by Fernando Contreras Castro
translated by Elaine S. Brooks
ISBN: 978-1-944884-88-8 (pbk.)
During the first instances of emancipation, the slaves appropriated the language of those in power and their instruments. Through language they entered the culture of the oppressor, but they never renounced their music, that shined through by way of the remembered blue note.…
In this novel, improvisation, the essence of jazz, becomes the basis for the survival of two contexts that are distant from each other in time and space but are also united like conjoined twins that share vital organs.
The musicians in the jazz sextet who play in this novel live by night and sleep by day. Chance leads them to an orphaned child whom they love unconditionally and raise outside the educational structures that, instead of educating human beings, produce replacement parts for the continuation of the System.
Jazz themes are a gift from the universe, the variations, a gift from our friends who dare to improvise together. Are they not perhaps a metaphor for survival and for the attainment of freedom?
—Fernando Contreras Castro
Blue Note is woven of two stories, one of a jazz sextet in a small Central American city, and the other of Miles Davis and his band, as told by the cat that ran around with them. Between these two stories lies the initiation of the blind child, Arturo. Blue Note is an initiation for the reader, who achieves understanding of eternity in a fleeting moment; and of the value of resistance, daring to live in a state of abnormality.
Blue Note is a novel short in length but enormous in its depth…. It is a song to liberty, to love and to life… a marvelous novel… in which the reader enters a musical world unknown, fearful, full of light and darkness, transformative, haunted but with an abundance of love and solidarity… a refuge in the music and song of the slaves of the North American South, their salvation, their resistance, their hope and their freedom.”
—Benedicto Víquez Guzmán
Jazz is a musical genre born during the first half of the 20th century in the United States, particularly in New Orleans, according to the most accepted versions of the history. Preceded by the blues, its origins go back to an African musical heritage that thousands of people of African ethnicity clung to when they were kidnapped from Africa and reduced to slavery in America, as well as their descendants. In Contreras’ text, lessons about resistance and emancipation in jazz come out in the discourse of a cat, the grandfather of one of the protagonists, who migrated from New York against his will to a stuffy San José [Costa Rica], where he shared a great jazz movement.