For Cabu: ‘Mama, I Wanna to Make Rhythm’

January 25, 2015 at 7:06 pm (anti-fascism, BBC, jazz, Jim D)

Yesterday’s BBC Radio 3 Jazz Record Requests carried a memorable request. It was from one Jean Francois (sorry: I didn’t catch the full name), a friend of the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, ‘Cabu’.

JRR presenter Alyn Shipton described Cabu as “a harmless, civilised and witty man” who loved jazz and , at the time of his murder, had been working on a book about Woody Herman. Cabu, apparently, loved the 1937 Cab Calloway recording of Mama, I Wanna Make Rhythm, although “he could never pronounce it.” This is in memory of Cabu, and a reminder that authoritarians, Stalinists and fascists invariably hate jazz:


  1. Matthew Thompson said,

    Stalinists invariably hate jazz? I can think of one or two CPers who were into jazz Jim, especially the trad sort you like.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Agreed that individual Stalinists (and, come to that, Nazis) have liked jazz: but the Comintern ‘line’ (reflected in the stance of the CPGB in the fifties) was hostile. That’s one of the reasons that Eric Hobsbawm used the pseudonym ‘Francis Newton’ when he wrote about jazz.

  2. damon said,

    I’ve tried liking jazz, but I don’t really get much of it. Particularly this old stuff like is posted here. Today it’s very much a minority taste and one that you have to actively seek out. You could even call it elitist, if you were looking at it as high art.
    I was reading about Marcel Proust the other night. Another of those people I’ve never read yet and am a bit sad that I probably never will, as it seems too daunting and time consuming. It’s the same with this old jazz.
    They should be teaching this music (and Proust) to the children in the banlieue suburbs in France.
    Or maybe some things just can’t cross cultural fault lines.

    • Jim Denham said,

      “This old jazz” was the dance music enjoyed by the black folks of Harlem in the 1930s.

      There’s no requirement upon you, damon, or anyone else, to like it: but “elitist” it ain’t!

  3. damon said,

    I have tried with some jazz. It just doesn’t come naturally to me.
    Like with a lot of people. If you played this to most young people today you’d get blank looks and shrugs. Even in Harlem I suspect.
    Actually, across all age ranges.
    I think it’s something you have to acquire a taste for, or have someone give you some guidance for what to listen to.
    And maybe tell you how to listen to it also.

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