March 26, 2002
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Jazz critic Stanley Crouch; Werner Sollors, the Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and professor of Afro-American studies at Harvard University; and Jerry Watts, associate professor of American studies at Trinity College, will examine the cultural, political and artistic legacy of author, poet, playwright, music critic and cultural activist Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) on Sunday, April 7, at 3 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Marisa Parham, assistant professor of English at Amherst College, will moderate “Baraka: Examining a Legacy.” The event, sponsored by the departments of English, music and black studies at Amherst College, is free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, April 3, at 8 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall, Baraka himself will perform in the Magic Triangle Jazz Series as a featured vocalist in the William Parker Ensemble with William Parker, bass; Dave Burrell, piano; Darryl Foster, saxophone; Lewis Barnes, trumpet; Hamid Drake, drums; Leena Conquest, voice; and the Macedonia Church of God in Christ Choir. (Tickets are $6 for students and $9 for the general public, from the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center Box Office at 1-800-999-UMAS.)

Watts is the author of the controversial book, Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual (2001). He views Baraka as a vaunted outsider, whose love of his “outsiderness” and penchant for instigation often overshadow his commitment as an artist working for social change. In Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a ‘Populist Modernism’ (1978), Sollors portrays Baraka as an artistic and political hero of the Beat generation who evolved into a unique array of aesthetic and social identities. Crouch takes Baraka as he takes everything related to jazz: with a sharp bite.