The Creation of Jazz: Music, Race, and Culture in Urban America

Overview

As musicians, listeners, and scholars have sensed for many years, the story of jazz is more than a history of the music. Burton Peretti presents a fascinating account of how the racial and cultural dynamics of American cities created the music, life, and business that was jazz. From its origins in the jook joints of sharecroppers and the streets and dance halls of 1890s New Orleans, through its later metamorphoses in the cities of the North, Peretti charts the life of jazz culture to the eve of bebop and World ...
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Overview

As musicians, listeners, and scholars have sensed for many years, the story of jazz is more than a history of the music. Burton Peretti presents a fascinating account of how the racial and cultural dynamics of American cities created the music, life, and business that was jazz. From its origins in the jook joints of sharecroppers and the streets and dance halls of 1890s New Orleans, through its later metamorphoses in the cities of the North, Peretti charts the life of jazz culture to the eve of bebop and World War II. In the course of those fifty years, jazz was the story of players who made the transition from childhood spasm bands to Carnegie Hall and worldwide touring and fame. It became the music of the Twenties, a decade of Prohibition, of adolescent discontent, of Harlem pride, and of Americans hoping to preserve cultural traditions in an urban, commercial age. And jazz was where black and white musicians performed together, as uneasy partners, in the big bands of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. "Blacks fought back by using jazz," states Peretti, "with its unique cultural and intellectual properties, to prove, assess, and evade the "dynamic of minstrelsy." Drawing on newspaper reports of the times and on the firsthand testimony of more than seventy prominent musicians and singers (among them Benny Carter, Bud Freeman, Kid Ory, and Mary Lou Williams), The Creation of Jazz is the first comprehensive analysis of the role of early jazz in American social history.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this well-researched, important sociocultural study of the development of jazz between 1900 and 1940, Peretti argues that jazz--an urban music--was essentially ``created'' between 1915 and 1930 when Southern blacks migrated north to places like Kansas City and Chicago. According to the author, who teaches American studies at the University of Kansas, jazz rose as a cultural triumph, acquiring ``its expressive potential and social meaning'' despite big-city class and racial divisions. Peretti, relying heavily on oral history and newspaper accounts, examines such topics as differences between blues and jazz, the influence of European classical music and white musicians on early jazz, the effects on musicians of economic shifts and profiteers, race relations and male dominance among these cultural pioneers. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Jazz is an urban music that grew out of city stimuli and fulfilled urban social functions, says historian Peretti. He focuses on the era 1900-40 and cites wide readings and interviews with musicians, including Willie Humphrey, Edward ``Kid'' Ory, and Milt Hinton. Peretti explains how jazz was shaped by urbanization, the ``great migration'' of Southern blacks northward, and the ``jazz image''--dress code, jargon, and use of drugs. Peretti places jazz in its rich social context, building on works of Sidney Finkelstein ( Jazz: A People's Music , 1948) and Neil Leonard ( Jazz: Myth and Religion , LJ 3/1/87; Jazz and the White Americans , 1962). For most academic music collections.-- Paul Baker, CUNA Inc., Madison, Wis.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252064210
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Series: Blacks in the New World Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 "I Couldn't See Anything but Music": African and Rural Roots 11
2 "He Should Throw That Club at You": Urban Origins in New Orleans 22
3 "Therefore, I Got to Go": Jazz and the Great Northern Migration 39
4 "Changing, Changing": The Forging of Northern Black Communities 58
5 "The Great Travelers": White Jazz Musicians of the 1920s 76
6 "Turn the Bitters into Sweets": The Musical Culture of Jazz 100
7 "Being Crazy Don't Make Music": Searching for a Jazz Subculture 120
8 "Money-Finding Music": Jazz as a Commodity 145
9 "Wacky State of Affairs": The Depression, Swing Era, and Revolt 164
10 "The Wedding of the Races"? Jazz and the Color Line 177
Epilogue 211
Notes 219
Oral Histories Consulted 261
Index 263
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