultural center, 1967.

 Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale was an actor in Marvin's theatre before he founded the Black Panther Party along with Huey Newton. Bobby, Huey and Marvin studied together at Oakland's Merritt College, 1962.

 Godfather of the Black Arts Movement, Amiri Baraka and Marvin X

 Ethna X. Wyatt, aka Hurriyah Asar, Queen of the West Coast Black Arts Movement. She was a part of Black Arts West Theatre and The Black House.

 Master playwright, Ed Bullins

 The Holy couple, Amina and Amiri Baraka. We think that's Ras in her arms, now the Mayor of Newark New Jersey.

 Marvin X and his man in Philly, piano master Alfie Pollitt

 Earl Davis, trumpet master of BAM

 Earl Davis at Black Arts Conference, University of California, Merced, 2014

 The Black Arts Movement Poets Choir and Arkestra, Black Arts Movement Conference, University of California, Merced, 2014

Marvin X reading Amiri Baraka's DOPE, accompanied by David Murray and Earl Davis, backed by the BAM Poets Choir and Arkestra, Malcolm X Jazz Fest, May 17, 2014, Oakland

No comments:

Post a Comment