From Jazz to Swing: African-American Jazz Musicians and Their Music, 1890-1935 / Edition 1

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In the 1920s, many black regional jazz bands were recorded and became products of the entertainment industry, which was altering the face of America from the handmade, homemade, ... homemade society of the ninteenth century to the mass-produced, mass-consumed technological culture of the twentieth century. Making use of the files of African American newspapers, such as the Chicago Defender, as well as published and archival oral history interviews, Hennessey explores the contradictions that musicians often faced as African Americans, as trained professional musicians, and as the products of differing regional experiences. From Jazz to Swing follows jazz from its beginnings in the regional black musics of the turn of the century in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and the territories that make up the rest of the country. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In the 1920s, many black regional jazz bands were recorded and became products of the entertainment industry, which was altering the face of America from the handmade, homemade, homemade society of the ninteenth century to the mass-produced, mass-consumed technological culture of the twentieth century.

Making use of the files of African American newspapers, such as the Chicago Defender, as well as published and archival oral history interviews, Hennessey explores the contradictions that musicians often faced as African Americans, as trained professional musicians, and as the products of differing regional experiences. From Jazz to Swing follows jazz from its beginnings in the regional black musics of the turn of the century in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and the territories that make up the rest of the country.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hennessy's detailed examination of early American jazz chronicles the music's evolution from its humble roots in Southern African American traditions to its mainstream acceptance by the white American middle-class as swing in the 1930s. Hennessy has collected a formidable mountain of information on this important and intriguing period in American musical and cultural history, but while musicologists and scholars of African American studies may find it riveting, its appeal for a more general audience is limited. Hennessy clearly respects these jazz pioneers and their music. But in his enthusiasm he clogs his text with more details than the casual reader can (or will want to) assimilate--e.g., ``After the Bearcats left for a tour. . . territory bands like Zach Whyte's from Cincinnati, Roy Johnson's from Richmond, Ike Dixon's from Baltimore, and Alonzo Ross's from Florida had brief runs at the Savoy.'' Though he provides a synthesis at the end of each chapter, Hennessy never adequately addresses the impact of broader cultural phenomena such as prohibition, feminism or the rise of car culture. The author has a clear understanding of the facts of jazz's early growth, but not the reasons behind it. (Aug.)
Library Journal
As the United States evolved from a rural, agricultural society to an urban industrial one in the years 1890 to 1935, the African American community found its first medium of expression in the form of popular music. From a basis of folk music, spirituals, and work songs rose rag, jazz, and swing. Hennessey chronicles the development of these styles and the musicians and composers most responsible for them. He tracks such pivotal events in the shaping of jazz as the migration to cities, the development of the phonograph record, and the marketing of Duke Ellington as a national star. Providing a great deal of information on a well-defined subject in a compact form, this book is recommended for all African American and music collections.-Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814321799
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Series: Jazz: History, Culture, and Criticism Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Hennessey is an associate professor at Fayetteville State University in Fayettevilee, North Carolina. He has published several articles on the history of jazz and has been the host-producer of a weekly jazz radio program for more than a decade.

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