DC Jazz: Stories of Jazz Music in Washington, DC

DC Jazz: Stories of Jazz Music in Washington, DC


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The familiar history of jazz music in the United States begins with its birth in New Orleans, moves upstream along the Mississippi River to Chicago, then by rail into New York before exploding across the globe. That telling of history, however, overlooks the pivotal role the nation's capital has played for jazz for a century. Some of the most important clubs in the jazz world have opened and closed their doors in Washington, DC, some of its greatest players and promoters were born there and continue to reside in the area, and some of the institutions so critical to national support of this uniquely American form of music, including Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., are rooted in the city. Closer to the ground, a network of local schools like the Duke Ellington High School for the Performing Arts, jazz programs at the University of the District of Columbia and Howard University, churches, informal associations, locally focused media, and clubs keeps the music alive to this day.

Noted historians Maurice Jackson and Blair Ruble, editors of this book, present a collection of original and fascinating stories about the DC jazz scene throughout its history, including a portrait of the cultural hotbed of Seventh and U Streets, the role of jazz in desegregating the city, a portrait of the great Edward "Duke" Ellington’s time in DC, notable women in DC jazz, and the seminal contributions of the University of District of Columbia and Howard University to the scene. The book also includes three jazz poems by celebrated Washington, DC, poet E. Ethelbert Miller. Collectively, these stories and poems underscore the deep connection between creativity and place. A copublishing initiative with the Historical Society of Washington, DC, the book includes over thirty museum-quality photographs and a guide to resources for learning more about DC jazz.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626165892
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
Publication date: 06/01/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 471,721
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Maurice Jackson teaches History and African American Studies at Georgetown University and is the author of Let This Voice be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism. He is a 2009 inductee into the Washington, DC Hall of Fame and was inaugural chair of the DC Commission of African American Affairs.

Blair Ruble is distinguished fellow for programs at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of Washington's U Street: A Biography.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Foreword Jason Moran xi

Acknowledgments xv

Poems E. Ethelbert Miller xvi

Introduction xvii

1 Jazz, "Great Black Music," and the Struggle for Racial and Social Equality in Washington, DC Maurice Jackson 1

2 Seventh Street: Black DC's Musical Mecca Blair A. Ruble 35

3 Washington's Duke Ellington John Edward Hasse 47

4 Bill Brower: Notes from a Keen Observer and Scene Maker Willard Jenkins 75

5 Jazz Radio in Washington, DC Rusty Hassan 91

6 Legislating Jazz Anna Harwell Celenza 107

7 The Beautiful Struggle: A Look at Women Who Have Helped Shape the DC Jazz Scene Bridget Arnwine 117

8 No Church without a Choir: Howard University and Jazz in Washington, DC Lauren Sinclair 129

9 From Federal City College to UDC: A Retrospective on Washington's Jazz University Judith A. Korey 145

10 Researching Jazz History in Washington, DC Michael Fitzgerald 171

List of Contributors 183

Photo Credits and Permissions 187

Index 189

What People are Saying About This

Joseph A. Brown

For many black scholars, a lifetime of “listening in” on the conversations that white scholars have about race is all too familiar. This book can do much to invite the very scholars and theologians referenced into considered responses.

Randy Weston

Washington, DC has always been one of the historic cities in the development of this music called jazz. It is the home of one of our giants, and a man who was a powerful influence on my own work, the grandmaster Duke Ellington, and the place where my dear friend Billy Taylor grew up. I fondly recall being part of Billy’s NPR radio series and his concert series at the Kennedy Center. This bookDC Jazzdoes a marvelous job of detailing some of the many attributes of the DC jazz scene and its incredible community of artists who have made such great contributions to this music as an indelible part of the African music continuum.

John J. DeGioia

Maurice Jackson lends his invaluable expertise in African American and DC history to this vibrant, compelling portrait of the people who brought jazz to life in our nation’s capital. Drawing important contributions from scholars and musicians, he and noted scholar Blair Ruble have brought together an extraordinary resource for students of music, American history, and urban life.

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