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Billy Bang :: Vietnam: The Aftermath
by A music fan from Harlem

ustin Time Records (March 26, 2002)

This new CD is sure to earn Billy Bang rave reviews from the critics as well as devoted fans like myself. This is simply Bang at his very best, with his intense, bouncing style given free range with the full-bodied support of top-flight musicians, including John Hicks, Michael Carvin, Frank Lowe, Curtis Lundy, Ted Daniels, and special guest Sonny Fortune. It is also very timely. It is at once a solemn introspection into the horrors of war and a celebration of the ability of the human spirit to overcome those horrors by facing up to them and choosing to use the experience to create something as wonderful and life-affirming as great music. And this music is so wonderful that it has the power to lift the human spirit even while it compels the listener to contemplate the absurdity of war as a means of resolving conflicts. Asian harmonics infiltrate the more familiar Jazz and Soul riffs, like the Vietcong advancing along the Ho Chi Minh Trail toward Saigon. But this juxtapositioning of Asian and American musical aesthetics is not about who won or lost the war; it signifies instead the interconnectedness of humanity, even while locked in mortal battle. Every human being who was injured or killed lost something or everything and gained nothing. This is a musical portrait of war from the vantage-point of those who fought on the ground and survived to experience the aftermath. And for so many American veterans like Billy Bang, the aftermath was plagued by psychological and physical damage, compounded by unemployment, drug addictions and public scorn for having fought an ignoble war. This is perhaps Billy Bang's personal guide on how to survive the war and its aftermath. Like the Blues, the music and musical performances captured here invoke pain and joy at the same time. The focus on death and destruction forges a new appreciation for and commitment to life and creativity. If only the powers-that-be on both sides of our present-day global conflicts could learn to appreciate Billy Bang, as opposed the bang of bombs dropping and planes crashing into skyscrapers..... Let this be the motto of the new millenium: Make Music, Not War!
published 17.04.2005 2005 jazz news :: home page

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