“I like the idea of artists from different musical traditions and from all corners of the world coming together to oppose racism, to demand world peace and support the Socialist Worker appeal.”
So said Rodney P who, alongside Skitz, Courtney Pine, Gilad Atzmon and Sam Beste, will be performing at a benefit concert to raise money for the Socialist Worker appeal.
The event, Cultures of Resistance, will take place in the atmospheric Union Chapel in Islington, London, on Friday 8 December. Make sure you get your ticket now.
1Xtra DJ Rodney P is one of the most eligible candidates for ambassador of British hip hop. He has worked with Roots Manuva, Blak Twang and Benjamin Zephaniah.
Rodney added, “Cultures of Resistance will be a brilliant night of soul, jazz, rap, funk and we may even throw in a bit of grime! We want to show everybody that politics can be fun.”
It will also be one of the biggest cultural events Socialist Worker has put on for many a year.
No one better embodies the dramatic transformation in the British jazz scene over the past 20 years than Courtney Pine. In that time he has recorded 11 critically acclaimed albums.
He also presents a BBC Radio 2 show, and in 2000 he travelled to South Africa to make a brilliant documentary about the musicians who campaigned against apartheid.
He believes the benefit concert is important because it “gives me the chance to unify people through sound”.
There is a long tradition of musicians, poets and artists supporting the left. In the 1930s and 1940s Paul Robeson, folk singer Woody Guthrie and jazz musician Charlie Parker all performed benefits for the US Communist Party.
Likewise in the late 1960s the funk band the Natural Four and the rock band Grateful Dead performed benefits for the Black Panther Party.
Today we have a new generation of musicians willing to support a socialist newspaper, one that campaigns for a better world.
Also performing on the night will be Gilad Atzmon and his band. They will be bringing to the event an explosive fusion of jazz, eastern European folk music, politics and everything in between.
Gilad declared, “I will be playing at the Cultures of Resistance concert because I support the Socialist Worker appeal.
“I refuse to view jazz as a technical adventure. It isn’t about the speed with which I move my fingers or the complexity of my rhythmic figures.
“I insist that jazz is a form not of knowledge but spirit. Jazz is a world view, an innovative form of resistance.
“For me to play jazz is to fight the BOB (Bush, Olmert and Blair) world order and to fight US colonialism.
“It is to campaign for the liberation of my Palestinian and Iraqi brothers.”
Last but not least is Sam Beste and his band. They will be debuting their new album “London Cries” which uses a soul and funk backdrop to paint a picture of life in 21st century London.
“I was delighted to be asked by Socialist Worker to play at the Cultures of Resistance concert,” said Sam.
“Ever since I helped organise mass anti-war walkouts from my school in February and March 2003, my music has been very much influenced by the Iraq war and the political atmosphere in this country.
“The importance of Socialist Worker’s contribution in building the anti-war movement was obvious to me from the start and I’m very happy to be playing in support of its appeal.
“To perform before an audience of committed anti-war activists—and alongside such great musicians as Courtney Pine, Gilad Atzmon and Rodney P—is a great privilege.”
It’s going to be a great night, an eclectic mix of music combined with a big dollop of politics.
We hope this won’t be the last event of its kind. In the summer we want to put together another show that brings together dance music, hip hop and folk.
The final word goes to Courtney, “I believe that music has the ability to reflect our social climate. Improvised music, being spontaneous in nature, is the closest we musicians can get to mirroring our existence.
“In other words when music reflects life, life will be reflected back through music.
“To unify people through sound has been my ambition ever since I became musically aware, and this concert is a chance to perform to a unified audience whose cause I can align myself with.”
Cultures of Resistance takes place on Friday 8 December. For details go to the Socialist Worker appeal website
Martin Smith is the author of John Coltrane: Jazz, Racism and Resistance, available from Bookmarks. Phone 020 8637 1848 to order.