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3. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights act...

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With civil unrest erupting across the middle east and bitter battle lines being drawn in Wisconsin and other Republican dominated states’ over the rights of people to collectivize in order to further a common cause, this title feels relevant.  This blog-site is a place where local opinions about Jazz can be voiced but that is not why I chose the term ‘Jazz Local 32′.    A ‘Local‘ is the term unions in America use when they refer to their branches.   These musicians union ‘locals’ are an integral part Jazz history and they have often been at the forefront of civil rights actions.  Jazz has been deeply concerned with social justice struggles since its inception and especially in the bitter battles to overcome racism.  These struggles are often reflected in the music.   Billy Holiday witnessed the lynching and burning of fellow African-Americans as she toured the deep south and later at the Cafe Society Club she sang ‘Strange Fruit‘ in order to bring home these unspeakable horrors.    This heart wrenching song once heard will never be forgotten, because the strange fruit are the charred rotting bodies twisting in the wind.    John Coltrane marched with Martin Luther King and later wrote profoundly moving tunes like ‘Alabama’, which touch the depths of the listeners soul.    Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and many more took on the segregationist bigots and their collective struggle is part of Jazz DNA.    A larger than life but somewhat controversial figure in this battle was John Petrillo; a one time trumpet player who eventually became president of  the American Musicians union.

‘Petrillo became president of the Chicago Local 10 of the musician’s union in 1922, and was president of the American Federation of Musicians from 1940 to 1958.  He continued being the prime force in the Union for another decade; in the 1960s he was head of the Union’s “Civil Rights Division”, which saw to the desegregation of the local unions and the venues where musicians played.

Petrillo dominated the union with absolute authority. His most famous actions were banning all commercial recordings by union members from 1942–1944 and again in 1948 to pressure record companies to give better royalty deals to musicians;these were called the Petrillo Bans. (Wikipedia)

Why the number ’32’ ?- That is where I live.

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