Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History, 1904-1930 / Edition 1

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New York 1993 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 256 p. Audience: General/trade. Tells of the importance of prohibition, the mob ... and jazz music and its musicians were to each other. Very interesting book. Read more Show Less

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Overview


The setting is the Royal Gardens Cafe. It's dark, smoky. The smell of gin permeates the room. People are leaning over the balcony, their drinks spilling on the customers below. On stage, King Oliver and Louis Armstrong roll on and on, piling up choruses, the rhythm section building the beat until tables, chairs, walls, people, move with the rhythm. The time is the 1920s. The place is South Side Chicago, a town of dance halls and cabarets, Prohibition and segregation, a town where jazz would flourish into the musical statement of an era.
In Chicago Jazz, William Howland Kenney offers a wide-ranging look at jazz in the Windy City, revealing how Chicago became the major center of jazz in the 1920s, one of the most vital periods in the history of the music. He describes how the migration of blacks from the South to Chicago during and after World War I set the stage for the development of jazz in Chicago; and how the nightclubs and cabarets catering to both black and white customers provided the social setting for jazz performances. Kenney discusses the arrival of King Oliver and other greats in Chicago in the late teens and the early 1920s, especially Louis Armstrong, who would become the most influential jazz player of the period. And he travels beyond South Side Chicago to look at the evolution of white jazz, focusing on the influence of the South Side school on such young white players as Mezz Mezzrow (who adopted the mannerisms of black show business performers, an urbanized southern black accent, and black slang); and Max Kaminsky, deeply influenced by Armstrong's "electrifying tone, his superb technique, his power and ease, his hotness and intensity, his complete mastery of the horn." The personal recollections of many others--including Milt Hinton, Wild Bill Davison, Bud Freeman, and Jimmy McPartland--bring alive this exciting period in jazz history.
Here is a new interpretation of Chicago jazz that reveals the role of race, culture, and politics in the development of this daring musical style. From black-and-tan cabarets and the Savoy Ballroom, to the Friars Inn and Austin High, Chicago Jazz brings to life the hustle and bustle of the sounds and styles of musical entertainment in the famous toddlin' town.

Kenney offers a wide-ranging look at jazz in the Windy City, revealing how Chicago became the major center of jazz in the 1920s. From cabarets to the Friars Inn and Austin High, this book brings to life the hustle and bustle of the sounds and styles of musical entertainment in this toddlin' town. Illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Roland Wulbert
Kenney's scholarship should increase his cultural history's appeal for readers who aren't professional historians as well as for those who aren't amateur jazz scholars. In contrast to musicologists, music critics, and biographers who emphasize the flamboyant personalities and lurid lives of early jazz musicians, Kinney portrays the music's cultural context in Chicago's South Side over the course of two decades, the 1920s and 1930s. "Context" here means, generally, social and racial relations; more specifically, it means the nightclubs, cabarets, and dance halls and the organized gambling and prostitution--the economic base--that drew talented musicians from the South much as the stockyards and steel mills drew wage laborers from the Old Country. Sometimes Kenney waxes romantic, but he is always authentic: "White jazz personality Eddie Condon later claimed that in 1924-26, at the height of the jazz age, a trumpet held up in the night air of the Stroll [a bright-light district on south State Street] would play itself." More authenticity: jazz did not come up the river from New Orleans to Chicago, it seems: the Mississippi (someone without a Ph.D. might have noticed earlier) doesn't flow through Chicago. A good discography concludes.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195064537
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/13/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Author: William Howland Kenney is a jazz clarinetist and Associate Professor of History and American Studies at Kent State University. He is the coeditor with Scott Deveaux of The Music of James Scott.

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Table of Contents

1 South Side Jazz: Cultural Context 1
2 The Evolution of South Side Jazz 35
3 White Jazz and Dance Halls 61
4 White Chicago Jazz: Cultural Context 87
5 Chicago's Jazz Records 117
6 "Syncopated Threnody": The End of Chicago's Jazz Age 147
Appendix 173
Abbreviations of Archival Collections 181
Notes 181
Index 219
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