News Classifieds Directory Today's Ads
Friday 11 March, 2005
Top Stories
Live & Lively
Even before the terrorist attacks, Schenectady native Rick DellaRatta was working on a Jazz for World Peace tour.

The first concert in the series takes place Sunday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Himself a renowned jazz keyboardist who was both a 1998 and '99 ASCAP Popular Award Winner, DellaRatta will be joined Sunday night by Eddie Gomez on bass, sax player Paquito D'Rivera and drummer Lenny White.

"Before these attacks, before this whole thing happened, I was trying to put Palestinians and Israelis together. My original concept was to go to Israel and tour with a band of Israeli and Palestinian musicians and call it Jazz for Peace."

DellaRatta is still working on uniting musicians from the two cultures for the European arm of his tour. Sunday's opening salvo will mark the debut of a poem set to music that asserts DellaRatta's view that jazz can help in re-establishing America's acceptance and responsibility for at least some of the hatred now directed toward us.

"I mean, we created bin Ladin, didn't we," he asks rhetorically. "We made this monster!" DellaRatta believes Americans have failed to acknowledge jazz as our greatest contribution to the world, not just culturally, but universally. And he sees jazz as the perfect vehicle for delivering a new attitude for America.

"If you're going to go through life taking the things that fill your soul and throw them to the side and take monetary, capitalistic things that victimize others and ultimately don't fill your soul, then you're going to lead to destructive behavior as a species.

"There's humanitarian issues involved here, and when we fill our souls up with creativity, artistry and intelligence, things of that nature, we have a better shot at avoiding the behavior that leads to destruction."

By not acknowledging jazz as American's leading contribution to the world, DellaRatta says we are sending mixed messages to the world and to ourselves.

It's been obvious to me that jazz is a music that brings enlightenment to our species. We need to raise our level of consciousness and then we can see past the need for violence and see that there's so much we can do together to make our existence greater. We have so much to offer each other."

Here is DellaRatta's Jazz for Peace poem:

I hear jazz for peace coming through the trees, and in my heart it fills me like a celebration. I see the light and I want to follow, inspired by the past contributions of those that came before and laid the groundwork for us to build on in this universal language that is a gift for all mankind. And when we speak it, people are enlightened by the creativity and artistry that stands for peace and love and humanity and intelligence that leads to reaching potential that we have in our soul. So we can raise our total conscience and see that the gift of giving is our greatest privilege.

DellaRatta says that our own failure to accept the honor of creating jazz makes us like someone who not showing up for a prestigious award. And that failure, in turn, is a microcosm of our failures as a society in a global world.

"What fears me is that our attitude may have been for some time, well, as long as we don't know about it, we're still these really nice people. As long as we don't know. In other words, if we've done some things covertly that are inhumane, don't tell us. We won't know that we did them."

DellaRatta points to new evidence that Americans gave Native Americans blankets infected with smallpox and watched them die instead of fighting them in the heroic battles our popular culture portrays.

"We need to accept our misgivings and some things we've done that may not have been (right), but at the same time we need to embrace some of the things we have to be proud of. That's what I think needs to be done to make us stronger, our spirit stronger as a whole."

My question to DellaRatta is have we made ourselves more receptive to that point of view as a result of the terrorist attacks.

"Well, I guess let's see on October 7th. I hope so. That's my goal. My goal is to make us receptive and to help us. My goal is to facilitate that."

Questions or comments? Email the Webmaster.

Copyright © 1995 - 2005 PowerOne Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
News Classifieds Directory Today's Ads