Peace Day - September 21, 2008 - 54
JAzz FOR (From an interview with Nate Haney and Saphir Lewis, May 29, 2008) “With Jazz, I had the opportunity to travel all over the world and share my music. I found that people all over the world were every bit as humane as the people I knew, in many instances more so; and that music was a way of breaking down boundaries that societies had put on us, that kept us back from creating a thread of common ground. As problems escalated in the world, I ended up saying things at dinner parties that would kind of surprise people. One thing I once said at a dinner party was that Palestinians, Israelis and Americans are often together in my apartment playing Jazz just for the fun of it, and sometimes on stage. People would say to me “That’s so strange because we’re under the impression that even the leaders of these countries can’t get in the same room together.” So I decided I wanted to start something called “Jazz for Peace” that went to areas of conflict and showed what I had been seeing anyway: how we can cross cultural barriers and get together not only in a positive way, but in a profoundly positive way. It’s such a positive result that comes through musical communication between people of different languages, different cultures, different religions. Once you have that common ground, you now have so much of a better chance at coming to an understanding, even if it’s an agreement to disagree. Of course, nobody was really interested. Basically, people listened and thought it was a great idea and that was about it. PEACE PianiSt riCk dEllaratta SharES hiS Story Photo bY anita YaPP Shortly after 9-11, I started to get calls from all over the world. I didn’t realize how many people I had told the story to. People were saying, “I remember this day in (whether it was Tokyo or Hong Kong or Saul Paulo, Brazil or La Paz, Bolivia) . . . where you told me this story.” Most people had thought it was just a fun conversation, but they remembered what I said, and when I got all these calls, I realized this needed to be done, period. In other words, it was time for me, even though there wasn’t funding, even though there wasn’t support, even though there wasn’t anything, it was time for me to put achievement before profit. 54 Peace Day 2008
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