Public Comment

Commentary: Blacks Excluded from Yoshi’s And the Jazzschool? No!

By Robert Stewart
Friday June 08, 2007

As one of the most prolific Black saxophonists in the country, born and raised in Oakland, I’m ashamed of the hostility and triviality that has been directed toward SUSAN MUSCARELLA and the Yoshi’s establishment by Black musicians in the Bay Area.  

Further, though I do not know SUSAN MUSCARELLA and have never played in her festival nor her school, her efforts to perpetuate the BLACK CLASSICAL MUSIC of America must be acknowledged and applauded, regardless of any personal bias against her as an individual. In fact, Blacks in the Bay Area should feel downright EMBARRASSED or ASHAMED that she chose to defend herself in the media; She most certainly did NOT have to do this, whatsoever.  

The same EMBARRASSMENT should be felt by Black musicians in regard to Mrs. Yoshi, her husband, and her establishment. She has a near 20-year track record, of hiring Black musicians and treating them with the utmost respect and generosity. I have performed with Max Roach, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Smith, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, and many others who have performed at Yoshi’s. None of the aforementioned ever voiced a single complaint of RACISM at anytime, whatsoever. Peter Williams, Yoshi’s current booking agent and manager, is also fair and honest in his dealings with Black musicians as well.  

Consequently, a mere compact disc of live recordings void of Black musicians is triviality beyond comprehension, to say the least. Further, for the past three years, I have performed for the “Ronald McDonald House” organization for children with cancer. Mrs. Yoshi has attended every event and has voluntarily donated her time and personal monetary funds to this organization. Henceforth, a mere compact disc that was unintentionally void of Black musicians, is not a complete and accurate representation of her noble character in any way, shape, or form, whatsoever.  

Henceforth, since Black musicians have been found floating on the surface of the ocean (a CD with no Blacks), let’s probe the ABYSS of it: 

A man builds a house that is brand new from top to bottom (= BLACK creators or pioneers of Jazz from the late 1800s until early 1940’s). The house begins to deteriorate over time, but rather than performing the necessary repairs, the builder of the house decides to move. Another man buys the house (= BLACK Jazz musicians from the 1940s thru the late 1960s) and does SOME of the repairs; Not ALL of the repairs. Consequently, the house deteriorates further and this owner decides to move as did the previous owner (= BLACK jazz musicians from the early 1970’s thru the early 1980s). The house remains ABANDONED, in SHAMBLES, and on the verge of COMPLETE COLLAPSE or DESTRUCTION. So, another man sees the condition of the house, and decides to invest in the total restoration and maintenance (= WHITE FOLKS) of this house; He now lives there, himself.  

Yeah, now WHO is to BLAME for the current condition of Black musicians in this new millennium?  

Is it the BLACK WHO ABANDONED his house, or the WHITE who FIXED and MAINTAINS it, eh?  

Yeah, if Black folks would pool their own monetary resources, and buy their own record labels, clubs, magazines, and so on, then they would not have the time to be concerned about what Yoshi’s and The Jazz School are doing. Actually, if only two of the prominent Blacks in sports (Kobe Bryant and Lebron James) were to combine their salaries and invest in the perpetuation of their own Black art form (Jazz), Blacks would have a budget of over 250 MILLION dollars to buy an entire city of Jazz schools, nightclubs, record labels, magazines, and so on. However, this has not been the case with these disgruntled Black musicians who are willing to attack Yoshi’s over a freakin’ CD, yet won’t pursue their own Black multimillionaires with the same zeal or vigor, whatsoever; HYPOCRISY of colossal proportions, indeed. 

I’m quite tired of Blacks COMPLAINING, MARCHING, CRYING, and BEGGING to be where they are not wanted; This is DISGUSTING and PATHETIC, to say the least. Blacks should feel EMBARRASSED or ASHAMED that OTHER RACES have been forced to perpetuate Black’s OWN art form, due to the majority of Blacks across the country NOT WANTING nor CARING about their OWN art form.  

The “blame everyone but self” mentality is OVER in this new millennium, indeed. Consequently, any affliction that Blacks are experiencing is of their own design or fault; Not the fault of Whites nor any race other than THEIR OWN! 


Robert Stewart is a Bay Area saxophonist.