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Swinging by with the blues.

JAZZ and blues devotees from the US are on a mission to extol the virtues of the music genres in the Middle East.

They even have official blessing to encourage the cultural expansion and senior advocates within the US Navy have been leading from the front in Bahrain.

Tonight the Little Joe McLerran Quartet from the US state of Tulsa will perform at Upstairs Downstairs restaurant in Adliya as part of a programme backed by the US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The band's four-week tour entitled 'The Rhythm Road: American Abroad' also takes in Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Little Joe is a collective of seasoned musicians committed to keeping the blues alive and bringing the music to diverse audiences.

Bass player Robbie Mack said: "We will present an educational programme - 'The Recipe for American Root Soup'. We explain that the blues, the root of all popular western culture music, is made up of ingredients brought to America by those who came to its shores either willingly, or in chains.

"These cultural bits and musical pieces were thrown into the pot with a broth of blood, sweat and tears then stirred and simmered over the years.

"From this pot of soup came the Blues, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Rock and Roll and Hip Hop just to name a few."

Robbie will be joined by guitarist Joseph McLerran, harmonica player David Berntson and drummer Ron McRorey.

The show follows a presentation by officers from the Naval Support Activity in Bahrain on Jazz at the American Studies Centre in the University of Bahrain.

Admiral Sinclair Harris, aided by his assistant Specialist Kevin Brinson gave a talk entitled 'What is Jazz? Or, increasing Your COOOOOOOL'.

Jazz lovers Admiral Sinclair and Specialist Brinson educated, enlightened, and entertained a packed audience with not only a history of the origins and development of jazz but also playing selections from each of the various types of jazz as the music spread and changed over time.

Admiral Sinclair said: "Jazz has its roots in the African-American experience in the US, starting with slavery, as the slaves sang to one another on the work gangs, for they were forbidden to learn how to read and write, and this was one of the few ways of communicating with each other."

African-American music associated with and arising out of this oppressive experience took on several forms, including a genre of music known as the 'Blues', as well as a more religious-based genre known as 'Gospel' music, which manifested itself in the traditions of the churches in America, and, of course, jazz.

From its earliest days, argued Admiral Sinclair, jazz caught on quickly and was then picked up by the dominant white culture in America before spreading out across the Atlantic and being adopted by people across the world.

They also highlighted the work of jazz legends such as New Orleans-born native Louis Armstrong.

* The Little Jow McLerran Quartet's dinner concert is priced at BD25 and concert only for BD10. For reservations, contact 17713093.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Apr 4, 2010
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