By Travis A. Jackson
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Extra info for Blowin' the Blues Away: Performance and Meaning on the New York Jazz Scene
American is the big word” (Teachout 1995, 53; see also Tucker 1993, 254). Teachout then comments, “Five decades later, this spirit is being undermined by cultural politicians for whom the word ‘American’ has validity only when it lies on the far side of a hyphen. That jazz, the ultimate 34 | Black, Brown and Beige cultural melting pot and arguably America’s most important contribution to the fine arts, would have fallen victim to such divisive thinking is an especially telling index of the unhappy state of our culture at the end of the 20th century” (Teachout 1995, 53).
Applied to jazz history, such thinking has spawned a view of early white efforts as musically insignificant and—particularly in the 1920s and ’30s—vastly overpublicized. Jazz, says the now-accepted canon, is black: there have been no white innovators, few white soloists of real distinction; the best white musicians (with an exception or two) were only dilute copies of black originals, and in any case exerted a lasting influence only on other white musicians. ” Jazz represents, then, true, nonpoliticized multiculturalism, “living proof that the races and ethnic groups can cooperate to the common good” (xvii).
While the interest young musicians and fans were displaying might have been regarded as a sign of the History and Memory | 31 music’s vitality, there were critics who were less sanguine about the newcomers. “Predictably,” Piazza continues, the phenomenon . . stirred up a backlash among reviewers . . with odd racial overtones, as many of the music’s young players were, for the first time in quite a while, African-American. The gist of the attacks was that the young musicians, instead of making a Coltrane-like, self-immolatory journey of self-discovery, were focusing too much energy studying previous work in the idiom.
Blowin' the Blues Away: Performance and Meaning on the New York Jazz Scene by Travis A. Jackson