Jazz in Black and White: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Jazz Community

By Charley Gerard | Go to book overview

1
Black Music, Black Identity

For a short while, many Americans, both blacks and whites, considered jazz to be a form of white dance music. The first jazz recordings were performed by white musicians, and numerous African Americans first learned about jazz from recordings of white groups like the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. By the mid-1920s, however, most Americans had learned that jazz came from African-American culture and accepted the fact with equanimity.

But they were not prepared to give it back. Jazz had been thoroughly assimilated into the American fabric. While Jews played Jewish music, Cajuns played Cajun music, Italians played Italian music, and Mexicans played Mexican music, jazz was music for the taking. Jazz became paradoxically both a music shared by all Americans yet still, somehow, intrinsically African-American. The ambiguity was not lost on the Harlem Renaissance writer Joel Augustus Rogers. In Jazz at Home," Rogers, who gained fame as the author of several books, including The World's Greatest Men of African Descent, concluded that it was "difficult to say whether jazz is more characteristic of the Negro or of contemporary America."1

Both whites and blacks made a distinction between jazz and the bluesbased music of the rural South and Northern black ghettoes that record la

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Jazz in Black and White: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Jazz Community
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Black Music, Black Identity 1
  • 2 - African Music, African Identity 39
  • 3 - Race and Religious Identity 73
  • 4 - Race and Jazz Communities 83
  • 5 - Black Music, White Identity 97
  • 6 - Colorless Swing 117
  • 7 - Racial Identity and Three Lives 127
  • 8 - Racial Identity Embedded in Performance 153
  • 9 - The Right of Swing 165
  • Notes 171
  • Selected Bibliography 189
  • Index 195
  • About the Author *
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