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Howard Reich Wants President Barack Obama to Hold Jazz Summit at White House

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Mar 31, 2016 04:17 PM EDT
Sonny Rollins & President Barack Obama Howard Reich inquires President Barack Obama to host a jazz summit at the White House like previous presidents have before him. Seen here, Sonny Rollins is awarded the Medal of Honor by the POTUS at a gala. (Photo : Alex Wong/Getty Images)

One of America's oldest art forms, jazz and its associates are inquiring President Barack Obama to hold a jazz summit at the White House before he leaves. The notion is predicated on earlier summits, those held by Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Bill Clinton in 1993.

In a recent article, Howard Reich writes about the possibility of jazz making an appearance on Pennsylvania Avenue once more. Like he says, if Carter and Clinton found it apropos to invite jazz's living legends to hold a concert and conversation inside the White House, then why can't the Chicago-raised POTUS also extend the decency?

Reich wrote in an article when President Obama was elected in 2008:

"If President-elect Barack Obama wants to make a bold cultural statement - one that resonates deeply with his autobiography and with the legacy of his adopted hometown, Chicago, there's a compelling way to do it: Teach the White House to swing (again).

"That's what President Jimmy Carter did in Spring, 1978, casting the unique brilliance of a presidential spotlight on a distinctly American art form."

He continued to define the parameters of jazz in the American music scene, underscoring the importance of jazz as an art form of pure expression and democracy. Reich mentions that on the bandstand, every musician has not only access but a right to be a voice.

However, those individual voices ultimately blend into one, following and uniting over a common purpose, both musical and inherently freeing at the same time. President Carter recognized that and so did President Clinton in June 1993, where he brought Joe Williams, Dorothy Donegan and Iliinois Jacquet to the South Lawn 15 years to the day that Carter brought Mingus and company.

Reich's article continues to cite the advantages of bringing jazz back to the White House, and there are obvious benefits in doing so. For the community at large, it could shed light on one of America's most vibrant musical institutions and legacies. From the very beginning, the music has proven to be a wholly American ideal.

Be sure to check out the article and in the meantime get down with one of this reporter's favorite albums--and perhaps one of the favorite albums of any jazz lover--Kind of Blue from the late Miles Davis below.

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TagsJazz Summit, White House, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, POTUS, Howard Reich

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