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