“Art for life’s sake”

“Art for life’s sake,” is how percussionist John Santos describes the jazz tradition and the many African and Indigenous musical traditions that inform it. The work of improvisation is no exercise. It runs much deeper than that. You can hear it in the shouts of a brass section, of the wails of a blues guitar, or the pulsing syncopations of an Afro-Cuban drummer. It is the longing for freedom, and at the same time a process for achieving that freedom, through reliance on a community, through the expression of gifts, through the refusal to be silent.

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