ScottClark4tet “Bury My Heart” on Clean Feed Records

ScottClark4tet BuryMyHeart cover CF 347

I am very excited to announce that the ScottClark4tet record, “Bury My Heart”, has been released on Clean Feed Records.  As some of you may know, I have been working on this suite of music for quite some time and I am really looking forward to sharing this work with everyone.  The music is inspired by my research into my own ancestry as well as certain events from Native American history.

ScottClark4tet: Bury My Heart
1) Broken Treaties
2) Wounded Knee
3) Little Crow’s War
4) Big Horn
5) Sand Creek
6) Remembrance

ScottClark4tet:
Cameron Ralston- bass
Jason Scott- saxophone
Bob Miller- trumpet

Scott Clark- drums

Featuring JC Kuhl -bass clarinet & Bryan Hooten- trombone on “Broken Treaties”


ScottClark4tet: “Bury My Heart”
The title of this recording isn’t a mere literary reference (to “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”, by Dee Brown). Just like the novel, the music inside is a tragic and soulful portrait of one of the darkest pages of human history and particularly the United States past (with effects continuing to present day): the Native-American genocide. Created by jazz drummer and composer Scott Clark, himself of Native-American descent, it has the form of a suite but none of its formal, classical, aspects. The approach is irreverent, visceral, raw and urgent, further developing the unique style of this incredible musician coming from the vibrant scene of Richmond, Virginia. This is downbeat music, very much connecting to the inner feeling of that musical language called jazz, and we do feel the pain, but there’s no negativity on it. As Brian Edward Jones writes in the liner notes, remembering Albert Ayler, «music is the healing force of the universe». And what heals us is the freshness, the novelty and the creativity of this magnificent opus. Here is a masterpiece, not just another jazz album.

Clean Feed Records


Some information on the songs and what inspired them.

Broken Treaties
It is estimated that there have been over 500 treaties entered into with Native Americans by the United States.  It is also estimated that of those 500 treaties, nearly all of them were broken at some point in their history.  Many times, the violation of these treaties led to most of the hostilities that erupted between Native Americans and the white settlers that the treaties were with.

Wounded Knee
On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under Big Foot, a Lakota Sioux chief, near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it’s unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated 150 Indians were killed (some historians put this number at twice as high), nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men.

The conflict at Wounded Knee was originally referred to as a battle, but in reality it was a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it’s unlikely that Big Foot’s band would have intentionally started a fight. Some historians speculate that the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment’s defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the last major confrontation in America’s deadly war against the Plains Indians.
(*history.com staff http://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/wounded-knee)

Little Crow’s War
Throughout the late 1850s, treaty violations by the United States and late or unfair annuity payments by Indian agents caused increasing hunger and hardship among the Dakota. Traders with the Dakota previously had demanded that the government give the annuity payments directly to them (introducing the possibility of unfair dealing between the agents and the traders to the exclusion of the Dakota). In mid-1862, the Dakota (led by Little Crow, Thaóyate Dúta) demanded the annuities directly from their agent, Thomas J. Galbraith. The traders refused to provide any more supplies on credit under those conditions, and negotiations reached an impasse.

On August 17, 1862, one young Dakota with a hunting party of three others killed five settlers while on a hunting expedition. That night a council of Dakota decided to attack settlements throughout the Minnesota River valley to try to drive whites out of the area. There has never been an official report on the number of settlers killed, although in Abraham Lincoln’s second annual address, he noted that not less than 800 men, women, and children had died.Over the next several months, continued battles pitting the Dakota against settlers and later, the United States Army, ended with the surrender of most of the Dakota bands. By late December 1862, soldiers had taken captive more than a thousand Dakota, who were interned in jails in Minnesota. After trials and sentencing, 38 Dakota were hanged on December 26, 1862, in the largest one-day execution in American history. In April 1863, the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota to Nebraska and South Dakota. The United States Congress abolished their reservations.
(*Wikipedia contributors. “Dakota War of 1862.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

Big Horn
At mid-day on June 25, Custer’s 600 men entered the Little Bighorn Valley. Among the Native Americans, word quickly spread of the impending attack. The older Sitting Bull rallied the warriors and saw to the safety of the women and children, while Crazy Horse set off with a large force to meet the attackers head on. Despite Custer’s desperate attempts to regroup his men, they were quickly overwhelmed. Custer and some 200 men in his battalion were attacked by as many as 3,000 Native Americans; within an hour, Custer and all of his soldiers were dead.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also called Custer’s Last Stand, marked the most decisive Native American victory and the worst U.S. Army defeat in the long Plains Indian War. The demise of Custer and his men outraged many white Americans and confirmed their image of the Indians as wild and bloodthirsty. Meanwhile, the U.S. government increased its efforts to subdue the tribes. Within five years, almost all of the Sioux and Cheyenne would be confined to reservations.
(*history.com staff http://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/battle-of-the-little-bighorn)

Sand Creek
At dawn on November 29, 1864, approximately 675 U.S. volunteer soldiers commanded by Colonel John M. Chivington attacked a village of about 700 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians along Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado Territory. Using small arms and howitzer fire, the troops drove the people out of their camp. While many managed to escape the initial onslaught, others, particularly non-combatant women, children, and the elderly fled into and up the bottom of the dry stream bed. The soldiers followed, shooting at them as they struggled through the sandy earth. At a point several hundred yards above the village, the women and children frantically excavated pits and trenches along either side of the streambed to protect themselves. Some adult men attempted to hold back the Army with whatever weapons they had managed to retrieve from the camp, and at several places along Sand Creek the soldiers shot the people from opposite banks and brought forward the howitzers to blast them from their improvised defenses. Over the course of eight hours the troops killed around 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people composed mostly of women, children, and the elderly. During the afternoon and following day, the soldiers wandered over the field committing atrocities on the dead before departing the scene on December 1 to resume campaigning.
(National Park Service  http://www.nps.gov/sand/historyculture/index.htm)

Remembrance
Much of what we consider the “history” of Native Americans is still being felt to this day.  There are still fights over land rights at Wounded Knee, there are still people fighting to have the United States honor treaties that were entered into many years ago, there are still conflicts about how the upcoming Sand Creek Massacre anniversary is being portrayed and there still remains fallout over the Dakota Wars and their aftermath.  There are still many conflicts and issues that exist on reservations today including extreme poverty, illness, little or no access to health care etc.  However, despite what would at first appear to be all negative stories, there are many hopeful ones as well.  Native culture remains vibrant and efforts to bring back native languages are spreading throughout the country.  There are many tribes that are continuing efforts to reclaim land that was lost and more awareness is being spread to the modern day reality of many Native Americans.  It’s important to remember the past and see how it informs our present.  It’s also important to see the beauty that exists in Native American culture and to help focus on the positives that do exist today.

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November 29, 1864

images
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.  I hope that we will all take a moment to read some of what happened, to reflect on what it meant to us as a nation then and on what this event continues to say about us as a nation today.  Without too much editorializing, I have posted a handful of links below that you can explore.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/29/native-history-ways-remember-sand-creek-150th-anniversary-158029

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/opinion/remember-the-sand-creek-massacre.html?_r=1

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/horrific-sand-creek-massacre-will-be-forgotten-no-more-180953403/?no-ist

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/24/150th-anniversary-sand-creek-massacre-remembrance-events-157774

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com:81/2014/11/25/6-insights-people-and-times-sand-creek-massacre-158012

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/27/6-more-insights-people-and-times-sand-creek-massacre-158017

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/14/sand-creek-massacre-8-hours-changed-great-plains-forever-157775

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_26985185/colorados-land-grab?source=infinite

http://inewsnetwork.org/2014/11/26/rocky-mountain-pbs-documentary-commerates-sand-creek-massacre/

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/28/what-led-sand-creek-massacre-check-out-timeline-158027

http://www.nps.gov/sand/historyculture/upload/Combined-Letters-with-Sign-2.pdf

http://www.summitdaily.com/news/regional/13988239-113/creek-sand-colorado-chivington

http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/11/28/sand-creek-massacre-150-years-later/19602625/

http://sandcreekmassacre.net/witness-accounts/

http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/four/sandcrk.htm

A petition to have the name of Chivington, CO changed….
https://www.change.org/p/senator-larry-crowder-change-the-name-of-chivington-colorado

My thoughts are with the people that are still feeling the repercussions of this tragedy.  My hope is that by continuing to shine light on this story, more people will gain awareness and work to affect real/lasting change in the lives of all people around the world.

more soon…..

 

Premier of “Bury My Heart” at VCU Oct. 30th

photo by Lauren Serpa

photo by Lauren Serpa

I am excited to announce that on Thursday, October 30th, 2014, the ScottClark4tet, will be premiering a new work that I have written called “Bury My Heart”.  I have been writing and researching this piece for quite some time and I look forward to debuting it at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Bury My Heart” comes from a journey of self-discovery into my own ancestry and the profound impact that reading and studying the history of Native Americans has had on my life. Many years ago I began researching my family’s Native American ancestry and the history of the many tribes of North America. The way I viewed life and nature had always intrigued me; and when I began to discover my own Native American background, those views led me to intensify my research.

One of the first books that opened my eyes to these events in the history of Native Americans was Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. (Subsequent books that had profound impacts on me included The Sand Creek Massacre by Stan Hoig, The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers, and Trail of Tears by John Ehle and many others). The events described in these books sent me on a path of discovery and research that has inspired the songs contained in this suite of music.

Of all the events described in these books, the one that has had the biggest impact on me is the Sand Creek Massacre, in which a village of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho were attacked and over 100 men, women and children were killed. November 29, 2014 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. We are premiering this music, at VCU, as a remembrance of one of the most tragic days in American history. The history of so many Native American tribes goes completely untaught in our society. One of my hopes is that through this music, and the stories behind the music, I can do a small part to reach others who will be inspired to look further into the histories, and present-day realities, of so many tribes in North America.

I hope that you will be able to join us for this night of music…and we look forward to sharing the music with you.

Thursday October 30th, 2014
8pm 
Admission is Free and open to the public 
Vlahcevic Concert Hall,
W. E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts
922 Park Avenue
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2004

you can see a small preview of the music from our performance on Virginia This Morning via the link below
http://wtvr.com/2014/10/24/celebrate-your-friday-with-two-jazz-numbers-by-the-scott-clark-4tet/

also on 10/29 you can hear an interview and performance of some of the music from the suite on WCVE FM 88.9 NPR starting at 7pm.  (http://ideastations.org/radio)

https://www.facebook.com/events/1476847545873294/?ref=br_tf

This concert is co-sponsored by VCU Jazz (http://arts.vcu.edu/music/events/) and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (<www.omsa.vcu.edu>) in anticipation of Native American History Month (November) and of the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre (November 29).

The ScottClark4tet is:
Cameron Ralston-bass
Bob Miller-trumpet
Jason Scott-saxophone
Scott Clark-drums

thank you for your support….
more soon………

design by Cary Ralston

 

New Recording….coming soon

 

image © ScottClark

image © ScottClark

I’m very excited to be going into the studio this week to record some music that my band (ScottClark4tet) and I have been working on for quite some time now.  The music was inspired in part by some of the events described in Dee Brown’s book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” as well as many other books describing the history of Native Americans, and their dealings with white settlers and politicians.  This music has been a great source of inspiration to me, and the musicians in the band have really made this music come to life over the past few months.  I am really looking forward to recording this music and I am planning for debut of the suite sometime this November.

On November 29th of this year, there will be a remembrance of  the Sand Creek Massacre (one of the main events that inspired this music and spawned much of my personal study on the subject).  It is described by the National Parks Service as “…one of the most emotionally charged and controversial events in American history, a tragedy reflective of its time and place.”  

More from the National Parks Service website about Sand Creek (http://www.nps.gov/sand/historyculture/index.htm)
     “At dawn on November 29, 1864, approximately 675 U.S. volunteer soldiers commanded by Colonel John M. Chivington attacked a village of about 700 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians along Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado Territory. Using small arms and howitzer fire, the troops drove the people out of their camp. While many managed to escape the initial onslaught, others, particularly noncombatant women, children, and the elderly fled into and up the bottom of the dry stream bed. The soldiers followed, shooting at them as they struggled through the sandy earth. At a point several hundred yards above the village, the women and children frantically excavated pits and trenches along either side of the streambed to protect themselves. Some adult men attempted to hold back the Army with whatever weapons they had managed to retrieve from the camp, and at several places along Sand Creek the soldiers shot the people from opposite banks and brought forward the howitzers to blast them from their improvised defenses. Over the course of eight hours the troops killed around 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people composed mostly of women, children, and the elderly. During the afternoon and following day, the soldiers wandered over the field committing atrocities on the dead before departing the scene on December 1 to resume campaigning.

Since the barbarism of November 29, the Sand Creek Massacre maintains its station as one of the most emotionally charged and controversial events in American history, a tragedy reflective of its time and place. The background of the Sand Creek Massacre lay in a whirlwind of events and issues registered by the ongoing Civil War in the East and West; the overreactions by whites on the frontier to the 1862-63 Dakota uprising in Minnesota and its aftermath; the status of the various bands of Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians relative to each other as well as other plains tribes; the constant undercurrent of threatened Confederate incursions; and the existing state of politics in Colorado including the intrigues of individual politicians in that territory. Perhaps most important, the seeds of the Sand Creek Massacre lay in the presence of two historically discordant cultures within a geographical area that both coveted for disparate reasons, an avoidable situation that resulted in tragedy.”

This music and these events don’t just exist in a vacuum.  Many of these topics still are being dealt with today.  From the debate over the Washington Redskins team name (http://cnn.it/1vtPsZQ) (also, read the comment section to see more) to History Colorado’s (the Colorado Historical Society) dealing with the upcoming remembrance of the Sand Creek Massacre (http://bit.ly/1kivPyK) or to all of the many events happening in and around the Native American community (http://bit.ly/1sLRAYA) there is a lot going on right now.  I don’t claim to be an expert on all of the inner workings of what is happening now, or what has happened in the past.  I have however been deeply affected by what I have learned and how it informs my own life.  Through my research and through this music, I hope to share a part of my dealings with these subjects with as many people as I can.  I also know that this is just the beginning of a lifelong search for more knowledge and understanding.

I am very grateful to Spacebomb Studios for allowing us to record in their great studio and specifically to Trey Pollard, Matthew E. White, Pinson Chanselle, Cameron Ralston and the rest of the Spacebomb family for helping me to realize this recording. I look forward to sharing this music with as many people as possible and as soon as possible. Most importantly, I can not thank the guys in the band (Cameron Ralston, Bob Miller and Jason Scott) enough for being so giving of their time over the past few years….and also to everyone along the way for all of your support.  THANK YOU!!

more soon…..

More Than Just Black Friday


For years I’ve been studying Native American history….and that studying has been slowly taking over my life.  When you study the history of a people (and a country), there are a lot of things you learn, some good and some bad, but it informs how you view the world today.
One of the events that I’ve been studying, with a great passion, has been an event that took place on this day November 29th 1864…The Sand Creek Massacre.
A village of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians were attacked not far from Denver, Colorado and between 70-160 men, women and children were killed and their bodies mutilated.  The events leading up to, and following, the massacre are too many, and too complex, for a short blog post.  All I can hope for is that on this day we take a second and reflect on what took place long ago and yet still has lasting affects to this day.  

Here are some links to some things that you can read right now if you are interested:
Wikipedia 
History Channel
Indian Country Today

And here are some great books that will go more in depth into what exactly took place:
The Sand Creek Massacre by Stan Hoig
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Black Kettle The Cheyenne Chief Who Sought Peace but Found War by Thom Hatch
A Misplaced Massacre Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek by Ari Kelman

I’ve been working on a suite of music inspired by this event, and many others, that I have studied over the past few years.  I look forward to being able to share this music with everyone and I hope that what I’ve learned, and tried to process through music, will inspire others to try to understand the complicated history that we live with everyday.

thank you for all of the support…..

more soon…..