Welcome to THE CULTURAL WORKER, a blog dedicated to arts of the people, from the radical avant garde and free jazz to dissident folk forms, punk and popular arts . The Cultural Worker celebrates revolutionary creativity and features a variety of essays, reviews, fiction, reportage, poetry and musings through the internet pen of this creative writer, journalist, musician and cultural organizer. Scroll straight down and you'll also find an extensive historical Photo Exhibit of cultural workers in action, followed by a series of Radical Arts Links. The features herein will be unabashedly partisan---make no mistake about that. The concept of the cultural worker as a force of fearless creativity, of social change, indeed as an artistic arm of radicalism, has always been left-wing when applied with any degree of honesty at all. No revolutionary act can be truly complete in the absence of art, no progressive campaign can retain its message sans the daring drumbeat of invention, no act of dissent can stand so strong as that which counts the writers, musicians, painters, dancers, actors, photographers, film and performance artists within its ranks. Here's to the history and legacy of cultural work in the throes of the good fight...
john pietaro

Friday, December 16, 2016


People's World


Newark NJ: On December 15 the woefully under-recognized activist-poet Amina Baraka signed a recording contract with the legendary free jazz label ESP-Disk in preparation for her debut CD, "If I Can't Dance, It's Not My Revolution".

Ms. Baraka, one-time People's World columnist, performer at the recent Better World Awards luncheon and the widow of Amiri Baraka, spent the day in rehearsal with members of the Red Microphone, the quartet that will serve as her accompanying band on the record.

The CD is to be recorded in a Brooklyn studio on January 29 and ESP-Disk, the record label that debuted such stellar artists as Albert Ayler, will be releasing it both on CD and digital formats early in 2017. Poetry selections will constitute a powerful issues-oriented sampling of Ms. Baraka's works from the early 1960s through the present. The pieces will range from those inspired by the author's childhood in the pre-Civil Rights American South to a brand new piece written in the wake of Donald Trump's election which she fittingly entitled The Fascist.

Ms. Baraka's part in the movements for social justice, Black liberation, human rights, economic justice and peace have been well documented for decades. She performed extensively with her celebrated husband over many years, as well as a jazz and blues vocalist and dancer, and as a sometime member of the Bread is Rising Poetry Collective. Previously, her only recorded work was in joint efforts with Mr. Baraka, so this 2017 debut work is deemed quite historic. "I'm very excited to finally have a vehicle to present my poetry. This also includes whole aspects of my own story. But now, in these times when racism and hate are again bold and violent and under a thinly-veiled guise of so-called 'patriotism', cultural workers NEED to speak out. We are standing up". 

The Red Microphone, a self-described ensemble of liberation jazz, is led by writer and percussionist John Pietaro who has also authored many articles for The People's World and Political Affairs. He is the curator of the monthly New Masses Nights performance series at Henry Winston Unity Hall. The band performed at several Better World Award functions and also accompanied Ms. Baraka at the 2016 Dissident Arts Festival which occurred this past summer here in New York City. The other members of the quartet are saxophonist/flutist Ras Moshe Burnett (a noted underground musician and activist), saxophonist/composer/pianist Rocco John Iacovone and the electric bassist Laurie Towers. 

The photo shows Ms. Baraka and Mr. Pietaro, for the Red Microphone, signing the ESP-Disk contract.

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