Race and Jazz Communities
Sociologist Robert Stebbins defines the jazz community as a status group in which social differentiation occurs at two levels: within the community at large and within the status group. Within the status group are core and peripheral institutions. The core institutions are jazz jobs, jam sessions, after-hours social life, the musicians' union, and cliques of musicians who refer jobs to each other. Peripheral institutions are the musician's family and commercial music jobs.1 Over the years, the jazz community has distinguished itself from the community at large by a variety of distancing techniques that help maintain the integrity of the group, including use of a private slang, specific modes of dress, drug use, and other eccentric behavior.2
Like jazz itself, the nature of its community changes rapidly. It currently includes not only working musicians but jazz educators who teach at universities and conservatories; not only jazz musicians playing the most contemporary style but those devoted to recreating styles of the past, such as ragtime. Also, in a community formerly dominated by heterosexual males, there are now women and declared homosexuals such as Fred Hersch and Gary Burton.
Race has played an important role in the formulation of the jazz community, which was one of the first areas of American society in which Af