Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Black Arts Movement Theatre, West: Dewey Redman - Dewey Time, Happy Birth Day, Dewey!

Saxophonist Walter Dewey Redman
was born on May 17, 1931 in Fort
Worth, Texas.

He received his initial band
training at I.M. Terrell High
School where he performed
with fellow students Ornette
Coleman, Prince Lasha and Charles

Redman played in Ornette Coleman's
groups and with Keith Jarrett
and then formed his own band "Old
and New Dreams" with fellow Ornette
alumni Don Cherry, Charlie Haden,
and Ed Blackwell.

Here's a clip from the 2001 documentary
"Dewey Time" about his life and music
PLUS a performance with friends and
collaborators Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell
and Charlie Haden.

Marvin X on Dewey Redman and Black Arts Movement Theatre, West

When we established Black Arts West Theatre, 1966, in San Francisco's Fillmore District, across the street from Tree's Pool Hall and around the corner from the Sun Reporter Newspaper, Turk and Fillmore, we, actors, playwrights, Ed Bullins, Duncan Barber, Carl Bossiere, Hillary Broadus, Ethna Wyatt, Sandra Williams, Danny Glover and myself, were soon joined by musicians. Among them were Dewey Redman, Rafael Donald Garrett, Earle Davis, BJ, Oliver Jackson, et al. They held concerts but most importantly they accompanied our plays in the style of what we now call "ritual theatre", i.e., they were free to play on stage, or move about in the audience or go out on the street to the accompaniment of car horns and all the sounds on Fillmore Street that was often bumper to bumper cars and sidewalks full of people, Harlem of the West, like 125th Street and Lenox Ave. As we know redevelopment (gentrification) destroyed the cultural and economic vitality of the Fillmore. Former San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto apologized for destroying the Fillmore. And this is why the land trust must be employed in the coming Black Arts Movement Business District in Oakland.

Dewey and his fellow musicians inspired us with their freedom and we began to do improvisation with our scripts, especially while under the influence of marijuana, i.e., we would transcend the script and free-style for a moment of two, then return to the script, call it jazz-drama. 

While we loved the musicians, we had ideological differences with many if not most of them because we considered ourselves Black Nationalists and they had white women, which we found embarrassing, especially in the box office during the jazz concerts, e.g., the Monte Waters Big Band. But we survived our differences and I would sometimes visit them at their homes, in particular Donald Rafael Garrett, Oliver Johnson and Dewey Redman. Surely, today we are happy Dewey's woman gave birth to Joshua Redman. Happy birthday, Dewey!
--Marvin X

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