I visited the National Museum of the American Indian, New York to see some authentic artifacts of the American Indians. Before I went into the permanent collection, a brightly coloured doorway caught my eye. It was an exhibition showing how “Native people who have been active participants in contemporary music for nearly a century.”
Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture shows “how many have been involved in various forms of popular music—from jazz and blues to folk, country, and rock.” Comprised of record covers, instruments, song samples and photography, it went from the Jazz age with Mildred Bailey right through to Rock with Motley Crue’s Vince Neil.
Above right is Mildred Bailey, the first non-African American jazz singer to successfully adapt the rhythms and improvisational flavours of Dixieland and ragtime into swing jazz.
Jean-Baptiste Illinois Jacquet was an American jazz tenor saxophonist, best remembered for his solo on “Flying Home“, critically recognized as the first R&B saxophone solo.
Russell Moore, an American jazz trombonist, and also known as ‘Big Chief’, played with everyone from the 30’s to his death freelancing on the Dixieland jazz circuit and playing on Louis Armstrong’s last big band.
Buffy Saint-Marie focused her work on the indigenous peoples through her singing and song writing. Having a reputation as a gifted writer, many of her songs were recorded and covered by everyone from Janis Joplin and Elvis to Cher and Courtney Love. She used one of the oldest instruments in the world; the mouth bow (above left) and at the other end of the scale, was an early adopter of Mac and Microsoft as early as 1981.
Jesse Ed Davis, an American guitarist and well regarded session player.
And Jimi Hendrix. No words needed.
The exhibition was also a great source of graphic design inspiration with the simplistic but colourful album covers and concert posters.