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Baraka,ImamuAmiri,1934,BluesPeople:NegroMusicinWhiteAmerica.(Morrow,NewYork,NY,1963).[AuthorInformation][BibliographicDetails]
TableofContents
TitlePageandCredits PageNA
Contents PageNA
Introduction Pageix
BluesPeople Page1
1/....TheNegroasNonAmerican:SomeBackgrounds Page1
2/....TheNegroasProperty Page11
3/....AfricanSlaves/AmericanSlaves:TheirMusic Page17
4/....AfroChristianMusicandReligion Page32
5/....SlaveandPostSlave Page50
6/....PrimitiveBluesandPrimitiveJazz Page60
7/....ClassicBlues Page81
8/....TheCity Page95
9/....EntertheMiddleClass Page122
10/....SwingFromVerbtoNoun Page142
11/....TheBluesContinuum Page166
12/....TheModernScene Page175
NA
TitlePageandCredits
BluesPeople/..../byLeRoiJones/..../
NegroMusicinWhiteAmerica/..../MorrowQuillPaperbacks/NewYork
NA
Copyright1963byLeRoiJones
Gratefulacknowledgmentismadeto:
MelroseMusicCorp.,thecopyrightowner,forpermissiontoquotefrom"Pinetop'sBoogieWoogie,"byClarence"Pinetop"Smith.
ProgressiveMusicPublishingCo.,Inc.,forpermissiontoquotefrom"MarriedWomanBlues,"wordsandmusicbyJoeTurnerandWhiteKeysJackson,copyright1948bySt.Louis
MusicCorporationandforpermissiontoquotefrom"YaketyYak,"wordsandmusicbyJerryLeiberandMikeStoller,copyright1958byTigerMusic,Inc.
LeedsMusicCorporation,NewYork,N.Y.,forpermissiontoquotefrom"HowLong,HowLongBlues,"byLeRoyCarr,copyrightMCMXXIXbyLeedsMusicCorporation,copyright
renewedMCMLVI.Allrightsreserved.Forpermissiontoquotefrom"I'mSoberNow,"byClarence"Pinetop"Smith,copyrightMCMXLIbyLeedsMusicCorporation.Allrightsreserved.
Forpermissiontoquotefrom"CrazyBlues,"byPerryBradford,copyrightMCMXXbyPickwickMusicCorporation,copyrightrenewedMCMXLVIIandassignedtoPickwickMusic
Corporation.Allrightsreserved.
Allrightsreserved.Nopartofthisbookmaybereproducedorutilizedinanyformorbyanymeans,electronicormechanical,includingphotocopying,recordingorbyanyinformation
storageandretrievalsystem,withoutpermissioninwritingfromthePublisher.InquiriesshouldbeaddressedtoWilliamMorrowandCompany,Inc.,105MadisonAve.,NewYork,N.Y.
10016.
LibraryofCongressCatalogCardNumber6317688
ISBN068818474X
PrintedintheUnitedStatesofAmerica.
345678910
NA
ToMyParents...thefirstNegroesIevermet
NA
Contents
Introduction ix
1/TheNegroasNonAmerican:SomeBackgrounds 1
2/TheNegroasProperty 11
3/AfricanSlaves/AmericanSlaves:TheirMusic 17
4/AfroChristianMusicandReligion 32
5/SlaveandPostSlave 50
6/PrimitiveBluesandPrimitiveJazz 60
7/ClassicBlues 81
8/TheCity 95
9/EntertheMiddleClass 122
10/SwingFromVerbtoNoun 142
11/TheBluesContinuum 166
12/TheModernScene 175
Index 237
ix
Introduction
Iamtryinginthisbook,bymeansofanalogyandsomeattentiontohistoricalexample,toestablishcertaingeneralconclusionsaboutaparticularsegmentofAmericansociety.
Thisbookshouldbetakenasastrictlytheoreticalendeavor.Theoretical,inthatnoneofthequestionsitposescanbesaidtohavebeenanswereddefinitivelyorforalltime,etc.Infact,
thebookproposesmorequestionsthanitwillanswer.Theonlyquestionsitwillproperlymovetoanswerhave,Ithink,beenansweredalreadywithinthepatternsofAmericanlife.We
needonlygivethesepatternsseriousscrutinyanddrawcertainpermissibleconclusions.
TheNegroasslaveisonething.TheNegroasAmericanisquiteanother.Butthepaththeslavetookto"citizenship"iswhatIwanttolookat.AndImakemyanalogythroughtheslave
citizen'smusicthroughthemusicthatismostcloselyassociatedwithhim:bluesandalater,butparalleldevelopment,jazz.AnditseemstomethatiftheNegrorepresents,oris

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citizen'smusicthroughthemusicthatismostcloselyassociatedwithhim:bluesandalater,butparalleldevelopment,jazz.AnditseemstomethatiftheNegrorepresents,oris
symbolicof,somethinginandaboutthenatureofAmericanculture,thiscertainlyshouldberevealedbyhischaracteristicmusic.
Inotherwords,IamsayingthatifthemusicoftheNegro
x
inAmerica,inallitspermutations,issubjectedtoasocioanthropologicalaswellasmusicalscrutiny,somethingabouttheessentialnatureoftheNegro'sexistenceinthiscountry
oughttoberevealed,aswellassomethingabouttheessentialnatureofthiscountry,i.e.,societyasawhole.
Blues,had,andstillhas,acertainweightinthepsychesofitsinventors.WhatIamproposingisthatthealterationorrepositioningofthisweightinthosesamepsychesindicates
changesintheNegrothataremanifestedexternally.Iamproposingthattheweightofthebluesfortheslave,thecompletelydisenfranchisedindividual,differsradicallyfromtheweight
ofthatsamemusicinthepsychesofmostcontemporaryAmericanNegroes.Imean,weknowcertaindefinitethingsaboutthelivesoftheNegroslaves.Wealso,withevenmore
certainty,knowthingsaboutthelivesofthecontemporaryAmericanNegroes.TheonepeculiarreferenttothedrasticchangeintheNegrofromslaveryto"citizenship"ishismusic.
TherearedefinitestagesintheNegro'stransmutationfromAfricantoAmerican:or,atleast,therearecertainveryapparentchangesintheNegro'sreactionstoAmericafromthetimeof
hisfirstimportationasslaveuntilthepresentthatcan,Ithink,beseenandagain,Iinsistthatthesechangesaremostgraphicinhismusic.Ihavetriedtoscrutinizeeachoneofthese
stagesascloselyasIcould,withamusicalaswellasasociologicalandanthropologicalemphasis.
Ifwetake1619,twelveyearsafterthesettlingofJamestownin1607,asthedateofthefirstimportationofNegroesintothiscountrytostay(nottobemerelybroughthereforatimeto
dooddjobs,etc.,andthenbebumpedoff,aswasveryoftenthecase),wehaveagoodpointinhistorytomovefrom.First,weknowthatWestAfricans,whoarethepeoplesmost
modernscholarshiphascitedascontributingalmost85percentoftheslavesfinallybroughttotheUnited
xi
States,didnotsingblues.Undoubtedly,noneoftheAfricanprisonersbrokeoutintoSt.JamesInfirmarytheminutethefirstofthemwasherdedofftheship.Wealsoknowthatthefirst
Africanslaves,whentheyworkedinthosefields,iftheysangorshoutedatall,sangorshoutedinsomepureAfricandialect(eitherfromtheparentBantuorSudanic,withmaybeeven
theHamiticasasubbase,whichwouldincludeCoptic,Berber,orCushitic).Buttherearenorecordsof12bar,AABsongsinthoselanguagesatleastnonethatwouldshowadirect
interestinsocialandagriculturalproblemsintheSouthernU.S.(although,itshouldbenotedhere,andIwillgointoitfurtherinthechapteronAfricanisms,themostsalient
characteristicofAfrican,oratleastWestAfrican,musicisatypeofsonginwhichthereisaleaderandachorustheleadinglinesofthesongsungbyasinglevoice,theleader's,
alternatingwitharefrainsungbythe"chorus."ItiseasyenoughtoseethedefiniteanalogybetweenakindofsonginwhichthereisasimpleABresponseandakindofsongthat
couldbedevelopedoutofittobesungbyoneperson,wherethefirstlineofthesongisrepeatedtwice(leader),followedbyathirdline(chorus),sometimesrhymedbutusually
dissimilar,andalwaysadirectcommentonthefirsttwolines.AndthenweknowofthepatoistypelanguagesandtheotherhalfAfricanlanguagesthatsprangupthroughouttheSouth,
whichmust,afteratime,havebeenwhatthosevariouslaments,chants,stories,etc.,weretoldandsungin.
ButwhatIammostanxiousabouthereistheAmericanNegro.Whendidheemerge?OutofwhatstrangeincunabuladidthepeculiarheritageandattitudesoftheAmericanNegro
arise?IsupposeitistechnicallycorrecttocallanyAfricanwhowasbroughthereandhadnochanceofeverleaving,fromthatveryminutewhenhisresidenceandhislifehadbeen
changedirrevocably,anAmericanNegro.Butitisimperativethatwerealizethatthefirstslavesdidnotbelievetheywouldbehereforever.Oreveniftheydid,
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theythoughtofthemselvesasmerelycaptives.This,America,wasaforeignland.Thesepeoplewereforeigners,theyspokeinalanguagewhichwasnotcolonialAmericanandthe
onlyWesterncustomsormoresofwhichtheyhadanyideaatallwerethateverymorningatacertaintimecertainworkhadtobedoneandthattheywouldprobablybeaskedtodoit.
AndthepointIwanttomakemostevidenthereisthatIcitethebeginningofbluesasonebeginningofAmericanNegroes.Or,letmesay,thereactionandsubsequentrelationofthe
Negro'sexperienceinthiscountryinhisEnglishisonebeginningoftheNegro'sconsciousappearanceontheAmericanscene.IfyouaretakentoMongoliaasaslaveandworkthere
seventyfiveyearsandlearntwentywordsofMongolianandliveinasmallhousefromwhichyouleaveonlytowork,Idon'tthinkwecancallyouaMongolian.Itisonlywhenyou
begintoaccepttheideathatyouarepartofthatcountrythatyoucanbesaidtobeapermanentresident.Imean,thatuntilthetimewhenyouhavesufficientideasaboutthisnew
countrytobeginmakingsomelastingmoralgeneralizationsaboutitrelatingyourexperience,insomelastingform,inthelanguageofthatcountry,withwhateversubtletiesand
obliquenessyoubringtoityouaremerelyatransient.TherewerenoformalstoriesabouttheNegro'sexistenceinAmericapasseddowninanypureAfricantongue.Thestories,
myths,moralexamples,etc.,giveninAfricanwereaboutAfrica.WhenAmericabecameimportantenoughtotheAfricantobepassedon,inthoseformalrenditions,totheyoung,those
renditionswereinsomekindofAfroAmericanlanguage.Andfinally,whenamanlookedupinsomeanonymousfieldandshouted,"Oh,Ahmtiredadismess,/Oh,yes,Ahmsotireda
dismess,"youcanbesurehewasanAmerican.
[1]
BluesPeople
1/....TheNegroasNonAmerican:SomeBackgrounds
Whenblackpeoplegottothiscountry,theywereAfricans,aforeignpeople.Theircustoms,attitudes,desires,wereshapedtoadifferentplace,aradicallydifferentlife.Whataweird
andunbelievablycrueldestinyforthosepeoplewhowerefirstbroughthere.Notjustthemerefactofbeingsoldintoslaverythatinitselfwascommonpracticeamongthetribesof
WestAfrica,andtheeconomicsysteminwhichthesenewslavesweretoformsointegralapartwasnotsostrangeeither.Infact,MelvilleHerskovitspointsout,"Slavery[had]long
existedintheentireregion[ofWestAfrica],andinatleastoneofitskingdoms,Dahomey,akindofplantationsystemwasfoundunderwhichanabsenteeownership,withtheruleras
principal,demandedtheutmostreturnfromtheestates,andthuscreatedconditionsoflaborresemblingtheregimetheslavesweretoencounterintheNewWorld."1Buttobebrought
toacountry,aculture,asociety,thatwas,andis,intermsofpurelyphilosophicalcorrelatives,thecompleteantithesisofone'sownversionofman'slifeonearththatisthecruelest
aspectofthisparticularenslavement.
AnAfricanwhowasenslavedbyAfricans,orforthatmatter,
2
aWesternwhitemanwhowas,oris,enslavedbyanotherWesternwhitemancanstillfunctionasakindofhumanbeing.Aneconomiccipherperhaps,evensubjecttounmentionable
crueltiesbutthatman,evenasthelowestandmostdespisedmemberofthecommunity,remainsanessentialpartandmemberofwhatevercommunityheisenslavedintheidea
being,evenifanAfricanfromtheGuineaCoastissoldorbeatenintoslaverybyanAfricanfromtheGoldCoast,therecontinuestoexist,attheveryleast,someunderstandingthat
whatthevictorhasreducedintowhatevercruelbondageisamananotherhumanbeing.Thereremainssomeconditionofcommunicationonstrictlyhumantermsbetween
BabylonianandIsraeliteorAssyrianandChaldeanthatallowsfinallyforacceptanceoftheslavecasteasmerelyaneconomicallyoppressedgroup.TotheRomans,slaveswere
merelyvulgarandconqueredpeopleswhohadnottherightsofRomancitizenship.TheGreeksthoughtoftheirslavesasunfortunatepeoplewhohadfailedtocultivatetheirminds
andwills,andwerethusreducedtothatlowlybutnecessarystate.Buttheseslaveswerestillhumanbeings.However,theAfricanwhowasunfortunateenoughtofindhimselfonsome
fastclippershiptotheNewWorldwasnotevenaccordedmembershipinthehumanrace.
FromtheactressFrancesAnneKemble's,JournalofaResidenceonaGeorgiaPlantation:"TheonlyexceptionthatIhavemetwithyetamongourboatvoicestothehightenorwhich
theyseemalltopossessisinthepersonofanindividualnamedIsaac,abassoprofundoofthedeepestdye,whoneverthelessneverattemptstoproducewithhisdifferentregisterany
differenteffectsinthechorusbyventuringasecond,butsingsliketherestinunison,perfectunison,ofbothtimeandtune.Bytheby,thisindividualdoesspeak,andthereforeI
presumeheisnotanape,orangoutang,chimpanzee,orgorillabutIcouldnot,Iconfess,haveconceiveditpossiblethatthepresenceofarticulatesounds,andtheabsenseofan
articulatetail,shouldmake,externally
3
atleast,socompletelytheonlyappreciabledifferencebetweenamanandamonkey,astheyappeartodointhisindividualblackbrother.Suchstupendouslongthinhands,andlong
flatfeet,Ididneverseeoffalargequadrupedoftheapespecies.But,asIsaidbefore,Isaacspeaks,andIammuchcomfortedthereby."2
Therewasnocommunicationbetweenmasterandslaveonanystrictlyhumanlevel,butonlytherelationonemighthavetoapieceofpropertyifyoutwisttheknobonyourradioyou
expectittoplay.ItwasthisessentialconditionofnonhumanitythatcharacterizedtheAfricanslave'slotinthiscountryofhiscaptivity,acountrywhichwaslaterandironicallytobecome
hislandalso.
PerhapsmoreweightwillbeaddedtotheideaoftheforeignnessoftheAfricanintheNewWorldifweconsiderthatnotonlyweretheAfricanscompletelydifferentinappearancefrom
theircaptors,buttherewasnotevenasemblanceofsimilaritybetweenthevariousdialectsthoseAfricansspokeandcolonialEnglish.InGreece,therewereslaveswhotaughtGreek
childrentheirgrammarandconductedclassesinbotany,aswellasperformingmoremenialtasks.TheRomansemployedslavesinthetheater,ingladiatorialcombats,andutilized
thehighlyeducatedforeignslavesasinstructors.Epictetus,Terence,andPhaedruswereslaves.ButtheblackslaveinAmericahadnochanceforsuchintelligentdiversionbasedon
hisskillsorprominenceinhisowncountry.TheAfrican'ssolepurposeinAmericawas,forthemostpart,toprovidethecheapestagriculturallaborpossibletoprocure.Anydeviation
fromthispurposewaseitheraccidentalorextremelyrare.(Evensuchanormalphenomenonasthe"housenigra"wasnonexistentonthesmallerfarmsonthelargerplantationthere
wereonlyoneortwo.Sometimesthehouseslavewasmerelytheoldestormostinfirmmemberoftheowner'sretinueevenafterthe
4
adventoftheAfricanslave,forsometimehouseservantsonthelargerplantationswereindenturedwhitepersons.)
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ItiscertainthatitwasthisforeignnessandthereluctanceofthewhiteAmericantothinkoftheAfricanasanothermanthathelpedearlytofixtheAfrican's,andlatertheAfroAmerican's,
placeinAmericansocietyjustasthecoloroftheAfrican'sskinsethimapartfromtherestofthesocietyblatantlyandpermanently.Afreedserf,ifhewaslucky,couldhopeatleastto
matriculateintothelowerrungsofthegeneralsocietyandperhapsfindsomegenuinenicheinthemainstreamofthatsocietyinwhichtofunctionasacitizen,aman.ButtheAfrican,
andlatereventhefreedblack,wasalwaysapart.AfreedNegro,andtherewerequiteafewofthemevenbeforethesocalledEmancipation,wouldalwaysremainanexslave.
Otherwise,whatwashedoinginthiscountry?
ImentionedbeforethatcolonialAmericawasthecompleteantithesisoftheAfrican'sversionofhumanexistence.Thisideaseemstomeoneofthemostimportantaspectsofthe
enslavementoftheAfrican:theradicallydifferent,evenopposing,Weltanschauung'swhichthecolonialAmericanandtheAfricanbroughttoeachother.Eachman,inwhatever"type"
ofcultureheinhabits,musthaveawayoflookingattheworldwhateverthatmeanstohimwhichispeculiartohisparticularculture.Itisextremelyimportanttounderstandthat
thesediametricallyopposedinterpretationsoflifewouldbeinconflictnormallyinthemostminutehumancontacts.Butwhenamanwhoseestheworldonewaybecomestheslaveof
amanwhointerpretstheworldinanexactlyoppositeway,theresultis,tomymind,theworstpossiblekindofslavery.
ColonialAmericawasthecountryofthenewpostRenaissanceman,thelargestsinglerepositoryforhumanismintheNewWorld.Itwitnessedthecompleteemergenceofsecular
man.TheChurchandreligionhadbecomeonlyapartofa
5
man'slife.Theywerenolonger,asinthepreRenaissanceWesternWorld,theonereasonforman'sexistence.TheideathatcamethroughintheRenaissanceandtookholdofthe
Westwasthatlifewasnomereanteroomforsomethinggreaterordivine.Lifeitselfwasofvalueandcouldbemadeperfect.Andifmysticismandthereligiousattitudeweregreatly
weakenedinRenaissanceEurope,theywerealmostcompletelynegatedintheNewWorld.IftheEnglandofHenryVIIIwasthebeginningofthesuperiorityofthe"economicmind,"as
BrooksAdamssays,theAmericancolonies,andespeciallytheEnglishspeakingcolonies,certainlydemonstratedtheascendancyofthisnewspecies.Theexaltationofsecularman
andman'slifeonearth,whichwehavecalledhumanism,wasresponsibleforthecoloniesandwasthemostsalientcharacteristicoftheWeltanschauungofthecolonists.Onlythe
CatholiccountriesconqueredinthenameoftheChristianChurchwhichwaslargelyacredoofconvenience.TheNorthAmericansettlementswerestrictlyeconomicenterprises,
withthepossibleexceptionofthePilgrims'.
WarsbeforetheRenaissancewereusually"holy"wars,whereonefaith,sect,religion,wouldtrytoextenditsbeliefsinalldirectionsthroughouttheknownworld.TheCrusades,even
admittingthehypocrisyandopportunismoftheChristians,andtheprostitutionofChristianityinsuchdebaclesasthesackofConstantinople,etc.,werestill,inessence,"holy"wars.
TheonlyotherkindofwarbeforetheRenaissancewaswagedfortheacquisitionofmorearableland,oranylandthatseemedmorefertiletotheconquerors,viz.,theHuns,or
GenghisKhan.ButtheadventofRenaissancethoughtandthesubsequentaccumulationofmonetarywealthincitiesmadewarastrictlycommercialenterprise.Withtheriseto
prominenceofthestorekeepingclass,warbecameonewaytosimplifybookkeeping,oratleasttokeepcertainmarketsexclusive.Thestrawthatbrokethecamel'sbackandsentthe
Americancolonistsscramblingheadlong
6
forindependencefromGreatBritainwasanexcessivetaxondrygoods.Insteadof"TheWillof[our]GodMustBeDone,"therallyingcryforawarcouldbe"NoTaxationWithout
Representation."
IamstressingsoemphaticallythesocioeconomicpsychologicaldispositionofthecolonialAmericanonlytosetinfullcontrasttheopposingWeltanschauungoftheAfrican.Ibelieve
thatthisdrasticoppositionofworldviewcontributedimportantlynotonlytotheattitudeoftheAmericanstotheAfricanslavesbutjustascertainlytothefinalplaceoftheAfricans'
descendantsinthevarioussocietiesoftheNewWorld.
Socallednonliteratepeoples(calledbyWesternman"primitive"),whoselanguages,andthereforewhoseculturalandtraditionalhistories,arenotwritten,aretheantithesisofWestern
manandhishighlyindustrializedcivilization.Buttheideaofthe"primordialman,"or"undevelopedpeoples,"becomesabsurdifwedismissforachangetheassumptionthatonlythe
ideasandattitudeswhichtheWestfindsusefuloranalogoustoconceptsforwardedwithinitsownsystemareofanyrealvalueorprofundity.Forinstance,ahighlyorganizedsociety
predicatedontheexistenceofmystical,omniscientsuperiorbeingswhoareincompletecontrolofthelivesandfatesofallhumansmightseematrifle"primitive"ifviewedthroughthe
eyesofasocietywhoseexistenceispredicatedonexactlyoppositehypotheses.Thatis,thegoalsor"canonsofsatisfaction,"asT.E.Hulmecalledthem,ofaculturewithcomplex
conceptsofpredeterminationandthesubservienceofthehumanbeingtoacomplexofgodscannoteasilybeunderstoodbyaculturewhichforwardsthe"ultimatehappinessof
mankind"asthesolepurposeoftheuniverse.Andthecrueltyofsuchignorancewhencontainedwithinthealreadyterrifyingcircumstanceofslaveryshouldbereadilyapparent.The
mostprofoundconceptsandbeliefsofoneculturebecomemerely
7
absurdfanciesfortheother.Thecultofmanmustviewthecultofthedivineasabsurd.WheretheRenaissanceclich"Manisthemeasure"isthemostsalientattitude,theideathat
"manisonlyapawnofthegods"isuglyiflookedatdistantly,"childish"ifonemustdealwithitintimately.
IamreemphasizingwhatmenlikeHulmeandHerskovitshavepointedoutindiversewaysalongtimeagothatreferencedeterminesvalue.Myonlyadditionisthatinasituation
likeslavery,andespeciallytheenslavementoftheWestAfricansbytheAmericancolonists,thisconceptisespeciallyuseful.Americansbroughtslavestotheircountrywhowerenot
onlyphysicalandenvironmentalaliensbutproductsofacompletelyalienphilosophicalsystem.
OneofthemainpointsoftheHerskovitsbookisthatmostoftheattitudes,customs,andculturalcharacteristicsoftheAmericanNegrocanbetraceddirectly,orindirectly,backtoAfrica.
AndwhileIaminclinedtoacceptthisview,withwhateverreservationsmyindividualconceptspropose,IwouldalsohavetoinsistthattheAfrican,becauseoftheviolentdifferences
betweenwhatwasnativeandwhathewasforcedtoinslavery,developedsomeofthemostcomplexandcomplicatedideasabouttheworldimaginable.AfroAmericans(bywhomI
meanthefirstfewgenerationsofAmericanbornblackpeople,whostillretainedagreatmanypureAfricanisms),andlater,AmericanNegroes,inheritedallthesecomplexitieswith,of
course,whateverindividualnuancesweredictatedbytheirparticularlives.ButtheuglyfactthattheAfricanswereforcedintoanalienworldwherenoneofthereferencesorcultural
shapesofanyfamiliarhumanattitudeswereavailableisthedeterminantofthekindofexistencetheyhadtoekeouthere:notonlyslaveryitselfbuttheparticularcircumstancesin
whichitexisted.TheAfricancultures,theretentionofsomepartsoftheseculturesinAmerica,andtheweightofthestepcultureproducedtheAmericanNegro.Anewrace.Iwantto
usemusicasmy
8
persistentreferencejustbecausethedevelopmentandtransmutationofAfricanmusictoAmericanNegromusic(anewmusic)representstomethiswholeprocessinmicrocosm.
Herskovitsalsopointsoutthatmostofthe"myths"abouttheNegropastwereformedbythenewmasters'refusaltounderstandthattheAfricanswerenotgovernedbythesamemores
andculturereferencesasWesternman,thattheyhadcomefromanalienlandandculture.ButoneofthemostpersistenttraitsoftheWesternwhitemanhasalwaysbeenhisfanatical
andalmostinstinctiveassumptionthathissystemsandideasabouttheworldarethemostdesirable,andfurther,thatpeoplewhodonotaspiretothem,oratleastthinkthem
admirable,aresavagesorenemies.TheideathatWesternthoughtmightbeexoticifviewedfromanotherlandscapeneverpresentsitselftomostWesterners.Asrulersoftheworldor
asownersoftheseblackpeople,they,Americans,werecertainlyinapositiontodeclarethatallthoughtoutsidetheirknownsystemswasatleast"backward."ButaByzantineman
couldnotunderstandtheexistenceofastructureliketheEmpireStateBuildingthatwasnoterectedtopraiseJehovah.WhatmadetheAmericanmostcertainthathewas"superior"to
theAfrican(asidefromthefactthattheAfricanwashisslave)asselfrighteouslycertainasCortezandhisconquistadoreswhentheyhad,inthenameofSpain,theKing,andtheir
SpanishGod,reducedtoabjectslaverythe"heathen"raceofMontezumaandbroughttoahorrifyingendoneofthelongestlived,mostsophisticatedandexaltedtraditionsofhuman
lifeonthisplanetwastheforeignnessofAfricanculture.ThiscametobetheAfrican'schiefliabilityintheNewWorld:inthecontextofslavery,themostundesirableattitudesthe
foreignslaveandhismanygenerationsofAmericanbornoffspringcouldpossess.Infact,twentiethcenturyAmericansocietyfindsmanyofthesesameoffspringdenyingany
connectionwiththisculture,inwhatmayseemtomostAmericansaperfectlynaturalattempttodiveheadlongintoandimmersethemselves
9
completelyinthetepidsafetyofthemainstreamofcontemporaryAmerica.
Butquiteasidefromanytalkofwhatisknownascomplete"assimilation,"whichIthinkisstillanimaginedratherthanarealconcept,whatseemsmostpertinenttotheideasIwantto
advanceareHerskovits'thrustsatthequestionof"how,inthecontactofAfricanswithEuropeansandAmericanIndians,culturalaccommodationandculturalintegrationhadbeen
achieved."3
WhenaYorubatribesmanfromDahomey,whothoughtthat"theuniverseisruledbyfateandthedestinyofeachmanworkedoutaccordingtoapredeterminedscheme,"butthat
"therewerewaysofescapethroughinvokingthegoodwillofthegod,"wasenslavedandbegantobereshapedbyaphilosophythatattributedallglorytothemindofman,whatwas
theresult?Whentheconceptof"deificationofAccidentinauniversewherepredeterminationistherule"isthrownagainsttheconceptofaworldwhereallthingsareexplainableand
theresultof"rationalprocesses,"somethingemergesthatmustcontainbothideas.Notimmediately,butgradually.Itisabsurdtoassume,ashasbeenthetendency,amongagreat
manyWesternanthropologistsandsociologists,thatalltracesofAfricawereerasedfromtheNegro'smindbecausehelearnedEnglish.TheverynatureoftheEnglishtheNegro
spokeandstillspeaksdropsthelieonthatidea.Anidealiketheattributionofan"innateandnaturalfear"(ofeverything)toNegroesmust,asHerskovitsinferred,begiventhesame
environmentasitsorigin.TheAfrican'sbeliefinthesupernaturalwascarriedoverintothelifeoftheAmericanslave.TheretorttotheWesternderisionoftheAfrican's"fear"ofthe
supernaturalissimplythatthewhitemanconductshislifewithoutthoughttothegods.Iftheformerideaseemed"childish"tothemaster,thelatterideaseemedextremelydangerousto
theslave.Soonemanbecomesachild,andtheotherafool.
10
"Youareblack...whichmeansyoulivedtooclosetothesun.Blackisevil""Youarewhite...whichmeansyoulivedtoofarfromthesun.Youhavenocolor...nosoul."Theseare
equallylogicalarguments.Thetwististhatifyouareblackandbelieveinthesupernatural,andareissuedfromanecologicaldeterminantthatdoesnotpermitofsuchapsychological
extremeasAmericanPuritanism(which,saidWilliamCarlosWilliamsisa"thing,strange,inhuman,powerful,likearelicofsomediedouttribewhosepracticeswererevolting"),the
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extremeasAmericanPuritanism(which,saidWilliamCarlosWilliamsisa"thing,strange,inhuman,powerful,likearelicofsomediedouttribewhosepracticeswererevolting"),the
circumstanceoffindingyourselfinacultureofwhitehumanistpseudoPuritanicalstorekeepersmustberevolting.Andifyouaretheslaveofsuchaculture,yoursorrowmustbe
indeterminable.
[11]
2/....TheNegroasProperty
Itisextremelyimportantina"study"ofanyaspectofthehistoryoftheAmericanNegrotoemphasizehowstrangeandunnaturaltheinitialcontactswithWesternslaverywereforthe
African,inordertoshowhowtheblackmanwassetapartthroughouttheNewWorldfromthestart.Thisshouldenableonetobegintoappreciatetheamazing,albeitagonizing,
transformationthatproducedthecontemporaryblackAmericanfromsuchapeopleaswerefirstboundandbroughttothiscountry.
Sociologistsarealwaysmakingfearsomeanalogiesbetweenminoritiesregardingtheiracculturationinthiscountry(usuallywhenconfrontedby,say,statisticsonhowmanyofthe
totalcrimescommittedinanygivenyearareattributabletoNegroes).Theyclaimthateachoneofthe"newcomers"(aeuphemismfor"furriners")showsparalleldevelopmentinthe
racetowardultimateAmericanization.Theysay,flauntingtheirstatistics,"Seehow,aftersuchandsuchtime,thesonsanddaughtersoftheoncedespisedIrishimmigrantsmovedinto
genteelmiddleclasssocialrespectability."So,withtheItalians,theypointoutthedecreaseincrimes"directlyattributabletopersonsofItalianextraction"afterenoughtimehadpassed
toenablethisminorityalsoto
12
enterintothemainstreamofAmericanlife.Andcertainly,therearesomeanalogiestobemadebetweenminoritygroupswhohave,sincetheirinitialremovaltothiscountryfromtheir
homelands,edgedoutfromtheirfirstghettoexistencesintothepromiseandrespectabilityofthisbraveNewWorld.ButnosuchstrictanalogywillserveforAfroAmericans.Thereare
toomanyaspectsofthese"newcomers"existenceinAmericathatwillnotsitstillunderthosekindsofstatistics.
Firstofall,weknowthatofallthepeopleswhoformtheheterogeneousyetalmostcompletelyhomogenousmassthatmakesuptheUnitedStatespopulation,Negroesaretheonly
descendantsofpeoplewhowerenothappytocomehere.TheAfricanwasbroughttothiscountryinbondageandremainedinbondagemorethantwohundredandfiftyyears.But
mostoftheblackpeoplewhowerefreedfromformalslaveryin1865werenotAfricans.TheywereAmericans.AndwhetherornotwechoosetocharacterizethepostEmancipation
existenceofNegroesintheUnitedStatesas"freedom,"wemuststillappreciatetheideathatagroupofpeoplewhobecamefamiliarwiththemores,attitudes,language,andother
culturereferencesofthiscountrywhilebeingenslavedbyitcannotbeseenasanalogoustopeopleswhomovetowardcompleteassimilationofthesesamemoresbychoice,even
thoughthesepeoplesarealsodespisedbythe"natives"ofthecountryas"furriners."TheAfricanasslavewasoneidea,i.e.,thesepeoplefromanothercountrywerebroughttothis
countryagainsttheirwills.ButtheAmericanbornslavesofferalesseasilydefinedsituation.
ThefirstbornoftheseAfricansinAmericaknewaboutAfricaonlythroughthestories,tales,riddles,andsongsoftheirolderrelatives.Butusuallythechildrenborninthiscountrywere
separatedfromtheirAfricanparents.Nomothercouldbesureshewouldseeherchildafteritwasweaned.TheAmericanbornAfricanchildrenweremuchprized,andthemasters
hadtoexerciseextremecarethat
13
thewomendidn'tdoawaywiththesechildrentosavethemfromtheuglinessofslavery.(ManyAfricanmotherssmotheredtheirfirstbornAmericanchildren,andtheownersthought
thiswastheresultofcarelessness,orcallousness,characteristicof"savages.")Thesechildrenalsohadtolearnaboutslavery,buttherewerenocenturiesofculturetounlearn,orold
longheldhabitstosuppress.Theonlywayoflifethesechildrenknewwastheaccursedthingtheyhadbeenborninto.
IfwethinkabouttheimportationofAfricansintotheNewWorldasawhole,ratherthanstrictlyintotheUnitedStates,themostapparentdifferencethatcanbeseenisthatAfricans
throughouttherestoftheAmericasweremuchslowertobecomeWesternizedand"acculturated."AllovertheNewWorldtherearestillexamplesofpureAfricantraditionsthathave
survivedthreehundredyearsofslaveryandfourhundredyearsofremovalfromtheirsource."Africanisms"arestillpartofthelivesofNegroesthroughouttheNewWorld,invarying
degrees,inplaceslikeHaiti,Brazil,Cuba,Guiana.Ofcourse,attitudesandcustomsofthenoncontinentalNegroeswerelostorassumedotherlessapparentforms,butstillthe
amountofpureAfricanismsthathavebeenretainedisamazing.However,intheUnitedStates,AfricanismsinAmericanNegroesarenotnowreadilydiscernible,althoughthey
certainlydoexist.ItwasintheUnitedStatesonlythattheslaveswere,afterafewgenerations,unabletoretainanyofthemoreobviousofAfricantraditions.Anythatwereretained
wereusuallysubmerged,howeverpowerfultheirinfluence,inlessrecognizablemanifestations.SoafteronlyafewgenerationsintheUnitedStatesanalmostcompletelydifferent
individualcouldbebornandberightlycalledanAmericanNegro.
Herskovitssaysaboutthisphenomenon:"ThecontactbetweenNegroesandwhitesincontinentalUnitedStatesascomparedtotheWestIndiesandSouthAmericagoesfartoexplain
therelativelygreaterincidenceofAfricanismsin
14
theCaribbean.Intheearliestdays,thenumberofslavesinproportiontotheirmasterswasextremelysmall,andthoughastimewentonthousandsandtensofthousandsofslaves
werebroughttosatisfythedemandsofthesouthernplantations,nonethelesstheNegroeslivedinconstantassociationwithwhitestoadegreenotfoundanywhereelseintheNew
World.ThattheSeaIslandsofftheCarolinaandGeorgiacoastofferthemoststrikingretentionofAfricanismstobeencounteredintheUnitedStatesistoberegardedasbuta
reflectionoftheisolationoftheseNegroeswhencomparedtothoseonthemainland."4
Someofthis"constantassociation"betweenthewhitemastersandtheblackslavesthattookplaceinthiscountrycanbeexplainedbycomparingthecircumstancesoftheslaves'
"employment"inAmericawiththecircumstancesoftheiremploymentintherestoftheNewWorld.ItwasonlyintheUnitedStatesthatslaveswereusedonthesmallerfarms.Sucha
personasthe"poorwhite"wasastrictlyAmericanphenomenon.ToturnagaintoHerskovits:"MatterswerequitedifferentintheCaribbeanislandsandinSouthAmerica.Hereracial
numberswerefarmoredisproportionateestateswhereasinglefamilyruleddozens,ifnothundreds,ofslaveswerecommonplaceandthepoorwhitewasfoundsoseldomthathe
receivesonlycursorymention...Thewhitemanwithbutafewslaveswaslikewiseseldomencountered."5
ButintheUnitedStates,theUtopiaofthesmallbusinessman,thesmallfarmerwastherule,ratherthantheexception,andthesefarmerscouldusuallyaffordtoownonlyaverysmall
numberofslaves.
Onthesesmallfarmsintimatecontactbetweenmasterandslavewasunavoidable(Iwilljustmentionheretheconstantextracurricularsexualactivitiesthatwereforcedontheslave
womenbytheirwhitemasters).In1863,Frederick
15
Olmsteadreported:"Themorecommonsortofhabitationsofthewhitepeopleareeitheroflogsorlooselyboardedframe,abrickchimneyrunningupoutside,atoneendandblack
andwhitechildren,arecommonlylyingverypromiscuouslytogether,onthegroundaboutthedoors.Iamstruckwiththeclosecohabitationandassociationofblackandwhitenegro
womenarecarryingblackandwhitebabiestogetherintheirarmsblackandwhitechildrenareplayingtogether[notgoingtoschooltogether]blackandwhitefacesconstantlythrust
togetheroutofdoorstoseethetraingoby."6Oneresultofthisintimacybetweenthepoorermasterandhisslaveswas,ofcourse,theinventionofstillanotherkindofAfroAmerican,
themulatto.ButcertainlythemostsignificantresultwastherapidacculturationoftheAfricaninthiscountry.Withnonativeortribalreferences,exceptperhapsthestoriesofhiselders
andtheperformanceofnonreligiousdancesandsongs,theAmericanbornslavehadonlytheallencompassingmoresofhiswhitemaster.Africahadbecomeaforeignland,and
noneoftheAmericanbornslavescouldeverhopetoseeit.
AgraphcouldbesetuptoshowjustexactlywhataspectsofAfricanculturesufferedmostandweremostrapidlysuppressedbythisconstantcontactwithEuroAmericanculture.Itis
certainlyimmediatelyapparentthatallformsofpoliticalandeconomicthought,whichweretwoofthemostprofoundsophisticationsofAfricanculture,weresuppressedimmediately.
Theextremelyintricatepolitical,social,andeconomicsystemsoftheWestAfricanswere,ofcourse,doneawaywithcompletelyintheirnormalmanifestations.Themuchpraised"legal
genius"thatproducedoneofthestrictestandmostsophisticatedlegalsystemsknowncouldnotfunction,exceptveryinformally,inthecottonfieldsofAmerica.Thetechnologyofthe
Africans,ironworking,woodcarving,weaving,etc.,diedoutquicklyintheUnitedStates.AlmosteverymaterialaspectofAfricanculturetook
16
anewlessobviousformorwaswipedoutaltogether.(ThefamouswoodsculptureoftheYorubacouldnotpossiblyhavefallenintoanarealessresponsivetoitsbeautiesthan
colonialAmerica.Theartifactwas,likeanyothermaterialmanifestationofpureAfricanculture,doomed.Itisstrangetorealizethatevenintherealmofsocalledhighculture,Western
highbrowshaveonlyinthiscenturybeguntothinkofAfrican,PreColumbian,andEgyptianart,aswellastheartofotherpreliterateand/or"primitive"cultures,asartratherthan
archaeology.Ofcourse,nowadays,itisamustinthehomeofanyWesternerwhopayshomagetotheartstoincludeinhiscollectionofobjectsd'artatleastafewAfrican,Egyptian,
andPreColumbianpieces.)
Onlyreligion(andmagic)andtheartswerenotcompletelysubmergedbyEuroAmericanconcepts.Music,dance,religion,donothaveartifactsastheirendproducts,sotheywere
saved.ThesenonmaterialaspectsoftheAfrican'sculturewerealmostimpossibletoeradicate.AndthesearethemostapparentlegaciesoftheAfricanpast,eventothecontemporary
blackAmerican.Buttomerelypointoutthatblues,jazz,andtheNegro'sadaptationoftheChristianreligionallrelyheavilyonAfricanculturetakesnogreatamountoforiginalthinking.
Howtheseactivitiesderivefromthatcultureiswhatremainsimportant.
[17]
3/....AfricanSlaves/AmericanSlaves:TheirMusic
Itisacomparativelyshortperiodofhistorythatpassesbetweenthetime,whenRichardFrancisBurtoncouldsayofAfricanmusicthat"itismonotonoustoadegree,yettheydelightin
it,"orwhenH.E.Krehbielcouldask(1914),"Whysavageswhohaveneverdevelopedamusicalorotherartshouldbesupposedtohavemorerefinedaestheticsensibilitiesthanthe
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it,"orwhenH.E.Krehbielcouldask(1914),"Whysavageswhohaveneverdevelopedamusicalorotherartshouldbesupposedtohavemorerefinedaestheticsensibilitiesthanthe
peopleswhohavecultivatedmusicforcenturies,passesmypoorpowersofunderstanding..."7untilthetime(1920)whenagreatmassofwhiteAmericansaredancingaWest
African(Ashanti)ancestordancetheyknowasthe"Charleston."
Jazziscommonlythoughttohavebegunaroundtheturnofthecentury,butthemusicsjazzderivedfromaremucholder.Bluesistheparentofalllegitimatejazz,anditisimpossibleto
sayexactlyhowoldbluesiscertainlynoolderthanthepresenceofNegroesintheUnitedStates.ItisanativeAmericanmusic,theproductoftheblackmaninthiscountry:ortoputit
moreexactlythewayIhavecometothinkaboutit,bluescouldnotexistiftheAfricancaptiveshadnotbecomeAmericancaptives.
18
TheimmediatepredecessorsofbluesweretheAfroAmerican/AmericanNegroworksongs,whichhadtheirmusicaloriginsinWestAfrica.ThereligiousmusicoftheNegroalso
originatesfromthesameAfricanmusic.However,whilethegeneralhistoricaldevelopmentsofNegrosecularandreligiousmusiccanbesaidtoberoughlyparallel,i.e.,theyfollowthe
samegeneraltrendsintheirdevelopment,andinlaterformsaretheresultofthesamekindofacculturalprocesses,aNegroreligiousmusiccontingentonChristianitydevelopedlater
thanthesecularforms.AnAfroAmericanworksongcouldcomeaboutmorequicklyinslaverythananyothertypeofsongbecauseeveniftheindividualwhosangitwasnolonger
workingforhimself,mostofthephysicalimpetusesthatsuggestedthatparticulartypeofsingingwerestillpresent.However,AfricanswerenotChristians,sotheirreligiousmusicand
themusicwithwhichtheycelebratedthevariousculticorritualisticriteshadtoundergoadistinctandcompletetransferofreference.
FortheAfricanintheUnitedStatestherewaslittleopportunityforreligioussyncretism(theidentificationofonesetofreligiousdogmaorritualwithanalogousdogmaorritualina
completelyalienreligion).IntheessentiallyCatholicNewWorldcultures,themultitudesofsaintswereeasilysubstitutedforthemanyloaordeitiesinthevariousWestAfrican
religions.ButinProtestantAmericathiswasnotpossible.
SothemusicwhichformedthelinkbetweenpureAfricanmusicandthemusicwhichdevelopedaftertheAfricanslaveintheUnitedStateshadhadachancetobecomeexposedto
somedegreeofEuroAmericanculturewasthatwhichcontainedthegreatestnumberofAfricanismsandyetwasforeigntoAfrica.Andthiswasthemusicofthesecondgenerationof
slaves,theirworksongs.TheAfricanslavehadsungAfricanchantsandlitaniesinthoseAmericanfields.Hissonsanddaughters,andtheirchildren,begantouseAmericaasa
reference.
19
Aslateasthenineteenthcentury,pureAfricansongscouldbeheardandpureAfricandancesseenintheSouthernUnitedStates.CongoSquare,inNewOrleans,wouldnightlyrock
tothe"masterdrums"ofnewAfricanarrivals.InplaceslikeHaitiorGuiana,thesedrumsstilldoremindtheWestthattheblackmancamefromAfrica,notHowardUniversity.Butinthe
UnitedStatespureAfricansourcesgrewscarceinarelativelyshorttimeafterthegreatslaveimportationsoftheeighteenthcentury.
TheworksongtookonitsownpeculiarqualitiesinAmericaforanumberofreasons.First,althoughsingingtoaccompanyone'slaborwasquitecommoninWestAfrica,itisobvious
thatworkingone'sownfieldinone'sownlandisquitedifferentfromforcedlaborinaforeignland.Andwhilethephysicalinsistencenecessarytosuggestaworksongwasstillpresent,
thereferencesaccompanyingtheworkchangedradically.MostWestAfricanswerefarmersand,Iamcertain,theseagriculturalfarmsongscouldhavebeenusedinthefieldsofthe
NewWorldinthesamemannerastheOld.Butthelyricsofasongthatsaid,"Aftertheplanting,ifthegodsbringrain,/Myfamily,myancestors,berichastheyarebeautiful,"couldnot
applyinthedreadfulcircumstanceofslavery.Secondly,referencestothegodsorreligionsofAfricaweresuppressedbythewhitemastersassoonastheyrealizedwhatthesewere
notonlybecausetheynaturallythoughtofanyAfricanreligiouscustomsas"barbarous"butbecausethewhitessoonlearnedthattooconstantevocationoftheAfricangodscould
meanthatthoseparticularAfricanswereplanningonleavingthatplantationassoonastheycould!TheuseofAfricandrumswassoonpreventedtoo,asthewhitemanlearnedthat
drumscouldbeusedtoinciterevoltaswellastoaccompanydancers.
Sotheworksong,asitbegantotakeshapeinAmerica,firsthadtobestrippedofanypurelyAfricanritualandsomeculturalreferencefoundforitintheNewWorld.Butthis
20
wasdifficulttodowithintheAfricanlanguagesongsthemselves.ThediverselaborsoftheAfrican,whichwerethesourcesofthiskindofsong,hadbeenfunneledquitesuddenlyinto
onelabor,thecultivationofthewhiteman'sfields.Thefishingsongs,theweavingsongs,thehuntingsongs,allhadlosttheirpertinence.Butthesechangeswerenotimmediate.They
becametherealizedcircumstancesofaman'slifeafterhehadbeenexposedsufficientlytotheirsourceandcatalysthisenslavement.
Andthisisthebasicdifferencebetweenthefirstslavesandtheiroffspring.TheAfricanslavecontinuedtochanthisnativechants,singhisnativesongs,atwork,eventhoughthe
singingofthemmightbeforbiddenorcompletelyoutofcontext.Butbeingforbidden,thesongswereafteratimechangedintootherformsthatweren'tforbiddenincontextsthatwere
contemporary.TheAfricanslavemighthaverealizedhewaslosingsomething,thathiscustomsandthememoryofhislandwerebeingeachdaydrainedfromhislife.Stilltherewasa
certainamountofforbearance.Noonecansimplydecreethatamanchangethewayhethinks.ButthefirstblackAmericanshadnonativeculturalreferencesotherthantheslave
culture.Aworksongaboutfishingwhenonehasneverfishedseemsmeaningless,especiallywhenoneworkseachdayinacottonfield.ThecontextoftheAfricans'lifehadchanged,
buttheAmericanbornslavesneverknewwhatthechangehadbeen.
ItisimpossibletofindoutexactlyhowlongtheslaveswereinAmericabeforetheAfricanworksongactuallydidbegintohaveextraAfricanreferences.First,ofcourse,therewere
mereadditionsoftheforeignwordsFrench,SpanishorEnglish,forthemostpart,aftertheBritishcolonistsgainedpowerintheUnitedStates.KrehbiellistsaCreolesong
transcribedbyLafcadioHearn,whichcontainsbothFrench(orpatois)andAfricanwords(theitalicizedwordsareAfrican):
21
Ouend,ouend,macaya!Mopasbarrasse,macaya!Ouend,ouend,macaya!Moboisbondivin,macaya!Ouend,ouend,macaya!Momangebonpoulet,macaya!
Ouend,ouend,macaya!Mopasbarrasse,macaya!Ouend,ouend,macaya!Macaya!
Hearn'stranslationwas:
Goon!goon!eatenormously!Iain'tonebitashamedeatoutrageously!Goon!goon!eatprodigiously!Idrinkgoodwine!eatferociously!Goon!goon!eat
unceasingly!Ieatgoodchickengorgingmyself!Goon!goon!etc.
Itisinterestingtonote,andperhapsmorethancoincidence,thattheportionsofthesongemphasizingexcessareinAfrican,whichmostofthewhitemencouldnotunderstand,andthe
portionsofthesongelaboratingsomekindofgenteel,iffanciful,existenceareinthetongueofthemasters.Buttherewastocomeatimewhentherewasnoblackmanwho
understoodtheAfricaneither,andthoseallusionstoexcess,orwhatevertheblackmanwishedtokeeptohimself,wereeitherinthemaster'stongueormeaningless,albeitrhythmical,
soundstotheslavealso.
AsidefromtheactualtransferorsurvivalofAfricanwordsinthesongsandspeechoftheearlyslaves,therewasalsosomekindofsyntacticalaswellasrhythmicaltransfersince
AfricansandtheirdescendantstendedtospeaktheirnewlanguagesinthesamemannerastheyspoketheirWestAfrican
22
dialects.Whatiscallednowa"Southernaccent"or"Negrospeech"wasoncesimplytheaccentofaforeignertryingtospeakanewandunfamiliarlanguage,althoughitwas
characteristicofthewhitemasterstoattributetheslave's"inability"tospeakperfectEnglishtothesamekindof"childishness"thatwasusedtoexplaintheAfrican'sbeliefinthe
supernatural.Theowners,whentheybotheredtolisten,wereimpressedthateventhesongsoftheirnativeAmericanslaveswere"incomprehensible"or"unintelligible."However,as
HerskovitssaysofearlyAfroAmericanspeech:
"...sincegrammarandidiomarethelastaspectsofanewlanguagetobelearned,theNegroeswhoreachedtheNewWorldacquiredasmuchofthevocabularyoftheirmastersas
theyinitiallyneededorwaslatertaughttothem,pronouncedthesewordsasbesttheywereable,butorganizedthemintoaboriginalspeechpatterns.Thusarosethevariousformsof
NegroEnglish,NegroFrench,NegroSpanishandNegroPortugesespokenintheNewWorld,their"peculiarities"duetothefactthattheycompriseEuropeanwordscastintoan
Africangrammaticalmold.Butthisemphaticallydoesnotimplythatthosedialectsarewithoutgrammar,orthattheyrepresentaninabilitytomastertheforeigntongue,asissooften
claimed."8
Afewofthe"unintelligible"songsarenotasunintelligibleastheirwouldbeinterpreterswouldhaveit.Forinstance,Mr.Krehbiellistsasunintelligibletwo"cornsongs"songssung
whileworkingthecornfields.Onlyafragmentofonesongremains,thewords"Shockalong,John."ItseemstomeincrediblethatKrehbielcouldnotseethatshockisthewordshuck,
meaningtostripthecornofitsoutercovering,whichiswhattheslavesdid.
Fivecan'tketchmeandtencan'tholdmeHo,roundthecorn,Sally!
23
Here'syourigglequarterandhere'syourcountaquilsHo,roundthecorn,Sally!Icanbank,'ginnybank,'ginnybanktheweaverHo,roundthecorn,Sally!
Alloftheaboveseemsobvioustomeexceptthethirdandfifthlines.Butiggleis,ofcourse,eagle,andaneaglequarterwasAmericanmoney.Itwouldalsoseemthatcountinthe
phrase"yourcountaquils"iseitherareferencetothatmoneyorthecountofmerchandisebeingharvestedinthisinstance,thecorn.Aquilcouldbeeitheranappropriationofthe
Spanishaqu,meaninghere,ormorelikelyanappropriationoftheFrenchwordkilo,whichisatermofmeasure.
Anotherless"obscure"songofprobablyanearlierperiod:
Arteryoulub,youlubyouknow,boss.Youcan'tbrokelub.Mancan'tbrokelub.Lubstan'heain'tgwinebrokeManhebtobeverysmartforbrokelub.Lubisating
stan'justliketar,arterhestick,hestick,heain'tgwinemove.Hecan'tmovelessdanyouburnhim.Habtokillalltwoarterhelubfo'youbrokelub.9
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ThoughtheaboveshouldbeconsideredanAmericansong,itstillretainssomuchoftheAfricanthatitmightbedifficultforsomepeopletounderstand.YetIthinkthereferencesquite
American.Butnow,however,byAfrican,IdonotmeanactualsurvivingAfricanwords,butrathertheAfricanaccentandthesyntacticalconstructionofcertainWestAfricandialects.Itis
relativelyeasytoseetheconnectioninthesyntaxofthissongandtheliteraltranslationintoEnglishofAfricanphrases.Forexample,theliteralEnglishrenderingofanAshanti(Twi
dialect)phrasemeaning"tocalmaperson"is"coolheheartgivehim."(Andhere,Ithink,eventhewordcoolshouldbearfurtherconsideration.)
24
Africanspeech,Africancustoms,andAfricanmusicallchangedbytheAmericanexperienceintoanativeAmericanform.ButwhatwasapureAfricanmusic?Weretheresimilarities
betweenAfricanandEuropeanmusicbeforetheimportationoftheslaves?WhatstrictlymusicalchangesoccurredtotransformAfricanmusicintoAmerican?Howdidthiscome
about?
TheroleofAfricanmusicintheformulationofAfroAmericanmusicwasmisunderstoodforagreatmanyyears.Andthemostobviousmisunderstandingwasonethatperhapsonlya
Westernerwouldmake,thatAfricanmusic"...althoughbasedonthesameprinciplesofEuropeanmusic,suffersfromtheAfrican'slackofEuropeantechnicalskillinthefashioningof
hiscrudeinstruments.Thusthestrangenessandoutoftunequalityofagreatmanyoftheplayednotes."Musicologistsoftheeighteenthandnineteenthcenturies,andevensome
fromthetwentieth,wouldspeakofthe"aberration"ofthediatonicscaleinAfricanmusic.OramanlikeKrehbielcouldsay:"ThereisasignificancewhichIcannotfathominthe
circumstancethatthetoneswhichseemrebellious[myitalics]tothenegro'ssenseofintervallicproprietyarethefourthandseventhofthediatonicmajorseriesandthefourth,sixth
andseventhoftheminor."10WhydiditnotoccurtohimthatperhapstheAfricanswereusingnotadiatonicscale,butanAfricanscale,ascalethatwouldseemludicrouswhen
analyzedbythenormalmethodsofWesternmusicology?EvenErnestBornemansays:"ItseemslikelynowthatthecommonsourceofEuropeanandWestAfricanmusicwasasimple
nonhemitonicpentatonesystem.AlthoughindigenousvariantsofthediatonicscalehavebeendevelopedandpreservedinAfrica,modernWestAfricanswhoarenotfamiliarwith
Europeanmusicwilltendtobecomeuncertainwhenaskedtosinginatemperedscale.Thisbecomesparticularlyobviouswhenthethirdandseventh
25
stepsofadiatonicscaleareapproached.Thesingeralmostinvariablytriestoskidaroundthesestepswithslides,slursorvibratoeffectssobroadastoapproachscalarvalue."11
TheseslidingandslurringeffectsinAfroAmericanmusic,thebasic"aberrant"qualityofabluesscale,are,ofcourse,called"blueing"thenotes.Butwhynotof"scalarvalue?"Itismy
ideathatthisisadifferentscale.
SidneyFinkelstein,inJazz:APeople'sMusic:"...thesedeviationsfromthepitchfamiliartoconcertmusicarenot,ofcourse,theresultofaninabilitytosingorplayintune.Theymean
thatthebluesareanondiatonicmusic....Manybooksonjazz...generallydescribethebluesasasequenceofchords,suchasthetonic,subdominantanddominantseventh.Such
adefinition,however,islikeputtingthecartbeforethehorse.Therearedefinitepatternsofchordswhichhavebeenevolvedtosupporttheblues,butthesedonotdefinetheblues,and
thebluescanexistasamelodyperfectlyrecognizableastheblueswithoutthem.Neitherarethebluessimplyauseofthemajorscalewiththethirdandseventhslightlybluedor
flattened.Thefactisthatboththisexplanation,andthechordexplanation,areattemptstoexplainonemusicalsystemintermsofanothertodescribeanondiatonicmusicindiatonic
terms."12
ThemostapparentsurvivalsofAfricanmusicinAfroAmericanmusicareitsrhythms:notonlytheseemingemphasisintheAfricanmusiconrhythmic,ratherthanmelodicorharmonic,
qualities,butalsotheuseofpolyphonic,orcontrapuntal,rhythmiceffects.Becauseofthisseemingneglectofharmonyandmelody,Westernersthoughtthemusic"primitive."Itdidnot
occurtothemthatAfricansmighthavelookedaskanceatamusicasvapidrhythmicallyastheWest's.
26
ThereasonfortheremarkabledevelopmentoftherhythmicqualitiesofAfricanmusiccancertainlybetracedtothefactthatAfricansalsouseddrumsforcommunicationandnot,as
wasoncethought,merelybyusingthedrumsinakindofprimitiveMorsecode,butbythephoneticreproductionofthewordsthemselvestheresultbeingthatAfricansdevelopedan
extremelyfineandextremelycomplexrhythmicsense,aswellasbecomingunusuallyresponsivetotimbralsubtleties.Also,theelaboratelydevelopedharmonicsystemusedinthe
playingofpercussioninstruments,i.e.,theuseofdrumsorotherpercussioninstrumentsofdifferenttimbrestoproduceharmoniccontrasts,wasnotimmediatelyrecognizabletothe
WesternearneitherwastheuseoftwoandthreeseparaterhythmicpatternstounderscorethesamemelodyaconcepteasilyrecognizabletoWesternersusedtolesssubtlemusical
devices.
MelodicdiversityinAfricanmusiccamenotonlyintheactualarrangementsofnotes(intermsofWesterntranscription)butinthesinger'svocalinterpretation.The"tense,slightly
hoarsesoundingvocaltechniques"oftheworksongsandthebluesstemdirectlyfromWestAfricanmusicaltradition.(Thiskindofsingingvoiceisalsocommontoamuchothernon
Westernmusic.)InAfricanlanguagesthemeaningofawordcanbechangedsimplybyalteringthepitchoftheword,orchangingitsstressbasically,thewayonecanchangethe
wordyehfromsimpleresponsetosternchallengesimplybymovingthetongueslightly.Philologistscallthis"significanttone,"the"combinationofpitchandtimbre"usedtoproduce
changesofmeaninginwords.ThiswasbasictothespeechandmusicofWestAfricans,andwasdefinitelypassedontotheNegroesoftheNewWorld.
AnotherimportantaspectofAfricanmusicfoundveryreadilyintheAmericanNegro'smusicistheantiphonalsingingtechnique.Aleadersingsathemeandachorusanswershim.
Theseanswersareusuallycommentsontheleader'sthemeorcommentsontheanswersthemselvesinimprovised
27
verses.Theamountofimprovisationdependsonhowlongthechoruswishestocontinue.Andimprovisation,anothermajorfacetofAfricanmusic,iscertainlyoneofthestrongest
survivalsinAmericanNegromusic.Theverycharacterofthefirstworksongssuggeststhattheywerelargelyimprovised.And,ofcourse,theverystructureofjazzisthemelodic
statementwithanarbitrarynumberofimprovisedanswersorcommentsontheinitialtheme.
JustassomeoftheAfricancustomssurvivedinAmericaintheirtotality,althoughusuallygivenjustathinveneerofEuroAmericancamouflage,sopureAfricansongs,dances,and
instrumentsshoweduponthissideofthewater.However,Iconsiderthislesssignificantbecauseitseemstomemuchmoreimportant,ifwespeakofmusic,thatfeaturessuchas
basicrhythmic,harmonic,andmelodicdevicesweretransplantedalmostintactratherthanisolatedsongs,dances,orinstruments.
TheverynatureofslaveryinAmericadictatedthewayinwhichAfricanculturecouldbeadapted.Thus,aDahomeyrivergodceremonyhadnochanceofsurvivalinthiscountryatall
unlessitwasincorporatedintoananalogousritethatwaspresentinthenewculturewhichiswhathappened.TheChristiansoftheNewWorldcalleditbaptism.JustastheAfrican
songsofrecriminationsurviveasahighlycompetitivegamecalled"thedozens."(AsanyyoungHarlemitecantellyou,ifsomeonesaystoyou,"Yourfather'sawoman,"youmustsay,
asaminimalcomeback,"Yourmotherlikesit,"orasimilarputdown.)Andinmusic:wheretheuseoftheAfricandrumwasstrictlyforbidden,otherpercussivedeviceshadtobefound,
liketheemptyoildrumsthatledtothedevelopmentoftheWestIndiansteelbands.Orthemetalwashbasinturnedupsidedownandfloatedinanotherbasinthatsounds,when
beaten,likeanAfricanhollowlogdrum.TheNegro'swayinthispartoftheWesternworldwasadaptationandreinterpretation.Thebanjo(anAfricanword)isanAfricaninstrument,and
thexylophone,
28
usednowinallWesternconcertorchestras,wasalsobroughtoverbytheAfricans.ButthesurvivalofthesystemofAfricanmusicismuchmoresignificantthantheexistenceofafew
isolatedandfinallysuperfluousfeatures.ThenotablefactisthattheonlysocalledpopularmusicinthiscountryofanyrealvalueisofAfricanderivation.
AnotherimportantaspectofAfricanmusicwastheuseoffolktalesinsonglyrics,riddles,proverbs,etc.,which,evenwhennotaccompaniedbymusic,weretheAfrican'schiefmethod
ofeducation,thewaythewisdomoftheelderswaspasseddowntotheyoung.TheuseofthesefolkstoriesandlegendsinthesongsoftheAmericanNegrowasquitecommon,
althoughitwasnotascommonastheproportionof"Americanized"orAmericanmaterialgrew.Therearehowever,definitesurvivalsnotonlyintheanimaltaleswhichhavebecome
partofthiscountry'stradition(theUncleRemus/Br'erRabbittales,forexample)butinthelyricsofworksongsandevenlaterbluesforms.
AndjustasthelyricsoftheAfricansongswereusuallyasimportantormoreimportantthanthemusic,thelyricsoftheworksongsandthelaterblueswereequallyimportanttothe
Negro'sconceptofmusic.Infactthe"shouts"and"fieldhollers"werelittlemorethanhighlyrhythmicallyrics.EventhepurelyinstrumentalmusicoftheAmericanNegrocontains
constantreferencetovocalmusic.BluesplayingistheclosestimitationofthehumanvoiceofanymusicI'veheardthevocaleffectsthatjazzmusicianshavedelightedinfromBunk
JohnsontoOrnetteColemanareevidenceofthis.(AnditseemsrighttoconcludethattheAfricanandbluesscalesproceedfromthisconceptofvocalmusic,whichproducesnote
valuesthatarealmostimpossibletoreproduceonthefixedWesterntemperedscale,butcanneverthelessbeplayedonWesterninstruments.)
IfwethinkofAfricanmusicasregardsitsintent,wemustseethatitdifferedfromWesternmusicinthatitwasapurelyfunctionalmusic.Bornemanlistssomebasictypesof
29
songscommontoWestAfricancultures:songsusedbyyoungmentoinfluenceyoungwomen(courtship,challenge,scorn)songsusedbyworkerstomaketheirtaskseasiersongs
usedbyoldermentopreparetheadolescentboysformanhood,andsoon."Serious"Westernmusic,exceptforearlyreligiousmusic,hasbeenstrictlyan"art"music.Onewouldnot
thinkofanyparticularuseforHaydn'ssymphonies,exceptperhapsthe"cultivationofthesoul.""Seriousmusic"(atermthatcouldonlyhaveextrareligiousmeaningintheWest)has
neverbeenanintegralpartoftheWesterner'slifenoarthasbeensincetheRenaissance.Ofcourse,beforetheRenaissance,artcouldfinditswayintothelivesofalmostallthe
peoplebecauseallartissuedfromtheChurch,andtheChurchwasattheverycenterofWesternman'slife.Butthediscardingofthereligiousattitudeforthe"enlightened"conceptsof
theRenaissancealsocreatedtheschismbetweenwhatwasartandwhatwaslife.Itwas,andis,inconceivableintheAfricanculturetomakeaseparationbetweenmusic,dancing,
song,theartifact,andaman'slifeorhisworshipofhisgods.Expressionissuedfromlife,andwasbeauty.ButintheWest,the"triumphoftheeconomicmindovertheimaginative,"as
BrooksAdamssaid,madepossiblethisdreadfulsplitbetweenlifeandart.Hence,amusicthatisan"art"musicasdistinguishedfromsomethingsomeonewouldwhistlewhiletillinga
field.
TherearestillrelativelycultivatedWesternerswhobelievethatbeforeGiottonoonecouldreproducethehumanfigurewell,orthattheEgyptianspaintedtheirfiguresinprofile
becausetheycouldnotdoitanyotherway.Theideaofprogress,asithasinfectedallotherareasofWesternthought,isthuscarriedoverintotheartsaswell.AndsoaWestern
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becausetheycouldnotdoitanyotherway.Theideaofprogress,asithasinfectedallotherareasofWesternthought,isthuscarriedoverintotheartsaswell.AndsoaWestern
listenerwillcriticizethetonalandtimbralqualitiesofanAfricanorAmericanNegrosingerwhosesinginghasacompletelyalienendasthe"standardofexcellence."The"hoarse,
shrill"qualityofAfricansingersoroftheirculturalprogeny,thebluessingers,isthusattributedtotheir
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lackofpropervocaltraining,insteadoftoaconsciousdesiredictatedbytheirownculturestoproduceaprescribedandcertainlycalculatedeffect.Abluessingerand,say,a
Wagneriantenorcannotbecomparedtooneanotherinanyway.Theyissuefromculturesthathavealmostnothingincommon,andthemusicstheymakeareequallyalien.The
Westernconceptof"beauty"cannotbereconciledtoAfricanorAfroAmericanmusic(exceptperhapsnowinthetwentiethcentury,AfroAmericanmusichasenoughofaEuro
AmericantraditiontomakeitseempossibletojudgeitbypurelyWesternstandards.Thisisnotquitetrue.)ForaWesternertosaythattheWagneriantenor'svoiceis"better"thanthe
Africansinger'sorthebluessinger'sisanalogoustoanonWesternerdisparagingBeethoven'sNinthSymphonybecauseitwasn'timprovised.
TheWesternconceptofthecultivationofthevoiceisforeigntoAfricanorAfroAmericanmusic.IntheWest,onlytheartifactcanbebeautiful,mereexpressioncannotbethoughttobe.
ItisonlyinthetwentiethcenturythatWesternarthasmovedawayfromthisconceptandtowardthenonWesternmodesofartmaking,buttheprincipleofthebeautifulthingas
opposedtothenaturalthingstillmakesitselffelt.Thetendencyofwhitejazzmusicianstoplay"softer"orwith"cleaner,roundertones"thantheirNegrocounterpartsis,Ithink,an
insistenceonthesameWesternartifact.ThusanaltosaxophonistlikePaulDesmond,whoiswhite,producesasoundonhisinstrumentthatcanalmostbecalledlegitimate,or
classical,andthefinestNegroaltosaxophonist,CharlieParker,producedasoundonthesameinstrumentthatwascalledbysome"raucousanduncultivated."ButParker'ssoundwas
meanttobeboththoseadjectives.Again,referencedeterminesvalue.Parkeralsowouldliterallyimitatethehumanvoicewithhiscries,swoops,squawks,andslurs,whileDesmond
alwaysinsistsheisplayinganinstrument,thatitisanartifactseparatefromhimself.Parkerdidnotadmitthattherewasanyseparation
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betweenhimselfandtheagenthehadchosenashismeansofselfexpression.
Bywayoffurtherillustrationofthis,anotherquotefromMr.Borneman:
"WhilethewholeEuropeantraditionstrivesforregularityofpitch,oftime,oftimbreandofvibratotheAfricantraditionstrivespreciselyforthenegationoftheseelements.In
language,theAfricantraditionaimsatcircumlocutionratherthanatexactdefinition.Thedirectstatementisconsideredcrudeandunimaginativetheveilingofallcontentsinever
changingparaphrasesisconsideredthecriterionofintelligenceandpersonality.Inmusic,thesametendencytowardsobliquityandellipsisisnoticeable:nonoteisattackedstraight
thevoiceorinstrumentalwaysapproachesitfromaboveorbelow,playsaroundtheimpliedpitchwithouteverremaininganylengthoftime,anddepartsfromitwithouteverhaving
committeditselftoasinglemeaning.Thetimbreisveiledandparaphrasedbyconstantlychangingvibrato,tremoloandovertoneeffects.Thetimingandaccentuation,finally,arenot
stated,butimpliedorsuggested.Thedenyingorwithholdingofallsignposts."13
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4/....AfroChristianMusicandReligion
Whenthefirstslaveswerebroughttothiscountry,therewasnoideaatallofconvertingthem.Africanswerethoughtofasbeasts,andtherewascertainlynoideaheldamongthe
whitesthat,somehow,thesebeastswouldbenefitbyexposuretotheChristianGod.Aslateasthetwentiethcenturytherehavebeenbooks"proving"theNegro'scloserelationshipto
loweranimalsthathavebeenimmenselypopularintheSouth.TheideathatperhapsslaverycouldbecondonedasamethodforconvertingheathenstotheChristianGoddidnot
becomepopularuntilthelatterpartoftheeighteenthcentury,andthenonlyamongafew"radical"Northernmissionaries.Therecouldbenosoulsavingactivities,N.N.Puckettpoints
outinhisbookFolkBeliefsoftheSouthernNegro,wheretherewasnosoul.14
ButstillChristianitywasadoptedbyNegroesbeforethegreatattemptsbymissionariesandevangelistsintheearlypartofthenineteenthcenturytoconvertthem.Thereasonsforthis
graspingofthewhiteman'sreligionbytheNorthAmericanNegroarefairlysimple.First,hisownreligionwasprohibitedinthiscountry.InsomepartsoftheSouth,"conjuring"
33
oruseof"hoodoo"or"deviltalk"waspunishablebydeathor,attheveryleast,whipping.Also,theAfricanhasalwayshadatraditionalrespectforhisconqueror'sgods.Notthatthey
arealwaysworshiped,buttheyareatleastrecognizedaspowerfulandplacedinthehierarchyoftheconqueredtribe'sgods.
Thegrowing"socialawareness"oftheslavecanbementionedasanotherreasonfortheAfrican'sswiftembraceofthewhiteman'sGod:socialawarenessinthesensethattheAfrican,
oratleasthisprogeny,soonrealizedthathewaslivinginawhiteman'sworld.NotonlywasitanancientAfricanbeliefthatthestrongertribe'sgodsweretoberevered,buttheAfrican
wasalsoforcedtorealizethatallthethingshethoughtimportantwerethoughtbythewhitemantobeprimitivenonsense.TheconstantcontactbetweenblackandwhiteintheUnited
Statesmusthaveproducedintheblackmanaprofoundanxietyregardingthereasonsforhisstatusandthereasonsforthewhiteman'sdominance.TheAfrican'sbeliefin"stronger
gods"assuagedorexplainedslaveryfortheAfricanslaveandwas,perhaps,apartialexplanationforhisrapidadoptionofpremissionaryChristianity.ButfortheAmericanslave,
Christianitywasattractivesimplybecauseitwassomethingthewhitemandidthattheblackmancoulddoalso,andinthetimeofthemissionaries,wasencouragedtodo.Thehouse
Negroes,whospenttheirlivesfindingnewfacetsofthewhiteculturethattheycouldimitate,werethefirsttoadoptChristianity.Andtheyandtheirdescendants,eventoday,practice
themostEuropeanorAmericanformsofChristianity.ThevariousblackEpiscopalandPresbyterianchurchesoftheNorthwereinvariablystartedbytheblackfreedmen,whowere
usuallythesonsanddaughtersof"houseniggers."Thestrange"meltingpot"oftheUnitedStates,whereafterafewdecadesthenewAfricanslaveswereridiculedbytheir"American"
brothersbecausetheywereAfrican!Andthiswasforpurely"social"reasons.Thatis,theslaveswhohad
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cometoAmericaonlyafewyearsearlierbegantoapplywhattheythoughtwerethewhiteman'sstandardstotheirownbehavioraswellastothatoftheirnewlyarrivedbrothers.
Sinner,whatyougonnadoWhendeWorld'sonfier?Sinner,whatyougonnadoWhendeworld'sonfier?Sinner,whatyougonnadoWhendeworld'sonfier?Omy
Lawd.15
BecausetheAfricancamefromanintenselyreligiousculture,asocietywherereligionwasadaily,minutetominuteconcern,andnotsomethingrelegatedtoaspeciousonceaweek
reaffirmation,hehadtofindothermethodsofworshipinggodswhenhiswhitecaptorsdeclaredthathecouldnolongerworshipintheoldways.(Thefirstslavesthoughtofthewhite
menascaptorsitwaslater,aftertheyhadbecomeAmericans,thattheybegantothinkofthesecaptorsasmastersandthemselvesasslaves,ratherthancaptives.)Theimmediate
reaction,ofcourse,wastotrytoworshipinsecret.Themoreimpressiveriteshadtobediscardedunlesstheycouldbeperformedclandestinelythedailyrituals,however,continued.
ThecommondaytodaystanceoftheAfricantowardhisgodscouldnotbeerasedovernight.Infact,manyofthe"superstitions"oftheNegroesthatthewhitesthought"charming"were
holdoversfromAfricanreligions.EventodayinmanySouthernruralareas,strangemixturesofvoodoo,orotherprimarilyAfricanfetishreligions,andChristianityexist.Amongless
educated,orlesssophisticated,Negroestheparticularsignificanceofdreams,luckandluckycharms,rootsandherbs,isdirectlyattributabletoAfricanreligiousbeliefs.Also,many
aphorismsused
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byNegroesinstrictlysocialsituationsspringfromAfricanreligion.
Forexample,therewasrecentlyarhythm&bluessongthattalkedof"Spreadinggooberdustallaroundyourbed/Whenyouwakeupyoufindyourownselfdead."Tomostwhites(and
indeedtomostmodernsophisticatedcityNegroes)thesongwasprobablycatchybutessentiallyunintelligible.Butnowin1963,onehundredyearsaftertheEmancipationofslaves,
thereexistsasongintegratedsomewhatintothemainstreamofAmericansocietythatrefersdirectlytoanAfricanreligiousbelief.(Agooberiswhatapeanutiscalledbymany
SouthernNegroes.TheworditselfcomesfromtheAfricanwordgooba,whichisakindofAfricannut.InAfricathegroundupgoobawasusedtoconjurewith,andwasthoughttogive
onepersonpoweroveranotherifthegroundgooba("gooberdust")wasspreadaroundthevictim'shut.IntheSouth,peanutshellsspreadinfrontofsomeone'sdoorsupposedly
causesomethingterribletohappentohim.)
"Nevergotobedonanemptystomach,"mygrandmotherhastoldmeallmylife.Perhapstheoriginsofthisseeminglyhealthconsciousaphorismhavebeenforgottenevenbyher.But
theAfricansbelievedthatevilspiritscouldstealyoursoulwhileyousleptifyourbodywasempty."Ifthesunisshininganditisrainingatthesametime,thedevil'sbeatinghiswife."
"Sweepingoutthehouseafterdarkisdisrespectful."BoththeseaphorismsIheardwhenIwasyounger,andtheyarebothessentiallyAfrican.ThelatterreferstotheAfrican'spractice
ofprayingeachnightforthegodstoprotecthimwhilehesleptfromevilspiritsitwasthoughtthatthebenevolentgodswouldactuallydescendandsitinone'shouse.Sweepingat
night,onemightsweeptheguardianoutsincehewasinvisible.The"gods"oftheAfricaneventuallybecame"TheHolyGhos"'oftheAmericanNegro.
Andsoto"outlaw"theAfricanslave'sreligioncompletelywasimpossible,althoughthecircumstanceofslaverydid
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relegatereligiouspracticetoamuchsmallerareaofhislife.ButtheAfricancouldnotfunctionasahumanbeingwithoutreligionhedailyinvokedthe"conjuremen,"herbdoctorsand
roothealers,cultpriestsandsorcerersthemysticalforceshethoughtcontrolledtheworld.Thesorcererwasconsultedeachdaytofindoutthedispositionofthegodstowardaman
andhisactivities,justaswedialourphonesfortheweatherreport.
ThefirstattemptsbyNegroestoopenlyembracethewhiteChristwererebuffed,sometimescruelly,becauseoftheChristiantheologists'beliefthatAfricanswerebeasts,literally,lower
animals."Youwouldnotgiveoxentheholyscripture."Also,onaslightlymorehumanelevel,itwasthoughtbywhiteChristiansthatiftheAfricansweregivenChristianity,therecould
benorealjustificationforenslavingthem,sincetheywouldnolongerbeheathensorsavages.Inspiteofthis,theslavesdidgooffintothewoodstoholdsomesemblanceofa
Christianritewhentheycould.Bythebeginningofthenineteenthcentury,however,againstthewishesofmostoftheplantersandslaveowners,attemptsweremadetoconvertthe
slavesbecauseoftheprotestsoftheQuakersandotherreligiousgroups.
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FannieKemble,inherjournalof1838and1839,reported:"Youhaveheard,ofcourse,manyandcontradictorystatementsastothedegreeofreligiousinstructionaffordedtothe
NegroesoftheSouth,andtheiropportunitiesofworship,etc.Untilthelateabolitionmovement,thespiritualinterestsoftheslaveswereaboutaslittleregardedastheirphysical
necessities.Theoutcrywhichhasbeenraisedwiththreefoldforcewithinthelastfewyearsagainstthewholesystemhasinduceditsupholdersanddefenderstoadopt,asmeasuresof
personalextenuation,someappearanceofreligiousinstruction(suchasitis),andsomepretenseatphysicalindulgences(suchastheyare),bestowedapparentlyvoluntarilyupon
theirdependents.AtDarienachurchisappropriatedtotheespecialuseoftheslaves,whoarealmost
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allofthemBaptistshereandagentlemanofficiatesit(ofcourse,white)who,Iunderstand,isveryzealousinthecauseofthespiritualwellbeing.He,likemostSouthernmen,clergyor
others,jumpthepresentlifeintheircharitiestotheslaves,andgoontofurnishthemwithallrequisiteconveniencesforthenext."16
Sheadded:"SomeoftheplantersareentirelyinimicaltoanysuchproceedingsandneitherallowtheirNegroestoattendworship,ortocongregatetogetherforreligiouspurposes....
Onotherplantations,again,thesamerigiddisciplineisnotobservedandsomeplantersandoverseersgoevenfartherthantoleration,andencouragethesedevotionalexercisesand
professionsofreligion,havingactuallydiscoveredthatamanmaybecomemorefaithfulandtrustworthy,evenasaslave,whoacknowledgesthehigherinfluencesofChristianity...."
17
TheambivalentattitudeoftheslaveholderstowardtheconversionoftheslavestoChristianityisfurtherillustratedbyanotherofMissKemble'sobservations:"...thismanisknownto
beahardmasterhisNegrohousesareshedsnotfittostablebeastsinhisslavesareragged,halfnaked,andmiserableyetheisurgentfortheirreligiouscomforts,andwritestoMr.
Butlerabouttheirsoulstheirprecioussouls."18
TheQuakersandotherreligiousgroupsbegantorealizethattheonlyjustificationforslaverywasthattheslavescouldbeconvertedtoChristianity,andthegreatmissionaryand
evangelicalmovementsofthenineteenthcenturybegan.Someofthechurches,suchastheMethodistandBaptist,begantosendministersamongtheslavestoconvertthem.Soon
thegrossestdisparagementthe"religious"Negrocouldmakeofanotherwasthatheorshewas"aheathen."(WhenIspilledfoodonthetableorotherwiseactedwith
38
boyishslovenliness,mygrandmotherwouldalwaysthinktodressmedownbycallingme"aheathen.")
TheemotionalismandevangelismoftheMethodistsandBaptistsappealedmuchmoretotheslavesthananyoftheotherdenominations.Also,theBaptists,especially,allowedthe
Negroestoparticipateintheservicesagreatdealandbeganearlyto"appoint"blackministersordeaconstoconducttheserviceswhilethemissionariesthemselveswentontoother
plantations.AndonthepoorerplantationthelowerclasswhitewasmoreapttobeBaptistorMethodistthanEpiscopalorPresbyterian.Another,possiblymoreimportant,reasonwhy
theNegroesweredrawntotheBaptistChurchwasthemethodofconversion.Totalimmersioninwater,whichisthewayBaptistssymbolizetheirconversiontothe"truechurch"and
theteachingsofChrist,inimitationofChrist'simmersionbySaintJohn"TheBaptist,"wasperhapsparticularlyattractivetotheearlyslavesbecauseinmostofthereligionsofWest
Africatheriverspiritswerethoughttobeamongthemostpowerfulofthedeities,andthepriestsoftherivercultswereamongthemostpowerfulandinfluentialmeninAfricansociety.
TheChristianslavebecamemoreofanAmericanslave,oratleastamore"Westernized"slave,thantheonewhotriedtokeephisolderAfricantraditions.Theslavemastersalso
learnedearlythattheAfricanswhohadbeguntoaccepttheChristianethicorevensomecrudepartofitsdogmawerelesslikelytorunawayorstartrebellionsoruprisings.
Christianity,asitwasfirstgiventotheslaves(asMissKemblepointedout),wastobeusedstrictlyasacodeofconductwhichwouldenableitsdevoteestoparticipateinanafterlifeit
wasfromitsveryinceptionamongtheblackslaves,aslaveethic.Itactedasagreatpacifierandpalliative,althoughitalsoproducedagreatinnerstrengthamongthedevoutandan
almostinhumanindifferencetopain.ChristianitywastopreparetheblackmanforhisMaker,and
39
theanthropomorphic"heben"whereallhis"sinsandsufferingwouldbewashedaway."OneoftheveryreasonsChristianityprovedsopopularwasthatitwasthereligion,accordingto
olderBiblicaltradition,ofanoppressedpeople.ThestrugglesoftheJewsandtheirlongsought"PromisedLand"provedastronganalogyfortheblackslaves.
Mary,don'tyouweepan'Marthiedon'tyoumoan,Mary,don'tyouweepan'Marthiedon'tyoumoanPharaoh'sarmygotdrownded,OhMarydon'tyouweep.Ithinks
everydayan'IwishIcouldStan'onderockwharMosestoodOh,Pharaoh'sarmygotdrownded,OhMarydon'tyouweep.
TheChristianityoftheslaverepresentedamovementawayfromAfrica.ItwasthebeginningofAfricaas"aforeignplace."Intheearlydaysofslavery,Christianity'ssolepurposewasto
proposeametaphysicalresolutionfortheslave'snaturalyearningsforfreedom,andassuch,itliterallymadelifeeasierforhim.ThesecretAfricanchantsandsongswereaboutAfrica,
andexpressedtheAfricanslave'sdesiretoreturntothelandofhisbirth.TheChristianNegro'smusicbecameanexpressionofhisdesireto"crossJordan"and"seehisLord."Heno
longerwishedtoreturntoAfrica.(Andonecansee,perhaps,how"perfect"Christianitywasinthatsense.Ittooktheslave'smindoffAfrica,ormaterialfreedom,andproposedthatifthe
blackmanwishedtoescapethefilthypaternalismandcrueltyofslavery,hewait,atleast,untilhedied,whenhecouldbetransportedpeacefullyandmajesticallytothePromised
Land.)
GonnashouttroubleoverWhenIgethome,GonnashouttroubleoverWhenIgethome.
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Nomo'prayin',nomo'dyin'WhenIgethome.Nomo'prayin'an'nomo'dyin'WhenIgethome.MeetmyfatherWhenIgethome.MeetmyfatherWhenIgethome.
ThereligiousimageryoftheNegro'sChristianityisfullofreferencestothesufferingandhopesoftheoppressedJewsofBiblicaltimes.ManyoftheNegrospiritualsreflectthis
identification:GoDown,Moses,I'mMarchingtoZion,WalkIntoJerusalemJustLikeJohn,etc."CrossingtheriverJordan"meantnotonlydeathbutalsotheentranceintotheveryreal
heavenandareleasefromanearthlybondageitcametorepresentalltheslave'syearningstobefreedfromtheinhumanyokeofslavery.Butatthetime,atleastfortheearlyblack
Christian,thisfreedomwasonethatcouldonlybereachedthroughdeath.Thelatersecularmusicprotestedconditionshere,inAmerica.Nolongerwasthegreatmajorityofslaves
concernedwithleavingthiscountry(except,perhaps,theoldfolkswhosataroundand,Isuppose,remembered).Thiswastheircountry,andtheybecameinterestedinmerelylivingin
italittlebetterandalittlelonger.
TheearlyblackChristianchurchesortheprechurch"praisehouses"becamethesocialfocalpointsofNegrolife.TherelativeautonomyofthedevelopingNegroChristianreligious
gatheringmadeitoneoftheonlyareasintheslave'slifewherehewasrelativelyfreeofthewhiteman'sdomination.(Asidefromthemoreformallyreligiousactivitiesofthefledgling
Negrochurches,theyservedastheonlycenterswheretheslavecommunitycouldholdstrictlysocialfunctions.)The"praisenights,"or"prayermeetings,"were
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alsotheonlytimeswhentheNegrofelthecouldexpresshimselfasfreelyandemotionallyaspossible.ItisherethatmusicbecomesindispensabletoanydiscussionofAfroChristian
religion.
"Thespiritwillnotdescendwithoutsong."
ThisisanoldAfricandictumthatverynecessarilywasincorporatedintoAfroChristianworship.TheNegrochurch,whetherChristianor"heathen,"hasalwaysbeena"churchof
emotion."InAfrica,ritualdancesandsongswereintegralpartsofAfricanreligiousobservances,andtheemotionalfrenziesthatwereusuallyconcomitantwithanyAfricanreligious
practicehavebeenprettywelldocumented,though,Iwouldsuppose,rarelyunderstood.ThisheritageofemotionalreligionwasoneofthestrongestcontributionsthattheAfrican
culturemadetotheAfroAmerican.And,ofcourse,thetedious,repressiveyokeofslaverymustwellhaveservedtogivetheblackslaveahugereservoirofemotionalenergywhich
couldbeusedupinhisreligion.
"Spiritpossession,"asitiscalledintheAfricanreligions,wasalsointrinsictoAfroChristianity."Gettin'thespirit,""gettin'religion"or"gettin'happy"wereindispensablefeaturesofthe
earlyAmericanNegrochurchand,eventoday,ofthenonmiddleclassandruralNegrochurches.Andalwaysmusicwasanimportantpartofthetotalemotionalconfigurationofthe
Negrochurch,actinginmostcasesasthecatalystforthoseworshiperswhowouldsuddenly"feelthespirit.""Thespiritwillnotdescendwithoutsong."
ThefirstAfroChristianmusicdifferedfromtheearlierworksongsandessentiallynonreligiousshoutsfirstofallinitssubjectmatterandcontent.Secondly,thereligiousmusicbecame
muchmoremelodicandmusicalthanthefieldhollersbecauseitwassungratherthangruntedor"hollered."(ThoughnoaspectofNegrosongiscompletelywithouttheshout,iflater,
onlyasanelementofstyle.)Also,thisreligious
42
musicwasdrawnfrommanysources,andrepresented,initsmostmaturestage,anamalgamofforms,styles,andinfluences.
ChristianitywasaWesternform,buttheactualpracticeofitbytheAmericanNegrowastotallystrangetotheWest.TheAmericanNegro'sreligiousmusicdevelopedquitesimilarly,
takingitssuperficialforms(andinstrumentation,inmanycases)fromEuropeanorAmericanmodels,buttheretheimitationended.Thelyrics,rhythms,andeventheharmonieswere
essentiallyofAfricanderivation,subjected,ofcourse,tothetransformationsthatAmericanlifehadbroughtintoexistence.TheNegro'sreligiousmusicwashisoriginalcreation,and
thespiritualsthemselveswereprobablythefirstcompletelynativeAmericanmusictheslavesmade.WhenIrefertotheNegro'sreligiousmusic,however,Imeannotonlythespiritual,
whichisused,Iamaware,asageneralcatchallforallthenonsecularmusicmadebytheAmericanblackman,butIamreferringaswelltothechurchmarches,ringandshuffleshouts,
"sankeys,"chants,campormeetin'songs,andhymnsor"ballits,"thattheAfroChristianchurchproduced.
ButevenasthemassesofNegroesbegantoentertheChristianChurchandgetridoftheir"heathenisms,"Africaanditsreligiousandseculartraditionscouldnotbecompletely
shakenoff.Infact,asBornemanpointsout:"TheMethodistrevivalmovementbegantoaddressitselfdirectlytotheslaves,butendedupnotbyconvertingtheAfricanstoaChristian
ritual,butbyconvertingitselftoanAfricanritual."19
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ritual,butbyconvertingitselftoanAfricanritual."19
ThemoreconscientiousChristianministersamongtheslavessoughttogetridof"alldemhedunways,"butitwasdifficult.Forinstance,theChristianChurchsawdancingasanevil
worldlyexcess,butdancingasanintegralpartoftheAfrican'slifecouldnotbedisplacedbythestillwhitenotesoftheWesleyanHymnal.The"ringshouts"or"shuffle
43
shouts"oftheearlyNegrochurcheswereattemptsbytheblackChristianstohavetheircakeandeatit:tomaintainAfricantradition,howeverveiledorunconscioustheattemptmight
be,yetembracethenewreligion.Sincedancingwasirreligiousandsinful,theNegrosaidthatonly"crossingthefeet"constitutedactualdancing.Sotheringshoutdevelopedwhere
theworshiperslinkarmsandshuffle,atfirstslowlybutthenwithincreasingemotionaldisplay,aroundinacircle,singinghymnsorchantingastheymove.Thisshuffle,besidesgetting
aroundthedogmaofthestricter"whitefolks"ChristianityalsoseemsderivedfromAfricanreligiousdancesofexactlythesamenature."RockingDaniel"dancesandthe"Flower
Dance"wereamongthedancesthattheblackChristiansallowedthemselvestoretain.Thesocalled"sanctified"Protestantchurchesstillretainsomeofthese"steps"and"moomens"
today.Andindeed,the"sanctified"churchesalwaysremainedclosertotheAfricantraditionsthananyoftheotherAfroChristiansects.Theyhavealwaysincludeddrumsand
sometimestambourinesintheirceremonies,somethingnoneoftheothersectseverdareddo.
AdescriptionofatypicalAfroChristianchurchserviceisfoundinH.E.Krehbiel'sbook.KrehbielhadexcerpteditfromtheMay30,1867,issueofTheNation:
"...thebenchesarepushedbacktothewallwhentheformalmeetingisover,andoldandyoung,menandwomen,sprucelydressedyoungmen,grotesquelyhalfcladfieldhands
thewomengenerallywithgayhandkerchiefstwistedabouttheirheadsandwithshortskirtsboyswithtatteredshirtsandmen'strousers,younggirlsbarefooted,allstandupinthe
middleofthefloor,andwhenthesperichilisstruckupbeginfirstwalkingandbyandbyshufflingaround,oneaftertheother,inaring.Thefootishardlytakenfromthefloor,andthe
progressionismainlyduetoajerking,hitchingmotionwhichagitatestheentireshouterandsoonbringsoutstreamsofperspiration.Sometimestheydance
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silently,sometimesastheyshuffletheysingthechorusofthespiritual,andsometimesthesongitselfisalsosungbythedancers.Butmorefrequentlyaband,composedofsomeofthe
bestsingersandoftiredshouters,standatthesideoftheroomtobasetheothers,singingthebodyofthesongandclappingtheirhandstogetherorontheknees.Songanddance
arealikeextremeenergetic,andoften,whentheshoutlastsintothemiddleofthenight,themonotonousthud,thudoffeetpreventssleepwithinhalfamileofthepraisehouse."20
ThemusicthatwasproducedbyNegroChristianitywastheresultofdiverseinfluences.Firstofall,therewasthatmusicwhichissuedfrompureAfricanritualsourcesandwhichwas
changedtofitthenewreligionjustastheringshoutsweretransformedfrompureAfricanreligiousdancestopseudoChristianreligiousobservance,ortheDahomeyrivercult
ceremonieswereincorporatedintothebaptismceremony.EarlyobserversalsopointedoutthatagreatmanyofthefirstNegroChristianreligioussongshadbeentakenalmost
untouchedfromthegreatbodyofAfricanreligiousmusic.ThiswasespeciallytrueofthemelodiesofcertainblackChristianspiritualsthatcouldalsobeheardinsomepartsofAfrica.
MaudeCuneyHare,inherearlybookNegroMusiciansandTheirMusic,citestheexperienceofaBishopFisherofCalcuttawhotraveledtoCentralAfrica:"...inRhodesiahehad
heardnativessingamelodysocloselyresemblingSwingLow,SweetChariotthathefeltthathehadfounditinitsoriginalform:moreover,theregionnearthegreatVictoriaFallshave
acustomfromwhichthesongarose.Whenoneoftheirchiefs,intheolddays,wasabouttodie,hewasplacedinagreatcanoetogetherwithtrappingsthatmarkedhisrank,andfood
forhisjourney.ThecanoewassetafloatinmidstreamheadedtowardthegreatFallsandthevastcolumnofmistthatrisesfromthem.Meanwhilethe
45
tribeontheshorewouldsingitschantoffarewell.ThelegendisthatononeoccasionthekingwasseentoriseinhiscanoeattheverybrinkoftheFallsandenterachariotthat,
descendingfromthemists,borehimaloft.ThisincidentgaverisetothewordsSwingLow,SweetChariot,andthesong,broughttoAmericabyAfricanslaveslongago,became
anglicizedandmodifiedbytheirChristianfaith."21
ItwouldbequitesimpleforanAfricanmelodythatwasknowntraditionallytomostoftheslavestobeusedasaChristiansong.Allthatwouldhavetobedonewaschangethewords
(whichisalsotheonlybasicdifferencebetweenagreatmanyofthe"devilmusic"songsandthemostdevoutoftheChristianreligioussongs.Justasmanyhighschoolstudentsput
theirownwordstothetuneYankeeDoodleDandy,forwhateverpurpose,theconvertedslavehadonlytoalterhislyricstomakethesong"Christian").Ofcourse,thepointhereisthat
theslavehadtobeabletochangethewords,thatis,hehadtoknowenoughofthelanguageinwhichthenewreligionwasspokensothathecouldmakeuplyricsinthatlanguage.
ChristiansongsinAfricantonguesareextremelyrare,forobviousreasons.(WhatisthewordforGodinanyoftheAfricandialects?Theanswerwouldbe:Whichgod?)
AlmostallpartsoftheearlyNegroChristianchurchservicehadtodoinsomewaywithmusic,whichwasalsotrueoftheAfricanreligions.AndnotonlywereAfricansongstransformed
intoakindofcompletelypersonalChristianliturgicalmusicbutAfricanprayersandchantsaswell.TheblackministerofanearlyChristianchurch(aswellastheNegroministersof
today'slesssophisticatedblackchurches)himselfcontributedthemostmusicalandmostemotionalpartsofthechurchservice.Thelong,long,fantasticallyrhythmicalsermonsofthe
earlyNegroBaptistandMethodistpreachersarewellknown.Thesemenweresingers,andtheysangthewordofthisnewGodwithsuchpassionand
46
belief,aswellasskill,thatthecongregationhadtobemoved.ThetraditionalAfricancallandresponsesongshapedtheformthiskindofworshiptookon.Theministerwouldbegin
slowlyandsoftly,thenbuildhissermontoanunbelievablefrenzywiththestaccatopunctuationofhiscongregation'sanswers."Haveyougotgoodreligion?/Certainly,Lord,"istheway
onespiritualgoes,modeledonthecallandresponse,preachertocongregationtypeofsong.Whenthepreacherandthecongregationreachtheirpeaks,theirmusicrivalsanyofthe
moreformalAfroAmericanmusicsinintensityandbeauty.
Oh,myLawd,God,whathappenedwhenAdamtookdeapple?(Amen,Amen).Yas,didn'tdeLawdtelldatpo'foolishsinnernottolistentothatspitefulwoman?(Amen,
Amen).Yas,Lawd,Didhetellhimorno?(Amen,Amen,Yashetoldhim,brother).AndwhatdidAdamdo,huh?Yas,Lawd,afteryoutoldhimnotto,whatdidhedo?
(Amen,Amen,brother,preach,preach).
AnotherkindofsongthattheNegrochurchproducedinAmericawasonebasedonEuropeanorAmericanreligious(andsometimessecular)songs.Inthesesongsthewordsoften
remainedthesame(with,ofcourse,thenaturalvariancesofNegrospeech).Forinstance,PuckettseemedpuzzledbytheuseofthewordfellomcityinNegrospirituals.Theword,
mostoldNegroessay,meanssomekindofpeace,soIwouldthinkthewordtobefelicity.ThemelodiesofmanyofthewhiteChristianandEuropeanreligioussongswhichthe
Negroesincorporatedintotheirworshipremainedthesame,buttheNegroeschangedtherhythmsandharmoniesofthesesongstosuitthemselves.TheveryfactthattheNegroes
sangthesesongsintheirpeculiarway,withnotonlytheidiosyncraticAmericanidiomofearlyNegrospeechbuttheinflection,rhythm,andstressofthatspeech,alsoservedtoshape
theborrowedsongstoastrictlyNegroidiom.
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Andusually,nomatterhowcloselyaNegrospiritualmightresemblesuperficiallyoneofthewhitehymnstakenfromsourcesliketheBayPsalmBook,theWesleyanHymnal,the
AnglicanHymnal,ortheMoodyHymnal,whenthesongwasactuallysung,therecouldbenomistakethatithadbeenmadeoverintoanoriginalNegrosong.Averypopularwhite
ChristianhymnlikeClimbJacob'sLadderiscompletelychangedwhensungintheNegrochurchasClimin'Jacob'sLadda.Jesus,LoverofmySoul,asongoutoftheSankeyHymnal,
ischangedbytheShoutingBaptistsofTrinidadintoanunmistakablyAfricansong.And,asHerskovitsnoted,inagreatmanypartsoftheWestIndies,alltheProtestantpseudo
Christianreligioussongsarecalled"sankeys."
Rhythmicsyncopation,polyphony,andshiftedaccents,aswellasthealteredtimbralqualitiesanddiversevibratoeffectsofAfricanmusicwereallusedbytheNegrototransformmost
ofthe"whitehymns"intoNegrospirituals.Thepentatonicscaleofthewhitehymnunderwentthesame"aberrations"bywhichtheearlymusicologistscharacterizedAfricanmusic.The
samechordsandnotesinthescalewouldbeflattenedordiminished.Andthemeetingofthetwodifferentmusics,thewhiteChristianhymnandtheNegrospiritualusingthathymnas
itspointofdeparture,alsoproducedcertainelementsthatwerelaterusedincompletelysecularmusic.ThefirstinstrumentalvoicingsofNewOrleansjazzseemtohavecomefromthe
arrangementofthesingingvoicesintheearlyNegrochurches,aswellasthemodelsforthe"riffs"and"breaks"oflaterjazzmusic.TheNegro'sreligiousmusiccontainedthesame
"rags,""bluenotes"and"stoptimes"aswereemphasizedlaterandtoamuchgreaterextentinjazz.
ThepurelysocialfunctionoftheearlyNegroChristianchurchesisofextremeimportanceifoneistryingtoanalyzeanyareaofAmericanNegroculture.Firstofall,asIhave
48
said,becausethechurchforalongtimewastheonlyplacetheslavehadforanykindofvaguelyhumanactivity.Theblackchurches,astheygrewmoreandmoreautonomousand
freerofthewhiteman'ssupervision,begantotakeonsocialcharacteristicsthat,whileimitativeoftheirwhitecounterpartsinmanyinstances,developedequally,ifnotmorerigidsocial
moresoftheirown.Notonlydidthechurchessponsorthevarioussocialaffairs,suchasthebarbecues,picnics,concerts,etc.,buttheybecamethesolearbitersofwhatkindofaffair
wouldbesponsored.
Duringthetimeofslavery,theblackchurcheshadalmostnocompetitionfortheNegro'stime.Afterhehadworkedinthefields,therewasnoplacetogoforanysemblanceofsocial
intercoursebutthepraisehouses.ItwasnotuntilwellaftertheEmancipationthattheNegrohadmuchsecularlifeatall.ItisnowonderthenthatearlybooksaboutNegromusictalked
about"thepaucityofNegrosecularmusic."Thechurchescalledsinfulallthe"fiddlesings,""devilsongs,"and"jigtunes"eventhe"cornsongs"wereoutlawedbysomechurch
elders.Also,certainmusicalinstruments,suchastheviolinandbanjo,weresaidtobethedevil'sown.TheNegrochurch,asitwasbegun,wastheonlyplacewheretheNegrocould
releaseemotionsthatslaverywouldnaturallytendtocurtail.TheNegrowenttochurch,literally,tobefree,andtopreparehimselfforhisfreedominthePromisedLand.Butasthe
churchgrewmoreestablishedandbegantoshapeitselfmoreandmoreinitsimageofthewhiteman'schurch,thethingsitdesiredtoachieveforNegroesbegantochange.The
churchbegantoproducesocialstationsaswell.Theministers,deacons,elders,trustees,eventheushers,oftheBaptistandMethodistchurchesformedadefinitesocialhierarchy,
andthathierarchydominatedthewholeoftheNegrosociety.The"backslider"(thesinningchurchgoer)andthe"heathen"becameinthenewtheocracythelowestrungsofthesocial
ladder.Andduringslavery,thechurchescontrolledbythehouse
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Negroesorthe"freedmen"imposedevenstrictersocialcategoriesthandidtheotherNegrochurches.Thechurchesafteratime,ofcourse,becameasconcernedwithsocialmatters
aswithreligion,althoughallsuchconcernswerestillcouchedinreligiousterms.Andwhatcametobeknownas"progress,"or"advance,"tothegrowingnumbersofwilling
congregationscametomeanmerelytheimitationofthewhitemaninpractice,ifnotintheory.
Assomeindicationofthispractice,inW.F.Allen'sbook,publishedin1867,whenmentioningthe"paucityofsecularsongs"amongtheNegroes,Allengoesontosay:"Wehave
succeededinobtainingonlyaveryfewsongsofthischaracter.OurintercoursewiththecoloredpeoplehasbeenchieflythroughtheworkoftheFreedmen'sCommission,whichdeals
withtheseriousandearnestsideofthenegrocharacter....Itisverylikelythatifwehadfounditpossibletogetatmoreoftheirsecularmusicweshouldhavecometoanother
conclusionastotheproportionofthebarbaricelement."22
Buttheendofslaveryhad,inmanyways,adisintegratingeffectonthekindofslaveculturethechurchhadmadepossible.Withthelegalendofslavery,therewasnowproposedfor
theNegromassesamuchfullerlifeoutsidethechurch.Therecametobemoreandmorebacksliders,andmoreandmoreofthedevilmusicwasheard.
[50]
5/....SlaveandPostSlave
Itisimpossibletosaysimply,"Slaverycreatedblues,"andbedonewithitoratleastitseemsalmostimpossibletomakesuchastatementandsoundintelligentsayingit.Yetthiskind
ofoversimplificationhascreatedawholeintellectualclimatefortheappreciationofbluesinthiscountry.Bluesisnot,norwasitevermeanttobe,astrictlysocialphenomenon,butis
primarilyaverseformandsecondarilyawayofmakingmusic.By"strictlysocialphenomenon,"Irefer,ofcoursetothedinofnineteenthcenturyAmericansocialreformandEuropean
sociologicalconcern.
Bluesasaverseformhasasmuchsocialreferenceasanypoetry,exceptforthestrictlyric,andthatalsoisfoundinblues.Love,sex,tragedyininterpersonalrelationships,death,
travel,loneliness,etc.,areallsocialphenomena.Andperhapsthesearethethingswhichactuallycreateapoetry,asthings,orideas:therecanbenosuchthingaspoetry(orblues)
exclusiveofthematteritproposestobeabout.
Bluesdidbegininslavery,anditisfromthat"peculiarinstitution,"asitwasknowneuphemistically,thatbluesdidfinditsparticularform.Andifslaverydictatedcertainaspectsofblues
formandcontent,sodidthesocalledEmancipation
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anditssubsequentproblemsdictatethepathblueswouldtake.
OneimportantresultoftheEmancipationwasthedecentralizationoftheNegropopulation.Eventhoughtherewereabout500,000Negrofreedmeninthecountryatthetimeofthe
Emancipation,concentratedpredominantlyincitieslikeNewYork,Philadelphia,Boston,Albany,Newark,Pittsburgh,andintheborderstates,themajorpartoftheNegropopulation
livedintheSouthasslaves.TheEmancipation,oratleastthemovementoftheUnionsoldiersthroughtheSouthandthesubsequentdepartureoftheplantationowners,producedan
immediatemovementamongagreatmanyNegroes.AssoonastheUnionArmyapproached,mostoftheslavesstruckouttofindthemselvesnewplacestolive,oratleastsafer
places.ThegreatmajorityofexslavesremainedintheSouth,butsomeleftimmediatelyfortheWestandNorth.AndeventheNegroeswhoremainedintheSouthweremore
scatteredthanbefore,though,tobesure,therewereNegrocommunitiessetupalmostimmediately.
TheperiodofReconstructionwasaverychaoticperiodfortheSouthandtheNorth.Itwasespeciallyconfusingforthenewlyfreedslaves.TheestablishmentofblackReconstruction
governmentsinsomepartsoftheSouthandthecriesinCongressbysocalledNorthernradicals(ThaddeusStevens,JohnA.Griswold,andothers)for"40acresandamule"forthe
freedslavesmusthavecausedagreatdealofoptimismamongtheNegroes.ButasW.A.Williamssaysinhisbook:"Coincidingwiththesouth'slackofcapitalwithwhichto
regenerateanddiversifyitseconomy,andwiththeNegro'sdifficultyinfindingemploymentatanythingbutagriculturallabor...[the]northernbusinessmen'scoalitionconsolidatedthe
neweconomicslaveryoftenantfarming,sharecropping,andtheplanterstore.Shackledtothecottoncrop,theNegro(andhiswhitecounterpart)becameperennialdebtorstotheir
newoverseers.Whileitexaggerates
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thereality,thereisasignificantmeasureoftruthintheideathattheCivilWargavemorefreedomatleastintheshortruntothewhiteupperclassofthesouththanitdidtothe
slave.Bothwereliberated,buttheonegroupfarmoreeffectively."23
HoweverineffectualEmancipationmighthaveproveninitsentirety,itdidhaveagreatdealofpositiveeffectontheNegro.TheblackReconstructiongovernmentsoftheSouth,
althoughhamperedateveryturn,managedtoeffectafewbeneficialchanges.ThepostbellumgovernmentofSouthCarolina,forinstance,providedpublicschoolingfor500percent
morechildrenthantheantebellumgovernmenthad.Thesegovernmentstriedtoinstitutesomebasicsocialandpoliticalreforms,butbecauseformostoftheNorthernwhitesthe
Reconstructionhadneverbeenanythingbutatokenproposition,andtheactualtransferofpoliticalandeconomicpowerhadneverbeenintended,theNegroeswerefinally
powerless.TheReconstructiongovernmentsfellbecausetheNorthernindustrialistsjoinedwiththeSouthernplanterstodisenfranchisetheNegroonceagain,fearfulthatacoalitionof
thepooranddisenfranchisedSouthernwhites,thedisillusionedagrarianinterests,andthenewlyfreedNegroes,mightprovetoostrongathreattotheirdesignofgainingabsolute
politicalandeconomiccontroloftheSouth.ButtheReconstructiondidgivetheNegroacertainfeelingofautonomyandselfreliancethatcouldneverbefullyeradicatedevenafterthe
repressivesegregationmeasuresthatfollowedthesocalled"RedemptionoftheSouth"in1876:
"...thedemagoguesassumedleadershipofthepoorwhitesandprovidedasolutionoftheclassconflictamongwhitesthatofferednochallengetothepoliticalpowerandeconomic
privilegesoftheindustrialistsandtheplanterclass.Theprogram,whichmadetheNegrothescapegoat,containedthefollowingprovisions:(1)TheNegrowascompletely
disfranchisedbyallsortsoflegalsubterfuges,with
53
thethreatofforceinthebackground(2)thefundswhichwereappropriatedonapercapitabasisforNegroschoolchildrenweredivertedtowhiteschoolsand(3)alegalsystemof
segregationinallphasesofpubliclifewasinstituted.Inordertojustifythisprogram,thedemagogues,whoweresupportedbythewhitepropertiedclasses,engagedfortwentyfive
yearsinacampaigntoprovethattheNegrowassubhuman,morallydegenerateandintellectuallyincapableofbeingeducated."24
ItwasduringthisperiodoflegalsubversionoftheNegroes'rightsasnewcitizensthatsuchorganizationsastheKuKluxKlan,PaleFaces,MenofJustice,KnightsoftheWhite
Camelia,etc.,appeared.Theseorganizations,composedmostlyofdisenfranchisedpoorwhites,butofteninspiredbythemorewelltodoplantermerchantcombine,soughttofrighten
Negroesintoabandoningtheirnewlywonrights,particularlytherighttovote,andinagreatmanycasestheseattemptssucceeded.
Therewas,ofcourse,agreatdealofprotestandresistancefromNegroes,andespeciallytheeducatedclassofNegroes,butsoontoomanyacceptedtheideaofsegregationasthe
onlywaytheNegrocouldcontinuetoliveinthewhiteSouth.TheNegroeliteprofessionalmen:doctors,lawyers,orsmall,financiallyambitiousmerchantssoonwerequiteeager
topromotetheconceptof"separatebutequal."ThusinonlyabouttenyearsaftertheEmancipation,therewasalreadyagreatsocialreactionsettingin.Allthelegalchicaneryand
physicalsuppressiontheSouthusedtoputtheNegrobackinhisplacewas,ineffect,aidedandabettedbyagreatmanysocalledNegroleaders.Forinstance,aftertheNorthhad
moreorlesswasheditshandsofthewhole"Southerndilemma,"anditwasagenerallyacceptedideathatNegroeshadruinedtheReconstructionsimplybecausetheywere
incapableofgoverningthemselves,
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BookerT.WashingtonbecameprominentandinfluentialbecauseheacceptedtheideaofsegregationasasolutiontotheraceproblemandbecauseheadvocatedthatNegroeslearn
tradesratherthangointoanyofthemoreambitiousprofessions.W.A.Williamsnotes,"ComingfromBookerT.Washington,whoenjoyedentreintothesocietyofStandardOil
executives,railroadmagnates,andAndrewCarnegie,thestrategywaspersuasive.Washingtonavowedhisloyaltytolaissezfaire,tookhisstandinthesouthasasoutherner,and
acceptedsocialinequalityfortheforeseeablefuture.Blockedbythepowerofthewhitesandtoldbytheirownspokesmanthatwhiteleadershipispreferable,mostNegroesfollowed..
.."25
Thustheideaofthe"separatebutequal"society,withequalityalmostcompletelynonexistent,cameintobeingalthough,tobesure,therearoseintheSouthablackbourgeoisiewho
oftentimeswerebetterofffinanciallythanagreatmanyofthepoorwhitefarmerstheyhadtosay"suh"to.However,theyswallowedthesocioeconomicconceptsoftheirwhiteupper
classmodelswhole.ItismyideathattheCivilWarandtheEmancipationservedtocreateforthefirsttimeamongNegroesaseparatemetasociety,onewhosemembersstroveto
emulateexactlythewhitesociety.TheblackChristianchurchwastheprefacetothissocietyduringslavery,butafterslaverytherelativelygreatamountofpersonalfreedomwas
sufficienttoinsure,atleastamongthemoreopportunisticfreedmen,theimpetusnecessarytocreatewithinthenewlyformedblackcommunitiesasocioeconomicstructurebased
almostentirelyonthesocialstructureofthewhiteman.
Asaslave,theblackmaninAmericaperformedanintegralfunctioninthemainstreamofwhiteAmericansociety.Onethatwaseasytoascertain,andalmostaseasytoprovidefor.
Slaverywas,mostofall,apaternalinstitution.Theslavewaspropertyjustlikethecows,fruittrees,orwagons.
55
Andhewashandledinmuchthesameway,withperhapssomesmalldeferenceaccordedhimbecauseafterawhilehebegantounderstandwhathiswhitemasterwassaying.Allthe
minimalrequirementsnecessarytosustainhumanlifewereprovidedfortheslavebyhisownertherewasalmostnoneedforanyinitiativeorambition.Butwiththereleaseofthe
millionsofblackmentowhatwassupposedtobethepursuitofhappiness,thewholeofAmericansociety,andparticularlytheSouthernsociety,underwentahugechange.Whenthe
firstattemptsataconsolidationofthedowntroddenSoutherners,blackandwhite,failedandwhentheradicalplansofmenlikeSumnerandStevenstoredistributethelandofthe
Southamongthefreedmen,breakingupthelargeplantationsandmakingsmallfarmsforbothblackandwhite,alsofailedandtheseparatenessofblackandwhiteintheSouthwas
insuredbytherepressiveRedemptionmethodsforwhatwasreallythefirsttime,NegroesbecameactuallyisolatedfromthemainstreamofAmericansociety.ThenewlyactivatedJim
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insuredbytherepressiveRedemptionmethodsforwhatwasreallythefirsttime,NegroesbecameactuallyisolatedfromthemainstreamofAmericansociety.ThenewlyactivatedJim
Crowlaws(Virginia'swerenotpasseduntil1901)andothersocialrepressionsservedtoseparatetheNegromoreeffectivelyfromhisformermastersthaneverbefore.
WiththeoldpaternalisticsocietyoftheSouthwentthesimpleroleoftheNegrointheWesternworld.NowtheNegrowasaskedtothrowhimselfintowhatwascertainlystillanalien
environmentandtodealwiththatenvironmentinthesamemannerashisnewlyfoundwhite"brother"hadbeendoingforcenturies.
WhatissooftenforgotteninanydiscussionoftheNegro's"place"inAmericansocietyisthefactthatitwasonlyasaslavethathereallyhadone.Thepostslavesocietyhadnoplace
fortheblackAmerican,andifthereweretobeanyareaofthesocietywheretheNegromighthaveanintegralfunction,thatareawouldhavetobeonethathecreatedforhimself.The
JimCrowlawswerethewhiteSouth'sattemptstolimitthenewcitizen'spresenceandrightsinthe
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mainstreamofthesociety,andtheywereextremelyeffective.
Also,formostoftheexslaves,eventhemostbanalofWesternmoreshadtoberelearned,asitwere,fromthepointofviewoftheautonomousindividual.Forinstance,theNegrohad
torealignhimselfwiththeconceptofwhatafamilyisandofwhatitmeanstobeworkingseparatelytokeeponeselfand/orone'sfamilyalive.Thefamilyhadtoberecognizedagainas
abasicsocialunit,andthedominantimageofthepatriarchalsocietyrestoredtofullmeaning.Duringslavery,oneofthefundamentalsocialbreakdownstheNegroexperiencedwas
thedisintegrationoffamilialties,especiallytheroleofthemanasthecompletemasterofthefamilialunit.Underthisdisintegration,theroleofthewomanwithinthesocietybecame
muchlessfixed.InWestAfricatherewasaverydefinitedivisionoflabor.Forthemostpart,womendidthelighterworkandthemen,theheavierormorespecialized.Inagriculture,
mendidthepreparingofthefields,andwomentendedtotheactualgrowingandharvestingofthecrops.ButinAmerica,thewoman,likeasnot,workedalongsidethemaninthe
samefields.Here,asinotherareasoftheAfricancaptives'lives,thetraditionalorderwasbrokendown.ThebreakdownordisappearanceofAfricanmoresandtraditionsintheNew
Worldproposed,paradoxically,amoreegalitariansocietyamongtheslaves.Tribalandfamilialtitlesweregoneinmostcases,andtheonlyhegemonythatcouldbegottenbythe
slaveshadtobeextendedbythewhitemasters.Hence,AfroAmericanwomen,thoughrapedandoutragedbytheslaveSouth,usuallyassumedastatusthatwasagooddealmore
"elevated"thanthestatusoftheaverageWestAfricanwoman.AndsoitwasthatcertaintraditionsthatwereusuallygiventheirimpetusbythemalemembersofanAfricancommunity
could,inthestrangecontextoftheslaveandpostslaveNewWorldsociety,bedevelopedequallybywomen,andinsomecasescouldevenbebroughttotheirperfectionbywomen.
Blues,atacertainpointofitsdevelopment,
57
wasoneofthosetraditions,asIwillattempttoshowlater.
SothepostslaveblacksocietyinAmericawasacompletelyuniquethingtotheexslavesaswellastotherestofAmerica.Therewasalsosuchathingasthe"slavementality,"which
hadalargepartinshapingthenewblacksociety.By"slavementality"Imeanwhathadbeenthemostsociallyunfortunatepsychicadjustmentstheslavehadmadeduringtwo
hundredyearsofslavery.TheveryspeedwithwhichthewhiteSouthdealtwiththeexslave'sformalaspirationstocompletefreedomandsocialandeconomicautonomycanbe
attributedtothenegativeinfluenceoftheslavementalityuponthegreatmassofNegroes.Twohundredyearsofbendingtothewillofthewhitemanhadtoleaveitsmark.Andthat
markwasindeliblyontheveryfoundationsofthenewseparateblacksociety.
AnotheraspectofthewhitesocietythattheNegroespatternedtheirnewmetasocietyuponwastheideaofstationswithinthesocialorder,ahierarchyrelativelyimpossiblebeforethe
formalendofslavery.Ofcourse,therehadbeensomedifferentiationevenintheslavesociety.Thehouseslave,asImentionedbefore,certainlyenjoyedabitofhegemony,nomatter
howartificial,overthefieldNegro.Also,Negroeswhomanagedtolearntradeswereheldinsomewhathighesteembytherestoftheslaves.Andthechurchofficials,whenthe
NegroesfinallyembracedChristianity,enjoyedperhapsthegreatestprestigeofallduringslavery.Still,eveninthoserelativelyrarecaseswhereaNegrodidenjoysomeprivilegeor
specialposition,hewasstillaslave,andtheaddedprivilegecouldhardlyservetomaketheinstitutionofslaveryenjoyable.Afterslavery,thestratificationofthesocialorderamong
Negroeswasrapid.Atthebottomofthenewsocialladderwerethetenantfarmersandmigrantlaborers,andattheotherendweretheministers,storekeepers,andprofessionalmen.It
wasthelatterwhonaturallycametoberegardedastheleadersofthe
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manyNegrocommunitiesusuallytheysetthestancethenewsocietywouldtake.Theemulationofwhitesocietyprovedtobenotonlyapatternforthenewleaders,butanendin
itself.Negroeswhowerehighestinthesocialandeconomichierarchyalsobecamethemostfanaticimitatorsofwhitesociety,whilethegreatmassesofNegroesweremuchslowerin
theirattemptsatcompleteimitation.ThisphenomenoncausedasplitinthepsychicaldispositionoftheNegro'stemperamentwhichcertainlyaffectedallareasofhislife.
Thedevelopingmiddleclassandthemainstreamofblacksocietyfoundthemselvesheadedtwodifferentways.Thisdisparitywithintheblackcommunityisofsuchimportancethatit
cannotbeoveremphasized,anditbecamemoreandmorepronouncedastheNegroachievedmorelatitudeandstatusinAmerica.Atitsugliest,thisattitudewassymbolizedbythe
abandonmentbyagreatmanyNegroesofthemoresorcustomstheyconsideredslavecustoms,or"tooNegroid."Someblackchurchesbegantouseasmuchofthewhitechurch
musicastheycould.(MyownchurchinNewark,NewJersey,aBaptistchurch,hasalmostnoresemblancetotheolder,moretraditionalNegroChristianchurches.Themusic,for
instance,isusuallylimitedtothelessemotionalwhitechurchmusic,andthechoirusuallysingsBachorHandelduringChristmasandEaster.Inresponsetosomeofitsolder"country"
members,thechurch,whichisheadedbyaministerwhoisthemostrespectedNegroinNewark,hastoimportgospelgroups,orsingershavingamoretraditional"Negrochurch"
sound.)
RobertA.BonediscussesaNegroauthor,CharlesChestnutt,whowroteanovel,TheMarrowofTradition,aroundthetimeagreatmanyofthebetterclassofNegroeswerereacting
againsttwohundredyearsofslaverybytryingtoabandonalmostalltheir"Negrotraits."Chestnutt'snovelshowsthekindofattitudethatwasadoptedbysome.The"hero"isa"refined
AfroAmerican,"adoctor,whoisforced
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toshareaJimCrowcarwithdirty,boisterous,anddrunkenNegroes.Heisrevoltedbythesepeople,farmlaborers,inthecoach,andChesnuttsays,"Thesepeoplewerejustas
offensivetohimastothewhitesintheotherendofthetrain."26
ThiskindofhideousattitudeinaNegro(andmostoftheNegronovelistsofthetimewerequiteclosetoChesnuttintheirsocialattitudes)couldonlystemfromanacceptanceofthe
ideaofthesuperiorityofthewhiteman,oratleastthepropositionthattheNegro,somehow,mustcompletelylosehimselfwithinthecultureandsocialorderoftheexmaster.Itis
anotheraspectoftheslavementality.
Blues,too,oratthattimetheshouts,chants,hollers,whichlatertookmorelastingformasblues,receivedthesametreatmentfromthese"refinedAfroAmericans."TheNegro'smusic
wasthemostimpressivereminderforthesepeopleofslaveryandoftheirlesscultivatedbrothers.Andit,too,wastobeabandonedonthealtarofassimilationandprogress.During
thetimeimmediatelyaftertheEmancipation,thiskindofthinkingwaslimitedtoonlyafewNegroesthegrowthto"maturity"ofthisfinallyantiNegroattitudeamongNegroescomesa
littlelater.Itissufficienttonoteheresomeofthereasonsforitsgenesis.
TheNegro,duringthosefewyearsaftertheendofslavery,justbeforetheexodustotheNortherncities,stoodfurtherawayfromthemainstreamofAmericansocietythanatanyother
time.ItwasalsoduringtheseyearsthattheNegro'smusiclostagreatmanyofthemoresuperficialformsithadborrowedfromthewhiteman,andtheformsthatwerecognizenowas
bluesbegantoappear.Therewerestillblack"ballit"singerswhosangsongsthatusedcenturiesoldclassicalAngloSaxonballadformsandspiritualsthatwerepure"lifts"fromthe
Protestanthymnals.ButinafewyearsaftertheEmancipation,theshouts,hollers,yells,spirituals,andballitsbegantotakeshapeasblues.
[60]
6/....PrimitiveBluesandPrimitiveJazz
Aslavecannotbeaman.Amandoesnot,orisnotsupposedto,workallofhislifewithoutrecoursetotheotherareasofhumanexistence.Theemotionallimitationsthatslaverymust
enforcearemonstrous:theweightofhisbondagemakesinpossiblefortheslaveagreatmanyalternativesintowhichtheshabbiestoffreemencanprojecthimself.Thereisnoteven
aseparateidentitytheegocanclaim."Whatareyougoingtobewhenyougrowup?""Aslave."
Theworksongisalimitedsocialpossibility.Theshoutsandhollerswerestridentlaments,morethananything.Theywerealsochronicles,butofsuchameankindofexistencethat
theycouldnotassumetheuniversalityanylastingmusicalformmusthave.Theworksongsandlaterbluesformsdifferveryprofoundlynotonlyintheirformbutintheirlyricsand
intent.
Oh,Lawd,I'mtired,uuhOh,Lawd,I'mtired,uuhOh,Lawd,I'mtired,uuhOh,Lawd,I'mtired,adismess.
(repeated)
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PrimitivebluessingingactuallycameintobeingbecauseoftheCivilWar,inonesense.Theemancipationoftheslavesproposedforthemanormalhumanexistence,ahumanity
impossibleunderslavery.Ofcourse,evenafterslaverytheaverageNegro'slifeinAmericawas,usingthemoreebullientstandardsoftheaverageAmericanwhiteman,ashabby,
barrenexistence.Butstillthiswastheblackman'sfirstexperienceoftimewhenhecouldbealone.Theleisurethatcouldbeextractedfromeventhemostdesolatesharecropper's
shackinMississippiwasanovelty,anditservedasanimportantcatalystforthenextformbluestook.
ManyNegroeswhoweresharecroppers,orwhomanagedtopurchaseoneofthetinyfarmsthatdottedthelessfertilelandsoftheSouth,workedintheirfieldsaloneorwiththeir
families.Theoldshoutsandhollerswerestilltheiraccompanimentforthearduousworkofclearingland,planting,orharvestingcrops.Buttherewasasolitudetothisworkthathad
neverbeenpresentintheoldslavetimes.Thehugeplantationfieldshadmanyslaves,andtheysangtogether.OnthesmallerfarmswithfewerslaveswheretheolderAfricanforms
diedoutquicker,theeightandsixteenbar"ballits,"imitationsofthesongsofthewhitemasters,wereheardalongwiththeshouts.Ofcourse,theremusthavebeenlyricstosomeof
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diedoutquicker,theeightandsixteenbar"ballits,"imitationsofthesongsofthewhitemasters,wereheardalongwiththeshouts.Ofcourse,theremusthavebeenlyricstosomeof
thesongsthattheslavecouldnotwiselysinginfrontofhismaster.Butthesmallfarmsandsharecroppers'plotsproducednotonlywhatIthinkmusthavebeenalessselfconscious
worksongbutaformofsongorshoutthatdidnotnecessarilyhavetobeconcernedwith,orinspiredby,labor.Eachmanhadhisownvoiceandhisownwayofshoutinghisownlife
tosingabout.Thetendersofthosethousandsofsmallfarmsbecamealmostidentifiedbytheirindividualshouts."That'sGeorgeJones,downinHartsville,shoutin'likethat."
Alongwiththisleisuretherewasalsothatpersonalfreedomtoconductorruinone'slifeasonesawfit.Inthe1870'stherewerethousandsofblackmigrantworkersmovingall
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throughtheSouth.Therewerealsomenwhojustmovedaroundfromplacetoplace,notreallymigratorylaborers,justfootloosewanderers.Therecouldcomenowtotheseexslaves
amuchfullerideaofwhatexactlyAmericawas.AslaveonaGeorgiaplantation,unlesshewassoldorescaped,usuallywasborn,grewtomanhood,anddiedrightinGeorgia.To
him,thewholeofAmericawouldbeGeorgia,anditwouldhavetoconformstrictlytowhathehadexperienced.St.Louis,Houston,Shreveport,NewOrleans,simplydidnotexist(and
certainlynotNewYork).ButnowformanyNegroestherewasalifeofmovementfromfarmtofarm,ortowntotown.Thelimitedsocialandemotionalalternativesoftheworksongcould
nolongercontainthegrowingexperienceofthiscountrythatNegroesbegantorespondto.Also,theentranceofNegroesintothemorecomplicatedsocialsituationofselfreliance
proposedmultitudesofsocialandculturalproblemsthattheyneverhadtodealwithasslaves.ThemusicoftheNegrobegantoreflectthesesocialandculturalcomplexitiesand
change.
Veryearlybluesdidnothavethe"classic"twelvebar,threeline,AABstructure.Forawhile,asImentionedbefore,bluestypesongsutilizedthestructureoftheearlyEnglishballad,
andsometimesthesesongswereeight,ten,orsixteenbars.TheshoutasmuchastheAfricancallandresponsesingingdictatedtheformbluestook.Bluesissueddirectlyoutofthe
shoutand,ofcourse,thespiritual.Thethreelinestructureofblueswasafeatureoftheshout.Thefirsttwolinesofthesongwererepeated,itwouldseem,whilethesingerwaswaiting
forthenextlinetocome.Or,aswascharacteristicofthehollersandshouts,thesinglelinecouldberepeatedagainandagain,eitherbecausethesingerespeciallylikedit,orbecause
hecouldnotthinkofanotherline.Therepeatedphrasealsocarriesintoinstrumentaljazzastheriff.
AnotherreasonforthechangesinmusicalformwasthechangeofspeechpatternsamongagreatmanyNegroes.
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BynowthelanguageofAmericawasmasteredforcasualusebymostNegroes.WhiletheworksongorshouthadonlyafewEnglishwords,orwascomposedofAfricanizedEnglish
wordsorsomepatoislikelanguagethatseemedmoreaseparatelanguagethananattemptatmasteringEnglish,earlyblueshadalreadymovedtowardpureAmericanlyrics(withthe
intentthatthesongbeunderstoodbyotherAmericans).TheendlesslyrepeatedlineoftheshoutorhollermightalsohavebeenduetotherelativepaucityofAmericanwordsthe
averagefieldNegropossessed,therhymelinebeingmuchmoredifficulttosupplybecauseoftheactuallimitationsinginginAmericanimposed.Thelinescamemoreeasilyasthe
languagewasmasteredmorecompletely.BlueswasakindofsingingthatutilizedalanguagethatwasalmoststrictlyAmerican.Itwasnotuntiltheexslaveshadmasteredthis
languageinwhateverappropriationofittheymadethatbluesbegantobemoreevidentthanshoutsandhollers.
TheendofthealmostexclusiveholdoftheChristianChurchontheblackman'sleisurealsoresultedinagreatmanychangesofemphasisinhismusic.Thebluesisformedoutofthe
samesocialandmusicalfabricthatthespiritualissuedfrom,butwithbluesthesocialemphasisbecomesmorepersonal,the"Jordan"ofthesongmuchmoreintenselyahuman
accomplishment.TheendofslaverycouldberegardedasaJordan,andnotametaphysicaloneeither,althoughtheanalogyofthedeliveranceoftheJewsandtheEmancipation
musthavebeenmuchtoocogentapointforproselytizingtobelostonthelocalblackminister.Therewasadefinitechangeofdirectionintheprimitiveblues.ThemetaphysicalJordan
oflifeafterdeathwasbeginningtobereplacedbythemorepragmaticJordanoftheAmericanmaster:theJordanofwhattheexslavecouldseevaguelyasselfdetermination.Notthat
thatideaoremotionhadn'tbeenwiththeveryfirstAfricanswhohadbeenbroughtherethedifferencewasthattheAmericanNegrowanted
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somedegreeofselfdeterminationwherehewasliving.ThedesperationtoreturntoAfricahadbeguntobereplacedbyanotherevenmorehopelessone.TheNegrobegantofeela
desiretobemoreinthiscountry,America,thanchattel."Thesun'sgonnashineinmybackdoorsomeday!"
TheleisureandmovementallowedtoNegroesaftertheCivilWarhelpedtostandardizethenewbluesformaswellasspreadthebestversesthatweremadeup.Althoughtherewere
regionaldifferencesinthewaybluesbegantobesung,therewerealsocertainrecurring,soon"classical,"bluesversesandtechniquesthatturnedupinagreatmanyplacessimply
becauseamanhadbeentherefromGeorgiaorLouisianaorSouthCarolinaandshownthelocalswhathistownorregionproduced.
ButthethousandsofblackbluesshoutersandballitsingerswhowanderedthroughouttheSoutharoundtheturnofthecenturymovedfromplacetoplacenotonlybecauseNegroes
wereallowedtotravelaftertheCivilWar,butbecauseforagreatmanyNegroes,emancipationmeantaconstantdesperatesearchforemployment(althoughtheremustalsohave
beenthosepeoplewho,havingbeenreleasedfromtheirbondage,setoutatoncetoseewhatthiscountrywasreallyabout).Notonlythemigratoryworkerswhofollowedthecrop
harvestsbuttheyoungmenwhowantedanykindofworkhadtotrampallovertheSouthinsearchofit.ItisalsoastrangenotethatoncetheNegroeswerefree,itwasalwaysthemen
whohadthehardertimefindingwork.Womencouldalwaysfindworkasdomesticswherevertheywere.Buttheblackmanwhohaddoneagriculturallabor,asmostNegroeshad,
founditdifficulttofindworkbecausetheimpoverishedwhitesoftheSouthsuddenlyhadtopaywagestotheirworkers.TheNegrohadtohavewagestolive:forthefirsttimehe
neededmoneyandhadtoenterintothefiercestruggleforeconomicsecuritylikeanyotherpoormaninthiscountry.Again,eventheeconomicstatusoftheNegroafterhisfreedom
proposednewchangesfor
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hismusic."Ineverhadtohavenomoneybefo'/AndnowtheywantiteverywhereIgo."Thecontentofbluesversehadbecomemuchchangedfromthestrictlyextemporizedlyricsofthe
shoutsandhollers.
ItseemspossibletomethatsomekindofgraphcouldbesetupusingsamplingsofNegromusicpropertowhatevermomentoftheNegro'ssocialhistorywasselected,andthatin
eachgroupingofsongsacertainfrequencyofreferencecouldprettywelldeterminehissocial,economic,andpsychologicalstatesatthatparticularperiod.FromtheneoAfricanslave
chantsthroughtheprimitiveandclassicalbluestothescatsingingofthebeboppers:allwouldshowdefiniteinsistencesofreferencethatwouldisolateeachgroupfromtheothersasa
socialentity.Noslavesongneedspeakabouttheslave'slackofmoneynoearlyAfroAmericanslavesongwouldmakereferencetotheChristianChurchalmostnoclassicalblues
songwould,orcould,makedirectorpositivementionofAfrica.EachphaseoftheNegro'smusicissueddirectlyfromthedictatesofhissocialandpsychologicalenvironment.Hence
theblackmanwhobeganafterslaverytoeliminateasmuchoftheNegroculturefromhislifeaspossiblebecamebythisveryactacertainkindofNegro.Andifthiscertainkindof
Negrostillendeavoredtomakemusic,albeitwiththestrictprovisionthatthismusicnotbeaNegromusic,hecouldstillnotescapethefinal"insult"ofthismusicbeingevaluated
socially,psychologically,andmusicallyasakindofNegromusic.ThemovementoftheNegrointoapositionwherehewouldbeabletoescapeeventhisseparationfromthewhite
mainstreamofAmericaisacentralthemeofthisbook.
EvenwiththerelativeformalizationofsecularNegromusic,blueswasstillanextremelypersonalmusic.Therewerethesongsextollingthemeritsandadventuresofheroesorheroic
archetypes,JohnHenry,StaggerLee,Dupree,etc.,butevenasthebluesbegantoexpanditsreferencesitstillremainedakindofsingingthattoldabouttheexploitsof
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thesinger.Heroicarchetypesorcowardlyarchetypeswereusedtopointupsomepartofthesinger'slife.
IncomeaniggernamedBillyGohelfCoonwassomeanwasskeeredofhisselfLoadedwidrazorsan'guns,sotheysay,Causehekilledacoonmosteveryday.
AndthisintenselypersonalnatureofbluessingingisalsotheresultofwhatcanbecalledtheNegro's"Americanexperience."Africansongsdealt,asdidthesongsofagreatmanyof
thepreliterateorclassicalcivilizations,withtheexploitsofthesocialunit,usuallythetribe.Thereweresongsaboutthegods,theirworksandlives,aboutnatureandtheelements,
aboutthenatureofaman'slifeontheearthandwhathecouldexpectafterhedied,buttheinsistenceofbluesverseonthelifeoftheindividualandhisindividualtrialsandsuccesses
ontheearthisamanifestationofthewholeWesternconceptofman'slife,anditisadevelopmentthatcouldonlybefoundinanAmericanblackman'smusic.FromtheAmericanblack
leader'sacceptanceofAdamSmith"laissezfaire"socialinferencestosomelessfortunateblackman'srelegationtoalonelypatchofuselessearthinSouthCarolina,theweightof
Westerntradition,ortomakeitmorespecificandlocal,theweightofjustwhatsocialcircumstanceandaccidentcametogethertoproducetheAmericathattheNegrowaspartof,had
tomakeitselfpartofhislifeaswell.Thewholeconceptofthesolo,ofamansingingorplayingbyhimself,wasrelativelyunknowninWestAfricanmusic.
ButiftheblueswasamusicthatdevelopedbecauseoftheNegro'sadaptationto,andadoptionof,America,itwasalsoamusicthatdevelopedbecauseoftheNegro'speculiar
positioninthiscountry.Earlyblues,asitcametodifferfromtheshoutandtheAfroChristianreligiousmusic,wasalsoperhapsthemostimpressiveexpressionoftheNegro's
individualitywithinthesuperstructureofAmericansociety.
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EventhoughitsbirthandgrowthseemsconnectedfinallytothegeneralmovementofthemassofblackAmericansintothecentralcultureofthecountry,bluesstillwentbackforits
impetusandemotionalmeaningtotheindividual,tohiscompletelypersonallifeanddeath.Becauseofthis,bluescouldremainforalongtimeaveryfreshandsingularformof
expression.Thoughcertaintechniquesandversescametobestandardizedamongbluessingers,thesingingitselfremainedasarbitraryandpersonalastheshout.Eachmansanga
differentblues:thePeatieWheatstrawblues,theBlindLemonblues,theBlindWillieJohnsonblues,etc.Themusicremainedthatpersonalbecauseitbeganwiththeperformers
themselves,andnotwithformalizednotionsofhowitwastobeperformed.Earlybluesdevelopedasamusictobesungforpleasure,acasualmusic,andthatwasitsstrengthandits
weakness.
Idon'twantyoutobenoslave,Idon'twantyoutoworkallday,Idon'twantyoutobetrue,Ijustwanttomakelovetoyou.
SincemostNegroesbeforeandafterslaverywereagriculturallaborers,thecornsongsandarwhoolies,theshoutsandhollers,issuedfromonekindofwork.Someoftheworksongs,
forinstance,useastheirmeasurethegruntofamanpushingaheavyweightortheblowofahammeragainstastonetoprovidethemetricalprecisionandrhythmicalimpetusbehind
thesinger.("Takethishammer,uh,/Takeittothecaptain,uh,/Takeittothecaptain,uh,/TellhimI'mgone.")Contemporaryworksongs,forexample,songsrecordedbyNegroconvicts
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thesinger.("Takethishammer,uh,/Takeittothecaptain,uh,/Takeittothecaptain,uh,/TellhimI'mgone.")Contemporaryworksongs,forexample,songsrecordedbyNegroconvicts
workingintheSouthlayingrailroadties,fellingtrees,breakingrocks,taketheirimpetusfromtheworkbeingdone,andtheformofthesingingitselfisdictatedbythework.These
workersforthemostpartdonotsingblues.Thelaboriscentraltothesong:notonlyistherecurringgruntormoanoftheseworksongssomekind
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ofmetricalandrhythmicalinsistence,itistheverycatalystforthesong.Ononerecentrecord,theLouisianaFolkloreSociety's,PrisonWorksongsrecordedinAngola,Louisiana,atthe
LouisianaStatePenitentiarythere,onesonglistedasTakeThisHammerbeginsasthatsong,butlastsasthatforonlyaboutthree"bars"(threestrokesofthehammer)andthen
wandersirresolutelyintoAlberta,Berta,severalbluesverses,andafewlinesfromaspiritual.Thepointisthattheprimitiveblueswasatonceamoreformalmusicsincethethreeline,
twelvebarsongbecamerapidlystandardized,andwasalsoamoreliberatedmusicsincetherewasliterallymoretosingabout.Inone'sleisureonecanbegintoformalizeamethodof
singingaswellasfindnewthingstosingabout.(ItisaninterestingthoughtthatperhapsallthemusicthatNegroesinAmericahavemademighthavebeenquitedifferentifthework
thattheywerebroughtheretodohadbeendifferent.SupposeNegroeshadbeenbroughttothiscountrytomakevasesorplaybasketball.Howmighttheblueshavedevelopedthen
fromtheimpetusofworksongsgearedtothoseoccupations?)
Worksongsandshoutswere,ofcourse,almostalwaysacapella.Itwouldhavebeenextremelydifficultforamantopickcottonorshuckcornandplayaninstrumentatthesametime.
Forthisreasonprebluessecularsingingdidnothavethedisciplineorstrictformalitythatakindofsingingemployinginstrumentsmusthave.Butitisobviousfromtheveryearliest
formofthebluesthatinstrumentalaccompanimentwasbeginningtobetakenintoconsideration.Thetwelvebarbluesthemoreorlessfinalformofbluesisconstructedsothat
eachverseisofthreelines,eachlineaboutfourbarslong.Thewordsofthesongusuallyoccupyaboutonehalfofeachline,leavingaspaceoftwobarsforeitherasungansweror
aninstrumentalresponse.
Itmayseemstrangethattheformalbluesshouldevolveafterslavery,aftersomanyyearsofbondageandexposure
69
bytheslavestothelargerWesternculturalunit,intoaformthatispatentlynonWesternthethreelineverseformofthebluesspringsfromnoreadilyapparentWesternsource.Butthe
useofinstrumentsonalargescalewasalsosomethingthathappenedaftertheEmancipationtheverypossessionofinstruments,exceptthosefewmadefromAfricanmodels,was
rareintheearlydaysofslavery.ThestereotypedpicturesthatmanyoftheapologistsfortheSouthernwayoflifeusedasflyleavesfortheirnumerousnovelsaftertheCivilWar,
depictingahappygoluckyblackexistentialiststrummingmerrilyonhisbanjowhilesittingonabaleofcotton,were,I'msure,moreromanticfictionthanfact.Theslavewouldhardly
havehadthetimetositonhismaster'sbaleofcottonduringtheworkday,andtheonlyinstrumentsthatwereincommonusageamongtheslavesweredrums,rattles,tambourines,
scrapers(thejawboneofahorseoverwhichapieceofwoodwasscraped),andthelikeevensuchanAfricaninstrumentasthebanjowasveryscarce.Theguitarwasnotcommonly
playedbyNegroesuntilmuchaftertheCivilWar.AninstrumentliketheharmonicagrewinpopularityamongagreatmanyNegroessimplybecauseittookupalmostnospaceand
wassoeasytocarryaround.Buteventheharmonicadidnotcomeintocommonuseuntilafterslavery,andcertainlythepossessionandmasteryofEuropeaninstrumentsdidnot
occuruntilmuchlater.
Whenprimitiveorcountrybluesdidbegintobeinfluencedbyinstruments,itwastheguitarthathadthemosteffectonthesingers.AndwhenthegreatmassesofNegroeswerejust
beginningtolearntheinstrument,therelativelysimplechordsofthecountryblueswereprobablywhattheylearned.Conceivably,thisalsobroughtaboutanotherchange:blues,a
vocalmusic,wasmadetoconformtoaninstrument'srange.But,ofcourse,theblueswidenedtherangeoftheinstrument,too.Bluesguitarwasnotthesameasclassicalor"legitimate"
guitar:thestringshadtomake
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vocalsounds,toimitatethehumanvoiceanditseeriecacophonies.PerhapsthereasonwhytheguitarwasatoncesopopularwasnotonlybecauseitwasmuchliketheAfrican
instrument,thebanjo(orbanjor),butbecauseitwasaninstrumentthatstillpermittedtheperformertosing.
WhentheNegrofinallydidtakeupthebrassinstrumentsforstrictlyinstrumentalbluesorjazz,theplayersstillpersistedinsinginginthe"breaks."Thiscouldbedoneeasilyinthe
bluestraditionwiththecallandresponseformofblues.Evenmuchlaterinthejazztradition,notonlywereinstrumentsmadetosoundlikethehumanvoicebutagreatmanyofthe
predominantlyinstrumentalsongswerestillpartiallysung.Thefirstgreatsoloistofjazz,LouisArmstrong,wasaformidablebluessinger,aswasthegreatjazzpianistJellyRollMorton.
Bothmensangbluesalmostasbeautifullyastheyplayedtheirinstruments.
Theprimitiveblueswasstillverymuchavocalmusicthesingersreliedontheunpredictabilityandmobilityofthehumanvoicefortheirimaginativecatalysts.Butthegrowinguseof
Europeaninstrumentssuchasbrassandreedsalmostprecludedsong,exceptasaccompanimentorasaninterlude.WhenNegroesbegantomastermoreandmore"European"
instrumentsandbegantothinkmusicallyintermsoftheirtimbres,asopposedto,orinconjunctionwith,thevoice,bluesbegantochange,andtheeraofjazzwasathand.
"JazzbeganinNewOrleansandworkeditswayuptherivertoChicago,"istheannouncementmostinvestigatorsofmainstreampopularcultureareapttomakewhendealingwiththe
vaguesubjectofjazzanditsorigins.Andwhilethatiscertainlyarationalexplanation,charminglysimple,etc.,itismorethanlikelyuntrue.Jazz,orpurelyinstrumentalblues,couldno
morehavebeguninoneareaofthecountrythancouldblues.ThemassmigrationsofNegroesthroughouttheSouthandthegeneralliberatingeffectof
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theEmancipationmakeitextremelydifficulttosayjustexactlywhereandwhenjazz,orpurelyinstrumentalblues(withEuropeaninstruments),originated.Itiseasytopointoutthatjazz
isamusicthatcouldnothaveexistedwithoutbluesanditsvariousantecedents.However,jazzshouldnotbethoughtofasasuccessortoblues,butasaveryoriginalmusicthat
developedoutof,andwasconcomitantwith,bluesandmovedoffintoitsownpathofdevelopment.Oneinterestingpointisthatalthoughjazzdevelopedoutofakindofblues,bluesin
itslaterpopularconnotationcametomeanawayofplayingjazz,andbytheswingerathewidespreadpopularityofthebluessingerhadalreadybeenreplacedbythejazzplayer's.By
then,blueswasforagreatmanypeoplenolongeraseparatemusic.
EventhoughNewOrleanscannotbethoughtofwithanyhistoricalveracityas"thebirthplaceofjazz,"therehasbeensomuchinvestigationofthejazzandearliermusiccharacteristic
thereinthefirstpartofthetwentiethcentury,thatfromNewOrleansconclusionsmaybedrawnconcerningthesocialandculturalphenomenathatledtothecreationofjazz.Also,the
variouseffectsofthedevelopmentofthismusicuponNegroesintheareacanbeconsideredandcertainessentialanalogiesmade.
IhavementionedCongoSquareinNewOrleansasaplacewhereAfricanNegroesintheearlieryearsofslaverymettoplaywhatwascertainlyanAfricanmusic.MarshallStearns
quotesanarchitect,BenjaminLatrobe,whovisitedCongoSquarein1819:
"Themusicconsistedoftwodrumsandastringedinstrument.Anoldmansatastrideofacylindricaldrumaboutafootindiameter,andbeatitwithincrediblequicknesswiththeedge
ofhishandandfingers.Theotherdrumwasanopenstavedthingheldbetweenthekneesandbeateninthesamemanner....Themostcuriousinstrument,however,wasastringed
instrumentwhichnodoubtwasimportedfromAfrica.Onthetopofthefingerboardwas
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therudefigureofamaninasittingposture,andtwopegsbehindhimtowhichthestringswerefastened.Thebodywasacalabash...One,whichfromthecolorofthewoodseemed
new,consistedofablockcutintosomethingoftheformofacricketbatwithalonganddeepmorticedownthecenter...beingbeatenlustilyonthesidebyashortstick.Inthesame
orchestrawasasquaredrum,lookinglikeastool...alsoacalabashwitharoundholeinit,theholestuddedwithbrassnails,whichwasbeatenbyawomanwithtwoshortsticks."27
ThiskindofgatheringinCongoSquarewasusuallytheonlychanceNegroeshadtosingandplayatlength.And,ofcourse,eventhiswassupervisedbythelocalauthorities:the
slaveswerebroughttothesquareandbroughtbackbytheirmasters.Still,theCongoSquaresessionsweresaidtohaveincludedmanyAfricansongsthatweresupposedlybanned
bythewhitesforbeingpartofthevodunorvoodoorites.TheslavesalsodancedFrenchquadrillesandsangpatoisdittiesinadditiontothemoreAfricanchantsthattheyshouted
abovethe"greatdrums."
NowhereelseintheUnitedStatesistheFrenchinfluencesoapparentasinNewOrleansitwasthispredominantlyFrenchculturethatsetthetonefortheEuropeanizationofAfrican
slavesinthearea.Themulattoes,orlightskinnedNegroes,inNewOrleans,whoweretheresultusuallyofsomelessthanlegalunionbetweentheFrenchmastersandblackslave
women,evenadoptedthenameCreoletodistinguishthemselvesfromtheotherNegroes,althoughthistermoriginallymeantanywhitesettlerofFrenchorSpanishblood.The
Creoles,inmuchthesamemannerasthehouseNegroesonplantationsinotherareas,adoptedasmuchoftheFrenchcultureastheycouldandturnedtheirbacksonthe"darker"
cultureoftheirhalfbrothers.Itissafetoassume,forinstance,thattherewerenoblackCreolesdancinginCongoSquare.
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TheblackmanmusthavebeenimpressednotonlybythewordsanddancesofthequadrillesandminuetshelearnedfromtheFrenchsettlersofNewOrleans,butbytheinstruments
thewhiteCreolesemployedtoplaythem.SoNewOrleansNegroesbecameinterestedinthetubas,clarinets,trombones,andtrumpetsofthewhitemarchingbands,whichwerealso
popularinNewOrleansaswellasinmanyotherSoutherncities.(InthetimeofNapoleon,thepopularityofthemilitarybandsoonspreadfromFrancetoallthesettlementsintheNew
WorldinfluencedbyFrenchculture.)The"exotic"rhythmsofthequadrilles(2/4and6/8)andthemilitarymarchingbands(4/4)alsomadeagreatimpressionontheslaves,andthey
triedtoincorporatethesemetersintotheirownmusic.TheblackCreoles,however,triedtoadopttheseelementsofFrenchculturecompletely,learningthequadrillesbyrote.Still
slaveryandthecircumstanceoftheNegroes'bondageplayedabigroleinthiskindofassimilationaswell.ManyoftheCreoleswerefreedmenbyvirtueoftheaccidentoftheirbirth,or
atleastwerehouseservantslongbeforetheEmancipation.TheyhaddirectaccesstoEuropeanmusicandinstrumentslongbeforetherestoftheNegroesinthearea.
ThemarchingbandsthatwerestartedbyNegroesinimitationoftheNapoleonicmilitarymarchingbandsofthewhiteCreolesalsofellintotwodistinctcategories.Therewerethe
comparativelyfinelytrainedbandsoftheCreolesandtheuntutored,rawbandsoftheUptown,darkerNewOrleansNegroes(whichdidnotbeginuntilwellafterslaverywas
abolished).Thesebandswereusedforallkindsofaffairsinadditiontothefamousfuneralprocessions,theyplayedforpicnics,dances,boatingtrips,andthelike.Onereasonforthe
formationofthesebandswastheorganizationofagreatnumberofclubsandsecretsocietiesandfraternitiesintheNegrocommunities(whiteandblack)aftertheEmancipation.
ThesesocietiesandfraternitieswereanimportantpartoftheNegro'slife,anddrainedalotof
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theblackcommunityawayfromtheChristianChurch,whichhadbeenthesoleplacetheslavescouldspendtheirleisuretime.ButitwasnotunusualforaNegrotobelongtothe
ChristianChurch(inNewOrleans,aftertheBlackCodesof1724,NegroeswereonlyallowedtobecomeCatholics)andtoalsobelongtoanumberofsecretsocieties.Thesesocieties
stillthrivetodayalloverthecountryinmostNegrocommunities,thoughforthemostparttheiractual"secrecy"isthesecrecyofanyfraternalorganization.TheMasonsandtheElks
haveclaimedmosturbanandNorthernNegroes,andtheoldvoduntingedsecretorders,sometimesbannedbywhites,haveforthemostpart(exceptintheruralareas)disappeared
completely.
OneexampleofthewayNegroesusedEuropeanrhythmsinconjunctionwiththeirownWestAfricanrhythmswasthefuneralprocessions.Themarchtothecemeterywasplayedin
slow,dirgelike4/4cadence.Itwasusuallyaspiritualthatwasplayed,butmadeintoakindofrawandbluesyNapoleonicmilitarymarch.Thebandwasfollowedbythemourners
relatives,membersofthedeceased'sfraternalorderorsecretsociety,andwellwishers.(Allnightbeforetheburial,oronasmanynightsastherewerethatintervenedbetweenthe
deathandtheburial,themournerscameintothehouseofthedeceasedtoweepandwailandkissthebody.Butthese"wakes"or"mourningtimes"usuallyturnedintohouseparties.)
Aftertheburial,theband,onceremovedsomegooddistancefromthecemetery,usuallybrokeintotheuptempopartofthemarchatsomeapproximationofthe2/4quadrilletime.
Didn'tHeRambleandWhentheSaintsGoMarchin'Inweretwoofthemostfrequentlyplayedtunesbothtransmutedreligioussongs.Eveninthiskindofmarchmusictheinfluence
oftheblueswasveryheavy,atleastfortheUptownor"darker"brassbandstheDowntownCreolebandswouldhavenothingtodowiththe"rawandraucousplayingofthosedark
folks."TheformoftheCreolefuneralsmusthavedifferedalsoiftheDowntownmournerswere
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emulatingtheirwhiteCreolemodels.CertainlyagreatmanyselfrespectingCreolesmusthavefrownedontheanticsthedarkerNegroesperformedwhenburyingamemberoftheir
community.Thelongperiodofjovialmourning,completewithbanquetsanddancing,wascertainlyoutsidethepaleofeitherCatholicorProtestantreligiouspractice.Herskovitscites
theseburialcustomsasoriginatinginWestAfrica,especiallyamongthelargeDahomeytribes.(AninterestingnoteabouttheNewOrleansfuneralisthatrecently,in1955,Ebony,the
vehicleofAmericanmiddleclassNegroaspirations,announcedthatwhenPaPaCelestin,thegreatNewOrleanstrumpetplayer,died,nojazzwasplayed"outofrespectforPaPa.")
BythetimethemarchingandbrassbandswereinvogueinNewOrleansandsomeotherpartsoftheSouth,NegroeshadalreadybeguntomasteragreatmanyotherEuropean
instrumentsbesidestheguitarandtheharmonica.Thetrumpets,trombones,andtubasofthebrassbandswereplayedwithavaryingamountofskill,thoughwhenamanhaslearned
enoughaboutaninstrumenttoplaythemusichewantstoplay,"skill"becomesanarbitraryconsideration.TheblackbrassbandsofNewOrleansaroundtheturnofthecenturyhad
certainlymasteredtheEuropeanbrassinstrumentsaswellastheDowntownCreolebands,butbynowtheyweresimply"doingitthewaytheyfeltit."Bythetimethefirstnon
marching,instrumental,bluesorientedgroupsstartedtoappearinnumbers,i.e.,the"jass"or"dirty"bands,theinstrumentationwasapasticheofthebrassbandsandthelighter
quadrillegroups.In1897,BuddyBolden'sgroupconsistedofcornet,trombone,clarinet(thefirstreedinstrumentNegroesbegantoplaywithanyfrequency),violin,guitar,stringbass
(alreadyaninnovationoverthetuba,thefirst"timekeeping"instrumentinthesebands),anddrums.
Therepressive"whitesupremacy"measuresthatwereputintoeffectaftertheCivilWarhadagreatdealofeffectonthemusicofNewOrleans.By1894,therewasalegislativeact
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enforcingsegregationwhichhittheblackCreoleshardest.Italso,inthelongrun,helpedredirecttheirsocialandmusicalenergies.Upuntilthetimeoftheinfamousdiscriminative
codes,theCreolesenjoyedanautonomyofsocialandeconomicstatustoacertainextenttheyhadthesameeconomicandsocialadvantagesasthewhites.Manyofthemhadbeen
educatedinFranceandalsosenttheirchildrentoFrancetobeeducated,wheremanyremained.QuiteafewCreolefamilieswereamongtherichestfamiliesinNewOrleans,andstill
otherswerewellknownartisansandcraftsmen.InagreatmanycasesCreolesworkedsidebysidewithwhites.Theyalsoenjoyedtheculturalsideofeighteenthandnineteenth
centuryNewOrleanslife:Creoleshadtheirownboxesattheopera,andtheyparticipatedinalltheDowntownorwhiteparadeswiththeirownhighlytrainedmilitarystylemarching
bands.Butwiththesegregationactsofthelatenineteenthcentury,Creolesbegantolosethejobswheretheyhadbeenworkingwithwhites,andtheywerenolongerpermittedtoplay
Downtown,neitherinthehomesoftherichwhitesnorinthemilitaryparades.
Itwasaboutthistimethatthedarker,bluesorientedmusiciansfromUptownNewOrleanswerebeginningtoplaytheir"dirty"instrumentalmusicinsaloonsanddancehalls,atparties,
picnics,andsomeoftheplaceswheretheolderbrassmarchingbandsusedtoholdforth.Itwasstilla"marchy"kindofmusic,butthestrict4/4marchtempohadgivenwaytothe
ragged2/4tempo,andthetimbresandtonesthatpeoplelikeBoldenbegantousewereradicallyremovedfromthepuresonoritiesofEuropeanstylemarchingbands.Theirswasa
muchmorevocalkindofplayingcomparedtothewaybrasshornshadbeenusedbefore.Again,thisseemspartofadefinablecycleintheresponseoftheNegrototheculturaland
socialstimuliofthiscountry.Thebluesmovedthroughmuchthesamecycle,developingoutofwhatseemedlikeimitationsofEuropeanmusicintoaform(andcontent)thatwas
relativelyautonomous.Primitive
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bluesismuchmoreaNegromusicthanagreatdealofthemusicitgrewoutof.
MissKembleinherdiaryreportshearingNegroessingingasong"whiletheylabored"onriverboatsthatwasverymuchlikeComingThroughtheRye.Itisquiteprobablethatitwas
ComingThroughtheRye.Mostslavesintheearlypartofthenineteenthcenturycouldnothavesungthewordstothesong,butcouldchangetheminto:"Jennyshakehertoeat
me,/Jennygoneaway/Jennyshakehertoeatme,/Jennygoneaway./Hurrah!MissSusy,oh!/Jennygoneaway/Hurrah!MissSusy,oh!/Jennygoneaway."Alsorelevantarethebestof
MissKemble'sobservationsaboutNegromusicpresumablytheirworksongs,sinceshewouldhardlyhaveobservedthematanyothertime:
"Excepttheextemporaneouschantsinourhonor...IhaveneverheardtheNegroes...singanywordsthatcouldbesaidtohaveanysense.Toone,anextremelypretty,plaintive,
andoriginalair,therewasbutoneline,whichwasrepeatedwithasortofwailingchorus
Oh!mymassatoldme,there'snograssinGeorgia.
Uponinquiringthemeaningofwhich,Iwastolditwassupposedtobethelamentationofaslavefromoneofthemorenortherlystates,VirginiaorCarolina,wherethelaborofhoeing
theweeds,orgrassastheycallit,isnotnearlysosevereashere,inthericeandcottonlandsofGeorgia.Anotherveryprettyandpathetictunebeganwithwordsthatseemedto
promisesomethingsentimental
Fareyouwell,andgoodby,oh,oh!I'mgoin'awaytoleaveyou,oh!oh!
butimmediatelywentoffintononsenseversesaboutgentlemenintheparlordrinkingwineandcordial,andladiesinthedrawingroomdrinkingteaandcoffee,etc.Ihaveheardthat
manyofthemastersandoverseersontheseplantationsprohibitmelancholytunesorwords,andencouragenothing
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butcheerfulmusicandsenselesswords,deprecatingtheeffectofsadderstrainsupontheslaves,whosepeculiarmusicalsensibilitymightbeexpectedtomakethemespecially
excitablebyanysongsofaplaintivecharacter,andhavinganyreferencetotheirpeculiarhardships."28
AndsowehaveperhapsanotherreasonwhytheNegro'ssecularmusicmaturedonlyaftertheendofslavery.Theblues,asitcameintoitsownstrictform,wasthemostplaintiveand
melancholymusicimaginable.Andthecontent,themeaning,MissKemblesearchedforinvainintheworksongs,wascertainlyquiteevidentinthelatermusic.
AlthoughtheinstrumentalmusicmovedtowardanautonomousformonlyaftertheEmancipation,inonlyafewyearsafterthebeginningofthetwentiethcentury,therewassuchathing
asajazzband.AndinafewmoreyearsthiskindofbandwasthrowingoffmostofitsmusicaltieswiththebrassmarchingbandsorthestringgroupsofthewhiteCreoles.
WhentheCreoles"ofcolor"begantolosetheirDowntownjobsorfoundthattheywerenolongerpermittedtoplayforwhiteaffairs,someofthembegantomakethetripUptowntositin
withtheirdarkerhalfbrothers.Bythistime,neartheturnofthecentury,therewasamarkeddifferenceintheplayingandmusicoftheUptownandDowntownNegroes.TheCreoles
hadreceivedformalmusicaltraining,sometimesundertheaegisofwhiteFrenchteachers.TheyhadmasteredtheEuropeaninstrumentaltechniques,andthemusictheyplayedwas
European.TheUptownNegroes,whohadusuallylearnedtheirinstrumentsbyearandneverreceivedformalandtechnicaltraining,developedaninstrumentaltechniqueandmusic
oftheirown,amusicthatreliedheavilyonthenonEuropeanvocaltraditionofblues.ManyCreoleswhohadturnedtheirbacksonthis"darker"traditionnowbegantotrytolearnit
again.
Animportantideatoconsiderhereisthatjazzasitdevelopedwaspredominantlyabluesbasedmusic.Theblues
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timbreandspirithadcometojazzvirtuallyunchanged,eventhoughtheearlyNegromusiciansusingEuropeaninstrumentshadtolearntoplaythemwiththestrictEuropeanmarch
musicasamodel.The"classical"timbreofthetrumpet,thetimbrethatCreolesimitated,wasnotthetimbrethatcameintojazz.ThepurityoftonethattheEuropeantrumpetplayer
desiredwasputasidebytheNegrotrumpeterforthemorehumanlyexpressivesoundofthevoice.Thebrasssoundcametotheblues,butitwasabrasssoundhardlyrelatedtoits
Europeanmodels.Therough,rawsoundtheblackmanforcedoutoftheseEuropeaninstrumentswasasoundhehadcultivatedinthiscountryfortwohundredyears.Itwasan
Americansound,somethingindigenoustoacertainkindofculturalexistenceinthiscountry.
CreoleslikeviolinistPaulDomingues,whenhesaid,"See,usDowntownpeople,wedidn'tthinksomuchofthisroughUptownjazzuntilwecouldn'tmakealivingotherwise....Idon't
knowhowtheydoit.Butgoddam,they'lldoit.Can'ttellyouwhat'sthereonthepaper,butjustplaythehelloutofit,"29wereexpressingperhapsthebasicconflicttoariseregarding
thewaytheexslavewastomakehiswayinAmerica.Adaptationorassimilation?ItwasnotmuchofaproblemformostNegroesinthenineteenthcentury,although,tobesure,there
musthavebeenquiteafewwhohadalreadydisappeared(culturally)intothewhiteworld.TheCreoles,forinstance,hadalreadymadethatmove,butNewOrleanswasaspecial
situation.AdaptationwastheNegro'swayearlierhehadlittlechoice.Hehadnotsufficientknowledgeof,orexperiencein,thedominantculturetobecomecompletelyassimilated
withinit.Hewentalongthepathofleastresistance,whichwastofashionsomethingoutofthatcultureforhimself,girdedbythestrengthofthestillevidentAfricanculture.TheUptown
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withinit.Hewentalongthepathofleastresistance,whichwastofashionsomethingoutofthatcultureforhimself,girdedbythestrengthofthestillevidentAfricanculture.TheUptown
musiciansmadejazzinthismanner.TheCreolesresisted"Negro"musicbecausetheythought
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theyhadfoundaplacewithinwhitesocietywhichwouldprecludetheirbeingNegroes.Buttheywereunsuccessfulintheirattemptto"disappear"becausethewhitesthemselves
remindedthemthattheywerestill,foralltheirassimilation,"coons."Andthisseemstomeanextremelyimportantideasinceitisjustthisbitterinsistencethathaskeptwhatcanbe
calledNegrocultureabrilliantamalgamofdiverseinfluences.
TherewasalwaysaborderbeyondwhichtheNegrocouldnotgo,whethermusicallyorsocially.Therewasalwaysapossiblelimitationtoanydilutionorexcessionofculturalor
spiritualreferences.TheNegrocouldnoteverbecomewhiteandthatwashisstrengthatsomepoint,always,hecouldnotparticipateinthedominanttenorofthewhiteman'sculture.
Itwasatthisjuncturethathehadtomakeuseofotherresources,whetherAfrican,subcultural,orhermetic.Anditwasthisboundary,thisnoman'sland,thatprovidedthelogicand
beautyofhismusic.
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7/....ClassicBlues
Whathasbeencalled"classicblues"wastheresultofmorediversesociologicalandmusicalinfluencesthananyotherkindofAmericanNegromusiccalledblues.Musically,classic
bluesshowedtheNegrosinger'sappropriationofagreatmanyelementsofpopularAmericanmusic,notablythemusicassociatedwithpopulartheaterorvaudeville.Theinstrumental
musicthataccompaniedclassicbluesalsoreflectedthisdevelopment,asitdidtheNegromusician'smaturingawarenessofamoreinstrumentalstyle,possiblyasafoiltobeusedwith
hisnaturallyvocalstyle.ClassicbluesappearedinAmericaataboutthesametimeasragtime,themostinstrumentalornonvocalmusictoissuefromNegroinspiration.Ragtimeis
alsoamusicthatiscloselyassociatedwiththepopulartheaterofthelatenineteenthandearlytwentiethcenturies.Althoughragtimemustbeconsideredasaseparatekindofmusic,
borrowingmoreEuropeanelementsthananyothermusiccommonlyassociatedwithNegroes,itcontributedgreatlytothedevelopmentofNegromusicfromanalmostpurelyvocal
traditiontoonethatcouldbegintoincludethemelodicandharmoniccomplexitiesofinstrumentalmusic.
Socially,classicbluesandtheinstrumentalstylesthat
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wentwithitrepresentedtheNegro'sentranceintotheworldofprofessionalentertainmentandtheassumptionofthepsychologicalimperativesthatmustaccompanysucha
phenomenon.Blueswasamusicthatarosefromtheneedsofagroup,althoughitwasassumedthateachmanhadhisownbluesandthathewouldsingthem.Assuch,themusic
wasprivateandpersonal,althoughthewanderingcountrybluessingersofearliertimeshadfromtimetotimecasualaudienceswhowouldsometimesrespondwithgiftsoffood,
clothes,orevenmoney.Butagainitwasassumedthatanybodycouldsingtheblues.Ifsomeonehadlivedinthisworldintomanhood,itwastakenforgrantedthathehadbeengiven
thecontentofhisverses,andasIpointedoutearlier,musicaltrainingwasnotapartofAfricantraditionmusiclikeanyartwastheresultofnaturalinclination.Giventhedeeply
personalqualityofbluessinging,therecouldbenoparticularmethodforlearningblues.Asaverseform,itwasthelyricswhichweremostimportant,andtheyissuedfromlife.But
classicbluestookonacertaindegreeofprofessionalism.Itwasnolongerstrictlythegroupsingingtoeasetheirlaborsorthecasualexpressionofpersonaldeliberationsontheworld.
Itbecameamusicthatcouldbeusedtoentertainothersformally.Theartisan,theprofessionalbluessinger,appearedbluessingingnolongerhadtobemerelyapassionatelyfelt
avocation,itcouldnowbecomeawayofmakingaliving.Anexternalandsophisticatedideaofperformancehadcometotheblues,movingitpastthecasualnessofthe"folk"tothe
conditionedemotionalgestureofthe"public."
ThisprofessionalismcamefromtheNegrotheater:theblackminstrelshows,travelingroadshows,medicineshows,vaudevilleshows,carnivals,andtinycircusesallincludedblues
singersandsmallorlargebands.TheNegrotheater,inform,wasmodeledontheearlierwhiteministrelshowsandtravelingshowswhichplayedaroundAmerica,especiallyinrural
areaswheretherewasnootherformalentertainment.
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TheNegrotheaterdidnot,ofcourse,comeintobeinguntilaftertheCivilWar,buttheminstrelshowistraceablebacktothebeginningofthenineteenthcentury.Whiteperformersusing
blackfacetodo"imitationsofNegrolife"appearedinAmericaaround1800,usuallyinsoloperformances.Bythe1840's,however,blackfacewastherageofthecountry,andthere
wereminstrelshowsfromAmericatravelingallovertheworld.Itwasatleastthirtymoreyearsbeforethereweregroupsoftravelingentertainerswhodidnothavetouseburntcorkor
greasepaint.
ItisessentialtorealizethatminstrelsywasanextremelyimportantsociologicalphenomenoninAmerica.Theideaofwhitemenimitating,orcaricaturing,whattheyconsidercertain
genericcharacteristicsoftheblackman'slifeinAmericatoentertainotherwhitemenisimportantifonlybecauseoftheNegro'sreactiontoit.(AnditistheNegro'sreactiontoAmerica,
firstwhiteandthenblackandwhiteAmerica,thatIconsidertohavemadehimsuchauniquememberofthissociety.)
Thereasonsfortheexistenceofminstrelsyareimportantalsobecauseinconsideringthemwefindoutevenmoreaboutthewayinwhichthewhiteman'sconceptoftheNegro
changedandwhyitchanged.Thisgradualchange,nomatterhowitwasmanifested,makesagraphofthemovementoftheNegrothroughAmericansociety,andprovidesan
historicalcontextfortherestofmyspeculations.
Isupposethe"childlike"qualitiesoftheAfricanmusthavealwaysbeenamusingtotheAmerican.Imentionedbeforehowtheblackman'spenchantforthesupernaturalwasheldup
forridiculebyhiswhitecaptors,aswereothercharacteristicsofAfricanculture.Also,IamcertainthatmostwhiteAmericansneverthoughtoftheplightoftheblackmanastragic.Even
theChristianChurchjustifiedslaveryuntilwellintothenineteenthcentury.The"darky"athismosthumanexcursionintothemainstreamofAmericansocietywasacomicfigure.The
ideathatsomehowtheslaveryofthe
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blackmaninAmericawasatragicsituationdidnotoccurtowhiteAmericansuntilthegrowthoftheAbolitionmovement.ButitisinterestingthatminstrelsygrewastheAbolition
movementgrew.Iwouldsaythatasthe"wildsavage"tookonmoreandmoreofwhatNewEnglandHumanistsandchurchworkersconsideredahumanaspect,therewasalsomore
inhiswayoflifethatAmericansfoundamusing.(Aswhohasnotlaughedatthecorkfaced"Negro"lawmakersinD.W.Griffiths'BirthofaNation?Itisaridiculoussituation,ignorant
savagespretendingtheyknowasmuchasSouthernsenators.)AstheimageoftheNegroinAmericawasgivenmorebasichumanqualities,e.g.,theabilitytofeelpain,perhapsthe
onlyconsistentwayofjustifyingwhathadbeendonetohimnowthathehadreachedwhatcanbecalledapostbestialstagewastodemonstratetheridiculousnessofhisinability
toactasa"normal"humanbeing.AmericanNegroesweremuchfunnierthanAfricans.(AndIhopethatNegro"low"comedypersistsevenlongafterallthegangstersontelevisionare
namedSmithandBrown.)
Thewhiteminstrelshowswere,attheirbest,merelyparodiesofNegrolife,thoughIdonotthinkthattheideaof"theparody"wasalwayspresent.Itwassufficientlyamusingforawhite
manwithapaintedfacetoattempttoreproducesomeeasilyidentifiablecharacteristicof"thedarky."Therewasroomforartisticimprecisioninaminstrelshowbecauseitwasn'tso
muchtheperformancethatwassidesplittingastheveryideaoftheshowitself:"WatchtheseNiggers."Amongthetypical"Negro"materialperformedbythewhiteminstrelsarethese
twosongswhichperhapsindicatethenatureoftheparodywhiteminstrelsyproposedtomakeofNegrolife:
TheTravelingCoon
OncetherewasatravelingcoonWhowasborninTennessee.Hemadehislivingstealingchickens
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...Andeverythingelsehecouldsee.Well,hetraveledandhewasknownformilesaround,Andhedidn'tgetenough,hedidn'tgetenough,Tillthepoliceshothim
down.
TheVoodooMan
I'vebeenhoodooed,hoodooedHoodooedbyanegrovoodooI'vebeenhoodooed,hoodooed,Hoodooedbyabigblackcoon.Acoonformehadagreatinfatuation
Wantedfortomarrymebuthadnosituation.WhenIrefused,thatcoonhegotwild.Sayshe,"I'mboundfortohoodoothischild."Hewentoutandgotarabbit'sfootand
burneditwithafrogRightbytheroadwhereIhadtopassalong.Eversincethattimemyhead'sbeenwrong.30
Theblackminstrelshowswerealsowhatmightbecalledparodies,orexaggerations,ofcertainaspectsofNegrolifeinAmerica.Butinonesensethecoloredminstrelwaspokingfun
athimself,andinanotherandprobablymoreprofoundsensehewaspokingfunatthewhiteman.TheminstrelshowwasappropriatedfromthewhitemanthefirstNegrominstrels
worethe"traditional"blackfaceovertheirownbutonlythegeneralformoftheblackminstrelshowreallyresembledthewhite.Itgoeswithoutsayingthattheblackminstrelswere
"moreauthentic,"andtheblackshows,althoughtheydidoriginatefromwhiteburlesquesofNegromores,weregivenavitalityandsolidhumorthattheearliershowsneverhad.
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Theminstrelshowsintroducednewdancestepstowhatcouldthenbeconsideredamassaudience.Thecakewalkwasoneofthemostfamousdancestepstocomeoutofminstrelsy
ithasbeendescribedas"atakeoffonthehighmannersofthewhitefolksinthebighouse."(IfthecakewalkisaNegrodancecaricaturingcertainwhitecustoms,whatisthatdance
when,say,awhitetheatercompanyattemptstosatirizeitasaNegrodance?Ifindtheideaofwhiteminstrelsinblackfacesatirizingadancesatirizingthemselvesaremarkablekindof
ironywhich,Isuppose,isthewholepointofminstrelshows.)
EarlyNegrominstrelcompaniesliketheGeorgiaMinstrels,PringleMinstrels,McCabeandYoungMinstrels,providedthefirstrealemploymentforNegroentertainers.Bluessingers,
musicians,dancers,comedians,allfoundfairlysteadyworkwiththeselargetouringshows.ForthefirsttimeNegromusicwasheardonawiderscalethroughoutthecountry,and
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musicians,dancers,comedians,allfoundfairlysteadyworkwiththeselargetouringshows.ForthefirsttimeNegromusicwasheardonawiderscalethroughoutthecountry,and
begantoexertatremendousinfluenceonthemainstreamoftheAmericanentertainmentworldagreatmanyoftheshowsevenmadeextensivetoursofEnglandandtheContinent,
introducingtheolderformsofbluesaswellasclassicbluesandearlyjazztotheentireworld.
Classicbluesiscalled"classic"becauseitwasthemusicthatseemedtocontainallthediverseandconflictingelementsofNegromusic,plusthesmootheremotionalappealofthe
"performance."ItwasthefirstNegromusicthatappearedinaformalcontextasentertainment,thoughitstillcontainedtheharsh,uncompromisingrealityoftheearlierbluesforms.It
was,ineffect,theperfectbalancebetweenthetwoworlds,andassuch,itrepresentedaclearlydefinablestepbytheNegrobackintothemainstreamofAmericansociety.Primitive
blueshadbeenalmostaconsciousexpressionoftheNegro'sindividualityandequallyimportant,hisseparateness.ThefirstyearsaftertheCivilWarsawtheNegroasfarawayfrom
thewholeofAmericansocietyasitwaseverpossible
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forhimtobe.Suchaseparationwasneverpossibleagain.Totheideaofthemetasocietyisopposedtheconceptofintegration,twoconceptsthatmustalwaysbepresentinany
discussionofNegrolifeinAmerica.
TheemergenceofclassicbluesindicatedthatmanychangeshadtakenplaceintheNegro.Hissenseofplace,orstatus,withinthesuperstructureofAmericansocietyhadchanged
radicallysincethedaysofthefieldholler.PerhapswhatissoapparentinclassicbluesisthesenseforthefirsttimethattheNegrofelthewasapartofthatsuperstructureatall.The
lyricsofclassicbluesbecomeconcernedwithsituationsandideasthatarerecognizableashavingissuedfromoneareaofamuchlargerhumanconcern.Classicbluesisless
obscuretowhiteAmericaforthesereasons,lessinvoluted,andcertainlylessprecise.Classicbluesattemptsauniversalitythatearlierbluesformscouldnotevenenvision.Butwith
theattainmentofsuchbroadhumanmeaning,themeaningswhichexistedinbluesonlyforNegroesgrewlesspointed.Theprofessionalismofclassicbluesmovedittoacertain
extentoutofthelivesofNegroes.Itbecamethestylizedresponse,eventhoughagreatmanyofthesocialandemotionalpreoccupationsofprimitivebluesremained.Nowlarge
groupsofNegroescouldsitquietlyinashowandlistentoaperformerrecreatecertainseriousareasoftheirlives.ThefollowingblueswaswrittenbyPorterGraingerandsungby
BessieSmith:
PutItRightHereorKeepItOutThere
I'vehadamanforfifteenyears,givehimhisroomandboardOncehewaslikeaCadillac,nowhe'slikeanold,wornoutFordHeneverbroughtmealousydimeand
putitinmyhandSothere'llbesomechangesfromnowon,accordingtomyplan:
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He'sgottogetit,bringit,andputitrighthere,Orelsehe'sgoin'tokeepitoutthereIfhemuststealit,begit,orborrowitsomewhere,Longashegetsit,Idon'tcare.I'm
tiredofbuyin'porkchopstogreasehisfatlips,AndhehastofindanotherplacefortoparkhisoldhipsHemustgetit,andbringit,andputitrighthere.Orelsehe'sgoin'
tokeepitoutthere.Thebeegetsthehoneyandbringsittothecomb,Elsehe'skickedoutofhishomesweethome.Toshowyouthattheybringsit,watchthedogand
thecatEverythingevenbringsit,fromamuletoagnat.TheroostergetsthewormandbringsittothehenThatoughtabeatiptoallyounogoodmen.Thegroundhog
evenbringsitandputsitinhishole,Somymanisgottobringitdoggonehissoul.He'sgottogetit,bringitandputitrighthere,Orelsehe'sgoin'tokeepitoutthere.
Ifhemuststealit,begit,borrowitsomewhere,Longashegetsit,chile,Idon'tcare.I'mgoin'totellhimliketheChinamanwhenyoudon'tbringumcheck,Youdon'tget
umlaundry,ifyoubreakumneckYougottogetit,bringitandputitrighthere,Orelseyougoin'tokeepitoutthere.
The"separatesociety"wasmovingtomakesomeparallelswiththelargerworld.Anideaoftheaterhadcometotheblues,andthismovementtowardperformanceturnedsomeofthe
emotionalclimateoftheNegro'slifeintoartifactandentertainment.Buttherewasstillenoughintimacybetween
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therealworldandtheartifacttomakethatartifactbeautifulandunbelievablymoving.
ClassicbluesformalizedbluesevenmorethanprimitiveblueshadformalizedearlierformsofNegrosecularmusic.Justasthewanderingprimitivebluessingershadspreadacertain
styleofbluessinging,theperformersofclassicbluesservedasmodelsandhelpedstandardizecertainstyles.SingerslikeGertrude"Ma"Raineywereresponsibleforcreatingthe
classicbluesstyle.Shewasoneofthemostimitatedandinfluentialclassicbluessingers,andperhapstheonewhocanbecalledthelinkbetweentheearlier,lesspolishedblues
stylesandthesmoothertheatricalstyleofmostofthelaterurbanbluessingers.MaRainey'ssingingcanbeplacedsquarelybetweentheharsher,morespontaneouscountrystyles
andthesomewhatcalculatedemotionalismoftheperformers.MadameRainey,asshewassometimesknown,touredtheSouthforyearswithacompanycalledtheRabbitFoot
MinstrelsandbecamewidelyknowninNegrocommunitieseverywhereinAmerica.ItwasshewhotaughtBessieSmith,perhapsthemostfamousofalltheclassicbluessingers.Both
thesewomen,alongwithsuchperformersasClaraSmith,TrixieSmith,IdaCox,SarahMartin,ChippieHill,SippieWallace,broughtaprofessionalismandtheatricalpolishtoblues
thatithadneverhadbefore.Theyworkedtheinnumerablelittlegintownswithminstrelshows.
Bytheturnofthecenturytherewerehundredsoftinycoloredtroupes,andsomelargeroneslikeTheRabbitFoot,SilasGreen's,Mahara's.Thereweremedicineshows,vaudevilles,
andcircuseswhenminstrelshowsfinallydied.Bytheearlytwentiestherewerealsocertaintheatercircuitsthatofferedtoursforbluessingers,jazzbands,andotherNegro
entertainers.Oneofthemostfamous,ormostinfamous,wastheoldT.O.B.A.(TheatreOwners'BookingAgency),orastheperformerscalledit,"ToughOnBlackArtists"(or"Asses").
ToursarrangedbytheseagenciesusuallywentthroughthelargerSouthernandMidwesterncities.
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Whilethecountrysingersaccompaniedthemselvesusuallyonguitarorbanjo,theclassicbluessingersusuallyhadabandbackingthemup.Theyworkedwellwiththejazzandblues
bands,somethingtheearliersingerswouldnothavebeenabletodo.Classicblueswasmuchmoreaninstrumentalstylethoughtheclassicsingersdidnotlosetouchwiththevocal
tradition,theydidaugmenttheearlierformsinordertoutilizethemoreintricatestylesofthejazzbandstogoodeffect.
ItisvalidtoassumethatragtimedevelopedfromtheparadoxofminstrelsyinsofarasitwasamusictheNegrocametoinimitatingwhiteimitationsofNegromusic.Ragtime(whichis
nottobeconfusedwiththeverbrag,whichmerelymeantsyncopation)movedsofarawayfromthevocaloriginsofNegromusicthatitwaseasilypopularizedanddiluted,anditspurer
formsdisappeared.ItwasacomposedmusicgoingthatfartowardtheEuropean,or"legitimate,"conceptofmusicalperformance.Itwasperhapsthemostinstrumental,ormore
precisely,themostpianistic,ofanyNegromusic.
ThepianowasoneofthelastinstrumentstobemasteredbyNegroperformers,anditwasnotuntiltheadventofboogiewoogiethatNegromusicianssucceededincreatingapiano
musicthatwaswithintheemotionaltraditionofNegromusic.Unlikeragtimepiano,theearlierbluespianostyleswerenotreallypianistic,Negrobluespianiststendedtousethepiano
inapercussiveandvocalfashion,almostneverutilizingor,almostneverabletoutilize,themoreflorid"hundredfinger'd"approach.Imentionragtimeherebecauseitseemstome
importanttoconsiderwhatkindofmusicresultedwhentheNegroabandonedtoomuchofhisownmusicaltraditioninfavorofamoreformalized,lessspontaneousconceptofmusic.
Theresultwasapitifulpopulardebasementthatwastherageofthecountryforalmosttwentyyears.
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Thegreatclassicbluessingerswerewomen.MaRainey,BessieSmith,andtheothersallcameintobluessingingasprofessionals,andallatcomparativelyearlyages.(MaRainey
startedatfourteen,BessieSmithbeforeshewastwenty.)HowardW.OdumandGuyB.Johnsonnotefromalistofpredominantlyclassicbluestitles,takenfromtherecordcatalogues
ofthree"race"companies."Themajorityoftheseformalbluesaresungfromthepointofviewofwoman...upwardsofseventyfivepercentofthesongsarewrittenfromthewoman's
pointofview.Amongthebluessingerswhohavegainedamoreorlessnationalrecognitionthereisscarcelyaman'snametobefound."31However,thegreatcountrybluessingers,
withexceptionslikeIdaMayMackorBessieTucker,werealmostalwaysmen.Butthecountrybluessingerswerenotrecordeduntilmuchlater,duringthegreatswellofbluesand
"race"recordingswhenthecompanieswerewillingtotryalmostanyblacksingerormusicianbecausetheywerestillecstaticabouttheirnewlydiscoveredmarket.Thefirstrecordings
ofblueswereclassicbluesitwastheclassicsingerswhofirstbroughtbluesintogeneralnoticeintheUnitedStates.
Therewereseveralreasonswhywomenbecamethebestclassicbluessingers.Mostofthebestknowncountrysingerswerewanderers,migratoryfarmworkers,ormenwhowent
fromplacetoplaceseekingemployment.Inthosetimes,unlessshetraveledwithherfamilyitwasalmostimpossibleforawomantomoveaboutlikeaman.Itwasalsounnecessary
sincewomencouldalmostalwaysobtaindomesticemployment.UntiltheemergenceoftheNegrotheater,Negrowomeneithersanginthechurch(theywerealwaysmoreconsistent
intheirchurchgoing)orsangtheirownpersonalsadnessesoverbrownwoodtubs.Intheslavefields,menandwomenworkedsidebysidetheworksongsandhollers
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servedboth.(Givensuchsocialcircumstance,onemustassumethatitwasonlythephysiologicalinequalityoftheblackwoman,e.g.,notinfrequentpregnancies,thatprovidedsome
measureofsuperiorityforthemale,oratleastsomereticenceforthefemale.)
I'mabigfatmama,gotthemeatshakin'onmybonesI'mabigfatmama,gotthemeatshakin'onmybonesAndeverytimeIshake,someskinnygallosesherhome.
OnlyinthepostbellumsocietydidtheChristianChurchcometomeansocialplacement,asitdidforwhitewomen,asmuchasspiritualsalvation.(Socialdemeanorasabasic
indicationofspiritualworthisnoteverybody'sidea.Sexualintercourse,forinstance,isnotthoughtfilthybyagreatmanygods.)Itwaspossibletobequitepromiscuous,ifitcameto
that,andstillbeapersoncapableof"beingmovedbythespirit."ButinpostbellumNegrosociety,ChristianitydidbegintoassumethespiritualityofthesocialregistertheChurch
becameaninstitutionthroughwhich,quitesophisticatedly,seculardistinctionwasbestowed.TheblackwomanhadtobelongtotheChurch,evenifshewasoneofthechiefvestalsof
themostmysteriouscultofShango,orbethought"abadwoman."ThiswasalegacyofwhiteAmericanProtestantism.ButtheincrediblybeautifulJesusofNegrospiritualsissomuch
amanoffleshandblood,whetherheissungofbythechurchwomenorthosewomenwholefttheChurchtosingthe"devilsongs."
Darkwasdenightan'coldwasdegroun'OnwhichdeLawdhadlaidDropsofsweatrundown,Inagonyheprayed.Wouldthoudespisemybleedin'lam'An'choosede
waytohell,Stillsteppin'downtodetomb,An'yetpreparednomo'?
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IloveJesus,IloveJesus,IloveJesus,Oyes,Ido,Yes,Lawdy.32
MinstrelsyandvaudevillenotonlyprovidedemploymentforagreatmanywomenbluessingersbuthelpedtodeveloptheconceptoftheprofessionalNegrofemaleentertainer.Also,
thereverenceinwhichmostofwhitesocietywasheldbyNegroesgavetothoseNegroentertainersanenormousamountofprestige.Theirsuccesswasalsoboostedatthebeginning
ofthiscenturybytheemergenceofmanywhitewomenasentertainersandinthetwenties,bythegreatswellofdistaffprotestregardingwomen'ssuffage.Allthesefactorscame
togethertomaketheentertainmentfieldaglamourousoneforNegrowomen,providinganindependenceandimportancenotavailableinotherareasopentothemthechurch,
domesticwork,orprostitution.
Theemergenceofclassicbluesandthepopularizationofjazzoccurredaroundthesametime.BotharetheresultsofsocialandpsychologicalchangeswithintheNegrogroupasit
movedtowardthemainstreamofAmericansociety,amovementthattendedtohaveverysignificantresults.TheNegro'sideaofAmericaastheplacewherehelivedandwouldspend
hislifewasbroadenedtherewasarealizationbyNegroes(invaryingdegrees,dependingupontheirparticularsocioeconomicstatus)ofamorehumanhypothesisonwhichtobase
theirlives.Negroculturewasaffected:jazziseasilythemostcosmopolitanofanyNegromusic,abletoutilizealmostanyforeigninfluencewithinitsbroaderspectrum.Andblues
benefited:itwasricher,moreuniversal,anditselfbecameastronginfluenceonthecultureithaddependeduponforitsgrowth.
Ragtime,dixieland,jazz,areallAmericanterms.When
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theyarementionedanywhereintheworld,theyrelatetoAmericaandanAmericanexperience.ButthetermbluesrelatesdirectlytotheNegro,andhispersonalinvolvementin
America.Andeventhoughragtime,dixieland,andjazzarealldependentuponbluesfortheirexistenceinanydegreeofauthenticity,thetermsthemselvesrelatetoabroader
referencethanblues.BluesmeansaNegroexperience,itistheonemusictheNegromadethatcouldnotbetransferredintoamoregeneralsignificancethantheonetheNegrogave
itinitially.Classicbluesdiffersagreatdealfromolderbluesformsinthecontentofitslyrics,itsmusicalaccompaniment,andinthefactthatitwasamusicthatmovedintoitsmost
beautifulformasapublicentertainment,butitisstillaformofblues,anditisstillamusicthatrelatesdirectlytotheNegroexperience.BessieSmithwasnotanAmerican,thoughthe
experiencesherelatescouldhardlyhaveexistedoutsideAmericashewasaNegro.HermusicstillremainedoutsidethemainstreamofAmericanthought,butitwasmuchcloserthan
anyNegromusicbeforeit.
[95]
8/....TheCity
AttheturnofthecenturymostNegroesstilllivedinruralareasoftheSouth,butby1914thelargestexodusbegan.MassesofNegroesbegantomovetotheNorthernindustrialcenters
suchasChicago,Detroit,NewYork.Betweentheyears1910and1920,forexample,60,000NegroesmigratedfromtheSouthtothecityofChicago.Thereweremanyreasonsforthis
massflightfromtheSouth,notallofthemasobviousasthephrase"greateropportunity"wouldseemtoindicate.Economically,theSouthwaslaggingbehindtherestofthecountryin
itsmovetowardindustrialization.Americahadoncebeenprimarilyanagriculturalcountry,butnow,afewyearsaftertheturnofthecentury,thecountrywasfastonitswaytobecoming
thelargestindustrializedcountryintheworld.ButtheSouthwasbehind,andasalways,itwastheblackmanwhosufferedmostbecauseofit.TheNorthbecamethePromisedLand,
anotherJordannotonlybecauseofthetalesofhighpayingjobsforeveryonetherebutbecausetheSouthwouldalwaysremaininthemindsofmostNegroes,evenwithoutthe
freshoppressionofthepostbellumJimCrowlaws,thesceneofthecrime.
Whatseemstomemostimportantaboutthesemassmigrationswasthefactthattheymusthaverepresentedastillfurther
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changewithintheNegroasfarashisrelationshipwithAmericawasconcerned.Itcanbecalledapsychologicalrealignment,anattempttoreassesstheworthoftheblackmanwithin
thesocietyasawhole,anattempttomaketheAmericandreamwork,ifitweregoingto.ItwasadecisionNegroesmadetoleavetheSouth,notanhistoricalimperative.Andthis
decisionmusthavebeenprecededbysomekindofpsychologicalshiftareinterpretationbytheNegroofhisroleinthiscountry.Itwasthesamekindofhuman"movement"thatmade
jazzandclassicbluespossiblethediscoveryofAmericaoritscultureaswouldbeAmericans.AndtheideaofaJordanpersisted,albeitthisJordan,tobesure,wasofamuchless
supernaturalnature.ItwasaJordanthatcouldalmostbeidentifiedwithinthegeneralemotionaltenorofthewholeoftheAmericanpeople."Jobs,Homes,Dignity"wasthewayone
NegropaperputitintheearlytwentiesinconstanteditorialsproselytizingforNegromigrationtotheNorth.Butevenmore,theNorthsuddenlyrepresentedafurtherideaofwhatthis
countryandwhatablackman'slifemightbe.NoteveryNegrolefttheSouthtogetabetterjob.Someleftsotheycouldfindagreaterdegreeoffreedom,andsomesotheycouldwalk
thestreetsafter10P.M.(manySoutherntownshavingordinancesagainst"nightramblingnigras").Some,likemyfather,leftverysuddenlyafterunfortunatealtercationswithwhite
ushersinmoviessome,likemygrandfather,tostartsmallthrivingbusinesses(havinghadtwogrocerystoresandafuneralparlorburnedoutfromunderhiminAlabama).But
whateverthepeculiarreasonforanyoneindividual'sflightnorthward,thesignificantideaisthattheNorthnowrepresentedforNegroesaplacewheretheycouldbeginagain,this
time,perhaps,onmorehumanfooting.
TheNegro,now,becomesmoredefinitelyNegroes.Forthefirsttime,afterandduringthesemassflightstotheNorth,Negroesspreadoutthroughoutthecountry.TheSouthwasno
longertheonlyplacewheretherewereNegroesingreat
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numbers.Chicago,Detroit,NewYork,LosAngeles,Washington,Philadelphia,allreceivedinveryshortperiodsoftimerelativelylargeNegropopulations.Butmoreimportant,one
essentialuniformity,theprovincialityofplace,thegeographicalandsocialconstantwithinthegroup,waserased.TherewerenowsuchconceptsasaNorthernandaSouthernNegro,
andtheywouldsoonbe,toacertainextent,differentpeople.
By1920,theproportionofNegroesintheNorthhadincreasedto14.1percentfivesixthsofthoseintheNorthwereinlargecities.OfcoursethenewJordanprovedtobealmostas
harshandslightingtoNegroesastheSouth.Negroesreceivedthelowestwagesanddidthehardestandmostsociallydebasingwork.PaulOliverreportsthat"Inthesteelfactories
manyofthejobswererestricted,buttheopenhearthsectionsofferedreadyemploymentforNegroesfewotherswouldworkunderthealmostinsufferableheatfromthefurnaces.
FieldhandsweighedtheirchancesagainstthedisadvantagesofseveringthemselvesfromtheirhomesthemillsofBessemerandGarycalled,andtheyweregone."33Buteven
facedwithsuchasituation,theveryideaofworkinginsideasteelmillseemedglamoroustomostNegroes,whohadneverdoneanyworkbutagriculturallaborintheirlives.Five
dollarsadaywaswhatMr.Fordsaid,andNegroescamehundredsofmilestolineupoutsidehisemploymentoffices.
ItisinterestingtonotethatthereareagreatmanyblueswrittenabouttheFordcompanyandFordproducts.OnereasonforthisisthefactthatFordwasoneofthefirstcompaniesto
hiremanyNegroes,andthenameFordbecamesynonymouswithNorthernopportunity,andtheFordModelTwasoneofthefirstautomobilesNegroescouldpurchase"thepoor
man'scar."
Oliver,however,writesaboutFord'spoliciesofhiringNegroes:
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"In1914thecontinualflowofimmigrantsfromEuropetotheUnitedStatesceasedandtheNorthernindustrialists,whoseworkwasexpandingwiththedemandsofimpendingwar,
requiredcheaplaborinquantity.RestrictedimmigrationstilloperatestodaybutitnowhasnomajorinfluenceonthenationaleconomyduringtheyearsofWorldWarIwhenthe
streamofEuropeanunskilledlabourerswashalted,therewasanacutelabourshortageintheindustrialNorth.RecruitmentofficersweresentSouthtodrawNegroesfromthe
plantations,andspecialfreightcarswerecharteredtobringthemtotheNorth....ThecessationoftheinfluxofEuropeanimmigrantscoincidedwithHenryFord'sannouncement,in
1914,thatnoneofhisworkerswouldearnlessthanfivedollarsperday,anditwasinthatyearalsothathecommencedtoemployNegroesonhisassemblylines.Ashishugeplants
inDetroitcontinuedtoexpandandmorecolouredworkersweretakenon,thenewsreachedtheremotestcornersoftheSouthandattractedmenwhohadbeenlivinginpenury."34
Say,I'mgoin'togetmeajobnow,workin'inMr.Ford'splaceSay,I'mgoin'togetmeajobnow,workin'inMr.Ford'splace,Say,thatwomantol'melastnight,"Say,you
cannotevenstandMr.Ford'sways."
Blues,untilthetimeoftheclassicbluessingers,waslargelyafunctionalmusicanditemergedfromamusic,theworksong,thatdidnotexistexceptasastrictlyempirical
communicationofsomepartoftheblackslave'slife.Buttheideaofthebluesasaformofmusicthatcouldbeusedtoentertainpeopleonaprofessionalbasis,i.e.,thatpeoplewould
actuallypaytoseeandhearbluesperformed,wasarevelation.Anditwasarevelationthatgavelargeimpetustotheconceptofthe"race"record.
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RacerecordswerecommercialrecordingsaimedstrictlytowardtheNegromarket(whatlargecompanieswouldcalltheir"specialproductsdivision"today,inthiseraofsocial
euphemism).TheappearanceandrapidgrowthofthiskindofrecordwasperhapsaformalrecognitionbyAmericaoftheNegro'smovementbacktowardthedefinablesociety.This
recognitionwasindicateddramaticallybytheOkehRecordCompany'sdecisiontoletaNegrosingermakeacommercialrecording.Strangelyenough,thefirstNegrobluessingerto
makeacommercialrecordingwasnotMaRaineyorBessieSmith,oranyoftheothergreatclassicorcountrybluessingers,butayoungwoman,MamieSmith,whosestyleofsinging
wasmoreinthetraditionofthevaudevillestagethanitwas"bluesy."Mamie'sstyle,ironicallyenough,thoughbluesoriented,wasmuchcloserinoveralleffecttothewomanshe
replacedatthatfirstrecordingsessionSophieTucker(MissTuckerwastooilltorecord).Nevertheless,MamieSmithandherrecordingofPerryBradford'sCrazyBluesusheredin
theeraofracerecords.
Ican'tsleepatnightIcan'teatabiteCausethemanIloveHedidn'ttreatmeright.Now,IgotthecrazybluesSincemybabywentawayIain'tgotnotimetoloseImust
findhimtoday.
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Actually,CrazyBlueswasMamieSmith'ssecondrecording.HerfirstrecordingfortheOkehCompanyinNewYorkwasadisccontainingtwosongs,YouCan'tKeepaGoodMan
DownandThatThingCalledLove,andalthoughtheimmediatesalesofthefirstrecordweren'tthatspectacular,thecompanydidseefittohaveMissSmithrecordagain.Thenext
recordingmadehistory.Thiswason
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February14,1920,thebeginningofthe"JazzAge."(Butareallystrangephenomenonwasthefactthatthefirstjazzrecordshadbeenmadethreeyearsbefore,in1917,byawhite
group,theOriginalDixielandJazzBand.SoactuallytheJazzAgehadbegunthreeyearsbeforethefirstbluesrecording.By1920PaulWhitemanwasmakingmillionsas"Kingof
Jazz"theword,atleast,hadenteredthepopularvocabulary.WithsuchdisplaysasWhiteman'sAeolianHallconcert,completewith"EuropeanStyle"orchestraandHeifetzand
Rachmaninoffintheaudience,jazzhadrushedintothemainstreamwithoutsomuchasoneblackface.Whiteman'sonlyreferencetotheearlier,lesslucrativedaysofthis"new"music
("symphonizedsyncopation")wasthefirstselectionofhisconcert,whichwasLiveryStableBluesdonelaminstrelshowjazztodemonstrate,asWhitemansaid,"...thecrudejazzof
thepast."TheJazzAgecanalsobecalledtheageofrecordedbluesandjazzbecauseitwasinthetwentiesthatthegreatmassesofjazzandbluesmaterialbegantoberecorded,
andnotonlyweretheracerecordssoldingreatnumbersbutAmericansbegantorealizeforthefirsttimethattherewasanativeAmericanmusicastraditionallywild,happy,
disenchanted,andunfetteredasithadbecomefashionableforthemtothinktheythemselveshadbecome.
Ofcourse,lookingatthephenomenonofracerecordsfromamorepracticalpointofview,asIamcertaintheownersofOkehmusthavedone,MamieSmith'srecordsproved
dramaticallytheexistenceofanotyetexploitedmarket.CrazyBluessoldformonthsatarateof8,000recordsaweek.VictoriaSpivey'sfirstrecord,BlackSnakeBlues,recordedsix
yearslater,sold150,000copiesinoneyear.Soitiseasytoseethattherewerenoaltruisticorartisticmotivesbehindtherecordcompanies'decisiontocontinueandenlargetherace
category.Racerecordsswiftlybecamebigbusiness.ThecompaniesalsobegantohireNegroesastalentscoutsandagentssothattheywouldbeabletoget
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thebestNegrotalentavailablefortheirnewracecatalogues.
Earlyadvertisingfortheracerecordsmightnowseemalmostridiculouslycrass,butapparentlyitwaseffectiveandverymuchofthetimes.ThisisanexampletakenfromaColumbia
Recordsadvertisementthatappearedin1926thesongbeingadvertisedwassomethingcalledWasn'tItNice:"TheresureammeanharmonizingwhenHowell,HorsleyandBradford
startinonWasn'titNice.You'reagonnathinkit'snicewhenyouoncegettheolddiscaspinning.TheboysarestillgoingstrongwhentheytacklethecouplingHarryWills,the
Champion.Thistriosneaksrightuponachord,knocksitdown,andjumpsalloverit."35CertainlythisisafarcryfromthelightskinnedwellgroomedNegroeswhosiptheirsociable
PepsiColasinthepagesoftoday'sNegroperiodicalsbuttheintent,Ithink,isquitesimilar.
TheNegroasconsumerwasanewandhighlylucrativeslant,anunexpectedadditiontothestrangeportraitoftheNegrothewhiteAmericancarriedaroundinhishead.Itwasan
unexpectedadditionfortheNegroaswell.Thebigurbancenters,likethenew"blackcities"ofHarlem,Chicago'sSouthSide,Detroit'sfastgrowingNegrosection,aswellasthelarger
citiesoftheSouthwereimmediatewitnessestothisphenomenon.FridaynightsafterworkinthosecoldgrayJordansoftheNorth,Negroworkingmenlinedupoutsiderecordstoresto
getthenewblues,andasthemoneyrolledin,thepopulationofAmerica,asshownonsalesprognosticationchartsintheofficesofbigAmericanindustry,wentupbyonetenth.
Anotherimportantresultoftheracerecordswasthatwiththeincreasedcirculationofblues,certainstylesofsingingbecamemodelsforagreatmanyaspiringbluesartists.(Theclassic
urbansingerswererecordedfirst,forobviousreasonsitwassomeyearslaterbeforethecountrysingerswererecorded.)Beforeracerecords,bluesformwasusuallydependent
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onstrictlylocaltradition.Ofcourse,thecomingofthetravelingshowschangedthissomewhat,asIhavementioned,buttheracerecordingsreallybegantoputforthextralocalmodels
andstylesofbluessingingwhichmusthaveinfluencedyoungerNegroes.(EveninruralareasoftheSouth,therewasalwaysatleastonefamilythathada"victrola,"whichdrewtheir
neighborsfrommilesaround.Thecomingofradio,whichIwilldiscusslater,alsohadaprofoundeffectonbluesinasimilarfashion.)Ithasbeensaid,forinstance,thatagreatmanyof
thebluessingersfromMissouri,St.Louisespecially,singthroughtheirnoses.AwomanlikeIdaCox,whocertainlydoessingthroughhernose,would,intheprevaudeville,pre
phonographeraonlyhaveinfluencedpeopleinherimmediatevicinity.ButwhenIdabegantoworkwiththetravelingshows,herstylewasheardandcopiedbyagreatmanymore
people.Andinonesense,asIhaveexplained,thiswaswhythesocalledclassicbluessingerswereclassic.Notonlybecausetheirstyleswereakindofbeautifulbalancebetween
theurbanandcountrystylesofblues,butbecausetheseclassicsingerswereheardbymorepeopleandwerewidelyimitated.Thephonographrecordincreasedonethousandfoldthe
widespreadpopularityandimitationofcertainbluessingersandbecauseofthis,phonographrecordsthemselvesactuallycreatedwholestylesofbluessinging.Andeventhoughthe
localtraditionsremained,thephonographrecordproducedthefirstbluesstarsandnationallyknownbluespersonalities.Forinstance,asingerlikeVictoriaSpivey,whowasatypical
exampleofthepopular,postclassic,racerecordbluessinger(shebecamesopopularshehadastarringrolewhilestillundertwenty,inKingVidor's"experiment"Hallelujah),wasfirst
drawntobluessingingbytherecordsofBessieSmithandSarahMartin,who,atthetime,soldmorebluesrecordsthananyoneelse.Itiseasytoseehowthismusthaveaffectedthe
existingfolktraditionandcreatedanotherkindoftraditionthatwasunlikeanyotherinthepast.Andif
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theoldcalendarpictureofNegroessittingaroundalittleshack,strummingguitarsandsinginghappilyandcarelessly,hadbythenatureofcertainsociologicalfactorsbeencausedto
dim,certainlythenewstereotypetoreplacethatvanishingpaternalisticimagecouldhavebeenagroupofNegroessittingaroundlisteningtorecordsbytheirfavoritebluesartists.
MartinWilliamsmentionsanothereffectthephonographrecordhadonbluesform.Blueswastraditionallyanimprovisedmusicthatcouldbesungorplayedaslongastheperformer
couldcomeupwithfreshimprovisations,butrecordedperformancemeantthattherewasacertaindefiniteandlimitedspaceoftimeinwhichthesingercouldperform."Attheirown
righttempoeachofthesesingerscouldgetinaboutfourbluesstanzasonateninchrecording.Manysingers...respondedtothelimitationsoftimeonrecordsbysimplystringing
togetherfourstanzason(moreorless)thesamesubjectothers...attemptedsomekindofnarrativecontinuity."36
SpeakingofclassicbluessingersSarahMartinandIdaCox,Williamssays:"Bothofthesesingersdomoretheygiveeachbluesaspecificallypoeticdevelopmentwhichtakessubtle
advantageofthefourstanzalimitationandcreatesakindofclassicformwithinit."37
Fogyism
Whydopeoplebelieveinsomeoldsign?Whydopeoplebelieveinsomeoldsign?Youhearahootowlholler,someoneissurelydyin'.Somewillbreakamirrorand
cry,"Badluckforsevenyears,"
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Somewillbreakamirrorandcry,"Badluckforsevenyears,"Andifablackcatcrossesthem,they'llbreakrightdownintears.Todreamofmuddywatertroubleis
knockingatyourdoor,Todreamofmuddywatertroubleisknockingatyourdoor,Yourmanissuretoleaveyouandneverreturnnomore.Whenyourmancomes
homeevil,tellsyouyouaregettingold,Whenyourmancomeshomeevil,tellsyouyouaregettingold,That'satruesignhe'sgotsomeoneelsebakin'hisjellyroll.
Whiletheclassicsingersweremakingrecords,theaterappearances,nationaltours,anothermoreprivatekindofblueshadgrownup,giventhecatalystoftheNegro'smovetothe
largeurbancenters.Anewcity,orurban,blueshadappearedoutsidethemaintheatricaltraditionbeingcreatedbytheclassicsingers.Thecitybluesgrewinthevariousafterhours
joints,houserentparties(partieswherethelowadmissionhelpedpaytherentoratleastthatwasusedastheexcusefortheparty),andbarbecueandgutparties(whereeither
chitterlingsorhogmawswereserved).Thismusic,likethecountryblues,wassomethingdirectlyoutofthelivesofthepeopleinvolved:
MybabyshefoundabrandnewplacetogoMybabyshefoundabrandnewplacetogoShehangsacrosstownattheMonteCarlo.Shelikesmymoney,tellsmeshe
goin'tothepictureshow
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Shelikesmymoney,tellsmeshegoin'tothepictureshowButthatgirl'sbeenthrowin'mymoneyawayattheMonteCarlo.
(FromMonteCarloBluesbyRooseveltSykes)
Classicblueswasentertainmentandcountryblues,folklore.Thebluesandbluesorientedjazzofthenewcitydwellerswasharder,crueler,andperhapsevenmorestoicaland
hopelessthantheearlierforms.Ittookitslifefromtherawnessandpovertyofthegrimadventureof"bigcitylivin'."Itwasaslicker,moresophisticatedmusic,butthepeople,too,could
fitthesedescriptions.Thetenements,organizedslums,ginmills,andbackbreakinglaborsinmills,factories,oronthedockshadtogetintothemusicsomehow.
TomostNegroes,urbanlivingwasacompletelystrangeidea.TheyhadcomefromallovertheSouth,frombackwoodsfarmsassharecropperswhohadneverevenbeentothe
moderatelylargecitiesoftheSouth,intothefantasticmetropolisesoftheNorth.Itmusthavebeenalmostasstrangeasthatinitialtriptheirancestorsmadecenturiesbeforeintothe
NewWorld.NowtheNegroeshadnoteventhelandtowalkacross.Everywherewerecement,buildings,andstreetsfilledupwithautomobiles.Wholefamiliesjammedupintiny,
unbelievablydirtyflatsorroominghouses.Butthesoleideawas"tomove,"tosplitfromtheincrediblefabricofguiltandservitudeidentifiedsographicallywithintheNegro
consciousnessasthewhiteSouth.However,therewasaparadox,evenintheemotionalismofthisreasoning.TheSouthwashome.ItwastheplacethatNegroesknew,andgiventhe
naturalattachmentofmantoland,evenloved.TheNorthwastobebeaten,therewasroomforattack.NosuchroomhadbeenpossibleintheSouth,butitwasstillwhatcouldbe
calledhome.Theemigrantssang,"I'mapoorol'boy,alongwaysfromhome,"or"Iratherdrinkmuddywaterandsleepinahollowlog/Than
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gouptoNewYorkCityandbetreatedlikeadirtydog."
Stillafteratime,thenewlyarrivedNegroesfromtheSouthwerethebruntoftheNorthernNegro'sjibes.Nothingwasquiteasdisparagingastobecalled"acountryboy."Itwasan
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epithetdeliveredwithalmostasmuchscornaswhenthereligiouspeoplemightcallsomebackslidera"heathen."Tothenewcitydwellers,the"countryboy"wassomeonewhostill
borethemark,continuedthecustoms,ofapresumablydiscardedSouthernpast.Butthedisplacedpersonsmadequickmovementstowardtheaccomplishmentofthelocal
sophisticationandinafewmonthscouldevenjoinintotauntanewarrivalwithgreetingslike,"Hey,Cornbread!"
Myhome'sinTexas,whatamIdoin'uphere?Myhome'sinTexas,whatamIdoin'uphere?Yes,mygoodcornwhisky,baby,andwomenbroughtmehere.
ThelocalsophisticationforthenewlyarrivedNegroeswasswiftacclimatizationtotheconflictsandstrangenessofthecity.Andacclimatizationcouldmeansomanythings.The"rent
party"wasaformofacclimatization,thereliefcheck,another.TheearlytwentiethcenturywasaverysignificanttimefortheNegrointheUnitedStates.Inthecitytherewasawider
psychologicalspaceforeverybody.Thingsspreadoutinthecities,dispersedaswasneverpossibleintheSouth.Thehandofthepaternalisticsocietywassubtler,andthatsubtlety
enabledtheNegroestoimprovisealittlemoreintheirapproachtoit.Therewaseventhesimplefactthatpeoplecouldmaketheirlivingnow,whentheydid,inagreatervarietyof
ways.YoucouldworkforFordorrunanelevator,beapimpor(soon)apostman,etc.buttheideawasto"getin,"to"makeit"asbestonecould.Thisacclimatizationhadtooccurin
allfacetsoftheurbanNegro'slife.Butthe"newpeople"broughtwiththemtheoldercustomsandtheolderattitudes,andeventhough
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theyrushedwithallspeed(inrelationtotheireconomic,hencesocial,status)intothecoolwatersofAmericanculture,theybroughtwiththematleast,theirsongs.
Iusedtohaveawomanthatliveduponahill,Iusedtohaveawomanthatliveduponahill,Shewascrazy'boutme,oohwell,well,'causeIworkedattheChicagomill.
Youcanhearthewomenhollerin'whentheChicagoMillwhistleblows,Youcanhearthewomenhollerin'whentheChicagoMillwhistleblows,Cryin',"Turnloosemy
man,oohwell,well,pleaseandlethimgo."IfyouwanttohaveplentywomenwhynotworkattheChicagoMill?Ifyouwanttohaveplentywomenwhynotworkatthe
ChicagoMill?Youdon'thavetogivethemnothin',ooohwell,jesttellthemthatyouwill.
(FromChicagoMillBluesbyPeatieWheatstraw)
The"balance"thattheconstant,northwardflowofSouthernNegrocultureprovidedforNegroesintheNorthmanifesteditselfininnumerableways.TomDavin'sinterviewswithJames
P.Johnson,oneofthemastersofwhatcametobeknownas"NewYorkstridepiano"mentionsthephenomenaof"acclimatization"and"balance":
"Onenightaweek,IplayedforDrake'sDancingClasson62ndStreet,whichwecalledTheJunglesCasino.Itwasofficiallyadancingschool,sinceitwasveryhardfor
Negroestogetadancehalllicense.Butyoucouldgetalicensetoopenadancingschoolverycheap.
TheJunglesCasinowasjustacellar,too,withoutfixings.Thefurnace,coal,andasheswerestilltherebehindapartition.
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Thecoalbinwashandyforgueststostashtheirliquorincasethecopsdroppedin.
Thereweredancingclassesallright,buttherewerenoteachers.Thepupilsdancedsets,twosteps,waltzes,schottisches,andTheMetropolitanGlide,anewstep.
Iplayedfortheseregulationdances,butinsteadofplayingstraight,I'dbreakintoaragincertainplaces.Theolderonesdidn'tcaretoomuchforthis,buttheyounger
oneswouldscreamwhenIgotgoodtothemwithabitofraginthedancemusicnowandthen.
...ThedancestheydidatTheJungleswerewildandcomicalthemoreposeandthemorebreaks,thebetter.TheseCharlestonpeopleandtheothersoutherners
hadjustcometoNewYork.Theywerecountrypeopleandtheyfelthomesick.Whentheygottiredoftwostepsandschottisches(whichtheydancedwithalotof
spieling)they'dyell:Let'sgobackhome!...Let'sdoaset!...orNow,putusinthealley!IdidmyMuleWalkorGutStompforthesecountrydances.
Breakdownmusicwasthebestforsuchsets,themoresolidandgroovythebetter.They'ddance,holleringandscreaminguntiltheywerecooked.Thedancesranfrom
fifteentothirtyminutes,buttheykeptupallnightlongoruntiltheirshoesworeoutmostofthemafteraheavyday'sworkonthedocks."38
TheSouthernersbroughtthebluesnorthwiththem,anditwasthefusionoftheoldertraditionswith"thenewlearning"thatproducedtheurbanblues,thoughtheearlierbluesforms
stillpersisted.ButformostNegroeswhowereraisedintheNorth,blueswassomethingquitenew.TheNorthernNegro,i.e.,theoneraisedintheNorth,hadfromtheoutsetofhislife
beenexposedtothekindofcenterlessculturetowhichthenewNorthernerswerejustnowadjusting.
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TheyoungNegrowhohadalwayslivedintheNorthwasneverawareofa"purer"Negroculturethantheconsciouslydilutedmodelthatexistedthere.Beforethegreatmovements
north,manyNorthernNegroeswerequitepurposelyresistingwhatcouldbecalledtheirculturalheritageinanattempttosetupacompletely"acceptable"routeintowhattheyhad
cometothinkofasthebroadnessofAmericansociety.Blatantreferencesto"theSouth,"andallthefrighteningassociationsthatwordproduced,werenottolerated.Butwiththe
comingoftheblackhordes,itwasnolongerpossibletocompletelysuppressthesereferencesandtheirassociations.WhereastheolderNorthernNegroesmighthaveforbiddentheir
childrenthebluesorsimplyrefusedtoexposethemtoit,withthecomingofthenewcitizenswholeareasof"SouthernNegro"culturewerethrustupontheseinnocentyouths.
TheNegromusicianintheNorth,beforewhatarecalledthe"jazzyears,"wasusuallywellwithinthetraditionofwhite"show"music(andbrassbandstyle),ifheplayed"popular"
music,orelsehewasa"serious"musician.JustastheNewOrleansCreoleshadlearnedEuropeanmusiconEuropeaninstrumentsfromEuropeanteachers,sohadtheNorthern
Negrobeentrained.InaninterviewbyNatHentoff,GarvinBushell,aclarinetistwithsomeofthepreblues"Northern"Negrogroups,placedthesituationinitsproperperspective.
"[Theplayingof]NewYorkmusiciansofthetimewasdifferentthantheplayingofmeninChicago,St.Louis,TexasandNewOrleans.NewYorkjazzthenwasnearertheragtimestyle
andhadlessblues.Therewasn'tanEasternperformerwhocouldreallyplaytheblues.WelaterabsorbedhowfromtheSouthernmusiciansweheard,butitwasn'toriginalwithus.We
didn'tputthatquartertonepitchinthemusicthewaytheSouthernersdid.UpNorthwelearnedtheragtimeconceptionalotofnotes.
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"OnSundaysIrehearsedwithabandfromFlorida.Thewaytheyplayedremindedmeofmyuncle'sworkinthecircusband.Theyplayedrealblues.
Gradually,theNewYorkcabaretsbegantohearmoreoftherealpurejazzandbluesbymusiciansfromFlorida,SouthCarolina,Georgia,Louisiana,etc.Whattheyplayedwasmore
expressivethanhadbeenheardinNewYorktothattime.
Youcouldonlyhearthebluesandrealjazzinthegutbucketcabaretswherethelowerclasswent.Thetermgutbucketcamefromthechitterlingsbucket.Chitterlingsarethegutsofa
hogandthepracticeusedtobetotakeabuckettotheslaughterhouseandgetabucketofguts.Therefore,anythingreallowdownwascalledgutbucket."39
Again,themarvelousparadoxcreatedbyghettoreasoningandthesocialpredicatesoutofwhichitissued.TheNorthernmusicianswhowouldn'tplaybluesor"jass"werequitehappy
playingAmericanandEuropeanpopularmusic,includinglightoperaanythingwithintheshadowyworldofsemiclassicalmusicbutallwasplayedintheraggystyleoftheday,
which,ofcourse,hadbeentheresultofwhitedilutionsofNegroragtimestyles.AndeventhoughtheNegromusicianswhoimitated"popular"ragtimestylesweremerelytryingto
reflectthedominanttastesoftheday,theystillmanagedtobringaseparateculturalknowledge(maintainedbythe"blue"tonesoftheNegrochurch)totheir"syncopatedmusic,"asit
wascalledthen.
NorthernNegroprejazzmusicwasalmostlikethepicturewithinapicturewithinapicture,andsoon,onthecerealpackage.RagtimewasaNegromusic,resultingfromtheNegro's
appropriationofwhitepianotechniquesusedinshowmusic.Popularizedragtime,whichfloodedthecountry
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withsongsheetsinthefirstdecadeofthiscentury,wasadilutionoftheNegrostyle.Andfinally,theshowand"society"musictheNegroesintheprebluesNorthmadewasakindof
bouncy,essentiallyvapidappropriationofthepopularizedimitationsofNegroimitationsofwhiteminstrelmusic,which,asImentionedearlier,camefromwhiteparodiesofNegrolife
andmusic.Andthenwecangobackevenfurthertotheinitial"steal"AmericanNegromusicisbasedon,thatis,thoseinitialusesEuroAmericanmusicwasputtobytheAfro
American.ThehopelesslyinterwovenfabricofAmericanlifewhereblacksandwhitespasssoquicklyastobecomeonlygrays!
TypicalofthekindofblackorchestrasthatthrivedintheNorthatthebeginningofthecenturywereJamesReeseEurope'svariousClefClubandTempoCluborchestras.As
accompanistforVernonandIreneCastle,itwasEuropewhowithhisEurope'sSocietyOrchestrawaslargelyresponsibleforintroducingtheCastleWalkandFoxTrottoAmerica.
EuropehadconcertsatCarnegieHallwhereheplayedsuchmusicasIndianSummer,ConcertWaltz,andothersemiclassical,mildlyraggeditems,andatoneconcertthe
orchestrationofhis100pieceorchestraincludedtenpianosandfortysevenmandolins!Needlesstosay,Europe'sorchestrawasthefirstNegro"danceband"toberecorded.
TheinvasionoftheNorthbySouthernmusicianswasaugmentedbytheclosingofNewOrleans'redlightdistrict,Storyville,in1917.ThisthrewagreatmanyNegroandCreole
musiciansoutofwork,andtheyjoinedthetreknorthward.ThelargerNortherndancebandsbegantohiresomeoftheSouthernmusiciansbecauseatthetimethe"dadastrain"ofthe
bluesorientedinstrumentalistswasthoughttobeanadded"novelty"featurethatcouldincreaseanorchestra'scommercialvalue.ButusuallytheNorthernNegromusiciancame
undertheinfluenceoftheseSouthernmusicianswiththeir"hot"orbluesyintonations.Andbythetimethephonographrecordbecamepopular,this"hot"style
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wasspreadtoanevenbroaderNorthernaudience,blackandwhitealike.
WorldWarIwasanextremelysignificantphenomenoninsofarasitrelatedtothemovementoftheNegroesintothemainstreamofAmericanlife.Therudenesswithwhich"thegreat
war"draggedAmericaandmostoftheWesternworldintothetwentiethcenturyservedalsotoproducethe"modern"AmericanNegro.Thewarproposedtothegreatmassesof
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war"draggedAmericaandmostoftheWesternworldintothetwentiethcenturyservedalsotoproducethe"modern"AmericanNegro.Thewarproposedtothegreatmassesof
NegroesthattheworldwasindeedmuchmorethanAmerica.TheideaofEuropeasaplacewhereotherpeoplelivedwhohadaconsistentsocialdefinitionas"whitepeople"justlike
AmericanwhitepeoplewastomostNegroesamajorrevelation.AndwhenNegroeswentintotheservicesintheirspecialblackunits,eventhoughtheyweredesignedtoutilizeblack
bodieswhilecontinuouslyavoidinganyrecognitionofthesebodiesasbelongingtootherhumanbeings,therewasstillasenseofactualparticipationintheaffairsandfortunesofthe
countrythatwasheightenedbytherecognitiontheseblacktroopsreceivedinvariouspartsofEurope,Francenotably.Afterthewar,thereturningsoldierswiththeirtalesofEurope
anditswhitepeoplesolikebutsoveryunliketheAmericanwhitescausedagreatdealofopenresentmentamongNegroesabouttheraciallyrestrictivesocialmoresofAmericanlife.
InRichardWright'snovelBlackBoy,thereisapassagethatinpartdescribesthewhiteman'sreactiontothisnewlyacquired"international"senseWorldWarIproducedinmany
Negroes,NorthorSouth:"AmongthetopicsthatsouthernwhitemandidnotliketodiscusswithNegroeswerethefollowing:AmericanwhitewomenTheKuKluxKlanFrance,and
howNegrosoldiersfaredwhilethereFrenchwomenJackJohnsontheentirenorthernpartoftheUnitedStatesthecivilwar,AbrahamLincolnU.S.GrantGeneralSherman
CatholicsthePopeJewstheRepublicanPartySlaverySocialEqualityCommunismSocialismthe
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13th,14th,and15thAmendmentstotheConstitutionoranytopiccallingforpositiveknowledgeormanlyselfassertiononthepartoftheNegro."40(Nor,Isuppose,couldmany
NegroesbeforethenorthwardmovementorWorldWarIdiscussthesethings.Theysimplydidnotexist.)
Forthefirsttime,NegroesbegantofeelthesingularityoftheirplightasAmericanblackmen.Andtherehaveneverbeensomanyraceriotsinthiscountryasduringandimmediately
afterWorldWarI.Racerelations,asourpeculiarmodeofmutualmistrustbetweenblacksandwhitesistermed,reachedaterrifyingnadir,manifestedbysuchbloodyepisodesof
violenceastheEastSt.Louisraceriotsof1917.ItwasthewaralsothatwasresponsibleinmanywaysforswellingthenumbersofNegroesleavingtheSouth.AsImentionedbefore,
thewartimeeconomyofthiscountrycreatedagreatmanyfactoryjobsintheNorththatwereopentoNegroes.Also,afterthewarwasover,agreatmanyyoungerNegroeswhohad
beeninthearmycouldnolongerbesatisfiedwith"themindoftheSouth."Thetraditionofsilentacceptancehadbecomemuchtoostifling.ItissignificantthatWorldWarIIproduceda
similarsocialcrisisinthiscountry.
WorldWarInotonlypointedupthesocialinequitiesofAmericanlifeasbeingpeculiartoAmerica,butalso,becauseofthisdelineation,thesesocialinequitiessufferedbytheblack
mancouldforthefirsttimebelookedatsomewhatobjectivelybyNegroesasanevil,andnotmerelyastheireternallot.Itwasduringthesetimesthatthefirstwidespreadorganized
resistancebyNegroesagainsttheseevilsbegantoform.Theraceriotswereonemanifestationofthistendency,alsotheappearanceofgroupslikeMarcusGarvey'sblacknationalist
organization,whichadvocatedthatNegroesreturntoAfrica.(TheNAACP,whichhadbeenformedsomeyearsearlierin1909,enjoyedduringthefirstyearsafterthewaritsgreatest
supportfrompoorer
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Negroes,asupportithassincelostinfavorofthesupportofwhiteliberalphilanthropistsandtheNegrobourgeoisie.)TheGarveymovement,eventhoughillfated,enjoyedagreat
dealofpopularityamongpoorerNegroes,anditisimportanttorealizethatevenatthetimeofWorldWarIandtheyearsdirectlyfollowing,theNegromasseshadnotmovedsofarinto
themainstreamofAmericanlifethattheycouldforgettherewasanAfricaoutofwhichtheirforebearshadbeentakenandtowhichtheythemselvesmightyethavetoreturn.
Anotherbluesmusictoappearinthecitiesaroundthissametimewaswhatwascalledboogiewoogie.Basicallyapianomusic,boogiewoogierosetoitsgreatestpopularityintherent
partiesandjukejointsoftheNorth,eventhough,characteristicallyenough,ithaditsoriginsintheprimitivebluesoftheSoutherncountryNegro.Itseemedtobeafusionofvocalblues
andtheearlierguitartechniquesofthecountrysingers,adaptedforthepiano.Theoldbluessingerscalledit"Western"piano,meaningthatthemusichadoriginatedintheminingand
lumbercampsoftheWestandMidwest.Insomewaysboogiebearsstrongresemblancetoragtimepianostyle,althoughtherepeated"rolling"(ostinato)figureusedinboogiepiano
identifiesitimmediately.RagtimewasthefirstappropriationofwhitepianistictechniquesbyNegromusicians,boogiewoogiewasthesecondappropriationofa"pianistic"approachto
theinstrument,butinsuchablatantlypercussiveandblueslikemannerastoseparateitimmediatelyfromanymoreEuropeanizedmusic.InkeepingwiththetraditionalstylesofNegro
music,boogiewoogiealsowaspredominantlyamusicofrhythmiccontrastsratherthanmelodicorharmonicvariations.
Mostofthegreatboogiepianistscamenorthinthegeneralexodusduringthefirstthreedecadesofthecentury(althoughafewofthem,likeJimmyYanceyandAlbertAmmons,were
borninChicago,thecitywhereboogiereceived
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itsfirstpopularity).Theboogiepianistachievedaspecialsocialstatus,playingatthevariousChittlin'Struts,GumboSuppers,FishFries,EggNogParties.Hisservicesweremuch
soughtafter,andhecouldgainentrancetoallthese"payparties"withoutbeingexpectedtopay."Ifyoucouldplaypianogood,youwentfromonepartytoanotherandeverybody
madeafussaboutyouandfedyouicecream,cake,foodanddrinks.Infact,someofthebiggestmenintheprofessionwereknownasthebiggesteaterswehad.Atanallnightparty,
youstartedat1A.M.,hadanothermealat4A.M.Manyofussufferedlaterbecauseofeatinganddrinkinghabitsstartedinouryoungersocializingdays."41
Idon'tmindplayin'anytimey'allcangetmedrunk,ButMr.Pinetopissobernow.IbeenplayingthepianoroundhereallnightlongAndy'allain'tboughtthefirstdrink
somehow.
(FromI'mSoberNowbyClarence"PineTop"Smith)
Onereasonperhapswhyboogiewoogieremainedpredominantlyapianomusic(untilitseventualdilutionandcommercialization)wasbecauseofthegeneralenvironmentthat
servedascatalystforitsdevelopment.Althoughragtimewasalsoapianomusic,theveryfactthatitwasa"composed"music(andsheetmusiccouldbeissuedsoquicklyonalarge
scale)meantthatitcouldbeperformedbyanynumberofpiecesandinalmostanyenvironment.Ittookmuchlongerforboogiesheetmusictoarrive,becauseboogiewoogiewasstill
alargelyimprovisedmusic.
Small,veryamateurishlyletteredsignswouldappearinthelocalstoresandrestaurants,advertisingthelargerparties.(Thenumberofgrocerystoresandrestaurantsoffering
"SouthernSpecialties"hadincreasedtenfoldthroughouttheNorth,andinanyNegroneighborhooditwaspossibletofindthehogmaws,chitterlin's,collards,pigknuckles,tails,
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feet,snouts,thatweresointegraltoSouthernNegrocuisine.ThiswasoneofthefirstorganizedindustriesNegroesintheNorthgotinto,packagingandsellingtheirtraditionalfoods.
Today,someofthesesamefoodsarepackagedandsoldbylargewhitecompaniesforNegroconsumption,butfoodslikeyamsandcollardgreenshavealsofoundtheirwayintoa
greatmanynonNegrokitchens.)Ontheweekends,afterahardweekofwork,hundredsofdancerswouldcrowdintothe"bluelight"partiesto"grind"or"slowdrag"or"bellyrub."
Therewouldusuallybefourorfivepianistsatanyreallypopularaffair,andeachwouldtakehisturnatthe"box."Thepartiescouldlastallweekend,andforsomeintrepidsouls,well
intotheweek.TheThirdWardofNewarkonceboastedforseveralmonths,untilthelawmovedin,arentpartypromotedbytwobluessingerswhichwascalled"TheFunction"and
whichadvertisedthatonecould"GrindTillYouLoseYourMind."Itwasatthesekindsofpartiesthatboogiewoogiedeveloped.
Iwantyoutopulluponyourblouse,letdownonyourskirt,Getdownsolowyouthinkyou'reinthedirt...NowwhenIsay"Boogie!"IwantyoutoboogieWhenIsay
"Stop!"Iwantyoutostoprightstill...
(FromPinetop'sBoogieWoogiebyClarence"PineTop"Smith)
Thesuccessofracerecordingssoonledthecompaniestorecordnotonlytheclassicbluessingersbutalsoafewboogiewoogiepianistsandcountrysingersaswell.Thelarger
recordcompaniesbegansettinguppermanentSouthernofficesforthediscoveryofnewtalent,andsomereallyambitiouscompanieslikeColumbiaevenhadamobileunitthat
roamedtheSouth,recordingpeoplelikeBarbecueBob,PegLegHowell,BlindWillieJohnson,LillianGlinn,PinkAnderson,BlindWillieMcTell(recordingthenunderthename"Blind
Sammie"),BobbyCadillac,AaronTBone
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Walker,andmanyothersingerswhosangwhatwasessentiallyfolkmaterial.But,forthemostpart,therentpartypianists,withexceptionslikeClarence"PineTop"Smith,Eurreal
Montgomery,HersalThomas,remainedunrecorded.Themusic,boogiewoogie,stillremainedsoextremelyfunctionalthatitcouldbeconsideredbyitsexponentsasstrictlyan
avocation,ratherthanawaytomakealiving.Mostofthebetterboogiewoogiepianistshadotherjobs,justliketheearlierbluessingers,andtheirboogiewassomethingtheycreated
forthemselveswithintheenvironmentofthose"new"blackcitiesoftheNorth.
InOctober,1929,theworsteconomicdisasterthiscountryhaseverexperiencedshattereditsrelativeprosperity.Thewaryears,forNegroesespecially,hadbeenatimewhenjobs
wererelativelyeasytofind,andagreatmanypeoplehadsomemoneytospend.ButwiththecomingoftheDepression,factoriesandofficesclosed,andby1932,almost14million
peoplewereunemployed.Negroeswerehardesthit.Alltheexfarmhandswho'dcomenorthtoacceptMr.Ford'soffernowstoodinlonglineswaitingforsomethingtoeat.Manyof
theseNegroesbecamedisillusionedandreturnedtotheSouth,butmoststayed.ThesuddennessoftheDepressionprovedadramaticendingfortheeraoftheclassicbluessinger.
Notonlydidmostnightclubsandcabaretsbegintocloseorlayofftheirperformers,buttherecordingindustrywasruinedalmostovernight.Andpredictably,itwastheracerecordsthat
werefirsttogo.Negroessimplycouldnotspendmoneyonphonographrecordsmostwerebarelyabletogetenoughtoeat.TherewerenorecordingsissuedbyNegroperformersfor
almostthreeyears.
AsidefromthedeadlyeffectstheDepressionhadonthemusicbusinessandthegeneralunemployment,especiallyinthenewNegrocommunitiesoftheNorth,thatresultedbecause
ofthiseconomiccrisis,thereisafurthersignificancethatshouldbeappreciatedregardingthepsychologicaleffect
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theDepressionhadonNegroes.TheDepression,ortheGreatDepression,asitiscalledbysomeeconomiststodifferentiateitfromtheotherlesscrippling"panics"and"recessions"
thatprecededit(thereweredepressionsinAmericaofvaryingdegreesofseverityin1819,1837,187377,189398,191314,thislatteractuallyprovingapreludetothecrushing
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chaosof1929),wasespeciallysignificantinthedevelopmentofapoliticalimageinandforthemodernAmericanNegro.NegroesbeforetheDepressionweretraditionallyand
understandablyRepublican,whentheyvotedatall,inhonorofthe"PartyofLincoln."(EveninthefortiesIremembermygrandmothertellingmeshewasvotingforDeweyandWilkie
insteadofmychildhoodheroF.D.R.,forjustthatreason.)ButwiththeDepressionandRoosevelt'sNewDealanditsW.P.A.projectsthatprovidedworkforagreatmanyimpoverished
NegroesaswellastheextensionofreliefandwelfarepaymentstothesesamepoorwhocouldnotworkinthevariousFederalprojects,theNegro'sallegianceswungradicallyand
quicklytowardtheDemocraticParty.
PerhapsthethreeeventsthathelpedshapepresentdayAmericaasitnowexistscanbeseenasWorldWarI,theGreatDepression,andWorldWarII,andtheseeventshelpedequally
toshapethepresentdayAmericanNegro.WorldWarIproposed,asIsaid,aninternationalsenseoftheworldthatwasneverdevelopedinthemindsofmostNegroesbefore.The
DepressionwasthefirstrealeconomiccrisisaneconomiccrisisexperiencedbytheNegro,basedonthegeneralfortunesoftheentiresociety.BeforetheDepression,itisquiteeasy
toseehowinthepaternalizedstratumofAmericansocietyinhabitedbyNegroesaneconomiccrisiswouldbeofnogreatimportance.ThemovementbyNegroesintothemainstream
ofAmericansocietyhadalsoplacedtheminthepathofaneconomicuncertaintythattheyhadneverknownbefore.Butwemustaddtothose
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threeeventsthatshapedthemodernNegrotheEmancipationandthemovetothecitiesbecausetheywere,ofcourse,theonlyoccurrencesthatcouldmakethenextthreehistorical
imperativesofthe"AmericanExperience"atallmeaningfultotheNegroinAmerica.
DuringtheDepression,eventhoughthecommercialaggrandizementoftheblueshadbeenhalted,bluesnaturallyenoughcontinued.Classicbluessufferedirreparablybecausetoa
certainextentitspopularitywasbasedonaneconomicprinciple,asisallpopulartheater.NotthatBessieSmithortheotherssangstrictlytomakemoney,buttheirimmensepopularity
wastheresultoftheirabilitytomakemoney.Andthepurestfabricoftheblues,thatpartofbluesthatisthepurestexpressionofNegrolifeinAmerica,wasconnectedtotheideaof
professionalismatthetimeoftheclassicsingersrathergratuitously.Sufficeittosaythatwhentheartificialcatalystofthecommercialtheaterwastemporarilydestroyed,theclassic
singerswerenolonger"popular,"andthelegitimatebluesofthenextperiodurbanbluesandboogiewoogieemergedandcontinuedtogrowwithavitalitythatcouldonlybe
dilutedbythetwinmenacesofacceptancebythegeneralpublicandlossofcontactwiththemosthonestlycontemporaryexpressionoftheNegrosoul.
Thehouserentpartiesandchitterlin'dragscontinuedthroughtheDepression,andthebluesthatissuedfromtheselegitimateconnectionswithNegrolifealsocontinued.Thusitwas
thatthefirstrecordingstobeissuedwhentherecordingcompaniesbegantofunctionagainwererecordsbyurbanbluessingerslikeLeRoyCarr,whoenjoyedatremendous
popularitywithhissoft,sophisticated,yetplaintiveblues.
Howlong,howlong,hasthateveningtrainbeengone?Howlong,howlong,baby,howlong?
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Standingatthestation,watchmybabyleavingtown.Feelingdisgusted,nowherecouldshebefound.Howlong,howlong,baby,howlong.
(FromHowLong,HowLongBluesbyLeRoyCarr)
Butthehousepartypianistsandboogiewoogiemenalsobegantoenjoythefattenedpopularityofthephonographrecord,althoughtheirreal"elevation"intothepopularcultureofthe
countrydidnotcomeuntilthelatethirties.JimmyYancey,CrippleClarenceLofton,Meade"Lux"Lewis,CowCowDavenport,MontanaTaylor,AlbertAmmons,PeteJohnson,Charlie
Spand,andothers,begantobeheardinearnestwhentherecordingcompaniesgotbackontheirfeet.Also,urbanperformerslikeBigMaceoMerriweather,RooseveltSykes,Tampa
Red,SonnyBoyWilliamson,BigBillBroonzy(wholaterreturnedtoamore"country"wayofmakingblues),MemphisSlim,LonnieJohnson,begantocomeintotheirown.
Iwalkedallnightlong,withmy3220inmyhandIwalkedallnightlong,withmy3220inmyhandLookin'formywoman,well,Ifoundherwithanotherman.
Buteventhoughthebluescontinuedtochange,therebyexhibitingthemostcontemporaryreflectionoftheNegroexperienceinAmerica,theolderformsdidnotjustdisappear.There
werestillcountrypeopleandcountrysingersarrivingeachdayinthevariousblackcitiestoprovidetheculturalbalance,singingofearlier,lesscomplicatedreactionstoAmericanlife.
Therewerestillsingersinthetheaterwhomaintainedthegrandtraditionofclassicblues,eventhoughbytheendofthe1930's,MaRaineyhadceasedtoperformandBessieSmith
wasdead.AndthephonographrecordprovidedavitalartifactasreferencetotheAmerica
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theysangofandtheblackconsciousnessthathadreactedtothatAmerica.
Also,thesocialandculturalseparationofblacksandwhitescausedwhatisknownasalagbetweenthegroups,sothatevenwhenthemostcontemporarymanifestationofblueshad
beenalteredbyNegroeswithintheirowngroup,therewaslikelytobeanagitatedechoofsomeearlierstylewithinthewhitegroup.(Hencethepopularityofboogiewoogieinthe
forties,whenitfinallyreachedCarnegieHallandoblivion.)Buttheseparationwasnotasrigidinmanyways.Therewasmorecommercewiththeformermasters,moreofasurface
agreementtorespondtoeachother,atleastformally,insomemildlyhumanisticmanner.IntheSouth,evensometimeafterslavery(includingthepresenttime)Negroescontinuedto
liveinprettysimilarcircumstances.ButtheexodusproducednotonlyahugedisparitybetweenlargegroupsofNegroesbutopenedupaspaceforevenlargerdisparitiestodevelop.
TherewasnowtheNorthernNegroandtheSouthernNegro,andthe"space"thatthecityprovidedwasnotonlyhorizontalitcouldmakestrata,anddisparitiesgrewwithinthegroup
itself.TheNorthernindustrialcityhadgivennewformtotheNegro'smusicithadalso,equally,proposednewreactionsforhimpsychologicallywhichwouldsoonproducenew
sociologicalreactions.
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9/....EntertheMiddleClass
...theracedoesnotadvance,itisonlybetterpreserved
(CharlesOlson)
Attherentparties,barbecues,"hotbed"apartments(placeswhereseveralfamiliescrowdedintogethertolive),andafterhoursplaces,theremusthavebeensomeNegroesabsent
astherehadbeenintheSouthwhenreligiousmembersoftheslavecommunityabsentedthemselvesfromthe"sinful"activitiesofthemoresecularlyinclined.However,justasthe
"Jordan"hadchangedinthemindsofagreatmanyNegroestosomethingimmediateandmaterial,sotheserentpartieswerenolonger"sinful,"but"vulgar,"oratleast"wasteful."(I
canseemygrandfathernowmakingsuchapronouncement.)
Insteadofthefabledexistential,happy,carefreeNegroes,therewerenowsomeblackpeoplewhowereinterestedinwhatwasaroundthemandhowtogettoit.(Thepeoplewho
wantedthewhiteman'sGodhadmadethesesameseparationsintheoldsociety"IamboundforthePromisedLand"buttheyhadlongbeenlosingground,in
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thenewcities.)NegroesappearedwhosePromisedLandwaswheretheywerenow,ifonlytheycould"savealittlemoney,sendthekidstoschool,getadecentplacetolive...."The
further"movement"intoAmerica.Andthismovement,thisgrowingfeelingthatdevelopedamongNegroes,wasledandfattenedbyagrowingblackmiddleclass.
Themigrationnorthwas,ofcourse,themainreasonfortheriseofablackmiddleclassinAmerica,sincetherewasintheNorththatspacethattheincreasingsubtletyofthe
paternalisticsocietyallowed.Therewasgreaterroomforprogress.
Butevenintheslavesocietytherehadbeenthebeginningsofa"privileged"classofNegroes.Thehouseservantswereextendedprivilegesthatwereneverenjoyedbythemajorityof
"fieldniggers."The"housenigger"notonlyassimilated"massa's"ideasandattitudesatamorerapidrate,buthischildrenweresometimesallowedtolearntradesandbecome
artisansandcraftsmen.Theseartisansandcraftsmenmadeupthebulkofthe500,000blackfreedmenatthebeginningoftheCivilWar.
Thesehouseservants,asIhavementioned,werethefirsttoacceptthemaster'sreligion,andwerethefirstblackministersandproselytizersforthenewGod.TheChristianChurchin
slavetimesrepresentednotonlyalimitedwayintoAmerica,butasitcametobethecenterofmostoftheslaves'limitedsocialactivities,italsoproducedanewrulingclassamongthe
slaves:theofficialsofthechurch.
Thechurchofficials,thehouseservants,andthefreedmenwerethebeginningsoftheblackmiddleclass,whichrepresented(andrepresents)notonlyaneconomiccondition,but,as
istruewithanystratumofanysociety,adefinitewayoflookingatthesocietyinwhichitexists.Theblackmiddleclass,fromitsinception(possiblytensecondsafterthefirstAfricans
wereherdedofftheboat)hasformedalmostexclusivelyaroundthepropositionthatitisbetternottobeblackinacountrywherebeingblackis
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aliability.AllthemainroadsintoAmericahavealwaysbeenfashionedbythemembersoftheblackmiddleclass(notasproductsofaseparateculture,butasvague,featureless
Americans).IpointedoutearlierwhyNegroesinNorthAmericawereabletoadoptthecustomsandhabitsofthemasterssomuchmorequicklythantheirbrothersthroughouttherest
oftheAmericas.ButstillanotherfactorwasthatfromtheverybeginningofAfroAmericancultureinNorthAmerica,therehavealwaysbeenNegroeswhothoughtthatthebestwayfor
theblackmantosurvivewastoceasebeingblack.First,itwasthestenchofAfricatheseaspirantAmericanswantedtoerasethen,theearlyhistoryoftheNegroinAmerica.
TheAfricangodswerethrownintodisreputefirst,andthatwaseasysincetheywerebannedbythewhitesanyway.Asalways,themassesofblackmenadapted,ratherthan
completelyassimilatedappropriated,ratherthantraded,onegodoronecultureforanother.(TheFreedman'sBureaupublishednoneofthesecularsongsoftheNegro,butonlythe
"religious"songsandthenthosethatwerequitereadilyrecognizableaspickupsfrompalewhiteProtestanthymns.)
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ItwasthegrowingblackmiddleclasswhobelievedthatthebestwaytosurviveinAmericawouldbetodisappearcompletely,leavingnotraceatallthattherehadeverbeenanAfrica,
oraslavery,oreven,finally,ablackman.Thiswastheonlyway,theythought,tobecitizens.FortheCreolesandmulattoesoftheSouth,thiswaseasiertherewasaquickly
discernibledifferencebetweenthemselvesandtheirdarkerbrothersinceitwastheclosenessoftheirfathers(andmothers)tothemastersthathadproducedtheminthefirstplace.
Manyofthefreedmenweremulattoes,andmanyofthemulattofreedmenandgensdecouleurevenhadblackslavesthemselves.Butthedarkermembersofthefledglingbourgeoisie
hadtoworkouttheirsalvationsundermuchmoredifficultcircumstances.Therealblack
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bourgeoisiewasalwayslashedirrevocablytotheburdenofcolor.Hence,thehopelessnessandfutilityof"erasing"allconnectionstotheblacksocietywhenitwasalwaysimpossible
toerasethemostsignificantconnectionofall.
Manyfreedmenhadmovednorthevenduringslavery:theymadeupthemajorityoftheNorthernblackmiddleclassevenaftertheEmancipation.Themovementnorthbroughtnotonly
the"impoverishedmasses"butalsomanymembersofthemiddleclass:somebecausetheythoughttomakeanevendeeperentryintoAmerica,some,likethechurchpeople,
becausetheyhadtofollowtheirflocksortheywouldbeoutofluck.
Wholechurchesmovednorth,andthefirstthingmanyofthepoorNegroesdidwhentheyreachedthatPromisedLandwastopooltheirmeagerresourcesandsetuptheirchurch
again,andgettheirpreacheragoodplacetolive.ThestorefrontchurchwasaNorthernphenomenonsimplybecauseinthecitiesthesecountrypeoplefounditwasimpossibletojust
buysomewoodandbuildachurch,astheyhaddoneintheSouth.Andmanychurches,suchastheonemyparentswentto,progressed,astheirmembersmoveduptheeconomic
ladderintheindustrialNorth,fromstorefrontorapartmenttohuge,albeitquixotic,structures.
ThemiddleclasschurcheswerealwayspushingforthecompleteassimilationoftheNegrointowhiteAmerica.MiddleclassBaptistandMethodistchurchesstrovewithalltheirmight
todoawaywithanyoftheblackappropriationsofChristianitythatruralSouthernNegroeshadaffected.AwhiteChristianitywas,afterall,thereasonforexistenceofthesechurches,
andtheirdirectorsalwayskeptthisintheirminds.Manychurches"split"oncetheymovednorthbecauseofconflictsthataroseamongthemembersastowhethertheywantedthe
church"black"or"white."Manyofthenewemigrantshadtosetupchurchesoftheirownbecausetheywerenotwelcomeintheblackmiddleclass
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churchesoftheNorth.Inthe1920's,inBeaverFalls,Pennsylvania,wheremygrandfatherandhisflockmovedfromAlabama,theyhadtobuildtheirown(theTabernacleBaptist
Church)whentheyfoundthattheywereunwelcomeintheestablishedblackBaptistchurchbecausetheywereSoutherners.TheblackresidentsofBeaverFallswantednothingtodo
withtheSouthanditsterriblememoriesofslavery.TheywouldcutofftheirownpeopletohaveagoatAmerica.
The"morality"oftheblackmiddleclasswasnotcompletelytheresultofa"spontaneous"reactiontowhiteAmerica,itwasalsocarefullynurturedandcultivatedbycertainelementsof
whiteAmerica.Behindagreatmanymanifestationsofthetemperamentoftheblackmiddleclasssitsthecarefullywashed"wisdom"oftheearlyProtestantmissionaries,whonotonly
foundedtheblackChristianchurchesbutalsoquiteconsciouslyinstilledthepostRenaissancereligiousdogmasintotheirnewblackcongregations.Theeducationalphilanthropies
werealsoattendedandshapedintheirbeginningsbythesesamemissionaryelements,whosoughttoshowthesavageheathenshowthrough"thrift,prayer,andwork"theymight
somehowenterintothekingdomofheaven(eventhoughitmightbethroughthebackdoor).Theparadox,andperhapsthecruelestpsychologicalandculturalimpositionofall,was
theinculcationofthisPuritanethosonapeoplewhosemosteleganttraditionswerethecompleteantithesisofit.Ofcourse,thepoorandtheunletteredwerethelasttorespondtothis
gift,butthestriversafterAmerica,theneophytesoftheblackmiddleclass,respondedasquicklyastheycould.Ineffect,thewaytoPuritanProtestantheavenonlyexistedfortheblack
manwhocouldpretendhewasalsoaProtestantandaPuritan.
Whenthesupernaturalgoalofthesociety(blackandwhite)yieldedtothemorepractical,positivisticidealsofindustrializedtwentiethcenturyAmerica,salvationbelonged
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tothosewhorealizedthattheworthofmanwashisabilitytomakemoney.Theblackmiddleclassrespondedtothiscall,asitwouldtoanycallthatwouldinsureitrespectabilityand
prestigeandtheirconcomitantprivilege.Butreligiousorpositivist,theadjustmentnecessaryfortheblackmantoentercompletelyintoa"white"Americansocietywasacomplete
disavowalthatheorhispartoftheculturehadeverbeenanythingelsebutAmerican.(ThecruelpenaltyforthiskindofsituationisthesocioculturaltemperamentofAmericatoday,
wheretheverythingsthathaveservedtoerectadistinctivecultureonthiscontinentaremostfearedandmisunderstoodbythemajorityofAmericans!)Butthefactwasthatbythetime
ofthemovenorth(andprecipitatedinpartbecauseofit),theoppressiontheNegroknewAmericacapableofhisindestructiblebondwiththiscountryandthespaceandlighthe
sawitcapableofproducingsatdictatingthenarrowpathmostNegroescouldtravelontheirwaytowardcitizenship.ForNegroes,theoppressionwasanhistoricalimperativeinforming
eachresponsetheycouldmaketowhateversituationthesocietyproposedbuttheireverwideningknowledgeofthecountryanditsmostprofoundemotionalcharacteristicsmadeany
withdrawalimpossible.EventhepoorerNegrohadmovedtothepointwherehethoughtperhapshemightonedayliveinthiscountryasapersonofcertaineconomiccapability,with
almostcompletedisregardofthecolorofhisskin.(Thisisabrilliant,yetdesperatelyconceivedhypothesis,butitsvalidityhasyettobedemonstrated.)However,themoralreligious
traditionoftheblackmiddleclassisaweirdmixtureofculturalopportunismandfear.Itisatraditionthatiscapableofreducinganyhumanconceitornaturaldignitytothebarestform
ofsocialoutrage.
ItisuncomfortablysymbolicthatthereweresomeNegroes"absent"fromtherentandbarbecueparties,justasitisanalogousofthesocialmicrocosmthatattwelveo'clockin
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theoldTinTypeHallinNewOrleans,aroundtheturnofthecentury,"whentheballwasgettingright,themorerespectableNegroeswhodidattendwenthome.ThenBoldenplayeda
numbercalledDon'tGoAwayNobody,andthedancinggotrough.Whentheorchestrasettleddowntotheslowblues,themusicwasmeananddirty,asTinTyperoaredfullblast."42
ItwasnotonlytheCreoles'purelypolitical(madesocial)responsetoaNegromusicbutthefeelingoftheblackpeoplethemselvesthattherewerethingsmuchmoreimportantthanthe
naturalexpressionofavitalculture.
IntheNorth,beforethemigrationthathurledallthedeepestblacksofSouthernNegrocultureintoAmericaatlarge,theNorthernNegroeshadtoagreatextentsecuredthemselvesa
leakyboatofsecurityfromtheseremindersoftheslaveculture."MostoftheNegropopulationinNewYorkthen[around1921]hadeitherbeenbornthereorhadbeeninthecityso
long,theywerefullyacclimated.TheyweretryingtoforgetthetraditionsoftheSouththeyweretryingtoemulatethewhites.Youcouldn'tdeliverapackagetoaNegro'sfrontdoor.You
hadtogodowntothecellardoor.AndNegroesdressedtogotowork.Theychangedintoworkclotheswhentheygotthere.Youusuallyweren'tallowedtoplaybluesandboogie
woogieintheaverageNegromiddleclasshome.Thatmusicsupposedlysuggestedalowelement.Andthebigbandswiththeviolins,flutes,piccolos,didn'tplaythemeither."43
OneofthefunniestandmostcruellyabsurdsituationstodevelopbecauseofthegrowthandinfluenceofadefinableblackmiddleclassinAmericaisthecaseofBlackSwanRecords.
blackSwanwasfoundedandrunbyaNegro,HarryPace,duringtheearlytwenties.ItwasthefirstNegroownedrecordcompanyinthecountry,anditquickly
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grewintoamoneymaker,itssuccessbasedtoalargeextentonthepopularityofitsstarperformer,ayounggirlnamedEthelWaters.BlackSwanalsorecordednumerousotherblues
performers,andadvertiseditsproductsas:"TheOnlyGenuineColoredRecord.OthersAreOnlyPassingforColored."(Awildturnabout!)ButmanyNegroes,especiallythosein
business,broughtpressureonPacetochangehisposition,sincetheythoughtthatthejobofaNegrorecordingcompanywouldbetoshowhowdignifiedNegroesreallywere...and,
ofcourse,blueswerenotdignified.Pacetriedtouseallkindsofothermaterialthatwasnotstrictlyblues(forthisreasonEthelWaterswithhertorchy,"pop"stylewasagodsend),but
thepopularityofthecompanywanedbecausetheaudiencetowhichtherecordswerelargelyaimeddidnotcareasmuchaboutthedignityofitsmusicaltastesastheNegrobusiness
community.Finally,BlackSwanwassoldtoParamount,awhitecompany,whichhadnoqualmsaboutrecordingtherougher,lessdignified,bluesperformers.
Thespacethecityprovidedgrewquicklyvertical.Theideaofsociety,oratleastdivisionswithinasocialmilieu,grewmorecommonamongNegroes.Theearlier"mulattofreedmen
houseservantfieldservant"divisionthatbecamesofixedwithintheslavesocietywas,ofcourse,brokendown,butthenewstrataformingwithinthe"free"blacksocietiesprovedtobe
equallyasrigid.Thenewsocietybaseditsdivisionsalmostcompletelyuponacquisition,reflectingandreactingtothechangedpsycheoftwentiethcenturyAmerica.Intheblack
society,thechangewaseffectedalmostexclusivelybythemassmovementnorthandthe"openness"ofthenewindustrialculture.Theolder,stricterdivisionsofblacksociety,based
oncertainmythologicalcharacteristicsofcolorcasteandtheimportanceoflessmenialpositionswithintheslaveculture,werebrokendownbecausemany"fieldniggers"and
"monkeymen"(darkskinnedAfricanlookingNegroes)couldgointo
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Mr.Ford'sfactoriesand"make$5adayjustlikeawhiteman."Thewhitesociety'sneedforNegrolaborersandtheresultingscrambleintothegreatNortherncities"smeared"thecaste
linesofanolderblacksocietyandbegantoformasprawlingbourgeoisiebasedonthepaycheckanalmostexactduplicationofthewayinwhichtheearliercastesystemofwhite
Americawas"debased."Butthewhitesocietystillhadsomesemblanceofcasteits"first"families,intact(althoughfrequentlyasheadsor"captains"ofindustry).Negroescouldnot
become"captains"ofindustryandcouldneverhavebelongedtoanyfirstfamilies(except,perhaps,asfamilyretainers),soitwastheprofessionalmendoctors,lawyers,ministers
whoweretheheadsofthenewblacksociety.Andthesepeoplewantedmorethananythinginlifetobecomecitizens.Theywerenoteversatisfiedwithbeingfreedmen,orformer
slaves.Theywantednoconnectionwiththat"stainonAmerica'spast"andwhatismore,theywantedtheright(whichtheythoughttheycouldearnbymovingsufficientlyawayfromthe
blackerculture)tolookonthat"stain"asobjectivelyaspossible,whentheyhadto,andtorefertoitfromthesafetyofthebastionsofthewhitemiddleclass.Theydidnotevenwantto
be"accepted"asthemselves,theywantedanyselfwhichthemainstreamdictated,andthemainstreamalwaysdictated.Andthisblackmiddleclass,inturn,triedalwaystodictatethat
self,orthisimageofawhiterNegro,tothepoorer,blackerNegroes.
Theeffectsoftheseattemptsbytheblackmiddleclasstowhitentheblackcultureofthiscountryarecentraltomyfurtherdiscussionsonthesociologicalsignificanceofthechangesin
Negromusic,butIthinkitmightbeusefulheretoconsideralsotheeffectsthis"whitening"hadinotherculturalareas.Ithinkitisnotfantastictosaythatonlyinmusichastherebeen
anysignificantNegrocontributiontoaformalAmericanculture.Forthemostpart,mostoftheother
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contributionsmadebyblackAmericansintheareasofpainting,drama,andliteraturehavebeenessentiallyundistinguished.Thereasonsforthistragicvoidareeasytounderstandif
onerealizesoneimportantideaabouttheexistenceofanyblackcultureinthiscountry.TheonlyNegroeswhofoundthemselvesinapositiontopursuesomeart,especiallytheartof
literature,havebeenmembersoftheNegromiddleclass.OnlyNegromusic,because,perhaps,itdrewitsstrengthandbeautyoutofthedepthsoftheblackman'ssoul,andbecause
toalargeextentitstraditionscouldbecarriedonbythe"lowestclasses"ofNegroes,hasbeenabletosurvivetheconstantandwillfuldilutionsoftheblackmiddleclassandthe
persistentcallstooblivionmadebythemainstreamofthesociety.Ofcourse,thatmainstreamwroughtverydefiniteandveryconstantchangesupontheformoftheAmericanNegro's
music,buttheemotionalsignificanceandvitalityatitscoreremain,tothisday,unaltered.ItwastheonevectoroutofAfricancultureimpossibletoeradicate.Itsignifiedtheexistenceof
anAfroAmerican,andtheexistenceofanAfroAmericanculture.AndintheevolutionofforminNegromusicitispossibletoseenotonlytheevolutionoftheNegroasaculturaland
socialelementofAmericanculturebutalsotheevolutionofthatcultureitself.
The"coonshout"proposedoneversionoftheAmericanNegroandofAmericaBessieSmithproposedanother.(Swingandbebop,asIshallattempttopointout,proposestill
another.)Butthepointisthatboththeseversionsareaccurateandinformedwithalegitimacyofemotionalconcernnowhereavailablein,say,whatiscalled"Negroliterature."The
reasonisasterrifyingasitissimple.Themiddleclassblackman,whetherhewantedtobeawriter,orapainter,oradoctor,developedanemotionalallegiancetothemiddleclass
(middlebrow)cultureofAmericathatobscured,oractuallymadehideous,anyinfluencesorpsychologicalawarenessthatseemedtocomefromoutside
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whatwasgenerallyacceptabletoamiddleclasswhiteman,especiallyifthoseinfluenceswereidentifiableascomingfromthemostdespisedgroupinthecountry.Theblackmiddle
classwantednosubculture,nothingthatcouldconnectthemwiththepoorblackmanortheslave.
Literature,formostNegrowriters,forinstance,wasalwaysanexampleof"culture,"inthenarrowsenseof"cultivation"or"sophistication"inanindividualwithintheirowngroup.The
Negroartist,becauseofhismiddleclassbackground,carriedanartificialsocialburdenasthe"bestandmostintelligent"ofNegroes,andusuallyenteredintothe"serious"artsto
exhibithissocialgracesasamethod,ormeans,ofdisplayinghisparticipationintheseriousaspectsofWesternculture.Tobeawriterwastobe"cultivated,"inthestuntedbourgeois
senseoftheword.Itwasalsotobea"quality"blackman,notmerelyan"ordinarynigger."
EarlyNegronovelistssuchasCharlesChesnutt,OtisShackleford,SuttonGriggs(eventhoughhewasmoremilitant),PaulineHopkins,producedworksthatwerepotboilersforthe
growingNegromiddleclass.Thebookswerealsofullofthesameprejudicesandconceitsthatcouldbefoundinthenovelsoftheirmodels,thewhitemiddleclass.Thecontemptfor
the"lowerclassedNegroes"foundinthesenovelsbyblacknovelistsisamazingandquiteblatant.And,asRobertA.Bonepointsout:"Itmustbeunderstoodatoncethattheearly
[Negro]novelistsbelievedsubstantiallyinthemythofAngloSaxonsuperiority.PaulineHopkinswrites:SurelytheNegroracemustbeproductiveofsomevaluablespecimens,ifonly
fromtheinfusionwhichamalgamationwithasuperiorracemusteventuallybring."Chesnutt'sandGrigg's"heroes"wereusually"refinedAfroAmericans"asBoneshowsfurther:"In
severaloftheearlynovelsthereisastocksituationinwhicharefinedAfroAmericanisforcedtoshareaJimCrowcarwithdirty,boisterous,anddrunkenNegroes."
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Theideaofthe"separation,"thestrata,haddevelopedwithinthegroup.Thethindivisionoffieldhandfromhouseservanthadwidened,andthelegacyofthehouseservantwasgiven
voiceconstantlyintheworkoftheearlyNegrowriters.AsBonesays,"Whenallthesoundandfuryofthesenovelshasevaporated,whatremainsisanappealforanalliancebetween
thebetterclassofcoloredpeopleandthequalitywhitefolks."44Andan"amen"couldbeheardtothatsentimentthroughouttherisingblackchurchesoftheNorth.Ofcourse,the
Negronovelistceasedtobesoblatantlypatronizinganddisparagingof"mostNegroes"whenthesocialclimateinthecountryitselfbecamemore"liberal."Nolongerwouldamember
oftheNegromiddleclassbeidioticenoughtowrite,asShacklefordoncedidinhisnovelLillianSimmons:"ShecouldunderstandwhyJimCrowcarsandallotherformsofsegregation
intheSouthwerenecessary,butshecouldnotfeelthatitwasfairtotreatallcoloredpeoplealike,becauseallwerenotalike."45
Bythetwenties,spurredagainbythemovementofNegroestotheNorthandthechangethathadmadeofabasicallyagriculturalcountryanindustrialgiant,therebytransformingthe
coreoftheNegropopulationfromfarmworkersintoakindofurbanproletariat,agreatchangealsotookplaceamongNegroartistsandintellectuals.Eventhoughtheywerestill
fundamentallytheproductsoftheNegromiddleclassandstillmaintainedratherfirmlymanyemotionalandintellectualtieswithit,theNegronovelistsofthetwentiesatleastbeganto
realizethattheearlierattitudesoftheblackmiddleclasswerethemostagonizingremnantsofthe"slavementality."Itwasnowthatthemiddleclassdemanded,throughitsspokesmen
thenovelistsandthemoreintrepideducators,"atleastequality."Itwasthebeginningofwhatwascalledthe"NegroRenaissance,"andtheemergenceofwhatAlainLockecalledthe
"NewNegro."
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Butifnowthemorecultivatedmembersoftheblackmiddleclassbegantorealizethattheoldstanceof"whiterNegroes"couldnoteffectanentranceintothemainstreamofAmerican
society(thesewriters,infact,rebelledagainsttheentireconceptofaslavishdisparagementoftheNegrobyNegroesasaprerequisiteforsuchprivilege),this"rebellion"stilltookform
withintheconfinesoftheAmericanmiddleclassmind,evenifthoseconfineshadbeensomewhatbroadenedbytheinternationalismimposeduponthecountrybyWorldWarI.Even
thetermNewNegro,forallitsoptimisticandrebellioussound,stillassumesthatitisadifferentkindofNegrowhoisaskingforequalitynotoldRastustheslave.Thereisstill,forall
the"racepride"and"raceconsciousness"thatthesespokesmenfortheNegroRenaissanceclaimed,thesmellofthedryrotofthemiddleclassNegromind:theideathat,somehow,
Negroesmustdeserveequality.
Thespiritofthis"Renaissance"wasdividedasanemotionalentityintothreeseparateandeasilyidentifiablereactions,correspondingtotheculturalstratumoftheparticularNegroes
whohadtointerpretit.TherisingmiddleclassspawnedintelligentsiainventedthetermNewNegroandtheideaoftheNegroRenaissancetoconveytothewhiteworldthattherehad
beenachangeoftacticsastohowtoclimbontothebandwagonofmainstreamAmericanlife.ThepointhereisthatthiswastobeconveyedtowhiteAmericaitwasanotherconscious
reactiontothatwhiteAmericaandanotheradaptationofthemiddleclassNegro'sselfconsciousperformanceforhiseverappreciativewhiteaudience.Therewasaloud,sudden,but
understandablystrained,appreciationforthingsblackbythisintelligentsia.The"HarlemSchool"ofwritersattemptedtoglorifythelivesoftheblackmasses,butonlysucceededin
makingtheirlivesseemexoticasliterarythemes.ItproducedagenerationandatraditionofLafcadioHearns.ThereproductionofablackAmericaasrealasthewhiteAmericathese
writers
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seemedtosenseas"thenorm"wasneverrealized.Awhiteman,CarlVanVechten,mechanizedandfinallystraitjacketedagoodpartoftheNegroRenaissancewhenhewrotethe
novelNiggerHeaven,whichmanyNegrowritershaveneverceasedtoimitate.
ForpoorerNegroes,asIhavementionedbefore,MarcusGarvey's"BacktoAfricaMovement"representedtherenewedsenseof"racepride"theconceptoftheNewNegro
representedforthemiddleclassintelligentsia.Garveythought,andpersuadedagreatbodyoftheNegromasses,thatequalitycouldneverbeachievedintheUnitedStates,andthe
Negroshouldseektoembracehisolder,"truer,"AfricantraditionsandeventuallysetupanindependentblackstateinAfrica.AlthoughGarveyultimatelyfailed,hiscallto"Mother
Africa"inspiredthousandsofNegroes,though,ofcourse,themiddleclasswouldhavenothingtodowithhim.Notonlybecauseitdidnotwanttobeassociatedwithamovementthat
involvedthepoorerNegrobutalsobecauseanymentionofAfricaonlyconjuredupfrighteningvisionsofundigestedTarzanmovies.
Themiddleclassreactedtothegrowing"nationalism"amongpoorerNegroesandtheintelligentsiabyadoptingamilderkindofnationalismthemselves.Andeventhoughmostwere
startledatfirstbythekindofradicalismthattheNiagaraMovement,whichledtotheeventualestablishmentoftheNAACP,andpeoplelikeW.E.B.DuBoisrepresented,theydidbegin
toprotestinearnestabout"JimCrow,"and"thebrotherhoodofman."TheyeventuallytookoversuchorganizationsastheNAACP,aidedbythedependenceofsuchorganizationson
thephilanthropiesofwhiteliberals,andmoldedthemtotheirownpurposes.Butfromthebeginning,whentheblackmiddleclassbegantorealignitselftowardanAmericafromwhich
theycouldask"equality"insteadofprivilege,theyhadorientedthemselvesaswouldbecitizens,ratherthanfreedmen,orexslaves.Andthisisthefundamentaldifference,perhaps
eventhesingle
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lineofdemarcation,separatingtheblackmiddleclassfromtherestoftheNegroeslivingintheUnitedStates.Themiddleclassacceptsthespace,theopennessand/or"liberalism"of
twentiethcenturyAmericaastheessentialfactorofitsexistenceinthiscountryascitizens.Butwhentherecognizedbarrierstosuch"citizenship"arereached,whenalltheirclaimsto
equalitywiththerestofAmerica,ontheonehand,andsuperiority,ontheother,totheirownblackbrothersseemauselessandnotwhollyidealisticdelusionbecauseintheendthey
arestillregardedbythissocietyas"onlyNegroes,"theyarecontentwiththename"secondclasscitizens."Thisatleastshowsthemwithafootinthedoor,ifsomehowstillhavingto
battletogettherestofthemselvesinalwaysin,behindthecalmfaadeofwhitemiddleclassAmerica.Fortheblackintelligentsia,thetermsecondclasscitizenwasameaningless
hoax,andthepoorerNegroneverevenconsideredtheideaofcitizenshipassomethingthatcouldbeextendedinthiscountrytoapersonwithablackskin.ThepoorNegroalways
rememberedhimselfasanexslaveandusedthisasthebasisofanydealingwiththemainstreamofAmericansociety.Themiddleclassblackmanbaseshiswholeexistenceonthe
hopelesshypothesisthatnooneissupposedtorememberthatforalmostthreecenturiestherewasslaveryinAmerica,thatthewhitemanwasthemasterandtheblackmantheslave.
Thisknowledge,however,isattherootofthelegitimateblackcultureofthiscountry.Itisthisknowledge,withitsattendantmusesofselfdivision,selfhatred,stoicism,andfinally
quixoticoptimism,thatinformsthemostmeaningfulofAfroAmericanmusic.
Myburden'ssoheavy,Ican'thardlysee,Seemslikeeverybodyisdownonme,An'that'sallright,Idon'tworry,oh,therewillbeabetterday.
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ThemostexpressiveNegromusicofanygivenperiodwillbeanexactreflectionofwhattheNegrohimselfis.ItwillbeaportraitoftheNegroinAmericaatthatparticulartime.Whohe
thinksheis,whathethinksAmericaortheworldtobe,giventhecircumstances,prejudices,anddelightsofthatparticularAmerica.NegromusicandNegrolifeinAmericawerealways
theresultofareactionto,andanadaptationof,whateverAmericaNegroesweregivenorcouldsecureforthemselves.Theideaofeverbecoming"Americans"inthecompletesocial
senseofthatwordwouldneverhavebeenunderstoodbyNegroslaves.EvenaftertheEmancipation,suchaconceptwouldhaveseemedlikeanunamusingfantasytomostNegroes
sincemanytimestheverytermAmericamusthavemeantforthem"aplacetheydon'twantyou."America,forNegroes,wasalwaysdividedintoblackandwhite,masterandslave,and
assuch,couldnotsimplybecalled"America."Andsotherehavebeen,sinceslavery,twoAmericas:AwhiteAmericaandablackAmerica,bothresponsibletoandfortheother.One
oppressed,theothertheoppressor.ButanevenmoreprofounddifferencebetweenthesetwoAmericashasbeentheirawarenessofeachother,orthedegreetowhichtheone
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oppressed,theothertheoppressor.ButanevenmoreprofounddifferencebetweenthesetwoAmericashasbeentheirawarenessofeachother,orthedegreetowhichtheone
Americaisawareoftheother.ThewhiteAmericahasneverhadmorethanacursoryknowledgeofblackAmerica(evenduringthedaysoftheNegroRenaissance,asIhavepointed
out,theknowledgeofblackAmericaobtainedbywhiteAmerica,forallthetalktothecontrary,wasnevermorethansuperficial).ButtheblackAmericanhasalwayshadtoknowwhat
wasonthewhiteman'smind,evenifasaslave,hehadnofullknowledgeofwhatAmericareallywas.TheNegro'sadaptationtoAmericanlifehasbeenbasedsincetheEmancipation
onhisgrowingknowledgeofAmericaandhisincreasingacquaintancewiththeworkingsofthewhiteman'smind.TheNegroAmericanhadalwayssoughttoadapthimselftotheother
Americaandtoexist
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asacasualproductofthisadaptationbutthiscentralconceptofAfroAmericanculturewasdiscardedbythemiddleclass.Afterthemovenorthandthesophisticationthatthat
provided,itwasassimilationthemiddleclassdesired:notonlytodisappearwithintheconfinesofacompletelywhiteAmericabuttoeraseforeveranyaspectofablackAmericathat
hadeverexisted.
TheseparationIspokeofbetweenthefreedmanandthecitizenisbasictoanyunderstandingoftheevolutionofblackAmerica.Fromarelativelyhomogenoussocial,cultural,and
geographicalunit,existingstrictlyapartfromwhiteAmerica,Negroesbecameagroupofdiverse"Americans"formingapsychologicalchainthatbeginswithacompleteawarenessof
anddependenceonwhatisnowcalleda"folkculture"andmovestoacompletelyantitheticalextremetothoseNegroeswhoarecompletelydependentuponthecultureof
mainstreamAmerica.ItisapsychologicalchainmuchlikeaspectrumthatbeginsatdeepestblackandmoveseasilyintoAmericangray.Therewasaperiodoftransition,however,
whenforthemajorityofNegroes,thechaindidnotstretchcompletelyintograyAmerica.Buttheseparation,thecleavage,withinblackAmericawasbeginningtobequiteapparent.
ThebeginningofthiscleavagewithinblackAmericawasdemonstratedinmicrocosminNewOrleans,evenbeforethemassexodusofNegroesnorthward.NewOrleans,withitsco
existingcomplexofsocial,cultural,andracialinfluences,predatedthemodern,postWorldWarI,Northerncityinmanyways.French,Spanish,English,African,andCaribbean
culturesexistedsimultaneouslywithinNewOrleansandallwerethriving.WithinwhatcouldbecalledtheblacksocietytherewasalreadytheextremecleavageIhavementioned,
basedforthemostpartonsocioethnicconsiderations,mosteasilyverifiedbycolor.
TheCreoles,gensdecouleur,andmulattoesexistedboth
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sociallyandeconomicallyasthemoregeneralizedblackmiddleclasswastodoinlateryears.Theyencouragedtheseparationbetweenthemselvesandtheirdarker,usuallypoorer
halfbrothers.AndtheyemphasizedthisseparationasformallyastheycouldbytryingtoemulateasmuchaspossiblethewhiteFrenchcultureofNewOrleans.
TheDowntownpeopleacquiredmostoftheEuropeaninstrumentaltechniquesanddisparagedthevocalbluesstylethatragedUptownintheblackbelt.Buttherepressive
segregationlawspassedattheturnofthecenturyforcedthe"lightpeople"intoclosersocialandeconomicrelationshipswiththeblackerculture.Anditwastheconnections
engenderedbythisforcedmergerthatproducedaprimitivejazz.Theblackrhythmicandvocaltraditionwastranslatedintoaninstrumentalmusicwhichutilizedsomeoftheformal
techniquesofEuropeandanceandmarchmusic.
LaterthemergingoftheSouthernbluestraditionwiththemusicaltraditionsoftheNorthernNegroproducedaninstrumentalmusicsimilarinintenttotheearlyjazzofNewOrleans.
AndwhentheinstrumentalinnovatorsthemselvesbegantobeheardintheNorth,themusic,jazz,hadalreadydevelopedfurther,aidedbythearchitectonicandtechnicalideasof
ragtime,intoamorecompletelyautonomousmusic.Theimportantideahere,though,isthatthefirstjazzmenwerefrombothsidesofthefencefromthedarkerbluestraditionanda
certainfixedsociocultural,andmostofthetimeeconomic,stratum,andalsofromthe"white"CreoletraditionanditsworshipofwhatwerecertainlytheidealsofaFrancoAmerican
middleclass.Also,theNegroeswhohiredthebluesmenintotheirdanceandsocietybandsintheNorthwereofttimesbyproductsofthedesireofNegroestosetupablackmiddle
class.Soweremanyofthemusicianswhowereinfluencedbythe"dirty"wayofplaying.Thismeantthatasjazzdevelopedaftertheearlytwentiesinthiscountry,itcouldonlybea
musicthatwouldreflectthesocioculturalcontinuumthathaddeveloped
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withinNegroAmericafromblackestblacktowhitestwhite.Thejazzplayercouldcomefromanypartofthatsocioculturalspectrum,butifheweretoplayareallymovingkindofjazz,
hehadtoreflectalmostallofthemusicalspectrum,oratleastcombinesufficientlytheolderautonomousbluestraditionwiththemusicaltraditionsoftheCreolesortheragtime
orchestrasoftheNorth.Andthus,jazzcouldnothelpbutreflecttheentireblacksociety.(Suchathingasamiddleclassbluessingerisalmostunheardof.Itis,itseemstome,evena
contradictionofterms.)
Jazz,asitemergedandasitdeveloped,wasbasedonthisnewwideningofAfroAmericanculture.Inthebestofjazz,thefreedmancitizenconflictismostnearlyresolved,becauseit
makesuseofthatmiddleground,thespacethatexistsastheresultofanycleavage,wherebothemotionalpenchantscanexistasideasofperhapsundeterminedvalidity,andnot
necessarilyas"waysoflife."
Firsttherewas,aftertheEmancipation,anAmerica.ThentherewasaNorth.AndafterWorldWarI,evenplacesandsetsofideasthatwerenotAmerican.Thatwas,inonesense,as
farastheblueswouldgoasacompletelyautonomousmusic.ThebluesasafullyintegratedAmericanexperiencewaswhatwascalled"classic"blues.Publicly,asAmerican
performers,thegreatladybluessingersofthetwentiesbroughtbluestoasocialandculturalsignificancethatitneverhashadbeforeorsince.Thejazzpeopletookoverfromthere.
Bluesinitsmostsignificantformagainreturnedunderground,intothehousepartiesandblackcabaretsthatexistedinthenewblackcommunitiesoftheNorth,withallthewild"un
American"abandonwhichwassupposedtotypifythepremiddleclassNegrosociety.Withoutthejazzplayers,blueswouldhaveexistedasanAmericanmusic,i.e.,consideredas
suchbythemainstream,onlyduringthe
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timeoftheclassicsingers.Beforetheirtimeandafterit,autonomousblueswastheproductofasubculture.
GiventhenecessarysocialinvolvementwithAmericanculture,Negroesthemselveswouldhavedriftedawayfrombluessinceitnolongerwasanexactreflectionoftheirlivesin
America.Forthedevelopingblackmiddleclass,itwassimplythemarkofCain,andjustanotherfacetofNegronesswhichtheywishedtoberidof.Butjazz,evenwithitsweightof
blues,couldmakeitselfavailableasanemotionalexpressiontothechangingpsycheofthe"modern"Negro,justasinlessexpressiveways,itmadeitselfavailabletothemodern
Americanwhiteman.
Duringthetwenties,whenjazzwasfirstbeginningtobeheardintheNorthandinwhateverdiversepresentations,throughoutAmerica,itwasstillinaperiodoftransition.Theolder
bluespeoplewerestillcomingintotheNortherncities,theclassicsingerswereattheirpeaksandthenewercityblueswasalsodeveloping(astheexpressionofanewsubculture)as
wellasthespontaneouspianomusic,boogiewoogie(ortheEastern"stride"pianostyle),thatwasconcomitantwithit.Butthejazzplayerswerealsocomingintothesetowns,anda
wholenewgenerationofNegroeswasbornintothistransitionalculturethefirstgenerationwithapreponderanceofcitizensratherthanexslaves.Thesewerethepeoplewhohad
todecidewhatwastobedonewithbluesandwhatweightitwouldhaveintheirlives.AtthesametimetherewerestillagreatmanyNegroeswhohadknownslaverypersonally,or
knewitastheemotionalideaonwhichanyexperienceofAmericahadtobebased.AlltheseNegroesexistedasblackAmericatheextremesweretherentpartypeopleattheone
endofblacksocietyandthevariouslevelsofparvenumiddleclassattheother.Jazzrepresented,perhaps,thelinkconnectingthetwo,iftheyweretobeconnected.Theverticalityof
thecitybegantocreatetwoseparatesecularities,andtheblueshadtobedividedamongthemifitwasgoingtosurviveatall.
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10/....SwingFromVerbtoNoun
Theblueswasconceivedbyfreedmenandexslavesifnotastheresultofapersonalorintellectualexperience,atleastasanemotionalconfirmationof,andreactionto,thewayin
whichmostNegroeswerestillforcedtoexistintheUnitedStates.Thebluesimpulsewasapsychologicalcorrelativethatobscuredthemostextremeideasofassimilationformost
Negroes,andmadeanynotionofthecompleteabandonmentofthetraditionalblackcultureanunrealizablepossibility.Inasense,themiddleclassspiritcouldnottakerootamong
mostNegroesbecausetheysensedthefinalfantasyinvolved.Besides,thepaycheck,whichwastheaspectofAmericansocietythatcreatedamodernblackmiddleclass,was,asI
mentionedbefore,alsoavailabletowhatsomeofmymother'sfriendswouldrefertoas"lowtypecoons."Andthese"coons"wouldalwaysbeunavailablebothsociallyandculturallyto
anytalkofassimilationfromwhitemanorblack.TheNegromiddleclass,alwaysanexaggerationofitswhitemodel,couldincludetheprofessionalmenandeducators,butafterthe
movenorthitalsoincludedmenwhoworkedinfactoriesandasanaddeddig,"sportsmen,"i.e.,gamblersandnumberspeople.TheideaofNegro"society,"asE.FranklinFrazier
pointedout,isbasedonly
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onacquisition,which,asitturnsout,makestheformationofacompletelyparochialmetasocietyimpossible.Numbersbankersoftenmakeasmuchmoneyasdoctorsandtherebyare
partofNegro"society."Andevenifthemoreformal("sociallyresponsible")NegromiddleclasswantedtobecomesimplywhiteAmericans,theywereduringthelatetwentiesand
thirtiesmerelyaswellingminority.
ThetwosecularitiesIspokeofaresimplythewaysinwhichtheblueswasbeginningtoberedistributedinblackAmericathroughtheseyears.Thepeoplewhowerebeginningto
movetowardwhattheycouldthinkofascitizenshipalsomovedawayfromtheolderblues.TheunregenerateNorthernersalreadyhadamusic,thethinwilled"society"bandsofJim
Europe,andthecircusaswellaswhiteraghadinfluencedthe"nonblues"bandsofWillMarionCookandWilburSweatmanthatexistedbeforethemigration.Butthehugeimpactthe
SouthernersmadeupontheNorthchangedthat.Whenthecitybluesbegantobepowerful,thelargerNegrodancebandshiredsomeoftheemigrantsassoloists,andtosomedegree
thebluesbegantobeheardinmostoftheblackcabarets,"danceschools,"andtheaters.Thetruejazzsoundhadmovednorth,andeventheblackestbluescouldbeheardinthe
housepartiesofChicagoandNewYork.ButformostofAmericabythetwenties,jazz(orjass,thenoun,nottheverb)meanttheOriginalDixielandJazzBand(tothehip)andPaul
Whiteman(tothesquare).WhitemangotrichtheO.D.J.B.neverdid.
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TheO.D.J.B.wasagroupofyoungwhitemenwhohadbeendeeplyinfluencedbytheKingOliverbandinNewOrleanstheymovednorth,andbecamethefirstjazzbandtorecord.
TheyhadaprofoundinfluenceuponAmerica,andbecausethey,ratherthantheactualblackinnovators,wereheardbythegreatmajorityofAmericansfirst,theculturallaghadwon
again.
ANegrojazzband,FreddieKeppard'sOriginalCreoles,turneddownaninvitationtorecordafewmonthsbefore
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theO.D.J.B.Keppard(mythsays)didn'taccepttheofferbecausehethoughtsuchaprojectwouldmerelyinviteimitationofhisstyle!Thatisprobablytrue,butitisdoubtfulthat
Keppard'sbandwouldhavecaughtasmuchnationalattentionasthesmootherO.D.J.B.anyway,forthesamereasontheO.D.J.B.couldneverhavemadeasmuchmoneyas
Whiteman.
Itissignificantthatby1924,whenBessieSmithwasstillcausingriotsinChicagoandwhenyoungLouisArmstrongwasonhiswaytoNewYorktojointheFletcherHendersonband
andbysodoing,tocreatethefirstreallyswingingbigjazzband,thebiggestnamesin"jazz"wereWhitemanandtheMoundCityBlueBlowers,anotherwhitegroup.Radiohadcome
intoitsownby1920,andtheironyisthatmostNegroesprobablythoughtofjazz,basedonwhattheyhadheard,asbeingawhitedilutionofolderbluesforms!Itwasonlyafterthere
hadbeenafewrecordingssufficientlydistributedthroughtheblackNorthernandurbanSouthernneighborhoods,madebyNegrobandslikeKingOliver's(OliverwastheninChicago
withhishistoricCreoleJazzBand,whichfeaturedLouisArmstrong,secondcornet),FletcherHenderson's,andtwoKansasCitybandsBennieMoten'sandClarenceWilliams',that
themassesofNegroesbecamefamiliarwithjazz.AtChicago'sLincolnGardensCafe,OliverfirstsettheNorthernNegroneighborhoodsonfire,andthenbandslikeMoten'sand
Williams'inthevariousclubsaroundKansasCitybutHendersonreachedhisNegroaudiencemostlyviarecordsbecauseevenwhenhegothisbestbandtogether(withColeman
Hawkins,LouisArmstrong,DonRedman,etc.),hewasstillplayingatRoseland,whichwasawhiteclub.
Theearliestjazzbands,likeBuddyBolden's,wereusuallysmallgroups.Bolden'sinstrumentationwassupposedtohavebeencornet,clarinet,trombone,violin,guitar,bass
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(whichwasoneofthefirstinstrumentalinnovationsforthatparticulargroupsincemostbandsofthatperiodandwellafterusedthetuba)anddrums.Thesegroupswereusuallymade
upofmusicianswhohadotherjobs(likepreclassicbluessingers)sincetherewasreallynosteadyworkforthem.Andtheyplayedmostofthemusicofthetime:quadrilles,
schottisches,polkas,ragtimetunes,likemanyoftheother"cleaner"groupsaroundNewOrleans.ButthedifferencewiththeBoldenbandwasthebluesquality,theUptownflavor,ofall
theirmusic.Butthismusicstillhadtheflavorofthebrassmarchingbands.Mostofthemusiciansofthatperiodhadcomethroughthosebandsinfact,probablystillmarchedwiththem
whentherewasasignificantfuneral.AnotherqualitythatmusthavedistinguishedtheBoldenbandwastheimprovisationalcharacterofagooddealoftheirmusic.CharlesEdward
Smithremarksthat"Theartofgroupimprovisationliketheblues,thelifebloodofjazzwasassociatedwiththisuptownsectionofNewOrleansinparticular.Asinfolkmusic,two
creativeforceswereinvolved,thatofthegroupandthatofthegiftedindividual."46
MostoftheUptownbandswerenotedfortheir"sloppyensemblestyles."TheBoldenbandandtheotherearlyjazzgroupsmusthavesoundedevensloppier.Themusicwasaraw
mixtureofmarch,dance,blues,andearlyragrhythm,withalltheplayersimprovisingsimultaneously.Itisawonderfulconcept,takingtheunisontraditionofEuropeanmarchmusic,
butinfestingitwithteemingimprovisations,catcalls,hollers,andthemurkyrhythmsoftheexslaves.TheCreolesmusthavehatedthatmusicmorethananythinginlife.
Butbythetimethemusiccameupriveralongwiththefleeingmasses,ithadchangedagreatdeal.Oliver'sCreoleBand,thefirstreallyinfluentialNegrojazzbandinthe
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North,hadamuchsmootherensemblestylethantheBoldenband:theguitarandviolinhaddisappeared,andapianohadbeenadded.InNewOrleans,pianistshadbeenlargely
soloistsinthevariousbawdyhousesandbrothelsofStoryville.Infact,pianistsweretheonlyNegromusicianswhoworkedsteadilyandneedednootherjobs.ButtheearlyNew
Orleansjazzgroupsusuallydidnothavepianos.JellyRollMorton,oneofthefirstjazzpianists,washeavilyinfluencedbytheragtimestyle,thoughhisownragswereevenmore
heavilyinfluencedbybluesandthatrougherragstylecalled"barrelhouse."AsBunkJohnsonisquotedassaying,Jellyplayedmusic"thewhoresliked."Andplayedinawhorehouse,
itiseasytounderstandhowfunctionalthatmusicmusthavebeen.ButthepianoaspartofajazzensemblewassomethingnotindigenoustoearlierNewOrleansmusic.Thesmoother
andmoreclearlypolyphonicstyleofOliver'sband,asopposedtowhatmusthavebeenaveritableheterophonyofearlierbandslikeBolden'sKidOry'sSunshineOrchestra,thefirst
blackjazzbandtorecord(LosAngeles,1921),givesussomeindicationshowedadisciplineandformalitythatmustcertainlyhavebeenimposedtoalargedegreebyragtimeand
themoreprecisepianistictechniquesthatwentwithit.
Oliver'sbandcausedasensationwithaudiencesandmusiciansalikeandbroughttheauthenticaccentofjazzintotheNorth.GarvinBushellremembers:"Wewentontheroadwith
MamieSmithin1921.WhenwegottoChicago,BubberMileyandIwenttohearingOliverattheDreamlandeverynight.[ThiswasbeforeArmstrongjoinedthebandandtheymovedto
LincolnGardens.]ItwasthefirsttimeI'dheardNewOrleansjazztoanyadvantageandIstudiedthemeverynightfortheentireweekwewereintown.Iwasverymuchimpressedwith
theirbluesandtheirsound.ThetrumpetsandclarinetsintheEasthadabetterlegitimatequality,buttheir[Oliver'sband's]soundtouchedyoumore.Itwaslesscultivatedbutmore
expressive
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ofhowthepeoplefelt.BubberandIsattherewithourmouthsopen."47
LouisArmstrong'sarrivalattwentytwowithOliver'sbandhadanevenmoreelectrifyingeffectontheseNorthernaudiences,whichmanytimesincludedwhitejazzmusicians.Hoagy
CarmichaelwenttotheLincolnGardenswithBixBeiderbeckein1923tohearthatband:
"TheKingfeaturedtwotrumpets,apiano,abassfiddleandaclarinet...abigblackfellow...slashedintoBugleCallRag.
Idroppedmycigaretteandgulpedmydrink.Bixwasonhisfeet,hiseyespopping.Fortakingthefirstchoruswasthatsecondtrumpet,LouisArmstrong.
Louiswastakingitfast.BobGilletteslidoffhischairandunderthetable...EverynoteLouishitwasperfection."48
ThismightseemamusingifitisnotedthatthefirstanddeepestinfluencesofmostwhiteNorthernandMidwesternjazzmusicianswerenecessarilytherecordingsoftheO.D.J.B.,who
wereimitatingtheearlierNewOrleansstyles,andOliver,whohadbroughtthatstyletoitsapex.Thus,thisfirsthearingofthegenuinearticlebythesewhitemusiciansmusthavebeen
muchliketastingrealeggsafterhavingbeenbroughtuponthepowderedvariety.(Though,tobesure,there'snocertaintythatapersonwillliketheoriginalifhehasdevelopedataste
fortheother.SoitisthatCarmichaelcanwritethathestillpreferredBeiderbecketoArmstrong,saying,"Bix'sbreakswerenotaswildasArmstrong'sbuttheywerehotandheselected
eachnotewithmusicalcare."49
Bluesasanautonomousmusichadbeeninasenseinviolable.Therewasnoclearwayintoit,i.e.,itsproduction,not
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itsappreciation,exceptasconcomitantwithwhatseemstometobethepeculiarsocial,cultural,economic,andemotionalexperienceofablackmaninAmerica.Theideaofawhite
bluessingerseemsanevenmoreviolentcontradictionoftermsthantheideaofamiddleclassbluessinger.ThematerialsofblueswerenotavailabletothewhiteAmerican,even
thoughsomestrangecircumstancemightprompthimtolookforthem.Itwasasifthesematerialsweresecretandobscure,andbluesakindofethnohistoricriteasbasicasblood.
TheclassicsingersbroughtthismusicasclosetowhiteAmericaasitcouldevergetandstillsurvive.W.C.Handy,withthepublicationofhisvarious"bluescompositions,"inventedit
foragreatmanyAmericansandalsoshowedthattherewassomemoneytobemadefromit.Whiteman,WilburSweatman,JimEurope,allplayedHandy'scompositionswithsuccess.
Therewasevenwhatcouldbecalleda"bluescraze"(ofwhichHandy'scompositionswereanimportantpart)justaftertheragtimecrazewentontheskids.Butthemusicthatresulted
fromthiscrazehadlittle,ifanything,todowithlegitimateblues.Thatcouldnotbegotto,exceptasthecasualexpressionofawholeculture.Andforthisreason,bluesremained,and
remainsinitsmostmovingmanifestations,obscuretothemainstreamofAmericanculture.
JazzmadeitpossibleforthefirsttimeforsomethingofthelegitimatefeelingofAfroAmericanmusictobeimitatedsuccessfully.(Ragtimehadmovedsoquicklyawayfromanypure
reflectionofNegrolifethatbythetimeitbecamepopular,therewasnomoreoriginalsourcetoimitate.Itwas,inasense,aprematureattemptatthesocioculturalmergerthatlater
producedjazz.)Orrather,jazzenabledseparateandvalidemotionalexpressionstobemadethatwerebasedonoldertraditionsofAfroAmericanmusicthatwereclearlynotapartof
it.TheNegromiddleclasswouldnothaveamusicifitwerenotforjazz.Thewhite
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manwouldhavenoaccesstoblues.ItwasamusiccapableofreflectingnotonlytheNegroandablackAmericabutawhiteAmericaaswell.
Duringthetwenties,seriousyoungwhitemusicianswerequicktopickupmoreorlessauthenticjazzaccentsassoonastheyhadsomecontactwiththemusic.TheO.D.J.B.,who
cameoutofaparalleltraditionofwhiteNewOrleansmarchingbands,whizzedofftoChicagoandstunnedwhitemusicianseverywhereaswellasmanyNegromusiciansintheNorth
whohadnotheardthenewmusicbefore.Youngwhiteboys,likeBeiderbecke,intheNorthandMidwestwerealreadyformingstylesoftheirownbasedontheO.D.J.B.'srecordsand
theplayingofanotherwhitegroup,theNewOrleansRhythmKings,beforeJoeOliver'sbandgottoChicago.Andthemusictheseboysweremaking,ortryingtomake,hadverylittleto
dowithPaulWhiteman.Theyhadcaughttheaccent,understoodthemoregeneralizedemotionalstatements,andgenuinelymoved,setouttoinvolvethemselvesinthismusicas
completelyaspossible.TheyhungaroundtheNegroclubs,listeningtothenewlyemployedNewOrleansmusicians,andwenthomeandtriedtoplaytheirtunes.
Theresultofthiscultural"breakdown"wasnotalwaysmereimitation.AsIhavesaid,jazzhadabroadnessofemotionalmeaningthatallowedofmanyseparatewaysintoit,notallof
themdependentonthe"bloodritual"ofblues.BixBeiderbecke,asamaturemusician,wasevenaninnovator.Buttherealpointofthisbreakdownwasthatitreflectednotsomuchthe
whiteAmerican'sincreasedunderstandingoftheNegro,butratherthefactthattheNegrohadcreatedamusicthatofferedsuchaprofoundreflectionofAmericathatitcouldattract
whiteAmericanstowanttoplayitorlistentoitforexactlythatreason.ThewhitejazzmusicianwasevenanewclassofwhiteAmerican.Unliketheearlierblackfaceactsandthe
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whiteAmericanstowanttoplayitorlistentoitforexactlythatreason.ThewhitejazzmusicianwasevenanewclassofwhiteAmerican.Unliketheearlierblackfaceactsandthe
minstrelswhosoughttoburlesque
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certainfacetsofNegrolife(and,superficially,themusicassociatedwithit),therewerenowgrowingranksofwhitejazzmusicianswhowantedtoplaythemusicbecausetheythoughtit
emotionallyandintellectuallyfulfilling.ItmadeacommonculturalgroundwhereblackandwhiteAmericaseemedonlydayandnightinthesamecityandattheirmostdisparate,
provedonlytoresultindifferentstyles,aphenomenonIhavealwaystakentobethewholepoint(andvalue)ofdivergentcultures.
ItisinterestingthatmostoftheseyoungwhitemusicianswhoemergedduringtheearlytwentieswerefromthemiddleclassandfromtheMiddleWest.Beiderbeckewasbornin
Davenport,Iowathattown,however,attheturnofthecenturywasariverport,andmanyoftheriverboatsdockedthereriverboatswhosestaffssometimesincludedbandslikeFate
Marable's,DeweyJackson's,andAlbertWynn's,andmusicianslikeJellyRollMortonandLouisArmstrong.Beiderbecke'sfirstgroup,theWolverines,playedalmostexclusivelyat
roadhousesandcollegesintheMidwest,mostnotablyatIndianaUniversity.
AfewyearsaftertheWolverineshadmadetheirreputationaswhatGeorgeHoefercalls"thefirstwhitebandtoplaythegenuineNegrostyleofjazz,"anothergroupofyoungwhite
musiciansbegantoplayjazz"theirownway."TheywerealsofromtheMidwest,butfromChicago.EddieCondon,JimmyMcPartland,BudFreeman,PeeWeeRussell,DaveTough,
andsomeothers,allwenttoAustinHighSchoolandbecameassociatedwithastyleofplayingknownas"Chicagojazz,"whichtookitsimpetusfromtherecordsoftheO.D.J.B.andthe
NewOrleansRhythmKingsdatesontheNorthSideofChicago.
ChicagoandnearbypartsoftheMidwestwerelogicallythefirstplaceswherejazzcouldtakerootintheNorth(althoughthereweresomeparalleldevelopmentsinNewYork).Ina
senseChicagowas,andtoacertainextentisnow,akindoffrontiertown.Itsitsattheendoftheriverboat
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runs,anditwasthekindofindustrialcitythatthefirstblackemigrantsweredrawnto.IthadmanyoftheheavyindustriesthatwouldemployNegroes,whereasNewYork'sheaviest
industryispaperwork.AndinChicago,duringwhatwascalledthe"JazzAge,"therewasaneasinessofcommunicationonsomelevelsbetweenblackandwhitethatwasnot
duplicatedinNewYorkuntilsometimelater.ChicagoatthistimewassomethinglikethemusicalcapitalofAmerica,encompassingwithinitblackemigrants,whiteemigrants,country
bluespeople,classicstylists,cityhousepartygrinders,NewOrleansmusicians,andyoungNegromusiciansandyoungerwhitemusicianslisteningandreactingtothiscrushof
culturesthatsoclearlytypifiedAmerica'srushintothetwentiethcentury.
Thereactionofyoungwhitemusicianstojazzwasnotalwaysconnecteddirectlytoany"understandingoftheNegro."Inmanycases,themostprofoundinfluenceonyoungwhite
musicianswasthemusicofotherwhitemusicians.CertainlythisistruewithpeoplelikeBeiderbeckeandmostoftheChicagostyleplayers.Buttheentranceofthewhitemanintojazz
atthislevelofsincerityandemotionallegitimacydidatleastbringhim,byimplication,muchclosertotheNegrothatis,evenifawhitetrumpetplayerweretolearntoplay"jazz"by
listeningtoNickLaRoccaandhadhisstyleset(aswasBeiderbecke'scase)beforeheeverheardblackmusicians,surelythemusicaldebttoNegromusic(andtotheblackculture
fromwhichitissued)hadtobeunderstood.AsinthecaseofLaRocca'sstyle,itiscertainlyanappropriationofblackNewOrleansbrassstyle,mostnotablyKingOliver'sthoughthe
legitimacyofitsdeviationcaninnowaybequestioned,thefactthatitisadeviationmustbeacknowledged.Theseriouswhitemusicianwasinapositiontodothis.Andthis
acknowledgment,whetherovertortacit,servedtoplacetheNegro'scultureandNegrosocietyinapositionofintelligentregardithadneverenjoyedbefore.
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ThisacknowledgmentofadevelopedandempiricalprofunditytotheNegro'sculture(andastheresultofitsseparationfromthemainstreamofAmericanculture)alsocausedthe
peoplewhohadtomakeittobeseparatedfromthismainstreamthemselves.Anyblacknessadmittedwithinthemainstreamexistedonlyasitcouldbeshapedbythegrimnessof
Americansociological(andpolitical)thought.TherewasnolifetoNegroesinAmericathatcouldbeunderstoodbyAmerica,exceptnegativelyorwiththehopelessidealismof
impossiblecauses.DuringtheBlackRenaissancethewhiteliberalandsensualdilettante"understood"theNegro.DuringtheDepression,sodidtheCommunistParty.Theyoung
whitejazzmusiciansatleasthadtofacetheblackAmericanheadonandwithonlyaveryliteraldrumtobeat.Andtheycouldnothelpbutdothiswithsomesenseofrebellionor
separatenessfromtherestofwhiteAmerica,sincewhiteAmericacouldhavenounderstandingofwhattheyweredoing,exceptperhapsinthetermsthatWhitemanandtheothers
succeededindoingit,whichwasnotatallthatis,explainingabirdbycomparingitwithanairplane.
"UnlikeNewOrleansstyle,thestyleofthesemusiciansoftenandconfusinglylabeledChicagosacrificedeaseandrelaxationfortensionanddrive,perhapsbecausetheywere
masteringanewidiominamorehecticenvironment.Theyhadreadsomeoftheliteratureofthe20'sdrummer,DaveTough,lovedMenckenandtheAmericanMercuryandtheir
revoltagainsttheirownmiddleclassbackgroundtendedtobeconscious.Theroleoftheimprovisingandusuallynonreadingmusicianbecamealmostheroic."50
Music,asparadoxicalasitmightseem,istheresultofthought.Itistheresultofthoughtperfectedatitsmostempirical,i.e.,asattitude,orstance.Thoughtislargelyconditionedby
referenceitistheresultofconsiderationorspeculationagainstreference,whichislargelyarbitrary.
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Thereisnoonewayofthinking,sincereference(hencevalue)isasscatteredanddissimilarasmenthemselves.IfNegromusiccanbeseentobetheresultofcertainattitudes,certain
specificwaysofthinkingabouttheworld(andonlyultimatelyaboutthewaysinwhichmusiccanbemade),thenthebasichypothesisofthisbookisunderstood.TheNegro'smusic
changedashechanged,reflectingshiftingattitudesor(andthisisequallyimportant)consistentattitudeswithinchangedcontexts.Anditiswhythemusicchangedthatseemsmost
importanttome.
WhenjazzfirstbegantoappearduringthetwentiesontheAmericanscene,inoneformoranother,itwasintroducedinagreatmanyinstancesintothatscenebywhiteAmericans.
Jazzasitwasoriginallyconceivedandinmostinstancesofitsmostvitaldevelopmentwastheresultofcertainattitudes,orempiricalideas,attributabletotheAfroAmericanculture.
Jazzasplayedbywhitemusicianswasnotthesameasthatplayedbyblackmusicians,norwasthereanyreasonforittobe.Themusicofthewhitejazzmusiciandidnotissuefrom
thesameculturalcircumstanceitwas,atitsmostprofoundinstance,alearnedart.Theblues,forexample,whichItaketobeanautonomousblackmusic,hadverylittleweightatallin
prejazzwhiteAmericanculture.Butbluesisanextremelyimportantpartofjazz.However,thewayinwhichjazzutilizestheblues"attitude"providedamusicalanalogythewhite
musiciancouldunderstandandthusutilizeinhismusictoarriveatastyleofjazzmusic.Thewhitemusicianunderstoodthebluesfirstasmusic,butseldomasanattitude,sincethe
attitude,orworldview,thewhitemusicianwasresponsibletowasnecessarilyquiteadifferentone.Andinmanycases,thisattitude,orworldview,wasonethatwasnotconsistent
withthemakingofjazz.
ThereshouldbenocauseforwonderthatthetrumpetsofBixBeiderbeckeandLouisArmstrongweresodissimilar.ThewhitemiddleclassboyfromIowawastheproductofa
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culturewhichcouldplaceLouisArmstrong,butcouldneverunderstandhim.Beiderbeckewasalsotheproductofasubculturethatmostnearlyemulatesthe"official"orformalculture
ofNorthAmerica.HewasaninstinctiveintellectualwhohadamusicaltastethatincludedStravinsky,Schoenberg,andDebussy,andhadanemotionallifethat,asitturnedout,was
basedonhisconsciousorunconsciousdisapprovalofmostofthesacramentsofhisculture.Ontheotherhand,Armstrongwas,intermsofemotionalarchetypes,anhonoredpriestof
hiscultureoneofthemostimpressiveproductsofhissociety.Armstrongwasnotrebellingagainstanythingwithhismusic.Infact,hismusicwasoneofthemostbeautiful
refinementsofAfroAmericanmusicaltradition,anditwasimmediatelyrecognizedassuchbythoseNegroeswhowerenotbusytryingtopretendthattheyhadissuedfrom
Beiderbecke'sculture.TheincredibleironyofthesituationwasthatbothstoodinsimilarplacesinthesuperstructureofAmericansociety:Beiderbecke,becauseoftheisolationany
deviationfrommasscultureimposeduponitsbearerandArmstrong,becauseofthesociohistoricalestrangementoftheNegrofromtherestofAmerica.Nevertheless,themusicthe
twomadewasasdissimilarasispossiblewithinjazz.Beiderbecke'sslight,reflectivetoneandimpressionisticlyricismwasthemostimpressiveexampleof"theartifactgiven
expression"injazz.Heplayed"whitejazz"inthesenseIamtryingtoconvey,thatis,asamusicthatistheproductofattitudesexpressiveofapeculiarculture.Armstrong,ofcourse,
playedjazzthatwassecurelywithinthetraditionsofAfroAmericanmusic.Histonewasbrassy,broad,andaggressivelydramatic.Healsoreliedheavilyonthevocalbluestraditionin
hisplayingtoamplifytheexpressivenessofhisinstrumentaltechnique.
IamusingthesetwomenasexamplesbecausetheyweretwoearlymastersofadevelopingAmericanmusic,thoughtheyexpressedalmostantitheticalversionsofit.Thepoint
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isthatAfroAmericanmusicdidnotbecomeacompletelyAmericanexpressionuntilthewhitemancouldplayit!BixBeiderbecke,morethananyoftheearlywhitejazzmen,signified
thisdevelopmentbecausehewasthefirstwhitejazzmusician,thefirstwhitemusicianwhobroughttothejazzhecreatedanyoftheultimateconcernNegromusiciansbroughttoitas
acasualattitudeoftheirculture.Thisdevelopmentsignifiedalsothatjazzwouldsomedayhavetocontendwiththeideaofitsbeinganart(sincethatwasthewhiteman'sonlywayinto
it).TheemergenceofthewhiteplayermeantthatAfroAmericanculturehadalreadybecometheexpressionofaparticularkindofAmericanexperience,andwhatismostimportant,
thatthisexperiencewasavailableintellectually,thatitcouldbelearned.
LouisArmstrong'sdeparturefromtheOliverCreoleJazzBandismorethananhistoricaleventgivenfurtherconsideration,itmaybeseenasamusicalandsocioculturaleventofthe
highestsignificance.First,Armstrong'sdeparturefromChicago(aswellasBeiderbecke'sthreeyearslater,in1927,tojointheGoldkettebandandthenPaulWhiteman'senterprise)
was,inasense,symbolicofthefactthatthemostfertileperiodforjazzinChicagowasfinishedandthatthejazzcapitalwasmovingtoNewYork.ItalsomeantthatLouisfeltmature
enoughmusicallytoventureoutonhisownwithoutthepresenceofhismentorJoeOliver.Butmostimportant,ArmstronginhistenurewithFletcherHenderson'sRoselandbandwas
notonlyresponsibletoagreatdegreeforgivingimpetustothefirstbigjazzband,butinhiscapacityasoneofthehotsoloistsinabigdance(later,jazz)band,hemovedjazzinto
anotherera:theascendancyofthesoloistbegan.
Primitivejazz,likemostAfroAmericanmusicthatprecededit,wasacommunal,collectivemusic.Thefamousprimitiveensemblestylesofearlierjazzallowedonlyof
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"breaks,"orsmallsololikestatementsbyindividualplayers,buttheformandintentofthesebreakswerestilldominatedbytheformandintentoftheensemble.Theywereusuallyjust
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quasimelodicpunctuationsattheendoftheensemblechorus.Jazz,evenatthetimeofOliver'sCreoleBand,wasstillamatterofcollectiveimprovisation,thoughtheCreoleBanddid
bringasmootherandmorecomplexpolyphonictechniquetotheensemblestyle.AsLarryGusheeremarkedinareviewofarecentLPoftheCreoleBand(Riverside12122)"...the
CreoleJazzBand...setsthestandard(possibly,whoknows,onlybecauseofanhistoricalaccident)forallkindsofjazzthatdonotbasetheirexcellenceonindividual
expressiveness,butonformandshapeachievedthroughcontrolandbalance."51
Theemergenceofthis"individualexpressiveness"injazzwassignaledimpressivelybyArmstrong'srecordingswithasmallgroupknownastheHotFive.Themusiciansonthese
recordings,madein1925and1926,wereKidOry,tromboneJohnnyDodds,clarinetandaltosaxophoneLilHardin,nowMrs.Armstrong,pianoandJohnnySt.Cyr,banjo.Onthese
sides,Armstrongclearlydominatesthegroup,notsomuchbecauseheisthesuperiorinstrumentalist,butbecauserhythmicallyandharmonicallytherestofthemusiciansfollowed
whereLouisled,sometimeswithoutareallyclearknowledgeofwherethatwouldbe.ThemusicmadebytheHotFiveisLouisArmstrongmusic:ithaslittletodowithcollective
improvisation.
"The1926HotFive'splayingismuchlesspurelycollectivethanKingOliver's.Inasense,theimprovisedensemblesarecornetsolosaccompaniedbyimpromptucountermelodies[my
italics],ratherthantruecollectiveimprovisation.Thisjudgmentisbasedontheveryessenceoftheworks,andnotmerelyonthecornet'sclosenesstothemicrophone.Listentothem
carefully.Isn'titobviousthatArmstrong'spersonalityabsorbstheothers?Isn'tyourattentionspontaneously
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concentratedonLouis?WithKingOliver,youlistentotheband,here,youlistenfirsttoLouis."52
Thedevelopmentofthesoloistisprobablyconnectedtothefactthataboutthistimeinthedevelopmentofjazz,manyofthe"hot"musicianshadtoseekemploymentwithlargerdance
bandsofusuallydubiousquality.Thecommunal,collectiveimprovisatorystyleofearlyjazzwasimpossibleinthiscontext,thoughlatertheimportantbigjazzbandsandbig"blues
bands"oftheSouthwestsolvedthisproblemby"unitingonahigherleveltheindividualcontributionwiththeentiregroup."53
TheisolationthathadnurturedAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionbeforethecomingofjazzhadlargelydisappearedbythemidtwenties,andmanyforeign,evendebilitating,elements
driftedintothisbroaderinstrumentalmusic.TheinstrumentationoftheHendersonRoselandbandwasnotchoseninitiallyforitsjazzpossibilities,butinordertoimitatethepopular
whitedancebandsoftheday.TheHendersonbandbecameajazzbandbecauseofthecollectivepersonalityoftheindividualinstrumentalistsintheband,whowerestrongerthan
anysuperficialformsthatmightbeimposeduponthem.Thesaxophonetrio,whichwasaclichednoveltyinthelargewhitedancebands,becamesomethingofremarkablebeauty
whentransformedbyHenderson'sthreereeds,BusterBailey,DonRedman,andColemanHawkins.AndjustasearlierthosesingularhollersmusthavepiercedlonelySouthern
nightsafterthecommunalaspectoftheslavesocietyhadbrokendownandhadbeenreplacedbyapseudoautonomousexistenceonmanytinySouthernplots(whichrepresented,
howeverabsurditmightseem,thewidestbreadthofthiscountryforthoseNegroes,andtheirmostexaltedpositioninit),sothechangedsocietyinwhichthelargeNegrodancebands
existedrepresented,in
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asense,anotherpostcommunalblacksociety.Themovenorth,forinstance,hadbrokendowntheoldcommunities(thehousepartieswereonemanifestationofaregroupingofthe
newercommunities:theHarlemsandSouthChicagos).Classicblues,thepublicfaceofachangedAfroAmericanculture,wasthesolo.Thebluesthatdevelopedatthehouseparties
wasthecollective,communalmusic.Sothejamsessionsofthelatetwentiesandthirtiesbecamethemusicians'collectivecommunalexpression,andthesolointhelargedance
bands,thatexpressionasithadtoexisttoremainvitaloutsideitscommunalorigins.ThedancebandsorsocietyorchestrasoftheNorthreplacedtheplotofland,fortheywerethe
musician'sonlymeansofexistence,andthesolo,liketheholler,wastheonlylinkwithanearlier,moreintensesenseoftheselfinitsmostvitalrelationshiptotheworld.Thesolo
spokesinglyofacollectivemusic,andbecauseoftheemergenceofthegreatsoloists(Armstrong,Hawkins,Hines,Harrison),evenforcedthegreatbands(Henderson's,Ellington's,
andlaterBasie's)intowonderfullyextendedversionsofthatcommunalexpression.
ThetransformationofthelargedancebandsintojazzbandswasingoodmeasuretheworkoftheFletcherHendersonorchestra,aidedlargelybythearrangementsofDonRedman,
especiallyhiswritingforthereedsectionwhichgavethesaxophonesintheHendersonbandafluencythatwasneverheardbefore.Thereedsbecamethefieryharmonicandmelodic
imaginationofthebigjazzbands.Anditwasthegrowingprominenceofthesaxophoneinthebigbandandthelaterelevationofthatinstrumenttoitsfullestexpressivenessby
ColemanHawkinsthatplantedtheseedforthekindofjazzthatisplayedeventoday.However,itwasnotuntiltheemergenceofLesterYoungthatjazzbecameasaxophoneorreed
music,asopposedtothebrassmusicithadbeensincetheearlyhalfmarch,halfbluesbandsofNewOrleans.
LouisArmstronghadbroughtbrassjazztoitsfullest
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floweringandinfluencedeverymajorinnovationinjazzrightupuntiltheforties,andbebop.EarlHines,whoseinnovationsasapianistbegananew,singlenotelineapproachtothe
jazzpiano,wasmerelyutilizingArmstrong'strumpetstyleonadifferentinstrument,therebybreakingoutoftheragtimeboogiestrideapproachtopianothathadbeenpredominant
sincethatinstrumentwasfirstusedinjazzbands.ColemanHawkins'saxophonestyleisstillclosetotheArmstrongperfectedbrassstyle,andofcourse,allHawkins'imitatorsreflect
thatstyleaswell.JimmyHarrison,thegreatestinnovatoronthetrombone,wasalsoprofoundlyinfluencedbyArmstrong'sbrassstyle.
Withtheemergenceofmanygood"hot"musiciansfromalloverthecountryduringthemidtwenties,thebigjazzbandscontinuedtodevelop.Bythelatetwentiestherewerequitea
fewverygoodjazzbandsalloverthecountry.Andcompetentmusicians"appearedfromeverywhere,from1920on:by1930everycityoutsidetheDeepSouthwithaNegro
population(1920census)abovesixtythousandexceptPhiladelphiahadproducedanimportantband:Washington,DukeEllingtonBaltimore,ChickWebbMemphis,Jimmie
LuncefordSt.Louis,theMissouriansChicago,LuisRussellandArmstrongNewYork,Henderson,CharlieJohnson,andhalfadozenmore."54
SoanimportantevolutioninAfroAmericanmusicalformhadoccurredagainandinmuchthesamemannerthatcharacterizedthemanyotherchangeswithinthetraditionofNegro
music.TheformcanbecalledbasicallyaEuroAmericanonethelarge(sweet)danceband,changedbythecontactwithAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionintoanothervehicleforthat
tradition.JustastheEuroAmericanreligioussongandballadhadbeenused,sowiththetransformationofthelargedancebandintothejazzbandandtheadaptationofthethirtytwo
barpopularsongtojazzpurposes,themusicitselfwasbroadenedandextendedeven
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further,andevenmorecomplexexpressionsofoldermusicaltraditionsweremadepossible.
BythelatetwentiesagreatmanymoreNegroesweregoingtohighschoolandcollege,andtheexperienceofanAmerican"liberal"educationwasboundtoleavetraces.Themost
expressivebigbandsofthelatetwentiesandthirtieswerelargelymiddleclassNegroenterprises.Theworldoftheprofessionalmanhadopenedup,andmanyscionsofthenew
Negromiddleclasswhohadnotgottenthroughprofessionalschoolwentintojazz"tomakemoney."MenlikeFletcherHenderson(whohadachemistrydegree),BennyCarter,Duke
Ellington,ColemanHawkins,JimmieLunceford,SyOliver,andDonRedman,forexample,allwenttocollege:"Theywerearemarkablegroupofmen.Between1925and1935they
created,incompetition,amusicaltraditionthatrequiredfinetechniqueandmusicianship(severalofthemwereamongtheearliestvirtuosiinjazz)theybegantochangethebasisof
thejazzrepertoryfrombluestothewiderharmonicpossibilitiesofthethirtytwobarpopularsongtheycreatedandperfectedthenewensemblestylebigbandjazztheykepttheir
groupstogetherforyears,workinguntiltheyachievedarealunity.Theyshowedthatjazzcouldabsorbnew,foreignelementswithoutlosingitsidentity,thatitwasinfactcapableof
evolution."55
Thesemenwereall"citizens,"andtheyhadall,toagreatextent,movedawayfromtheolderlowdownformsofblues.Blueswasnotsodirecttothem,ithadtobeutilizedinother
contexts.Bigshowbandjazzwasamusicoftheirown,amusicthatstillreliedonolderAfroAmericanmusicaltradition,butonethathadbeguntoutilizestillgreateramountsof
popularAmericanmusicaswellascertainformalEuropeantraditions.Also,theconceptofmakingmusicasameansofmakingalivingthathaddevelopedwiththe
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comingofclassicbluessingerswasnowthoroughlyapartoftheconstantlyevolvingAfroAmericanculture.OnedidnotexpecttohearBessieSmithatarentparty,onewenttothe
theatertohearher.Shewas,atalllevels,aperformer.TheyoungmiddleclassNegroeswhocameintojazzduringthedevelopmentoftheshowbandsanddancebandsallthoughtof
themselvesasperformersaswell.Nomatterhowdeeplythemusictheyplayedwasfelt,theystillthoughtofitasapublicexpression.
"Ifsomanymusicianscametojazzaftertraininginoneoftheprofessions,itwasbecausejazzwasbothmoreprofitableandsaferforaNegrointhe1920'sitwasasurvivalofthis
attitudethatdecidedEllingtontokeephissonoutofM.I.T.andaeronauticalengineeringinthe1930's."56
JustasBessieSmithperfectedvocalbluesstylealmostasaWesternartifact,andLouisArmstrongperfectedthebluesinfluencedbrassstyleinjazz(whichwasagreatinfluenceonall
kindsofinstrumentaljazzformorethantwodecades),soDukeEllingtonperfectedthebigjazzband,transformingitintoahighlyexpressiveinstrument.Ellington,aftertheDepression
hadkilledoffthebigtheaterband"showbiz"styleofthelargejazzbands,begantocreateapersonalstyleofjazzexpressionasimpressiveasArmstrong'sinnovationasasoloist(if
notmoreso).Ellingtonreplaceda"spontaneouscollectivemusicbyaworkedoutorchestrallanguage."57
Ellington'smusic(eventhe"jungle"bitsofhistwentiesshowbandperiod,whichwereutilizedinthoseuptown"blackandtan"clubsthatcateredlargelytosensualwhiteliberals)wasa
thoroughlyAmericanmusic.ItwastheproductofanativeAmericanmind,butmorethanthat,itwasamusicthatcouldforthefirsttimeexistwithintheformalboundariesofAmerican
culture.Afreedmancouldnothavecreatedit,justasDukecouldneverhaveplayedlikePeatieWheatstraw.Ellingtonbeganinmuchthesame
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wayasagreatmanyofthesignificantNorthernNegromusiciansoftheerahadbegun,byplayingintheragtime,showbusinessstylethatwassoprevalent.Butundertheinfluenceof
theSouthernstylesofjazzandwiththegrowthofDukeasanorchestraleader,composer,andmusician,themusichecametomakewasas"moving"intermsoftheolderAfro
AmericanmusicaltraditionasitwasacompletelyAmericanexpression.Duke'ssophisticationwastoagreatextenttheveryqualitythatenabledhimtointegratesoperfectlytheolder
bluestraditionswiththe"whiter"stylesofbigbandmusic.ButEllingtonwasa"citizen,"andhismusic,asVicBellerbyhassuggested,was"thedetachedimpressionismofa
sophisticatedNegrocitydweller."
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sophisticatedNegrocitydweller."
EventhoughmanyofEllington'scompositionswere"hailedasuninhibitedjunglemusic,"theveryfactthatthemusicwassomuchanAmericanmusicmadeitcausethestiritdid:
"Ellingtonusedmusicalmaterialsthatwerefamiliartoconcerttrainedears,makingjazzmusicmorelistenabletothem.These,however,donotaccountforhisrealquality....Inhis
workalltheelementsoftheoldmusicmaybefound,buteachcompletelychangedbecauseithadtobechanged....Ellington'saccomplishmentwastosolvetheproblemofformand
contentforthelargeband.HediditnotbytryingtoplaypureNewOrleansbluesandstompmusicrearrangedforlargebands,asHendersondid,butbyrecreatingalltheelementsof
NewOrleansmusicinnewinstrumentalandharmonicterms.Whatemergedwasamusicthatcouldbetracedbacktotheoldrootsandyetsoundedfreshandnew."58
Forthesereasons,bythethirtiesthe"race"categorycouldbedroppedfromEllington'srecords.Thoughhewouldquiteoftengointohisjunglethings,fakingtheresurrectionof"African
music,"theextremeironyhereisthatEllingtonwasmaking"Africansounds,"butasasophisticatedAmerican.The"African"musichemadehadmuch
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lesstodowithAfricathanhisbestmusic,which,inthesenseIhaveusedthroughoutthisbook,canbeseenasatrulyAfroAmericanmusic,thoughunderstandableonlyinthecontext
ofacompletelyAmericanexperience.Thismusiccould,anddid,findaplacewithinthemainculture.Jazzbecamemore"popular"thanever.Thebigcoloreddancebandsofthe
thirtieswereanationalentertainmentandplayedinmanywhitenightclubsaswellastheblackclubsthathadbeensetupespeciallyforwhiteAmericans.Thesebandswerealsothe
strongestinfluenceonAmericanpopularmusicandentertainmentfortwentyyears.
ThepathofjazzandthefurtherdevelopmentoftheAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionparadoxicallyhadbeentakenoveratthisleveltoaremarkabledegreebyelementsoftheNegro
middleclass.Jazzwastheirremainingconnectionwithbluesaconnectiontheycouldmake,atmanypoints,withinthemainstreamofAmericanlife.
Themusichadmovedsofarintothemainstream,thatsoonwhite"swing"bandsdevelopedthatcouldplaywithsomeoftheauthenticaccentofthegreatNegrobands,thoughthe
decidingfactorherewasthefactthattherewereneverenoughgoodwhitejazzmusicianstogoaroundinthosebigbands,andmostofthebandsthenwerepackedwithagreatmany
studioandsectionmen,andperhapsoneortwo"hot"soloists.Bythethirtiesquiteafewwhitebandshadmasteredtheswingidiomofbigbandjazzwithvaryingdegreesof
authenticity.Oneofthemostsuccessfulofthesebands,theBennyGoodmanorchestra,evenbegantobuyarrangementsfromNegroarrangerssothatitwouldhavemoreofan
authentictone.Thearrangerbecameoneofthemostimportantmeninbigbandjazz,demonstratinghowfarjazzhadgottenfromearlierAfroAmericanmusicaltradition.(Fletcher
Henderson,however,waspaidonly$37.50perarrangementbyGoodmanbeforeGoodmanactuallyhiredhimastheband'schiefarranger.)
Theprominenceofradiohadalsocreatedanewmedium
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forthisnewmusic,andthegrowingnumbersofwhiteswingbandsautomaticallyqualifiedforthesefairlywellpayingjobs:"Thestudioworkwasmonopolizedbyasmallgroupof
musicianswhoturnuponhundredsofrecordsbyorchestrasofeverykind.Oneoftheleastadmirablecharacteristicsoftheentirearrangementwasthatitwasalmostcompletely
restrictedtowhitemusiciansanditwasthemenfromthewhiteorchestraswhoweregettingthework.TheNegromusicianscomplainedbitterlyaboutthediscrimination,butthewhite
musiciansneverattemptedtohelpthem,andthecontractorshiredthementheywanted.AttheNestClub,ortheLenoxClubthemusicianswereoncloseterms,buttherelationship
endedwhenthewhitemusicianswentbacktotheirTimesSquarehotels.Afewofthem,notablyGoodman,weretouseafewoftheHarlemmusicians,butinthefirstDepressionyears
thestudioorchestraswerewhite."59
Sothewidespreaddevelopmentoftheswingstyleproducedyetanotherironywhenthe"obscurity"oftheNegro'smusicwaslessenedwiththecomingofarrangedbigbandjazz,
andthemusic,ineffect,didpassintothemainstreamofAmericanculture,infact,couldbeseenasanintegralpartofthatculture,itnotonlyceasedtohavemeaningforagreatmany
NegroesbutalsothoseNegroeswhoweremostcloselyinvolvedwiththemusicwerenotevenallowedtoplayitatthehighestsalariesthatcouldbegotten.ThespectacleofBenny
GoodmanhiringTeddyWilsonandlaterLionelHampton,CharlieChristian,andCootieWilliamsintohisoutrageouslypopularbandsandtherebymakingthem"bignames"inthe
swingworldseemstomeasfantasticallyamusingasthefactthatinthejazzpollsduringthelatethirtiesandearlyfortiesrunbypopularjazzmagazines,almostnoNegromusicians
won.Swingmusic,whichwastheresult
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ofarrangedbigbandjazz,asitdevelopedtoamusicthathadalmostnothingtodowithblues,hadverylittletodowithblackAmerica,thoughthatiscertainlywhereithadcomefrom.
ButtherewerenowmoreandmoreNegroeslikethat,too.
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11/....TheBluesContinuum
Bythetimethelargedanceandshowbandsstartedtodevelopintojazzbands,themoreautonomousbluesformshadgonelargelyundergound,hadreturned,asitwere,tobe
enjoyedbythesubcultureinwhichtheyweremostfunctionalasacollectiveexpression.Athousepartiesandallblackcabaretsandclubs,theblueswasalmostalwaysstillin
evidence.Andnotonlythenewercity,orurban,bluesheldcompletesway,althoughitwasthemostcontemporaryexpressionforagreatmanyNegroesinthe"coloredsections"ofthe
NorthandMidwest,buttheoldercountryblueswasheardwherevertherewerepeoplewhoknewandloveditbest.EvenduringtheDepression(andintothelatethirties)therewere
stillmanyblackemigrantsheadednorthfromthemostisolatedruralareasoftheSouth.Theycontinuedtobringtheoldertraditionswiththemandmovedintotheolderneighborhoods
oftheNorth,fromwhichanemergentmiddleandlowermiddleclasshadsweptoutintolessgrimenvironments,runningtheItaliansoutofonesection,theIrishorPolishorUkranians
outofothersorbeingrunoutthemselvesbytheirlesssophisticated"country"brothers.
AlthoughtheDepressionhadsmashedthe"race"recordbusinesstoalargedegree,newrecordingsofurbanand
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countryblueswerestillbeingmade.ManyofthecountrybluessingerswhocameupnorthorintoKansasCityorSt.Louisbegantochangetheirstyles,eitherconsciously(asinthe
caseofBigBillBroonzy)orunconsciouslytofitthechaoticharshnessofthenewworld.SomebluessingersevenmanagedtogetintotheentertainmentworldofwhiteAmerica,and
manytimesnomorerealblueseverlefttheirlips.
Thecitybluessingersatfirstusedguitarorboogiepianoaccompaniment.Buttheclassicsingershadleftanotherlegacy,andthatwastheuseoflargerinstrumentalaccompaniment.
BessieSmith,MaRainey,andtheothersallhadrecordedwithsmallbandsandsometimesmadetheirpublicappearanceswiththelargertheaterbands.Thistheatricaltraditionleftits
markmanyoftheurbansingersbegantouselargerandlargerinstrumentalaccompaniment,usuallybass,drums,andacoupleofhorns.Someofthedancebandsevenemployed
bluessingersatNegrotheatersandcabarets,andthesesingersbegantoutilizeadifferentkindofapproachtobluessinging.
ThegreatSouthwesternbandsoutofKansasCity,Oklahoma,St.Louis,allusedvocalists,someofwhomweremarvelousbluessingers.Theselargebandshaddevelopedverymuch
differentlythanthebigNortheasternbandslikeHenderson'sandEllington's.Theyhadalwaysremainedmuchclosertotheolderbluestradition,andevenaftertheybegantomaster
someoftheinstrumentaltechniquesoftheEasternbands,theystillplayedamusicthatreliedheavilyonblues.BandslikeBennieMoten'sfromKansasCity,WalterPage(andhisBlue
Devils)fromOklahomaCity,CharlieCreathfromSt.Louis,andTroyFloydfromTexashad"books"thatwerejammedwithbluesnumbers,andallwerebandsthatdevelopedinrelative
isolationfromthewhiterorchestralstyles.NegroesintheSouthweststillwantedagreatpartoftheirmusictobebluesoriented,evenifitwasplayedbyalargedanceband.Andthe
musicofthesegreatSouthwesternorchestrascontinuedtobehardandswinging,evenwhena
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greatmanylargeNegrobandsinotherareasofthecountryhadbecomerelativelyeffete.ItissaidthatwhenEllington'sandHenderson'sbandstraveledthroughtheSouthwest,the
musicianstherewereimpressedmostbytheirmusicianshipandelegance,buttheydidnotwanttosoundas"thin"asthat.
The"shouting"bluessingerslikeJoeTurnerandJimmyRushingfirstwereheardliterallyscreamingoverthecrashingrhythmsectionsandblaringbrasssectionsthatwereso
characteristicoftheSouthwesternbands.KansasCity,awideopentownthatfeaturedgamblingandasmanynightclubsaspossible,becametheheadquartersofthesebigblues
bandsandtheirshoutingvocalists.Therewasplentyofworkforthebandsthereuntilthelatethirties,whensomemeasureofrespectabilityfinallycametoKansasCityandmanyofthe
bestmusiciansinthearealefttogotoChicagoorNewYork.
Ileftmybabystandin'inthebackdoorcryin'Yes,Ileftmybabystandin'inthebackdoorcryin'.Shesaid,baby,yougotahomejustaslongasIgotmine.
TheseSouthwestern"shouters"andbigbluesbandshadalargeinfluenceonNegromusiceverywhere.Theshoutergaveimpetustoakindofbluesthatdevelopedaroundthecities
inthelatethirtiescalled"rhythm&blues,"whichwaslargelyhugerhythmunitssmashingawaybehindscreamingbluessingers.Thesingersandtheirgroupsidentifiedcompletely
with"performance,"buttheystillhadverylegitimateconnectionswitholderbluesforms.
Well,this'llmakeyoulaughThoughit'snotfunnytome.Yes,this'llmakeyoulaughThoughit'snotfunnytome.
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I'minlovewithamarriedwoman,She'sinlovewithme.
(FromMarriedWomanBlues,wordsandmusicbyJoeTurnerandWhiteKeysJackson)
Allthesebluesformsexistedtogetherinthecitiesthephonographrecordandlatertheradiohelpedpushthisbluescontinuumintoallpartsofthecountry.Bytheforties,afterthewar
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Allthesebluesformsexistedtogetherinthecitiesthephonographrecordandlatertheradiohelpedpushthisbluescontinuumintoallpartsofthecountry.Bytheforties,afterthewar
hadcompletelywipedouttheremaining"race"recordcategories,theradiobecamethebiggestdisseminatorofbluesmusic.Bythattimetheshoutershadreallytakenover,yetthis
tradition,thoughlargelycommercialized,wasstillobscureenoughtoescapethebloodlesscommercialismofthewhiteAmericanentertainmentworld.CecilGant,ayoungNegrowar
veteran,startledtherecordingindustryand,inasense,revitalizeditbymakingsomerecordingsasaboogiepianoplayerandsemishoutingbluessingerthatsoldagreatmany
copies.Thecompanies,ofcourse,setaboutimmediatelytoresuscitatetheirracefields,onlytofindthatagreatmanyNegroesresentedthiskindoflabelbeingputontheirmusic.But
underthetitle"rhythm&blues"therecordssoldalmostaswellasracerecordshadbeforetheDepression.
MyfatherwasnojockeybuthesuretaughtmehowtorideIsay,myfatherwasnojockeybuthesuretaughtmehowtorideHesaidfirstinthemiddle,thenyousway
fromsidetoside.
Rhythm&blueswasstillanexclusivemusic.Itwasperformedalmostexclusivelyfor,andhadtosatisfy,aNegroaudience.Forthisreason,itcouldnotsuffertheultimatesterilitythat
wouldhaveresultedfromtotalimmersioninthemainstreamofAmericanculture.It,too,wasamusicthatwashatedbythemiddleclassNegroandnotevenunderstoodbythewhite
man.Norwasthewhitemangivena
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chance,duringtheforties,tounderstandit.Mostwhitemenbelievedthat"ThebiggestcontributiontoAmericanmusictheNegrohadmadebythistimewastoswing."Andthe"Kingof
Swing"wasawhiteman,BennyGoodman,whoseonlyrealconnectiontoAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionwasthefactthathehiredaNegroarrangerandlaterafewNegromusicians.
ButtheradiobeamedtheshoutingbluesalloverAmericatocityandcountryNegroesalike.EvenwhenissuedfromthemostblatantlycommercialNegrominds,themusicmadeahit
theslickestNorthernshoutersweresoonimitatedinthemostruralblackareasoftheSouth.Singerswithgoldlamjacketsandorangeishpantswerecanonizedalongwiththeolder
typeswhostillsangofthesolitaryisolationoftheNegro'slotinsoftplaintivevoicesthatcouldneverhavebeenheardabovetheelectricguitars,harmonicas,andblastingrhythm
sectionsoftheyoungshouters.Theconstantuseoftheriff,heavydrumming,andunisonscreamingsaxophonesbehindthesingerswasallalegacyofthebluesoriented
Southwesternbands.MenlikeWynonieHarris,JimmyWitherspoon,BullmooseJackson,B.B.King,wereamongthebestandthemostsophisticatedoftheshoutersthemore
"primitive"schoolofshouterslikeMuddyWaters,TBoneWalker,BoDiddley,SmokeyHogg,seemedtobringadeeperknowledgeofolderbluesformsintotheirmusic.Anditwasall
sentovertheairwavesintothevariousblackcommunities:akindofbluescontinuumwhereinalmostallbluesstylesweremadeavailabletoNegroessincetheyexistedsidebyside
onrecords,andtheperformersstilllivedinthesameghettoesastheaudience.
Anotherveryinterestingdevelopmentduringthegrowthofrhythm&blueswasthefactthatafterthedisappearanceoftheracerecordsthelargerwhitecompanieslostcontroloverthe
recordingofthenewmusic,whichwouldaccountevenmoreforitsrelativeobscurityoutsideblackcommunities:"Thelargerecordcompanies,withintwoorthreeyears
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afterthewar,hadcompletelylostcontrolofthebluesrecordbusiness.Therewerehundredsofcompaniesrecordingblues,manyofthemNegroownedandmanyofthemintheSouth.
TheChessRecordCompanyinChicagoandSavoyRecordsinNewYorkhaverecordedsomeofthebestofthepostwarblues,withAtlanticRecords,inNewYork,notfarbehind.
FewofthesingerssignedexclusivecontractssoasingerlikeLowellFulsonorSmokeyHoggwasoftenrecordingsimultaneouslyforhalfadozencompanies."60
Also,mostofthemajorrecordcompaniesweremakingplentyofmoneyfromswing,andtheyprobablydidnotfeeltheneedtogobackintothe"race"business.(Butcompanieslike
SavoyandAtlanticdevelopedlaterintolargeandinfluentialbusinessesandwentintotherecordingofmodernjazzaswell.)
Rhythm&bluesnotonlyreflectedthatstreamofmusicthathadbeencitybluesandwasafurtherdevelopmentofthegrowingurbantradition,italsoreflectedagreatdealaboutthe
AmericaitcameoutofandtheNegroeswhosangorlistenedtoit.CertainlythewaryearshadbroughtaboutprofoundchangesintheculturalconsciousnessofNegroes,astheyhad
donetothesuperstructureofAmericancultureasawhole.Therewasakindoffrenzyandextralocalvulgaritytorhythm&bluesthathadneverbeenpresentinolderbluesforms.
SuddenlyitwasasifagreatdealoftheEuroAmericanhumanistfaadeAfroAmericanmusichadtakenonhadbeenwashedawaybythewar.Rhythm&bluessingersliterallyhadto
shouttobeheardabovetheclangingandstrummingofthevariouselectrifiedinstrumentsandthechurningrhythmsections.Andsomehowtheloudertheinstrumentalaccompaniment
andthemoreharshlyscreamedthesinging,themoreexpressivethemusicwas.Blueshadalwaysbeenavocalmusic,anditmustbesaidthattheinstrumentalaccompanimentfor
rhythm&bluessingerswasstillverymuchinthevocaltradition,but
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nowthehumanvoiceitselfhadtostruggle,toscream,tobeheard.
Equallyinterestingaretheuncommonlyweirdsoundsthatweremadetocomeoutoftheinstruments.Thescreamingsaxophoneisthemostcharacteristic.Infact,duringtheheydayof
rhythm&blues,bluesorientedinstrumentalists,usuallysaxophoneplayers,wouldvietoseewhocouldscreech,ormoan,orshouttheloudestandlongestontheirinstruments.Men
likeEddie"Lockjaw"Davis,IllinoisJacquet,Willis"Gatortail"Jackson,BigJayMcNeeley,LynnHope,andmanyotherswouldhave"honking"contestsandtrytooutshoutandoutstomp
anyothersaxophonistwhowoulddarechallengethem.Finally,whenmostofthe"honkers,"astheywerecalled,hadreachedasimilarcompetence,thecontestsgotmoreathletic.Jay
McNeeleyusedtolieonhisbackandkickhisfeetintheairwhilehonkingoneloudscreechingnoteoraseriesofidenticalriffs.Theriffitselfwasthebasisforthiskindofplaying,the
saxophonistrepeatingtheriffmuchpastanyusefulmusicalcontext,continuingituntilheandthecrowdwerethoroughlyexhaustedphysicallyandemotionally.Thepoint,itseemed,
wastospendoneselfwithasmuchattentionaspossible,andalsotomaketheinstrumentssoundasunmusical,orasnonWestern,aspossible.Itwasalmostasifthebluespeople
werereactingagainstthesoftnessand"legitimacy"thathadcreptintoblackinstrumentalmusicwiththeadventofswing.Inaway,thisiswhathadhappened,andforthisreason,
rhythm&bluessatascompletelyoutsidethemainstreamasearlierbluesforms,thoughwithoutthatmainstreamthisformofmusicmighthavebeenimpossible.Rhythm&bluesalso
becamemoreofananathematotheNegromiddleclass,perhaps,thantheearlierbluesforms,whichbynowtheymighthaveforgotten,becauseitwascontemporaryandexistedasa
legitimateexpressionofagreatmanyNegroesandasagaudyreminderoftherealoriginsofNegromusic.Tomyownmind,however,itseemsalesspersonalmusicthantheolder
bluesforms,
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ifonlybecausetheconstanthammeringoftheoverwhelmingrhythmsectionsoftensubvertstheverse,thelyrics,andlyriccontentoftheblues.Andtoo,rhythm&blues,itseems,is
moreeasilyfaked,andonlyafewoftheshoutersseemedtobeabletovarythemoodormodeoftheirperformance,orforthatmatter,toaltertheirpublicimageasperformers.One
getstheideathatamanwhofallsdownonhisbackscreamingisdoingso,eventhoughhemightbegenuinelymovedtodoso,morefromasenseofperformancethanfromany
unalterableemotionalrequirement.Butagain,theoppositeideaalsoseemstruethatfortheNegrowhofoundhismostcompletestatementinrhythm&blues,thedramaticor
burlesquedpartoftheperformancemightbeasintegralapartoftheexpressionasthebluesitself,sinceitmadethedeparture,theseparation,fromthesocialimplicationsofthewhite
popularsongcomplete.
Mypapatoldme,mymothersatdownandcriedShesay,"You'retooyoungaman,tohavethatmanywomenyougot."IlookedatmymotherdearandIdidn'teven
crackasmile.Isaid,"Ifthewomenkillme,Idon'minddyin'."
ForoneclassofNegroes,asthedevelopingstrataofthecityemphasized,thebluescouldextendinakindofcontinuumfromrhythm&bluesallthewaybacktocountryblues.Inthe
citiesalltheseformssatsidebysideinwhatevernewconfusionsurbanlifeoffered,andtheradiomadethemallequallyofthemoment.Althoughatthispointrhythm&blueswasthe
mostconstantlyplayedbluesmusicheardthroughoutthecountry,italsocreatedareviveddemandfortheolderformstobeplayedonthosesameradiocircuits.
I'marealyoungboy,justsixteenyearsoldI'marealyoungboy,justsixteenyearsoldIneedafunkyblackwomantosatisfymysoul.
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ForanotherclassofNegroes,theblueshadtogettothemviathebigdancebandstherestofthecountrywaslisteningto.Theywerecommittedtothe"popular"formsocially,and,asit
turnedout,emotionallyaswell.Buttheparadoxoftheblackman'sparticipationinAmericanlifecouldbepushedfurther:"Theincreasingpopularityofswingarrangementsonthe
Hendersonmodelledtoageneralsimilarityofstyleinallthebigbands,Negroandwhite.Goodman,Shaw,theDorseys,Barnet,Hines,Calloway,TeddyHill,Webb,wereall
approachingthesamestandardsofproficiency.Thereisaterrifyingrecord,ananthologycalledTheGreatSwingBands,onwhichmostofthesebandsarerepresented.Iftheyare
playedwithoutconsultingnotesorlabels,itisimpossibletodistinguishonefromtheother."61
So,manyofthenewcitizenshadgottheirwish.Atthatparticularpointinthedevelopmentofbigbandjazz,theAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionseemedindistinguishablefromthe
commercialshallownessofAmericandancemusic.Withrhythm&blues,bluesasanautonomousmusichadretreatedtothesafetyofisolation.Butthegoodjazzmenneverwantedto
getridoftheblues.Theyknewinstinctivelyhowtheywantedtouseit,e.g.,Ellington.Theharderkindsofbluesstayedintheoldneighborhoodswiththefreedmenwhenthecitizens
movedout.Rhythm&blueswasapopularization,inaverylimitedsense,oftheolderbluesforms,andinmanycasesmerelyacommercialization,butitwasstillanemotionallysound
music.Itsveryvulgarityassureditsmeaningfulemotionalconnectionwithpeople'slives.ItstillintimatedtheexistenceofwhatIthinktobeasuperiormusic:city,classic,orcountry
blues.Itsrootswerestillevidentandfunctional.Itheldtheblueslineinthecities,andtheradiosgaveittotheruralNegroaswell.
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12/....TheModernScene
ItisforwantofaconsciouscriticalsenseandtheintellectualpowersofcomparisonandclassificationthattheNegrohasfailedtocreateoneofthegreatculturesofthe
world,andnotfromanylackofthecreativeimpulse,norfromlackofthemostexquisitesensibilityandthefinesttaste.
(RogerFry,NegroSculpture)
ThebluesoccurswhentheNegroissad,whenheisfarfromhishome,hismother,orhissweetheart.Thenhethinksofamotiforapreferredrhythmandtakeshis
trombone,orhisviolin,orhisbanjo,orhisclarinet,orhisdrum,orelsehesings,orsimplydances.Andonthechosenmotif,heplumbsthedepthsofhisimagination.
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trombone,orhisviolin,orhisbanjo,orhisclarinet,orhisdrum,orelsehesings,orsimplydances.Andonthechosenmotif,heplumbsthedepthsofhisimagination.
ThismakeshissadnesspassawayitistheBlues.
(ErnestAnsermet,1918)
Whentheswingstylehadrunitscourseandmostbigbandjazz,exceptthebluesorientedbandsintheSouthwestandtheEllingtonorganization(andthe"traditional"orNewOrleans
jazzpeoplestillaround),hadbecomewatereddown,slick"white"commercializationsofFletcherHenderson,the
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"modern"peoplecameonthescene.Therebyamoredreadfulseparationwasinstigated.
Thebluespeople(asRalphEllisonputit,"thosewhoacceptedandlivedclosetotheirfolkexperience")hadtheircontinuum,butthemiddleclassNegroeshadgotten"free"ofallthe
bluestradition,exceptasitwascaricaturedinwhiteswingstyle,orthepitifulspectacleofCarnegieHallboogiewoogie,orHazelScottplayingGrieg'sConcertoinAMinoratCaf
Society.Assimilation,thesocialprocesstheyfelttheymustaccept,alwaysproposedthattheenforcedsocialscaleofapeopleinAmerican,orWestern,societydeterminedthevalueof
thatpeople'sculture.AfroAmericanmusicaltraditioncouldhardlybeconsideredasocial(oreconomic)assetinAmericansociety.Autonomousbluescouldnotreflectthemindofthe
middleclassNegro,evenifhechosenottodenyhisfolkorigins.
Jazzdemonstratedhowthebluesimpulse,andthusAfroAmericanmusicaltradition,couldberetainedinabroadermusicalexpression.Bigbandjazzshowedthatthismusiccould
existasapeculiarlyAmericanexpression(andalsothattherewasacommercialuseforit),whichincluded,ofcourse,thebroadenedsocialperspectiveofthepostDepression,urban
Negro.ButasatrueexpressionofanAmericawhichcouldbecelebrated,asWhitmansaid,"inaspiritkindredtoitself,"jazzcouldnotbeunderstoodbyanationwhichhadfinallylost
theCivilWarby"placingprivatepropertyaboveothervalues"theresultbeingsuchdenialsofhumandignityasthelegislationofinhumanityandoppressionallovertheSouth.Asa
folkexpressionofatraditionallyoppressedpeople,themostmeaningfulofNegromusicwasusually"secret,"andasseparateasthatpeoplethemselveswereforcedtobe.("Theold
bluesremindsmeofslavery,"isthewaymanymiddleclassNegroesputit.Andtheycouldonlythinkofslaverywiththesenseofshametheirlongingforacceptanceconstantly
provided.TheirUtopiacouldhavenoslavesnorsonsofslaves.)Butasthesecretness
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andseparationofNegroesinAmericawasincreasinglybrokendown,NegromusichadtoreflectthegrowingopennessofcommunicationwithwhiteAmerica.Theeasewithwhich
bigbandjazzwassubvertedsuggestshowopenanexpressionNegromusiccouldbecome.AndnoNegroneedfeelashamedofarichJewishclarinetist.
BythefortiesthemostcontemporaryexpressionofAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionwasanurbanone,arrivedatinthecontextofNegrolifeinthelargeindustrialcitiesofAmerica.And
justasWorldWarIandtheGreatDepressionservedtoproducethe"modern"Negro,soWorldWarIIproducedevenmoreradicalchangeswithinthepsycheoftheAmericanblack
man.TheNegro'sparticipationinWorldWarIIwasmuchlesslimitedthaninWorldWarI.EventhoughNegroeswerestilllargelyconfinedto"Negrounits"oftheArmedForces,many
oftheseunitsfoughtsidebysidewithwhiteunits.Therewasevenafightersquadroncomposedexclusivelyofblackpilots.TheNegro'sroleinthiswarcouldnotbeminimizedasin
WorldWarI.WorldWarIIwasanalloutstruggle,andtheUnitedStateshadtouseallitsresources.Forthisreason,moreNegroesthaneverwereutilizedinimportantpositionsor
positionsofauthority.(AccordingtoNAACPfigures,therewere404,348NegroesasArmyenlistedmeninWorldWarI,and1,353commissionedofficers.InWorldWarII,therewere
905,000NegroesasArmyenlistedmenand8,000officers.WhilethenumberofNegroesmorethandoubled,thenumberofcommissionedofficersincreasedalmosteighttimes.)The
senseofparticipationinthemainstreamofthesocietywasstrengthenedamongallNegroes,notonlythemiddleclass.DorieMiller,oneofthefirstNegroestodieinthewar,atPearl
Harbor,wasalmostcanonizedbyNegroesalloverthecountry.Atmyparents'churchinNewark,NewJersey,"RememberDorieMiller"buttonswhichthechurchhadpurchasedwere
passedout.
ThesenseofaworldoutsideofAmerica,firstrevealedto
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NegroesbyWorldWarI,wasreinforcedbytheevenmoreinternationalaspectsofWorldWarII.Therewereevenbluessungaboutthewarbytheoldersingersorby"sophisticated"
bluessingerslikeJoshWhite.TherewasthesongAreYouReady?,verypopularinNegrocommunities,whichextolledthevirtueofheroism(byNegroes)inthewar:"Whenthe
captainsays,Attack/There'llbenoturningback/Areyouready?Areyoureadytogo?"Thereisalsooneportionofthesongthathastheprospectiveherosaying,"I'llbatterthatratter
tillhisheadgetsflatter."(Itisinterestingtonotethattheexpression"Areyouready"wasalsobeingusedagreatdealamongNegroesaroundthattimetomean"Areyoureadyto
enterintowhiteAmerica?"Thetermofdisparagementbeing,"He'snotready."Forinstance,"loud"or"vulgar"Negroesweretermedbymanyselfappointedblackguardiansofwhite
socialproprietyas"unready.")
ThesenseofparticipationandresponsibilityinsomajoraphenomenonastheWorldWarwasheightenedforNegroesbytherelativelyhighsalariestheygotforworkinginthevarious
defenseplantsthroughoutthecountry.(ThePickatinnyArsenalinNewJerseywasspokenofinreverenttonesbyNegroesintheareaasaplacewhereablackmancouldmake"good
money.")ButthisonlyservedtoincreasethesenseofresentmentNegroesfeltatthesocialinequitiesAmericanlifecontinuedtoimposeuponthem.Thiswasespeciallytrueofthe
youngmenwhoreturnedfromthewarafterhavingriskedtheirlivesforthiscountry,onlytofindthattheywerestilltreatedlikesubhumans,thatitwasonly"theircountry"solongas
theyremainedin"theirplaces."Negroeswhoheldgoodwartimejobsasciviliansandwhoseincomesweremuchhigherthaneverbeforewereinfuriatedtofindthattheirincreased
economicstatusstillcouldn'tbuythemawayoutofthehugeNegroghettoesofthecities.Resentmentanddisgustwiththestatusquomanytimesfoundexpressioninincidentsof
racialviolence.AshadhappenedduringandafterWorldWarI,bloodyriotsbrokeoutallover
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theUnitedStates.ThelargestwasprobablytheHarlemriotof1943,whenNegroesbrokethewindowsofwhitebusinessestablishmentsintheareaandmenacedwhitepolicemen.
Someoftheriots,liketheoneinCicero,Illinois,asuburbofChicago,beganbecausetheNegroeswiththeirgoodmoneywantedtogethomesaswell.Asthirtyyearsbefore,therehad
beengreatmigrationsnorthwardtotheindustrialcenters.ThereweresimilarriotsinDetroit,Chicago,andNewark.TherewerealsosocialmovementsamongNegroeswhichresulted
intheformationoforganizationstocombatinequality,justastherehadbeenaroundthetimeofWorldWarI.Oneofthemosteffectiveofthesewasthe1941MarchOnWashington
movementinwhichNegroesthreatenedtomarchonthecapitaliftheywerenotincludedinthedefenseprogram.ItwasspecificallybecauseofthismovementthatPresidentRoosevelt
signedtheexecutiveorderthatwassupposedtoforbiddiscriminationbyGovernmentcontractors.ThecommitteethatstartedtheMarchOnWashingtonmovementlatersawtoitthat
theFairEmploymentPracticesCommitteewassetup.Duringthewar,theNegro"securedmorejobsatbetterwagesandinamorediversifiedoccupationalandindustrialpatternthan
everbefore."62
BetweenthethirtiesandtheendofWorldWarII,therewasperhapsasradicalachangeinthepsychologicalperspectiveoftheNegroAmericantowardAmericaastherewasbetween
theEmancipationand1930.InmanyrespectsthebridgeintothemainstreamofAmericansocietyhadbeenwidenedbythewarandtheresultantincreaseingenerallivingstandards
oftheblackAmerican.TheNegromiddleclasshadgrown,andthepercentageofNegroescompletinghighschoolandattendingcollegehadrisensharply.ManyoftheNegro
veteranstookadvantageoftheeducationalbenefitsofferedundertheG.I.Bill.IntheSouthalone,forinstance,"fortheyear193334only19percentoftheNegrochildren
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ofhighschoolagewereinhighschools."63Butby1940,onlysixyearslater,thefigurehadrisento35percent.AndthiswasintheSouthFrazieralsopointsoutthatin1940,"About
twicetheproportionofadultNegroesinthenortherncitiesasinthesoutherncitieshavecompletedonetothreeyearsorfouryearsofhighschooleducation."64
Ingeneral,thewaryearsandtheperiodimmediatelyaftersawamarkedresumptionoftheattacksbyNegroesonlegalizedsocialandeconomicinequityinAmerica.Theperiodof
economicchaosduringtheDepressionthirtieswascruelestforNegroes,andsomeofthefervorofantioppressionfeelingssubsidedamongthem,oratleastwasdiverted,intheir
scrambletostayalive.Butbythemidfortiesthatfervorhadreturned,andwasreinforcedbytheNegro'srealizationthathewasinmanywaysanintegralpartofAmericansociety.What
oncecouldbeexcused,evenbyNegroes,astheresultofdubiouscustomnowcameintofocusmoreclearlyassimpleoppression.Ifthefruitsofthesocietywenttothe"bestqualified,"
thenalltheNegrodemandedwasanequalityofmeans.Giventhisequalitypoliticallyandeconomically,therewasonlyoneAmerica.AndthatwasanAmericaanycitizencouldaspire
to.ThiswasthepsychologicalhypothesiswhichinformedtheNegro'sattitudetowardAmericaduringthemidforties.Themiddleclass,asalways,wasmoreoptimisticthatsucha
hypothesiswouldbeunderstoodbywhiteAmerica."Gotocollegeorlearnatrade"thesewerethebuildingblocksforthesinglesociety,andagainbecausetheblackmiddleclass
confusedlegitimatepoliticalandeconomicdesireswiththeirshameatnotalreadyhavingattainedthesegoals,theythoughtthismeanttheyhadtoabandonhistoryandtheaccreted
culturalsignificanceoftheblackman'sthreehundredyearsinAmerica.Forthepoor,
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however,"culture"issimplyhowonelives,andisconnectedtohistorybyhabit.
Swinghadnomeaningforbluespeople,norwasitexpressiveoftheemotionallifeofmostyoungNegroesafterthewar.Nevertheless,bythefortiesithadsubmergedallthemost
impressiveacquisitionsfromAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionbeneathamassof"popular"commercialism.AndmostofAmericatookthemusictoheart.Therewereswingradio
programsthroughoutthecountry,themostpopularswingmusicianshadtheirownradioshowsandwerealmostaswellknownasmoviestars.Bigbandjazz,forallpractical
purposes,hadpassedcompletelyintothemainstreamandservednow,initsperformance,simplyasastylizedreflectionofaculturallyfeebleenvironment.Spontaneousimpulsehad
beenreplacedbythearranger,andthehumanelementofthemusicwasconfinedtowhateverdifficultiesindividualperformersmighthavereadingascore.Philosophically,swing
soughttoinvolvetheblackcultureinaplatonicsocialblandnessthatwoulderaseitforever,replacingitwiththesocioculturalcompromiseofthe"jazzedup"popularsong:a
compromisewhosemostsignificantstancewasfinallycatatoniaandnoncommunication.ThepsychologicalstressesofWorldWarIIandtheunrealizedweightofAmerica'spromisein
historycouldonlybeanswered"popularly"withsuchmoralsterilityaswouldproduceHutSutRalston,ChicoryChic,orMarezyDoats.AsIsaid,catatoniaandnoncommunication.
TheNegro'sconditionalseparationfromthemainstreamsparedhim.
Whenthemoderns,thebeboppers,showeduptorestorejazz,insomesense,toitsoriginalseparateness,todragitoutsidethemainstreamofAmericancultureagain,mostmiddle
classNegroes(asmostAmericans)werestucktheyhadpassed,forthemostpart,completelyintothePlatoniccitizenship.Thewillfullyharsh,antiassimilationistsoundof
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classNegroes(asmostAmericans)werestucktheyhadpassed,forthemostpart,completelyintothePlatoniccitizenship.Thewillfullyharsh,antiassimilationistsoundof
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bebopfellondeaforhorrifiedears,justasitdidinwhiteAmerica.Myfathercalledmea"bebopper"inmuchthesamewayassomepeoplesay"beatnik"now.ButtheNegromiddle
classhadwanderedcompletelyawayfromthebluestradition,becomingtrappedinthesinistervapidityofmainlineAmericanculture.
OfthebluesorientedbigbandsofthethirtiesandearlyfortieswhichImentionedbeforeashavingresistedthecommercializationandsterilityofmostbigbandjazz,CountBasie'shad
themostprofoundeffectontheyoungmusiciansofthefortieswhowouldsoonbecalled"boppers."TheBasiebandwasinthehardswingingSouthwesternbluestraditionandwas
certainlylesspolishedthanthebeautifulEllingtongroupsofthelatethirtiesandearlyforties.ButBasie'smusicofferedafresh,openmethodforcontemporaryreinterpretationofthe
AfroAmericanmusicaltraditiononethatdrewitsstrengthfrombluestradition,whichautomaticallymadeittheantithesisofthefloridvacuousnessoftheswingstyle.
"...Basie...broughttojazzastyleandbodyofmusiclessvariedthanEllington's,butonedeeplyrootedinfolkart,powerfulinitsinfluenceonjazzuptoandincludingbebop.
His[Basie's]formsusedtheriff,anditssoloreplyorobbligato,inamannerbasedonoldchoralspirituals.Thejumprhythm,asheusedit,alsocomesfromaspiritualsbackground,
andinhishandsitalwayshasthehumanelasticitywhichitlacksinamanneristictreatment."65
AnotherimportantfacetofBasie'smusicthathadagreatdealofinfluenceonyoungmusicianswasthesoloroomtheriffsolostructureprovided.Basie'ssoloists,andespeciallythe
tenorsaxophonists,coulddeveloplongmelodicallyconceivedsolosbasedonthechordstheriffssuggested.Thesesolosseemedautonomousandpossessedofamusicallifeoftheir
own,eventhoughattheirmostperfectlyrealized,their
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relationshiptowhattherestofthebandwasplayingwasunmistakable.InasensetheriffsolostructurewasaperfectadaptationoftheoldAfricanantiphonalvocalmusicaswellas
theAfroAmericanworksongandspiritual.TenorsaxophonistLesterYoungbroughtthiskindofriffsolorelationshiptoitsmostprofoundform.Hewasalsothefirstsaxophonistto
developthesaxophoneasanautonomousinstrumentcapableofmakingitsowncharacteristicmusic.AsImentionedbefore,ColemanHawkins'saxophonework,asimpressiveasit
was,wasreallyjustanextensionoftheArmstrongstyletoanotherinstrument.Hawkinswasasaxophonevirtuoso,butYoungwasaninnovator.Younggottheinstrumentawayfrom
theonthebeat,eighthnotepatternthatHawkinsutilized,anddemonstratedwithhislight,flowing,gauzytonehowsubtlybeautifultheinstrumentcouldbe.Also,asRossRussell
pointedoutinanarticleonLesterYoungandhisrelationshiptotheboppers,"Lester'sinsistenceontherhythmicprioritiesofjazzcameasatonictoamusicwhichwasdriftingaway
fromthedriveofearlyNewOrleansmusic.Lesterdidmorethanreaffirmthesepriorities.Hereplenishedthestreampollutedbythearrangersandthusmadepossibletheevenmore
complexrhythmicdevelopmentofthebebopstyle."66
SinceLesterYoung,jazzhasbecome,forthemostpart,asaxophonemusic.Hawkinsplayedtrumpetmusicandbroughtittomagnificentperfectiononhisownhorn,butitwasLester
Youngwhofirstcommittedjazztousingthesaxophoneasitsmostinspiredinstrument.ThemostimportantinnovatorssinceYounghavebeensaxophonistsjustasfromArmstrong
backintojazzhistory,themostimportantinnovatorsweretrumpetplayers.
Basie'smusicsavedthebigbandasanhonestmusicalform,andhisusesofthesmallgroupprovidedaformfortheyoungmusiciansoftheforties.Heinitiatedakindofsmall
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groupmusicthatutilizedallthemostimportantharmonicandrhythmicdiscoveriesthebigbandprovided,butwiththeaddedflexibilityandnecessarysolovirtuosityofthesmallband:
"Basie'sownpianostyleindicatesthebaseforthismusic.Itemploysthefullpiano,butusesrichchordsandfullsoundssparingly,topunctuateandsupportthesolomelodiclines.His
largebandmusicalsohasthischaracter,thefullbandoftenheardinmanyperformancesonlyforpunctuation....Itwaseasytomovefromthiskindofmusictoanactualsmallband
music.Asingletrumpet,tromboneandsax,ifusedtogetherwithagoodknowledgeofharmony,couldsoundchordsassolidasafullbandchoir.Asingleinstrument,suchasBasie's
pianoorYoung'stenor,couldriffaseffectivelyas,andevenmoresubtlythan,afullbandorfullchoir."67
Itisprettyobviouswhythesmallbandformwassoattractivetotheyoungjazzmusiciansoftheforties.Thetastelesscommercialismofmostoftheswingbandshadrenderedthem
virtuallyincapableofservingasvehiclesforanyseriousmusicalexpression.TheexpandedsenseofthecommunalexpressionsocharacteristicofAfroAmericanmusicaltradition
whichwasfoundinthebestlargebands,certainlyBasie'sandEllington's,hadcompletelyvanishedintheswingperiod.Individualexpressionwithinthisframeworkwasalso
impossible.Theautonomy,evenanarchy,ofthesmallbandwasnotonlyaninstinctivereturntotheolderformsofjazz,butitmustcertainlyhavebeenaconsciousattemptbythese
youngmusicianstosecuresomemeasureofisolationfromwhattheyhadcometorealizebynowwasmerelyculturalvapiditythecriterionof"equalityofmeans"alsoprovidesforan
objectiveevaluationofthosemeans.Itwasthegenerationofthefortieswhich,Ithink,begantoconsciouslyanalyzeandevaluateAmericansocietyinmanyofthatsociety'sownterms
(andLesterYoung'slife,inthis
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respect,wasreasonenoughforthebopperstocanonizehim).Andevenfurther,thisgenerationalsobegantounderstandtheworthofthecountry,thesociety,whichitwassupposed
tocallitsown.Tounderstandthatyouareblackinasocietywhereblackisanextremeliabilityisonething,buttounderstandthatitisthesocietythatislackingandisimpossibly
deformedbecauseofthislack,andnotyourself,isolatesyouevenmorefromthatsociety.Foolsorcrazymenareeasiertowalkawayfromthanpeoplewhoaremerelymistaken.
TheculturalbreakdownattendantuponlivinginthelargeurbancentersoftheNorthandMidwestcontributedimportantlytothesenseofobjectivecynicismwhichhadevolvedasa
dominantattitudetowardAmericaamongyoungNegroesinthefortiesasensethatcertainlyprovokedthequestion,"Howcometheydidn'tdropthatbombontheGermans?"in
manyblackneighborhoods.Aculturewhoserichsenseofironicmetaphorproducedthehumorof"Ifyouwhite,youallright/Ifyoubrown,hangaround/Butifyoublack,getback,"could
nowwithequalironyproposeasunofficiallyricstooneofthepopularbeboporiginalsduringtheforties,Buzzy,"Youbettergetyourselfawhitegirl/Acoloredgirlain'tnogood."Again,
itwasachangeofperspectivebasedontheassumptionthatallthetermsof"successfuladjustment"tothesocietyhadbeenatleastunderstoodbyNegroes,andthattheonlybarrier
tocompleteassimilationintothatsocietywastheconditionalparochialismthatassimilationwoulddemand.The"understanding"thenonlyservedtoreinforcethecynicism.Itwasnot
thataNegrowasuneducatedorvulgarorunfitforthesocietywhichdeterminedwhyhewasnotacceptedintoit,itwasthemerefactthathewasaNegro.Noamountofeducation,
taste,orcompromisewouldalterthatfact.Education,etc.,wasfinallysuperfluous,giventhebasictermof"successfuladjustment,"whichwasthatyoubeawhiteman.Thesociologists'
dogmaof"progressiveintegration"intothesociety,basedonsuccessfulapplicationtotheaccomplishmentofthefundamental
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prerequisitiesofworthinthesociety,becomesmeaninglessoncethoseprerequisitesareunderstoodanddesired,thenpossessed,andstillthetermofseparationexists.Thiswas
oneofthereasonssomanycollegemenfromtheblackmiddleclasswentbackintojazzduringthethirties.Theyhadmetthesuperfluousrequirementsforacceptanceintothe
successfulelementsofthesociety,butthatacceptancewasstillwithheld.Manyofthosemusiciansbegantolookuponjazzas"theNegro'sbusiness,"buttheyoverlookedthesimple
validityofGresham'sLawandthecomingoftheswingera.
Themusiciansoftheforties,however,understoodthefrustrationAmericansocietyproposedfortheNegro,i.e.,thattheonlyassimilationthatsocietyprovidedwastowardthe
disappearanceofthemostimportantthingstheblackmanpossessed,withouteventhepoliticalandeconomicreimbursementaffordedthewhiteAmerican.Swingdemonstratesthis
againthatevenattheexpenseofthemostbeautifulelementsofAfroAmericanmusicaltradition,tobeasuccessful(rich)swingmusician,onehadtobewhite.BennyGoodmanwas
the"KingofSwing,"notFletcherHenderson,orDukeEllington,orCountBasie.Therewas,indeed,nowayintothesocietyonone'sowntermsthatis,thatanindividualbeallowedto
comeintothesocietyasanindividual,oragroupasanindividualgroup,withwhateverrichnessthevalueoflocal(socialorethnic)culturalreferencecouldproduce.Theindividuality
oflocalculturalreferenceonlyreinforcedseparationfromthesociety.Understandingthis,theyoungmusiciansofthefortiessoughttomakethatseparationmeaningful,astheirfathers
haddonebeforethem,butwiththeaddedcommitmentthattheirconsciousevaluationofthesocietywoulddemand.
TheculturalbreakdownIhavereferredtowasaccomplishedinmostcasesbythephysicalintegrationofNegroesandwhitesinmanyofthelargecitiesoftheNorthandMidwest.
Duringthetwentiesandthirties,schools,movies,sporting
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events,andtoacertainextent,employment,allbecameareaswheretherecouldbeanexpandedsocialcommercebetweenblackandwhiteAmerica,andthusthevariousmusical
andentertainmentfadsthathadoriginallycomeintoexistenceasfacetsofAfroAmericanculturefoundpopularityinmainstreamAmericansociety.(Tosomeextent,therehasbeen
thiscrossfertilizationofculturessincethetimeoftheAfricanslaves,butwiththeanonymitythesocialhierarchyenforced.)EvensuchaphenomenonastheBlackRenaissanceofthe
twentiesdependeduponadegreeofsocialleveling,alevelingthatenabledwhiteAmericanstounderstandwhatsucha"Renaissance"wassupposedtoimply,andwhatismore
important,thatwouldallowtheNegroesinvolvedtoexplainwhattheymeantbythis"Renaissance."Inthedaysoftheslavesociety,forinstance,awhitemanmighthavepickedupa
Negrosongordanceorsomeunconsciouselementofspeech,butitwouldhavebeenabsurdtosupposethatheasmasterwouldbewillingtolistentosomeslaveexplainwhyhe
wasa"NewNegro."Thebreakdown,orleveling,ofthefortieswasevenmoreextremeifonecanimaginetheironyofwhiteyouthimitatingacertainkindofNegrodress(the"zoot
suit,"whichattainedsomuchpopularityduringthatdecade,came"straightoffLenoxAvenue").Orevenmoreironic,theassumptionbyagreatmanyyoungwhiteAmericansofmany
elementsofakindofNegrospeech."Boptalk"andinmyowngeneration,"Hiptalk"arecertainlymanifestationsofthiskindofsocialegalitarianism.Butthislevelinghasimplications
moreprofoundthanegalitarianism.
CertainlyawhitemanwearingazootsuitortalkingboptalkcannotenterintothemainstreamofAmericansociety.Moreimportant,thatwhitemandoesnotdesiretoenterthe
mainstream(becauseallhewouldhavetodoischangeclothesandstart"talkingright,"andhewouldbeeasilyreinstated).Hisbehaviorisindicativeonmostlevelsofaconscious
nonconformitytoimportantrequirementsofthe
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society(thoughthepoorwhiteboyinareallyintegratedneighborhoodmightpickuptheseelementsofNegroculturesimplyassocialgraceswithinhisimmediategroup).Thewhite
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society(thoughthepoorwhiteboyinareallyintegratedneighborhoodmightpickuptheseelementsofNegroculturesimplyassocialgraceswithinhisimmediategroup).Thewhite
beboppersofthefortieswereasremovedfromthesocietyasNegroes,butasamatterofchoice.Theimportantideahereisthatthewhitemusiciansandotheryoungwhiteswho
associatedthemselveswiththisNegromusicidentifiedtheNegrowiththisseparation,thisnonconformity,though,ofcourse,theNegrohimselfhadnochoice.ButtheyoungNegro
musicianofthefortiesbegantorealizethatmerelybybeingaNegroinAmerica,onewasanonconformist.
TheNegromusicthatdevelopedinthefortieshadmorethananaccidentalimplicationofsocialupheavalassociatedwithit.Toacertainextent,thismusicresultedfromconscious
attemptstoremoveitfromthedangerofmainstreamdilutionorevenunderstanding.Foronething,theyoungmusiciansbegantothinkofthemselvesasseriousmusicians,even
artists,andnotperformers.Andthatattitudeerasedimmediatelytheprotectiveandparochialatmosphereof"thefolkexpression"fromjazz.MusicianslikeCharlieParker,Thelonius
Monk,andDizzyGillespiewereallquotedatvarioustimesassaying,"Idon'tcareifyoulistentomymusicornot."Thisattitudecertainlymusthavemystifiedthespeakeasy
CharlestonCottonClubsetofwhiteAmericans,whohadidentifiedjazzonlywithliberationfromthesocialresponsibilitiesoffullcitizenship.Italsomystifiedmanyofthehobbyists,
whoweretheselfstyledarbitersofwhatAfroAmericanmusicshouldbe.Mostofthejazzcriticsandwritersonjazz(almostallofwhom,forobviousreasons,werewhite)descended
onthenewmusicwithafanaticalfury.Theyoungmusicianswerecalled"crazy"(whichstuckinthenewvernacular),"dishonestfrauds,"orinthatslick,noble,patronizingtonethat
markstheliberalmind:"merelymisguided."CriticsliketheFrenchmanHuguesPanassietalkedknowinglyabout"theheresyofbebop,"sayingthatitsimplywasn'tjazz.RogerPryor
Dodge,oneofthepioneer
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jazzcriticsandhistorians,wroteinthepagesofTheRecordChanger:"TosumupBopanditsderivatives,letussaythatinspiteoftheirowncomplicateddevelopmenttheyfunctionin
essenceasamusiconamuchlowerlevelofmusicalsignificancethaneitherearlyDixielandorNewOrleans....Infact,letussayflatlythatthereisnofutureinpreparationforjazz
throughBop,orthroughanyofthosedevelopmentsknownasCoolandProgressive."68
Forthefirsttimecriticsandcommentatorsonjazz,aswellascriticsinotherfields,attackedawholemodeofAfroAmericanmusic(withtheunderstandingthatthisattackwasmadeon
themusicasmusic,andnotmerelybecauseitwastheproductoftheblackAmerican).Thepointisthatbecauseoftheliftingoftheprotective"folkexpression"veilfromaNegromusic,
theliberalcommentatorscouldcriticizeitasapuremusicalexpression.Andmostofthemthoughtithideous.Eventheintellectualattackedthemusicas"antihumanistic"poetand
criticofpopularcultureWeldonKeessaidofbebop:"Ihavefoundthismusicuniformlythin,atoncedilapidatedandoverblownandexhibitingapovertyofthematicdevelopmentanda
richnessofaffectation,notonly,apparently,intentional,butenormouslyselfsatisfied."Keesthengoesontosay,"InParis,whereErskineCaldwell,Steinbeck,HenryMiller,arebest
sellersandnobodyreadsProustanymore,wherethepostPicassopaintershavesunkintotorporandrepetition,andwhereintellectualsaremorecynicallyStalinizedthaninany
othercityintheworld,bebopisvastlyadmired."69Awildpieceofsophistry!
Butthecharacteristiccriticismofbebop(andjazzfanmagazineslikeDownbeatweresoguiltyinthisregard,theyhaverecentlyhadtorereviewclassicbeboprecordsbyCharlie
Parker,TheloniusMonk,etc.,andgivethemwildacclaimbecausetheirfirstreviewsweresowrongheaded)
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wasvoicedbyartandjazzcriticRudiBleshintheHeraldTribune:"...theirrelevantpartsofbebopareexactlywhattheyseemtheyadduptono...unity...Acapriciousand
neuroticallyrhapsodicsequenceofeffectsfortheirownsake,[bebop]comesperilouslyclosetocompletenonsenseasamusicalexpression...Farfromaculminationofjazz,bebop
isnotjazzatall,butanultimatelydegeneratedformofswing,exploitingthemostfantasticrhythmsandunrelatedharmoniesthatitwouldseempossibletoconceive."
Itseemstomeanevenmorefantastickindofsophistrythatwouldpermitawhitemantogiveopinionsonhowhethinksablackmanshouldexpresshimselfmusicallyoranyother
way,giventhecontextoftheliberalsocialorganism,butunderthecanonsof"artcriticism,"thiskindofcriticismisobligatory.Sothen,ifonlybyimplication,bebopledjazzintothe
arenaofart,oneofthemostdespisedtermsintheAmericanlanguage.But,asart,oratleast,asseparatedfromthevertiginouspatronizationoftheparochialtermfolkart(whichoften
resultedinthelugubriousquoteswithwhichIprefacedthischapter),theNegromusicofthefortieshadpusheditswayintoapositionofserious(ifcontroversial)regard.
Socially,eventhetermbebop,whichbeganmerelyasanonomatopoeicwayofcharacterizingarhythmicelementofthemusic,cametodenotesomekindofsocialnonconformity
attributabletothegeneralAmericanscene,andnotmerelytotheNegro.Bebopperjokeswereaspopularduringthefortiesastherecentbeatnikjokes,andusuallywhenthesejokes
wererepeatedinthemainstreamAmericansociety,theyreferredtowhitenonconformists(ormusicians,whowerenecessarilynonconformists)andnottoNegroes.Thebebop
"costume,"whichbecametheragefor"hip"or"hep"(then)youngAmerica,wasmerelyanadaptationofthedressDizzyGillespie,oneofthepioneersofbebop,wore.(AndDizzy's
dresswasmerelyapersonalversionofakindoffashionableNegrocitydress.)Hornrimmedglasses,a
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beret,agoatee,andsometimesridiculouslydrapedsuitsinthemannerofthezootsuitwerestandardequipmentfortheyoungbopper.(Itmaybenotentirelyirrelevanttonotethat
nowadaysthewordbopisusedbyteenagerstomeanfight,ormorespecifically,agangfight.Theironyhere,however,isthatthetermisusedinthisconnectionmorebywhite
teenagers,Negrogangspreferringthewordrumble.)
WhatseemmostinneedofemphasisherearethedoubleformsofassimilationorsynthesistakingplacebetweenblackandwhiteAmericancultures.Ononehand,thelargelyartificial
"upward"socialmove,demandedbythewhitemainstreamofallminorities,andthepsychologicaladdresstothatdemandmadebytheblackbourgeoisie,wherebyallconsiderationof
localcultureisabandonedforthesocialandpsychologicalsecurityofthe"main."Ontheotherhand,thelateral(exchanging)formofsynthesis,wherebydifferenceisusedtoenrich
andbroaden,andthevalueofanyformliesinitseventualuse.Itisthislatterformofsynthesis(certainlyavailableandactual,tovaryingdegrees,sincethefirstblackmancameinto
America)thatbecamesoimportantafterWorldWarII,andevenmoremagnifiedaftertheKoreanWar.Thepointisthatwhereoneformofsynthesis,whichwasactuallyassimilation,
tendedtowipeoutonecultureandmaketheotherevenlessvital,theotherkindofsynthesisgavealocalformtoageneralkindofnonconformitythatbegantoexistinAmerican
(Western)societyafterWorldWarIIaconsiderationIwillcomebackto.
Itisnotstrangethatbebopshouldhavemetwithsuchdisapprovalfromoldermusicians,manyofwhomwerestilladjustingtotheideaof"fourevenbeats,"whichcharacterizedthe
bestmusicoftheswingeraanddelineateditfromtheaccentedoffbeat(twobeat)musicofearlierjazz.Andevenmorealienweretherather"radical"socialattitudestheyounger
playersbegantoexpress.Parker,Monk,andtheothersseemedtowelcomethemusicalisolationthathistorical
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socialisolationcertainlyshouldhavepredicated.Theywerecalled"cultists"byalmosteveryonewhodidnotlikethemusic,equatingthebopdresswithaspecificformofquasi
religiousindulgencethoughifthesesamepeoplehadseenjustan"average"NegroinNewJerseywearingadrapedcoat(ofcoursesansthesophisticated"camp"oftheberet,called
"tam,"andthewindowpaneglassesusedtoassumeanintellectualdemeanorsaid,forthreehundredyears,tobemissingfromblackAmericans),theywouldhavethoughtnothing
ofit.Socially,itwastheyoungwhiteman'semulationofcertainoftheseNegromoresthatmadethemsignificantinthemainstreamofthesociety,since,asyet,themainstreamhadno
knowledgeofbopasamusicdevelopedfromolderNegromusic.
"Byborrowingtheprincipleofatwoandfourbeatbarfirstfromhymnsandthenfrompolkasandmilitarymarches,theAmericanNegromadeasharpbreakwithhisAfricanancestors.
However,hissenseofrhythmwasnotcompletelyathomeinthisrigidframework.Anoppositionarosebetweenthecontainerandthethingcontained.Halfacenturyafterthebirthof
jazz,thisoppositionhasnotbeensmoothedaway,anditprobablyneverwillbe.TheNegrohasaccepted2/4and4/4barsonlyasaframeworkintowhichhecouldslipthesuccessive
designsofhisownconceptions...hehasexperimentedwithdifferentwaysofaccommodatinghimselftothespacebetweenmeasurebars."70
Musically,theNegro'saddresstotheWesthasalwaysbeeninthemostimpressiveinstanceslateralandexchanging.Butthemodeorattitudecharacterizingtheexchangehasalways
beenconstantlychanging,determined,asIhavetriedtomakeclear,bythesumofthemostvalidsocialandpsychologicalcurrentsavailabletohim.Giventhishypothesis,the
contemporaneityoftheNegro'smusicinthecontextofWesternculturalexpressioncanbeseenasnecessary.Bebop,ifanything,madethisnecessarilycontemporaneous
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qualityofAfroAmericanmusicdefiniteanduncompromising,notbecauseofanyformalmanifestoes(eventhefirstrecordingsofthemusicweremuchbehindtheactualinception,due
tothenormalculturallagaswellastherecordingbanof194244andtheshortageofrecordingmaterialscausedbythewar),butbecauseofanowmoreorlessconsciousattitude
amongtheseyoungjazzmenthatwhattheyweredoingwasdifferentfromwhatjazzplayersbeforethemhaddone,andseparatefromthemostpopularjazzlikemusicoftheday,
whichtheyfranklythoughtofassterileandugly.Buttheleadersofthechangedjazzcouldstillbelookedatandplaced,ifonehadthetime,intermsofjazztraditionandaslogical,if
notpredictable,developersofthattradition.GillespiehasacknowledgedhismusicalindebtednesstoswingtrumpeterRoyEldridge(and,ofcourse,toArmstrong)manytimesover.
CharlieParkeriseasilyseenasaninnovatorwhosedynamicanduninhibitedcomprehensionofLesterYoung'smusicmadehisownworkpossible.AndParker'smodernplacementof
bluesisasclassicasanyNegro'sandatleastasexpressiveasBessieSmith's.Whathadchangedwastheaddress,thestance,theattitude.
"Beboprhythmdiffersformallyfromswingrhythm,becauseitismorecomplexandplacesgreateremphasisuponpolyrhythmics.Itdiffersemotionallyfromswingrhythm,creating
greatertension,therebyreflectingmoreaccuratelythespiritandtemperofcontemporaryemotions."71
TherehasbeenmuchtalkabouttheinfluenceofcontemporaryWesternclassicalmusicontheNegrojazzmusiciansoftheforties.Itisalreadyadmitted,withthishypothesis,thatjazz
bythefortieshadhaditsinfluenceoncontemporaryclassicalmusicaswell.ComposerslikeStravinsky,Milhaud,andmanylessermenproducedworksinwhichtheinfluenceofjazz
orAfricanrhythmswasquitereadilyapparent.ButIthinkthattheinfluenceofEuropeanandEuroAmericanclassicalmusicduringthefortieswasindirect,and
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notconsciouslyutilizedinthemusicoftheboppers,thoughbythefifties(especiallyintheworkofcertainwhitejazzmen)andinourowntime,manyoftheseinfluencesareconscious,
sometimesaffected.Whatseemstomemostimportantaboutthemusicofthefortieswasitsreassertionofmany"nonWestern"conceptsofmusic.Certainlythereestablishmentofthe
hegemonyofpolyrhythmsandtheactualsubjugationofmelodytotheserhythmsaremuchclosertoapurelyAfricanwayofmakingmusic,thantheyaretoanyWesternconcepts
(except,asImentioned,intheconsciousattemptsofcertaincontemporaryclassicalcomposerslikeStravinskytomakeuseofnonWesternmusicalideas).
BebopalsoreestablishedbluesasthemostimportantAfroAmericanforminNegromusicbyitsastonishinglycontemporaryrestatementofthebasicbluesimpulse.Theboppers
returnedtothisbasicform,reactingagainsttheallbutstiflingadvanceartificialmelodyhadmadeintojazzduringtheswingera.Bopmelodiesinonesenseweremerelymorefluent
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returnedtothisbasicform,reactingagainsttheallbutstiflingadvanceartificialmelodyhadmadeintojazzduringtheswingera.Bopmelodiesinonesenseweremerelymorefluent
extensionsoftherhythmicportionsofthemusic.Manytimesitwasasiftherhythmicportionsofthemusicwereinserteddirectlyintothemelodicline,andtheselineswerealmost
rhythmicpatternsinthemselves.Inbopmelodiesthereseemedtobeanendlesschangingofdirection,stopsandstarts,variationsofimpetus,ajaggednessthatreachedoutofthe
rhythmicbasesofthemusic.Theboppersseemedtohaveaconstantneedfordeliberateandagitatedrhythmicalcontrast.
Concomitantwiththedevelopmentoftheseseverelydiverserhythms,changesalsoweremadeinthebasicfunctionsofthetraditionallynonsoloinstrumentsofthejazzgroup.
Perhapsthebiggestinnovationwasthechangedroleofthedrummer.Thesteadinessofthebeatwasusuallymaintainedinprebopjazzgroupsbythebassdrum(eithertwoorfour
beatstothebar).Thenthebebopdrummerbegantousehistopcymbalstomaintainthebeat,andusedthebassdrumforoccasionalaccentsorthunderingemphases.The
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topcymbalwashitsothatthewhirring,shimmeringcymbalsoundunderscoredthemusicwithalegatoimplicationofthedesired4/4beat.Thispracticealsomadeitnecessaryforthe
stringbasstocarrytheconstant4/4underpinningofthemusicaswell,andgavetheinstrumentamuchmoreimportantfunctioninthejazzrhythmsectionthanithadeverhadbefore.
Abovethesteadinessandalmostperfectlegatoimpliedbythecymbals'beatandaugmentedbythebassfiddle,theotherinstrumentswouldvarytheirattackonthemelodicline,
therebydisplacingaccentsinsuchawayastoimplyapolyrhythmiceffect.Thegoodbopdrummercouldalso,whilemaintainingthesteady4/4withthecymbal,usehislefthandand
highhatcymbalandbassdrumtosetupastillmorecomplexpolyrhythmiceffect.
ThereisaperfectanalogyheretoAfricanmusic,whereoveronerhythm,manyotherrhythmsandarhythmicallyderived"melody"arealljuxtaposed.OnerecordingofBelgianCongo
music72featuresasitsrhythmicfoundationandimpetusaninstrumentcalledtheboyeke,whichisactuallyanotchedpalmribaboutfourfeetlongwhichisscrapedwithaflexiblestick
toproduceasteadyrhythmicaccompaniment.ItisamazinghowcloselytheuseofthisnativeAfricaninstrumentcorrespondstotheuseofthetopcymbalinbebop.Eventhesoundsof
theinstrumentsarefantasticallysimilar,asistheuseofdiversepolyrhythmsabovethebasicbeat.ThefunctionofthedroneinmanynonWesternmusicsisalsoquitesimilar.Butas
WilderHobsonpointedout,"...thebluesmayoriginallyhaveconsistedmerelyinthesinging,overasteady,percussiverhythm,oflinesofvariablelength,thelengthbeingdetermined
bywhatphrasethesingerhadinmind,withequallyvariablepauses(theaccompanyingrhythmcontinuing)determinedbyhowlongittookthesingertothinkupanotherphrase."73
AndIthinkthisconsideration,whilecertainlypertinenttoallNegromusic,isan
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especiallyvaluableideawhenanalyzingrecentdevelopmentsinthejazzofthesixties,whichdependssomuchontheinnovationsandreevaluationsofbebop.
Althoughitwouldseemnowthatbop'srhythmicconceptionswereitsmostcompleteinnovations,duringthefortiesmanypeoplewhowereunimpressedordisgustedwiththe"new"
musicseemedtobemystifiedmostbyitsharmonicideas.Actuallythemost"daring"harmonicreevaluationsinjazzaretheonesthataregoingonatthepresenttime,althoughtobe
sure,bebopprovidedatotallyfreshwayofthinkingaboutjazzharmony.Theboppersbegantoabandonthetraditionalpracticeofimprovisingorprovidingvariationsonamelodic
theme.Instead,theybegantoplaytheirvariationsonthechordsonwhichthemelodywasbased,usuallycreatingentirelynewmelodies,orsometimestheymerelyusedtheoriginal
melodyasthebassnotesforanewsetofchords,andimprovisedacountermelody.Forthesereasonsmanybop"originals"werereallyrephrasedversionsofpopularsongslike
Indiana,IGotRhythm,HoneysuckleRose,Cherokee,etc.
"...theoriginoftheharmonicvariationwhichhasgraduallydominatedjazzis[not]difficulttotracewithinthemusicliketherhythmicchanges...itcomesfromtheblues.Longerago
thanweknow(andprobablyevershallknow),playingthebluescouldmeanfreelyimprovisinginanharmonicframe.Andthisistruewhetherthesoloistisawareofanimplicit
harmonicframeornot,whetherheusesonechordperchorus(orjustonethump),two,three,orwhatever,andwhetherhelimitshimselftoregulareight,twelve,orsixteenbar
chorusesorletsinspirationdictatechoruslength.Itwasevidentthatamancouldtakethisconceptionandapplyittoanychordandchorusstructurewhetheritcamefromhis
grandfatherortheradio."74
Thepianist'sfunctioninbebopwaschangedalmostas
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radicallyasthedrummer's.Becauseoftheincreaseddominanceofthecymbalandthestringbassasmaintainersofthesteadyrhythm(especiallythelatter),theboppianistcould
refrainfromsupplyingstrictrhythmlineswithhislefthandanddevelopamuchmorecomplexandflowingrighthandline.Thepianistalsocould"feed"thesoloistchords,solidifying
thebopgroupharmonically.Thispracticewas,ineffect,muchliketheroleCountBasieaspianisthadassumedwithmostofhisgroups.(Basie'seffortshelpedmovejazzpianoaway
fromtheolder"stride"stylewithitsheavyinsistenceonanalmostguitarlikelefthand.LaterEarlHineswasabletodevelopapianostyleutilizingthelong,fluent"horn"line,whichwas
developedevenfurtherbypianistslikeTeddyWilsonandArtTatum,allpreparingthewayforBudPowellandtherestofthebeboppianists.)
Ihavealreadydiscussedsomeofthereasonswhybebopdeveloped,buthowitdeveloped,insomekindofsocialandhistoricalsense,mightalsobeinteresting,though,Iam
convinced,itisnotnearlyasimportantasthefirstconsideration.Itisonlyabouttwentyyearssincethefirstnewsofa"new"kindofjazzliterallyturnedthejazzworldaround.Andeven
thoughtheinnovatorslikeParker,Gillespie,Monk,wereunknowntolargeaudienceswhiletheirmusicwasdeveloping,theirinfluenceonmusicians,evenintheearlyforties,was
enormous.Howthemusicdevelopedandhowthemusicianswhowereeventuallyassociatedwithitcametogetherhavebeenthesubjectsofmanydisputesforalmostaslongasthe
musicitselfhasexisted.Injusttwentyyears,factshavebecomeobfuscatedbylegendandopinion,andthereisnoclearaccountofhowthevariousheroesofbebopdidcome
together.PerhapsthemostfamiliarandstereotypedversionistheoneAndrHodeirrepeated:
"Around1942,afterclassicaljazzhadmadeitsconquests,asmallgroupusedtogettogethereverynightinaHarlemnightclubcalledMinton'sPlayhouse.Itwasmadeupofseveral
youngcoloredboyswho,unliketheirfellowmusicians
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nolongerfeltathomeintheatmosphereofswingmusic.Itwasbecomingurgenttogetalittleairinarichlydeckedoutpalacethatwassoongoingtobeaprison.Thatwastheaimof
trumpeterDizzyGillespie,pianistTheloniusMonk,guitaristCharlieChristian(whodiedbeforethegroup'seffortsborefruit),drummerKennyClarke,andsaxophonistCharlieParker.
ExceptforChristian,theywerepoor,unknown,andunprepossessingbutMonkstimulatedhispartnersbytheboldnessofhisharmonies,Clarkecreatedanewstyleofdrumplaying,
andGillespieandParkertookchorusesthatseemedcrazytothepeoplewhocametolistentothem.Thebebopstylewasintheprocessofbeingborn."75
ItsoundsalmostlikethebeginningsofmodernAmericanwritingamongtheemigrsofParis.Butthisisthelegendwhichfilledmostofmyadolescence.However,asoneofthe
innovatorshimselfhasputit:"It'struemodernjazzprobablybegantogetpopularthere[Minton's],butsomeofthesehistoriesandarticlesputwhathappenedoverthecourseoften
yearsintooneyear.Theyputpeoplealltogetherinonetimeinoneplace.I'veseenpracticallyeverybodyatMinton's,buttheywerejustthereplaying.Theyweren'tgivingany
lectures."76
Atanyrate,ParkercametoNewYorkfromKansasCity,wherehehadlastbeenplayingwiththeJayMcShannband,oneofthebluesorientedSouthwesternbandsintheearlyforties.
HehadalreadybeenthroughthecityearlierwiththeMcShannband,anditwasthenthathestartedplayingaroundafewHarlemclubs,principallyMonroe'sUptownClub.Butin
1942,"Bird"wentwiththegreatEarlHinesbandasatenorman.ThisbandduringthoseyearsincludedatonetimeoranotherDizzyGillespieandBennyHarrisontrumpetsBudd
JohnsonandWardellGray,tenorsSarahVaughanasasecondpianistandvocalistalongwithBilly
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Eckstine,BennyGreen,trombonist,andShadowWilsonondrums.Itwasoneofthefirstlargebandstohavealegitimately"boppish"accent.Butthefirstrealboporchestrawasthebig
bandorganizedbyBillyEckstinein1944,whichincludedatonetimeoranotherDizzyGillespie,FatsNavarro,MilesDavis,KennyDorham,trumpetsGeneAmmons,DexterGordon,
LuckyThompson,tenorsaxophonesCharlieParker,altoLeoParker,baritoneJohnMalachi,pianoArtBlakey,drumsTommyPotter,bassarrangementsbyBuddJohnson,Tadd
Dameron,JerryValentineSarahVaughanandBillyEckstine,vocals.Eckstinealsoplayedvalvetrombone.Almostallofthesemusiciansplayedimportantrolesinthedevelopment
andpopularizationofbebop.AndtheEckstinebanddemonstratedquiteindeliblythatbopcouldbescored,andscoredforalargeorchestra,andthatthemusicwasnotmerelya
faddishaffectation,butaseriousandimportantmusicallanguage.
Ifbebopwasanextreme,itwastheonlykindofideathatcouldhaverestoredanyamountofexcitementandbeautytocontemporaryjazz.Butwhatitperpetratedmightmakeone
shudder.Bebopwasthecoupdegrce,theideathatabruptlyliftedjazzcompletelyoutofthemiddleclassNegro'slife(thoughasIhavepointedout,therootsofthisseparationwere
asoldastheappointmentofthefirstblackhouseservant).Hewasnolongerconcernedwithit.Itwasforhim,asitwasforanyaverageAmerican,"deep"or"weird."Ithadnothing
whatsoevertodowithhisnewerJordans.AndasImentioned,themusicbythemidfortieshadalsobeguntogettaggedwiththatfamousdisparagementart(meaningsuperfluous,
ratherthansomethingthatmakesitseemimportantthatyouareahumanbeing).Ithadno"function.""Youcan'tdancetoit,"wastheconstantharassmentwhichis,nomatterthe
irrelevancy,alie.MyfriendsandIasyouthsusedonlytoemphasizethepronounmore,saying,"Youcan'tdancetoit,"andwhispered,"or
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anythingelse,forthatmatter."Itmightnotbetotallyirrelevant,however,topointoutthatthemelodyofoneofCharlieParker'sbeboporiginals,Now'stheTime,wasusedbyblues
peopleasthetuneofaninordinatelypopularrhythm&bluesnumbercalledTheHucklebuck,whichpeopledancedtoeverynightwhileitwaspopularuntiltheydropped.Nofunction,
exceptanemotionaloraestheticoneasnoNegromusichadhada"function"sincetheworksong.IamcertainOrnithology,apopularbeboporiginaloftheforties,wouldnotbeused
tomakeadanceoutofpickingcotton,buttheNegroeswhomadethemusicwouldnot,underanycircumstances,bewillingtopickcotton.Theboogiewoogiesthatgrew,andwere
"functional"inthehousepartiesofthenewblackNorthwerenomoreusefulinanypurelymechanicalsensethanbebop.Butanymusicisfunctional,asanyartis,ifitcanbeputtouse
byitslistenersorcreators.Amanmightberightinthinkingthatbebopwasuselesstohelponeclearthewest40(thoughIcannotseewhy,exceptintermsofone'semotional
proclivities)norwasitreallygoodtoweardarkglassesandberetsifonewantedtoworkinthepostofficeorgotomedicalschool.Butthemusicwasafeasttotherhythmstarved
youngwhiteintellectualsaswellastothoseyoungNegroes,uncommittedtothedubiousvirtuesofthewhitemiddleclass,whowerestillcapableofacceptingemotionthatcamefrom
outsidetheshoddycornucopiaofpopularAmericanculture.
Inasensethetermcultistsfortheadherentsofearlymodernjazzwascorrect.Themusic,bebop,definedthetermofadeeplyfeltnonconformityamongmanyyoungAmericans,black
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Inasensethetermcultistsfortheadherentsofearlymodernjazzwascorrect.Themusic,bebop,definedthetermofadeeplyfeltnonconformityamongmanyyoungAmericans,black
andwhite.AndformanyyoungNegroestheironyofbeingthought"weird"or"deep"bywhiteAmericanswasassatisfyingasitwasamusing.Italsoputonamoreintellectuallyand
psychologicallysatisfyinglevelthetraditionalseparationandisolationoftheblackmanfromAmerica.Itwasacultofprotectionaswellasrebellion.
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The"romantic"ornamentationofcommonfortiesurbanNegrodressbymanyoftheboppers(andhereImeantheyoungfollowersofthemusic,andnotnecessarilythemusicians),
theythought,servedtoidentifythemasbeingneitherhouseniggersnorfieldniggers.Granted,itwasinasensethesameneedforexoticismthatdrovemanyyoungNegroesintoexile
inEuropeduringthesesameyears,butitwasalsotoagreatextentadeepemotionalrecognitionbymanyofthesesameNegroesoftherudimentarysterilityoftheculturetheyhadall
theirlivesbeentaughttocovet.Theysoughttoerectametacultureasisolatedastheirgrandparents',butissuingfromtheevolvedsensibilityofamodernurbanblackAmericanwho
hadbynowachievedafluencywiththesocioculturalsymbolsofWesternthinking.Thegoatee,beret,andwindowpaneglasseswerenoaccidentstheywere,intheoblique
significancethatsocialhistorydemands,asusefullysymbolicashadbeentheHebrewnomenclatureinthespirituals.Thatis,theypointedtowardawayofthinking,anemotionaland
psychologicalresolutionofsomenotsoobscuresocialneedorattitude.ItwasthebeginningoftheNegro'sfluencywithsomeofthecanonsofformalWesternnonconformity,which
wasaneasyemotionalanalogytothethreehundredyearsofunintentionalnonconformityhiscolorconstantlyreaffirmed.
Theoveremphasized,butstillwidespread,useofnarcotics,notonlyamongmusiciansandthosesimilarlyinfluencedbutamongpoorerNegroesaswell,shouldthusbecome
understandable.Narcoticsusers,especiallythoseaddictedtoheroin,isolatethemselvesandareanisolatedgroupwithinthesociety.Theyarealsothemostsecurelyselfassuredin
groupextantinthesociety,withthepossibleexceptionofhomosexuals.HeroinisthemostpopularaddictivedrugusedbyNegroesbecause,itseemstome,thedrugitselftransforms
theNegro'snormalseparationfromthemainstreamofthesocietyintoanadvantage(which,Ihavebeensaying,Ithinkitisanyway).Itisoneupmanshipofthe
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highestorder.Manyheroinaddictsbelievethatnoonecanbeknowledgeableor"hip"unlessheisanaddict.Thetermsofvaluechangeradically,andnoonecantellthe"nodding
junkie"thatemploymentorsuccessareofanyvalueatall.Themostsuccessfulmanintheaddict'sestimationisthemanwhohasnotroubleprocuringhis"shit."Forthesereasons,
muchofthe"hiptalk"comesdirectlyfromtheaddict'sjargonaswellasfromthemusician's.The"secret"bopper'sand(later)hipster'slanguagewastheessentialpartofacultof
redefinition,intermsclosesttotheinitiated.Thepurposewastoisolateevenmoredefinitelyacultofprotectionandrebellion.Thoughasthebaresymbolsoftheisolatedgroup
becamemorewidelyspread,someofthelanguagedriftedeasilyintothelanguageofthemainstream,mostofthetimesdilutedandmisunderstood.(Thereisabugkilleronthemarket
nowcalled"Hep.")
Thesocialandmusicalimplicationsofbebopwereextremelyprofound,anditwasonlynaturalthatthereshouldbeequallyprofoundreactions.Oneofthesereactions,andoneIhave
neverceasedtoconsiderassociallyliableasitwas,andis,musically,wastheadventandsurgetopopularityofthe"revivalists."
"AtaboutthesametimethatthefirstlittlebopbandswerecausingasensationonFiftySecondStreet,NewYorksuddenlybecameconsciousofNewOrleansmusicandfounditselfin
themiddleofaNewOrleansrevival.Indoingresearchforthefirsthistoricalstudyofjazz,Jazzmen,publishedbyHarcourt,BraceandCompanyin1939,theeditors,FredericRamsey,
Jr.,andCharlesEdwardSmith,withthehelpofjazzenthusiastWilliamRussell,hadfoundanelderlyNewOrleanstrumpetplayernamedBunkJohnsonworkinginaricefieldoutside
ofNewIberia,Louisiana.TherehadbeenaseriesofsemiprivaterecordingsofBunkwithaNewOrleansbandandtheyfinallydecidedtobringBunktoNewYork.OnSeptember28,
1945,asevenpiece
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NewOrleansbandledbyJohnsonopenedattheStuyvesantCasino,ontheLowerEastSideofManhattan....IfthewritersandcriticswhowereresponsibleforbringinghimtoNew
YorkhadsimplyadvertisedthatherewasaNewOrleansbandwhichrepresentedthejazzstyleofperhapsthirtyyearsbefore,therewouldhavebeennotrouble....Insteadthe
writers,notallofthem,butaveryclamorousgroupofthem,saidveryopenlythatthiswasthelastpurejazzband,theonlyoneplayingtruejazzandthatnewerstylesweresomehow
acorruptionofthisolderstyle."77
BunkJohnson's"rediscovery"wasonlyonedevelopmentinthegrowthoftherevivalistschool.LuWattersandhisYerbaBuenaBand,BobCrosbyandhisBobcats,andthemany
EddieCondonbandsinNewYorkplayinginresidenceatCondon'sownclubwerealreadypopularinthelatethirties.Bythefortiesthepopularityof"Dixieland"bandswasenormous
atcollegesthroughoutthecountry,oratanyoftheotherplacestheyoungwhitemiddleclassgathered.The"revived"Dixielandmusicwasamusicplayedbyandfortheyoungwhite
middleclass.Itrevivedquitefrankly,thoughperhapslessconsciously,thestillbreathingcorpseofminstrelsyandblackface.Youngwhitecollegestudentstryingtoplaylikeancient
coloredmensounded,ifoneknewtheirintention,exactlylikethat,i.e.,likeyoungwhitecollegestudentstryingtoplaylikeancientcoloredmen.
"...theCastleBandbegantorecordJellyRollMorton'sarrangementstheFriscoJazzBandimitatedLuWatterstheearlyBobWilberband(associatedwithScarsdaleHighSchool)
copiedKingOliver..."78TheTailgateJazzBandevenbegantoimitatetheYerbaBand'simitationsoftheoldOliverBand.TherewereDixielandrevivalistgroupsalloverthecountry,
thrivinglikeathleticantiquedealers.AfewoftheoldNegromusicianslikeJohnsonandKidOrywerererecordedorrediscovered,butforthemostpart
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Dixielandwasakindofamateur"whitejazz"thatdemonstratedmorethananythingtheconsistencyoftheculturallag.
Wholebodiesofcriticismgrewuparoundthesenselessdebateabout"whichwastherealjazz."Jazzcriticismhadgrownmorerespectablearoundtheearlyfortiesalso,therehad
beenagreatdealmorelegitimateresearchintotheoriginsanddiversedevelopmentsofthemusic,thoughmuchofitwasstillinthe"geewhiz"orhobbystage.Manyofthemenwho
wroteaboutjazzweremiddleclasswhitemenwho"collectedhot"(thetermforcollectingjazzrecords),andthereisnobodyofopinionquiteasparochialasthehobbyist's.Quiteafew
"littlemagazines,"devotedto"collectinghot"anddedicatedtothepropositionthatnooneunderfiftycouldplay"therealjazz,"sprangupalloverthecountry.Usuallytherewereonly
twoorthreekindsoffeaturesinthesemagazines:articlescastigatingthe"moderns"(whichmanytimesmeantswingmusicians)articlespraisingobscureNegroeswhohadonce
playedsecondcornetfortheMuskogee,Oklahoma,Masonsordiscursiveinvestigationsofthe"matrixnumbers"ofrecordsissuedbydefunctrecordcompanies.Manyofthecritical
writersinthesemagazinescanonizedtheculturallagbywritingaboutjazzasiftheyweretryingtodiscreditPicassobyreconstructingthePyramids:"Inasense,theNewOrleans
revivaldemonstratedthatagoodportionofthewhiteworldhadcaughtupwithandwasenjoyingfrequentlytothepointofactiveparticipationanimitationofthemusicthatthe
AmericanNegrohadplayedtwentytothirtyyearsearlier."79
Bythefortiesthe"mixedgroup"hadbecomeanotuncommonphenomenon.JellyRollMortonhadrecordedwiththeNewOrleansRhythmKingsinthetwenties,andduringthethirties
BennyGoodmanhadvariousmixedgroups,
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andafewoftheotherwhiteswingbandshadalsohiredsingleNegromusiciansorarrangers.Also,perhaps,thereweremoreinformalsessionswherebothwhiteandblackmusicians
blew.Intheforties,however,thesesessionsgrewverynumerous,especiallyinNewYork.Andmanyofthesmallboprecordinggroupsweremixed,nottomentionthegroupsthat
playedaroundFiftySecondStreet.Infact,bythetimetherecordingbanwaslifted,andmorebeboprecordscouldbeheard,agreatmanyofthemostsignificantreleasesfeatured
mixedgroups.Toacertainextentthesemixedgroupsreducedtheculturallagsomewhat,andmanywhitemusiciansbythemidfortieswerefluentinthenewjazzlanguage.
By1945,thefirstreallyboporientedbigwhitebandhadformedunderclarinetistWoodyHerman,andby1946,Hermanhadoneofthebestbigbandsinthecountry.Thebandwas
madeupbothofswingmusicians,liberatedswingmusicians,andafteritsbreakupandremodeling,manyyoungwhitebeboppers.Rightupuntilthefiftiesmanyofthebestyoung
whitemusiciansinthecountryhadplayedinthevariousHerman"Herds."MenlikeChubbyJackson,NealHefti,RalphBurns,BillHarris,FlipPhillips,BillyBauer,DaveTough(aswing
retread),StanGetz,TerryGibbs,UrbieGreen,RedMitchell,ZootSims,AlCohn,JimmyGiuffre,allpassedthroughtheseHermanbands,andtheywereamongthewhitemusicians
whohadgrownimpressedwith,andthenfluentin,bebopphrasing.
Herman'sbandsplayedausefulmixtureofwideopenswingstylewithvaryingamountsofsolidboppishaccents.TheyhadgoodsoloistsandinNealHeftiandRalphBurns,better
thancompetent,thoughsometimesoverambitious,arrangers.However,thereweretwootherlargewhitebandscomingintotheirownaroundthissameperiod,whosemusicinsome
wayswasmuchliketheHermanband(someofthesamemusiciansplayedinallthreebands),thoughtheylaterbegantousearrangementsandcompositionsthatwere
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evenmoreambitiousthananythingtheHermanbandwantedtodo.Thesetwobands,StanKenton'sandBoydRaeburn's,werethecentralfigures(thoughKentonformuchlonger)in
theascendancyofanewreaction,progressivejazz.Again,thiswasamusiccreatedforthemostpartbyyoungwhitemusicians,manyofwhomhadhadagreatdealofexperiencein
thelargewhiteswingorganizationsoftheforties.UnlikeDixieland,thismusicdidnotconjureupanymemoriesofminstrelsyorblackfaceinfact,quitetheopposite,progressivejazz
wasprobablythe"whitest"musicgiventhenamejazztoappearupuntilrecenttimes.Itwasamusicthatwasatitsbestvaguelysimilartowhatcontemporaryclassicalcomposerswere
doing.Itwasaselfconsciously"intellectual"andintellectualizedmusic,whosemostauthenticexponentwasStanKenton,withcompositionslikeBobGraettinger'sThermopylae,City
ofGlass,andHouseofStrings.(Raeburn'smusic,forallhisambitionstowarda"seriouspopularmusic,"astitleslikeBoydMeetsStravinsky,YerxaorDalvatoreSallywouldindicate,
stillsoundedquiteabitlikebucolicmoodmusic"MickeyMousemusic"isamusicians'termforit.)
Notsostrangely,thetermprogressivejazz,asitbecamemoreusedinAmerica,camevaguelytodenotealmostanyjazzafterswingexceptDixieland.Thatis,anyjazzthatAmericans
couldcall,iftheyhadanopportunity,"weird"or"deep."Infact,eventodaytherearemanypeoplewhospeakknowinglyoftheprogressivejazzmusician,tomean,Isuppose,anyone
whodoesnotplayswing,"traditional"jazz,orDixieland.Inanironicsense,Kenton'sideaswerenotmuchdifferentfromPaulWhiteman'seventhetermprogressivecarriesmuchthe
sameintentionofshowinghowmuch"advance"jazzhadmadesinceitscruderdayswhenonlyNegroesplayedit.(Also,anytermthatdenotesprogressoradvance,eveninthearts,
canbeusedquitecomfortablyinthepostRenaissanceWest.KentonwasatleastassmartasWhiteman.)Sotwoveryapparentreactionsresulting
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fromtheemergenceofbebop,revivalistDixielandandprogressivejazz,boththeinventionsofwhitemusicians,shotoffviolentlyintwoextremelyoppositedirections.One,towardthe
reproductionofavanishedemotionalfield,whosevaliditywasthatitremoveditsparticipantsfromtherealizationofthesterilityandnonproductivenessoftheircontemporaryemotional
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reproductionofavanishedemotionalfield,whosevaliditywasthatitremoveditsparticipantsfromtherealizationofthesterilityandnonproductivenessoftheircontemporaryemotional
alignmentstheother,anattempttoinvolveunseriousmindsinaKitschofpseudoseriousartistic"experience."(SomeofRaeburn'srecordswerepackagedinjacketswithimitation
"surrealistic"covers,withexplanationsofthe"symbols"onthebackofthejackets.Thesymbolswerenumberedforeasyidentification.)Bothwereessentially"collegeboy"musics,
sinceitgrowsincreasinglymoredifficultasonegetsoldertodeludeoneselfaboutone'slegitimateemotionalproclivities.Butthepolarityandgrimsignificanceofthesetwo
"movements"isquiteclearwithonlytheadvantageoftwentyyears'history.Ineithercase,thesetwinreactionsinvolvedthewhitemiddleclassandthepeculiarnatureofeachreaction
seemsasformalaswouldapoliticalreactioncausedbysomesimilarlydisruptingsource(asbebop,andthesocialorientationconcomitantwithit).However,thefactofbebopandthe
attitudesthathadengendereditcouldnotbeaffectedbywhitemiddleclassreactionstothem.TheNegroesthesereactionscouldaffectwerejustasoutragedbythe"meaningless"
musicofthefortiesastheirwhitedoubles.StanKentonwasabigfavoriteatHowardUniversity,thoughayoungpremedicalstudentoncetoldmehowterriblyhostilehethought
CharlieParkerwas.
Whatwascalled"cooljazz"cannotbeplacedsimplyas"reaction,"thatis,notassimplyasprogressiveandDixielandcanbe.Inmanywayscoolwasalegitimatestyleofjazzmusic,if
thedefinitionofthemusiccanbewidenedabittoincludeobviousinnovatorsandmasterswhomightnotbeordinarilyidentifiedasmembersofthe"coolschool."
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CoolwasnottheobviousreactionprogressiveandDixielandrepresented,butinitsfinaluseasa"public"music,itdidservetoobscurethemostpreciousadvancesParkerandthe
otherboppershadmade.ExceptforindividualslikeMilesDavis,whoisalwayscitedastheinnovatorofthepostbopcoolapproach,mostofthemusiciansreadilyassociatedwiththe
stylewerewhitemusicianswhoabandoned(ordidn'tproperlyunderstand)Parker'srhythmicinnovations,andputtodubioususehismelodicandharmonicexamples.Therecordings
thatDavismadein1949and1950(Israel,Boplicity,Jeru,Godchild,Move,VenusDeMilo,Budo,DarnThatDream)withtwogroupsofninemusiciansthatincludedKaiWinding,Lee
Konitz,GerryMulligan,MaxRoach,J.J.Johnson,JohnLewis,KennyClarke(onlyDavis,Mulligan,andKonitzplayedonbothsessions),aregenerallylookeduponasthebeginningof
thecoolstyle.Allofthemennamed,withtheexceptionofthedrummersRoachandClarke,bothofwhomwerebopinnovators,wentonasleadersinthecoolmovementtoonedegree
oranother.Theserecordingsalsogavepopularitytoanewterm,chamberjazz,andmadethecoolsoundubiquitousinacoupleofyears.
MilesDavisplayedwithParkerveryoften,andisfeaturedonseveralofthebestrecordsParkerevermade.Atthattime,Daviswasstilltryingtofindhisownvoice,firstofallby
discoveringthathewasn'tDizzyGillespie.(AnobviousanalogyisGillespie'sfindingouthewasn'tRoyEldridgebeforehefoundhisownvoice.)Davis'rhythmicalfreedomand
phrasingmarkhimasabopper,eventhoughhewasregardedasasortofleaderofthecoolmovement.Buthissplendidlyricismandalmostsolipsistictone,playedalmostexclusively
inthemiddleregister,puthimveryclosetothecoolsoundthatidentifiedthenewstyle.Also,hispenchantforplayingpopularballadsfollowedapracticetheothercoolinstrumentalists
wereveryfondof.ButDavisalwaysmadehisversionsofanypopularballadexclusively
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hisownintermsoftheemotionalweighthewouldgivethem,whilemostoftheotherinstrumentalistsidentifiedwiththestylewouldplaytheballadstraight,seekingtomakeonlythe
improvisedchorusessoundcompletelyextemporaneous.
MostofthereedmenassociatedwiththecoolstyleowedmoreallegiancetoLesterYoung,havingforgottenornothavingbeeninterested,itseemed,inwhatCharlieParkerhaddone.
AndincopyingYoung'smelodicapproach,theyalsowentstraightbacktohisrhythmicattackaswell.WhatwasprizedmostofallinYoungwashiscompletelyrelaxed,antifrenetic
approach,aswellasthelanguid,evanescent,almostaltoliketonethatmadehistenorsaxophonesosingularduringthethirties.Themajorityofthecoolinstrumentalistsneversought
tofurtherdefineYoung'smelodicandrhythmicaccomplishments.Theusestheymadeofthem,withthecautiousabandonthatsomefluencywithbopaccentssupplied,weregenerally
overlypredictableandflat.
Thenucleusofarrangers(GilEvans,Mulligan,Carisi)andmusiciansDavisusedforthe194950recordingdates(andalsoinanillfatedbandthatmadeacoupleofclubdates)were
outoftheClaudeThornhillband,awhitedanceband.Infact,EvanswasoneofthefirstarrangerstodobigbandarrangementsofanyofCharlieParker'scompositions.Andthereis
smalldoubtthatDavisdid,anddoes,haveadeepadmirationforthepurplelushnessoftheThornhillsound,ascanbereadilyattestedbymanyofhisownrecords,especiallythoseon
whichEvansisthearranger.ButforDavis,hissmallvibratolesstonewasonlyameansratherthananend.Hehadadeepconnectiontothebasicbluesimpulse,andhecould
insinuatemoreblueswithonenoteandahighlymeaningfulpausethanmostcoolinstrumentalistscouldthroughoutanentirecomposition.
PerhapsforthereasonsImentionedinChapterIII,thecooltimbrewasmuchmoresuitableformostwhitemusicians,whofavoreda"purityofsound,"anartifact,rather
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thantherawermaterialsofdramaticexpression.Davis,too,forallhisdeepcommitmenttotheblues,oftenseemstopredicatehisplayingonthefabricationofsomealmostdiscernible
object.AndinthisheseemsclosertoBixBeiderbeckethanLouisArmstrong.TherewereotherNegromusiciansbeforeDaviswhoseemedasdeeplypersuadedbythebeautyofthe
"legitimate"artifactlikesound,ratherthanbytheclassicopenstridencyofmostjazzinstrumentalists.LesterYoungcomestomindimmediately,butmenlikeTeddyWilson,Benny
Carter,JohnnyHodges,seemobviousexamples,alsothemanyNegrosaxophonistsinfluencedbyYounginDavis'owngeneration.Davishimselfbecamethemostcopiedtrumpet
playerofthefifties,andbecauseoftheapparentsimplicityofhismethod,hisstyleisevennowoneofthemostubiquitousinjazz.
Theperiodthatsawbebopdevelop,duringandafterWorldWarII,wasaveryunstabletimeformostAmericans.Therewasaneedforradicalreadjustmenttothedemandsofthe
postwarworld.Theriotsthroughoutthecountryappearasdirectlyrelatedtothepsychologicaltenorofthattimeastheemergenceofthe"new"music.Eachresponseamanmakesto
hisenvironmenthelpsmakeamorecompletepictureofhim,nomatterwhatthatresponseis.ThegreatinterestintheMuslimreligionbyNegromusiciansintheforties(manyofthem
actuallychangedtheirnamestoMuslimones)addstotheimageoftheNegroinAmericaatthattimeasmuchasourknowinghowmanymoreNegroeswereabletobuyhomesin
Scarsdaleaddstothatimage.KnowingthataNegromusicianfeltlikechangingthenameofapopularsongfromHoneysuckleRosetoScrappleFromtheApple,orthathewouldcall
oneofhiscompositionsKlactoveedsedstenehelpsclarifyhisattitudesandevenfurther,theattitudesofagreatmanyNegroesresponsibletothesamesetofemotionalalternatives.
The"harshness"and"asymmetry"ofbebopwasmuchclosertothetraditionalAfroAmericanconceptofmusic
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thanmostofitsdetractorseverstoppedtorealize.Butitiseasytoseethatthe"harshnessandasymmetry"ofthemusic(orideas)ofoneperiodmightseemrelativelymildandregular
inanother,maybeonlyafewyearslater.IfLiveryStableBluesseemedcrudeandunsophisticatedtoPaulWhiteman,itisrelativelyeasytoseewhyStanKentonmightthinkthesame
ofmostbebopandseekasimilarsolution.ThoughbyKenton'stimeandduringtheyearswhencooljazzcameintovogueinAmerica,thelateralexchangeofculturalreference
betweenblackandwhiteproducedaninterculturalfluencythatmighthavemadesuchamisunderstanding,orlackoffeeling,onMr.Kenton'spartimpossible.ItwastheNegro's
fluencywiththetechnicalreferencesofWesternmusicthatmadebebop(andalljazz,forthatmatter)possible,anditwascertainlyafluencywiththesesamesuperficialreferencesof
Negromusicthatproduced,withwhatevervalidity,thewhitecoolstyle(oranyjazzthatwhitemusiciansplayed).Whatwasnotalwaysattainedinthecaseofthewhitejazzmusician
wasthefluencyofattitudeorstance.AndasIhavesaidbefore,Negromusicistheresultofcertainmoreorlessspecificwaysofthinkingabouttheworld.Giventhisconsideration,all
talkoftechnicalapplicationiscertainlyafterthefact.
Cooljazzisnotasclearlya"whitestyle"asDixielandorprogressiveifLesterYoungandMilesDaviscanbeplacedwithinthedefinition.YetLeeKonitz,aleaderofthecoolschooland
oneofthemostgiftedwhitemusicianstoplayjazz,cannotbelinkedtoDavisorYoung,exceptinthemostsuperficialways.InthecaseofDavisandKonitz,eventhoughtheyhave
playedtogetheronseveraloccasionsandaretogetherresponsibleforsomeofthebestcoolmusic(theeightrecordingsmadein194849),theirbasicapproachesareentirely
dissimilar,despitethefactthattheyboth,withinthedemandsofeachinstrument,favorlight,puretoneswithalmostnovibrato.Theretheresemblanceends.JohnLewis,thepianist
andleaderoftheModernJazzQuartet,and
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pianistLennieTristano,awhiteleaderofoneofthemostexcitingbranchesofthecoolstyle,arebothconsideredtobeequallyinvolvedwiththisstylehowever,itwouldbedifficultto
findtwomoredissimilarinstrumentalistsandcomposers.Eventhoughbothmenhaveshowndeepinterestinextendedformsandtheuseofcontrapuntaltechniquesinjazz,their
methodsareverydifferent.Lewis,forallhispersistenceindrenchinghiscompositionswiththeformaldictaofEuropeanmusic,isoneofthemostmovingbluespianistsinjazz,whileit
ishardtothinkofTristanoplayingablues.
Duringthelatefortiesandrightupuntilthemiddlefifties,thecoolstylewasverypopular.Longplayingalbumsbymanyofthemusiciansassociatedwiththecoolstyle(or"WestCoast
jazz,"asitcametobecalled,withthegreatpopularityofmusicianslikeShortyRogers,GerryMulligan,andDaveBrubeckontheCoast)soldfantasticallyalloverthecountry.Thesoft,
intimatesoundandregularrhythmsofsuchgroups,alongwiththeirtendencytoredopopularballadslikeSpringIsHereorMyFunnyValentinewithjustavaguebopaccent,made
themlistenedtoeverywherebywhiteandblackcollegestudentsandyoungmenonthewayupwhoweretoosophisticatedtolistentoDixieland.Also,manyofthecoolstylists
maintainedahealthyattitudetowardtheinnovationsthatprogressivejazzwassupposedtohavemade,contrapuntaljazzandjazzfuguebecamestandardtermsthatcouldbeapplied
toamusicwhosenamehadoncebeenatransitiveverbunutterableinpolitesociety.
Therearemanyimportantanalogiesthatcanbemadebetweenthecoolstyleandbigbandswing,evenabouttheevolutionoftheterms.Swing,theverb,meantasimplereactionto
themusic(andasitdevelopedinverbusage,awayofreactingtoanythinginlife).Asitwasformalized,andthetermandthemusictakenfurtheroutofcontext,swingbecameanoun
thatmeantacommericalpopular
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musicincheapimitationofakindofAfroAmericanmusic.Thetermcoolinitsoriginalcontextmeantaspecificreactiontotheworld,aspecificrelationshiptoone'senvironment.It
definedanattitudethatactuallyexisted.Tobecoolwas,initsmostaccessiblemeaning,tobecalm,evenunimpressed,bywhathorrortheworldmightdailypropose.Asatermused
byNegroes,thehorror,etc.,mightbesimplythedeadeninglypredictablemindofwhiteAmerica.Inasensethiscalm,orstoical,repressionofsufferingisasoldastheNegro's
entranceintotheslavesocietyorthecapturedAfrican'spragmaticacceptanceofthegodsofthecaptor.ItisperhapstheflexibilityoftheNegrothathaslethimsurvivehisabilityto"be
cool"tobecalm,unimpressed,detached,perhapstomakefailureassecretaphenomenonaspossible.Inaworldthatisbasicallyirrational,themostlegitimaterelationshiptoitis
nonparticipation.GiventhistermasaconsistentattitudeoftheNegro,invaryingdegrees,throughouthislifeinAmerica,certainstereotypesmightsuddenlybereversed.The"Steppin
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nonparticipation.GiventhistermasaconsistentattitudeoftheNegro,invaryingdegrees,throughouthislifeinAmerica,certainstereotypesmightsuddenlybereversed.The"Steppin
fechit"rubriccanperhapsbereversedifonebutrealizesthatgivenhisconstantpositionatthebottomoftheAmericansocialhierarchy,therewasnotonereasonforanyNegro,ever,
tohurry.
Theessentialironyhereisthat,likeswing,whenthetermcoolcouldbeappliedgenerallytoavaguebodyofmusic,thatmusicseemedtorepresentalmostexactlytheoppositeofwhat
coolasatermofsocialphilosophyhadbeengiventomean.Thetermwasnevermeanttoconnotethetepidnewpopularmusicofthewhitemiddlebrowmiddleclass.Onthecontrary,
itwasexactlythisAmericathatonewassupposedto"becool"inthefaceof.
Thecoolstyle,likearrangedbigbandswing,inundatedAmericaandmostNegromusicians(boporswing)whodidnotmasterthecoolapproach.(Actually,itdidfinallyhavea
narrowerdefinition,sinceevenMilesDaviswentintoavirtualeclipseofpopularityduringthehighpointofthe
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coolstyle'ssuccess.Inpart,thismighthavebeencausedbyDavis'personalproblems,butIreadinprintmorethanafewtimesduringtheearlyfiftiesthatDaviswas"abadimitation"of
awhiteWestCoasttrumpeter,ChetBaker.Ifanything,theoppositewastruebutBakerfittedinmorecloselywiththesuccessfulsyndromeofthecool.Hisbarelyalteredrenditionsof
popularballadsinacracked,preciousmiddleregisterweretherageofthemidfifties,andBakersangaswell.)Likecommericalswing,themusiccreatedatermofsuccessandfame
foritsbestknownstylists,whowereinevitablywhite,MilesDavisandJohnLewiswerenotthe"KingsofCool,"asBasieandEllingtonwerenotthe"KingsofSwing"instead,quite
predictably,the"kings"duringtheheightofthecoolragewerewhitemusicianslikeGerryMulligan,ChetBaker,DaveBrubeck,orPaulDesmond.Infact,theDaveBrubeckQuartet,
whichfeaturedPaulDesmondonaltosaxophone,wasperhapstheperfectfiftiescoolsuccessstory.Brubeck,apianist,hadstudied(thoughquitebriefly,Ibelieve)withthe
contemporaryFrenchcomposerDariusMilhaud,anditwashewho,toalargeextent,popularizedtheideaofusingfugues,rondoes,andothersuchconsciouslyaffectedpickupsfrom
Europeanmusic.Thiswasanaturalforcollegebredaudienceswholikedalittleculturewiththeirpopularmusic.(AstudentattheUniversityofOregonsuggestedinanarticleinthe
NorthwestReview,quotedintheJazzReview,thatBrubeckalsoplayedthealmamaterofanycollegehehappenedtobevisiting,"whentheaudienceisbeginningtodrag.")Finally,
BrubeckandhismusicformallyenteredtheAmericanmainstreamwhenhispictureappearedonthecoverofTimemagazine.JazzhadatlastmadeituptheriverfromNewOrleans
(withthehelpofPaulWhiteman,BennyGoodman,andDaveBrubeck),rightintothewaitingroomofHenryLuce'soffice.
PerhapstheKoreanWar,liketheothertwo"major"warsbeforeit,helpedbringaboutchangesinjazz.Iamalmost
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certainthatthefiftiestookontheirownpeculiarforebodingshapebecauseofthegrimcatalystoftheKoreanWarandtheemotionalchaosthatwentwithit.TheNegrocouldnothelp
butbeaffectedneithercouldhismusic.Coolwasnotastylethatcouldoutlastthefifties,andasinthecaseofcommericalswing,mostNegromusicianswerenevercommittedtoit
anyway.ButtheJapanesesoldierintheraciallysignificantHollywoodfilmhadbeenchangedtoaNorthKoreanorChinesesoldier,andnowheaskedtheNegrosoldierinthe
integratedArmedForcesquestions,too.OnequestioninthemovieSteelHelmetwas,"Blackboy,whyyoufightthiswar...youcan'tevensitinthefrontofthebus?"AndsoldierJames
Edwards'answerwaspitifullyinadequate.
Koreaandwhathistoriansarecalling"thelegacyofthecoldwar"proposedevenharsherrealitiesforAmericathanWorldWarII.Thegreaterpartofthesearejustnow,inthe1960's,
beginningtobefeltinsomethingliketheirrealmeasure.ButeveninthemidfiftiesAmericawasachangedplacefromwhatithadbeenonlyadecadeandahalfbefore.Twohotwars
andwedgedbetweenthemandcomingafterthem,acoldone,plusthegrowingsignificanceoftheatomicbombasaforcethathadsuddenlytransformedtheworldintoaplacethat
was"nolongeraseriesoffrontiers,[but]acommunitywhichwouldsurviveorperishbyitsownhand"wereonlytheimpersonalpartsofanAmerican'sexperienceofthecontemporary
worldthathadchangedhimandhissocietyperhapsradicallyinthefifteenorsoshortyearssince1940.Theheroicwars"tomaketheworldsafefordemocracy"haddwindledgrimly
into"policeactions,"thenatureofwhichmanyAmericansoldiersdidnotfindoutuntiltheywerecaptured.Eventhetermdemocracywasblackenedbysomeambitious,buthideously
limited,menwhothoughtthatitmeantsimply"anticommunism."Thesephenomenaarealllegaciesofthecoldwarerathefiftiesweretheirspawningground,andthe
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generationwhowouldhavetobefullyresponsibleforthemwasnotyetfullygrown.Perhapstheywereincollege,asIwas,listeningtoDaveBrubeck.
TheSupremeCourtwastryingtoanswerJamesEdwards'interrogator,withits1954decision,tointegratetheschools"withalldeliberatespeed."Nowin1963,nineyearslater,
integrationhasnotbeenfullyaccomplished,andinagreatmanycaseswhereithasbeen,thereismeretokenintegration.ButtheinternalstrifeintheUnitedStatesbetweenblackand
whitehasatleastbeenformallyacknowledgedasaconflictthatmightconceivablybelegislatedoutofexistence,thoughagainitisthesixtiesthatmusttestthevalidityofthis
desperatehypothesis.Thefiftieswasaperiodoftransition,inmanyaspects,ofbeginningsandendings.Foronething,CharlieParkerdiedinFebruaryof1955,atthirtyfive.
Perhapsitisgoodtousethatmidpointofthefiftiesasanarbitrarypointwherethecounterreactioncalled"hardbop"begantobenoticed.Ananalogybetweenthisdevelopmentand
theendingoftheswingerabythebeginningsofbebopinthefortiesisobvious,thoughthesituationwasnotasextremeasithadbeenintheforties.
Amidstthecellos,flutes,fugues,andwarmedoverpopularballadsofthecool,therewasevident,mostlyamongNegromusicians,aconscious,andmanytimesaffected,"returntothe
roots,"asithasbeencalledsooften:"ItwasHoraceSilverasmusicaldirectorofArtBlakey'sJazzMessengerswhofirstannouncedit,ofcourse,andobviouslyheandtheresthad
turnedtochurchandgospelmusicandthebluesassourcesofrenewedinspiration.IfthesemenwerereluctanttolistentoKingOliverandBessieSmith,theyheardRayCharlesand
MahaliaJacksonwithakindofreverence."80
ThehardbopreactionswereloudestintheEast,i.e.,
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NewYork,whichledquitepredictablytothenewstyle'sbeingcalled"EastCoastJazz,"toplaceitwithintheimmediatereachofthepressagentsandjazzcritics.Funky(awordwithas
dubiousaplaceinpolitesocietyasjazz)becamethetreasuredadjective,whereoncecoolhadbeen,withsoul(asaqualityofexpression,probablyfoundonlyinNegroeswearing
Italiansuits)followingcloselybehind.Theharsher,rawer,moreclassictimbresofolderjazzwererestored.Mostofthemelodiesinhardboptuneswereverysimple,however,founded
usuallyonsomebasicriff,usuallymuchlesscomplexthanthejaggedlinesoftheclassicbopmelodies.PianistslikeSilverplayedfewerchordsthantheboppianists,thoughtheirstyle
wasimpossiblewithouttheinnovationsofboppianistBudPowell.Butthesoloist'sdependenceonchordswas,ifanything,madegreater.Thehardbopperssoughttorevitalizejazz,
buttheydidnotgofarenough.Somehowtheylostsightoftheimportantideastobelearnedfrombebopandsubstitutedlargenessoftimbreandquasigospelinfluencesforactual
rhythmicormelodicdiversityandfreshness.Thehardbopgroupsutilizedrhythmsthatareamazinglystaticandregularwhencomparedtothemusicoftheforties.(Andmerelycalling
tunesDisHeahordroppingg'sfromtitlesisnotgoingtomakethemusicmorecompelling.)
Hardbophasbynowbecomelittlemorethanastyle.Theopportunitiesforcompleteexpressionwithinitshardeningstructureandnarrowlyconsistentframeofemotionalreference
growmorelimitedeachtimesomemediocresoloistrepeatsawellchewedphraseormakesofthemusicastaticinsistenceratherthananopeningintofreerartisticachievement.Ithas
becomeakindof"sophistication"thatdependsmoreoncommon,thenbanal,musicalknowledge,insteadoftruthormeaningsuddenlyrevealed.Whatresults,moretimesthannot,is
aselfconsciouscelebrationofclich,andanactualdebilitationofthemostimpressiveideastocomeoutofbebop.Onehasthefeeling,whenlisteningto
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themostpopularhardbopgroupsoftheday,ofbeingconfrontedmerelybyastyle,behindwhichthereisnoseriouscommitmenttoexpressionoremotionalprofundity.
Butwhatismostimportantabouthardbopandtheshapeittookasareactiontothegrowinginsipiditiesthecoolstylehadpushedonjazzisthechangeofstancewhichhadtooccurin
orderfortheNegromusiciantobeabletoreactashedid.Again,thischange,becomingapparentinthemidfifties,hadfurtherimplicationsthatareonlyjustnowbeginningtobefully
understood."Soul"music,asthehardbopstyleisoftencalled,doescertainlyrepresentfortheNegromusiciana"returntotheroots."Ornotsomuchareturnasaconsciousre
evaluationofthoseroots.Manytimesthisreevaluationprovedasaffectedandasemotionallyaridaswouldamoveintheoppositedirection.Theshabbiness,evenembarrassment,of
HazelScottplaying"concertboogiewoogie"beforethousandsofwhitemiddleclassmusiclovers,whoallassumedthatthismusicwasMissScott'sinvention,isfinallynomore
hideousthanthespectacleofanurban,collegetrainedNegromusicianpretending,perhapsinallsincerity,thathehasthesamefieldofemotionalreferenceashisgreatgrandfather,
theMississippislave.Eachseemstomemerelyburlesque,orcruder,akindofmodernminstrelsy.
Thedirection,theinitialresponse,whichledtohardbopismoreprofoundthanitsexcesses.Itisasmuchofa"move"withintheblackpsycheaswasthemovenorthinthebeginningof
thecentury.TheideaoftheNegro'shaving"roots"andthattheyareavaluablepossession,ratherthanthesourceofineradicableshame,isperhapstheprofoundestchangewithinthe
Negroconsciousnesssincetheearlypartofthecentury.Itisareevaluationthatcouldonlybemadepossiblebytheconclusionsandredressofattitudethattookplaceintheforties.
ThefeelingsofinferioritywhichmostNegroeshadandstillhavetoacertainextentwerebroughttotheirlowestvalenceupuntilthepresenttimeinthe
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forties.Theemergencethenofapsychologicalstancebasedontheemotionalconceptof"equalityofmeans"meantthatfinallyallthe"barriers"againstusefulexistencewithinthe
AmericansocietycouldbelookedatbyNegroesasbeingonlytheinventionsofwhiteAmericans.TheformandcontentofNegromusicinthefortiesrecreated,orreinforced,the
socialandhistoricalalienationoftheNegroinAmerica,butintheNegro'sterms.TheNegrojazzmusicianofthefortieswasweird.Andthemythofthisweirdness,thisalienation,was
sufficientlyimportanttowhiteAmericaforittorecreatethemythinatermthatconnotednotmerelyNegroesasthealiensbutageneralalienationinwhichevenwhitemencouldbe
included.BythefiftiesthisalienationwasseenbymanyNegromusiciansnotonlyasvaluable,inthefaceofwhateveruglinesstheemptinessofthe"general"cultureservedto
emphasize,butasnecessary.Thestepfromcooltosoulisaformofsocialaggression.Itisanattempttoplaceupona"meaningless"socialorder,anorderwhichwouldgivevalueto
termsofexistencethatwereonceconsiderednotonlyvaluelessbutshameful.Coolmeantnonparticipationsoulmeansa"new"establishment.Itisanattempttoreversethesocial
roleswithinthesocietybyredefiningthecanonsofvalue.Inthesamewaythe"NewNegroes"ofthetwentiesbegan,thoughquitedefensively,tocanonizetheattributesoftheir
"Negroness,"sothe"soulbrother"meanstorecastthesocialorderinhisownimage.Whiteisthennot"right,"astheoldblueshadit,butaliability,sincethecultureofwhiteprecludes
thepossessionoftheNegro"soul."Eventheadjectivefunky,whichoncemeanttomanyNegroesmerelyastink(usuallyassociatedwithsex),wasusedtoqualifythemusicas
meaningful(thewordbecamefashionableandisnowalmostuseless).Thesocialimplication,then,wasthateventheoldstereotypeofadistinctiveNegrosmellthatwhiteAmerica
subscribedtocouldbeturnedagainstwhiteAmerica.Forthissmellnow,realornot,wasmadeavaluablecharacteristicof
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subscribedtocouldbeturnedagainstwhiteAmerica.Forthissmellnow,realornot,wasmadeavaluablecharacteristicof
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"Negroness."And"Negroness,"bythefifties,formanyNegroes(andwhites)wastheonlystrengthlefttoAmericanculture.
ThisformofculturalarrogancewascertainlyusefulindefiningtheemergenceoftheNegroasanautonomoushumanfactorwithinAmericansociety.Butitcouldnotsustainitsweight
asameanstoartisticexpressionwithoutanaddedprofunditythatwouldgiveitafluencywithinthetotalaspectofthesociety.Thisstrengthhadtobereturned,asitwere,totheculture
thathadgivenitshape.ItssecrecyhadbeenaformofprotectionandincubationbutforittoremainsecretorexclusiveatthispointinAmericansocialhistorywouldmakeitassterile
astheculturefromwhichitwasestranged.SecrecyhadbeenthestrengthoftheAfroAmericanculturewhenitwasdependentlargelyonfolksourcesforitsvitality,butnowithadtobe
reinterpretedintermsofthemostprofoundinfluencesintheopenfieldofallexistingcultures,oritwouldretreattotheconditionalmeaningfulnessofthefolkorthefinal
meaninglessnessofthepopular.Hardbopdidthelatter.
ThecontinuousreemergenceofstrongNegroinfluencestorevitalizeAmericanpopularmusicshouldbynowbeprettywellunderstood.Whatusuallyhappened,asIhavepointedout,
wasthatfinallytoomuchexposuretothedebilitatingqualitiesofpopularexpressiontendedtolessentheemotionalvalidityoftheAfroAmericanformsthenmoreorlessviolent
reactionstothisoverexposurealteredtheiroverallshape.ThiswastrueasfarbackasthelateralandreciprocalinfluencesNegrospiritualshadonthewhitehymnstheywere
superficiallymodeledupon.Andthesereactionsalmostalwayscausedvalidchangesintheformsthemselves.Theresultwasadeliberatelychanging,constantlyselfrefiningfolk
expression,thelimbsofwhichgrewsolargethattheyextendedintothewideremotionalfieldtowhichallWesternartwantsconstantlytoaddressitself.The
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Negromusicofthethirtieswhosedilutionresultedincommercialswinghadalreadysetitsendspastthatofastrictfolkmusic.Infact,asjazzbegantotakeonanautonomousshape
andcoulddefinewithinthisshapethenativematerialsofitsearlierformsasfolkmusic(thatis,jazzcoulddowiththeshout,theworksong,theblues,whatBartokdidwithHungarian
gypsymusic,butwiththeaddedadvantageofaconstantnaturalreference),iteliminated,ateachreevaluation,elementswhichmightonlyhaveuseinfolkmusic.Thefactthatpopular
ragtime,Dixieland,swing,etc.,werenotNegromusicsisimportant.Theywerethedebris,inasense,ofvanishedemotionalreferences.ThemostcontemporaryNegromusictoresult
afterwardhadabsolutelynothingtodowiththisdebris,exceptasareactiontoit.TheusestowhichthesedilutedmusicsputtheAfroAmericanformswerenothistorical,butcultural.
Negrobigbandjazzofthethirtiesisrelatedtothedevelopmentofbebop,butneithermusichasmuchtodowithcommercialswing.Swingsimplydoesnotexistinthehistoryofthe
developmentofNegromusic.Eachdilutionwassimplyaphenomenonbasedonculturallimitations(orexcess)and,assuch,wasonlyrelateddirectlytotheculturalelementswhich
providedforitsexistence.FletcherHendersonwasnotresponsiblefortheIpanaTroubadours,justasCharlieParkerwasnotresponsibleforBoydRaeburn.
WhenhardbopbegantosomeextenttoredefinethematerialsofNegromusic,thegeneralemotionalclimateofAmericansocietywascertainlyinneedofsomekindofrevitalization.
ThecatatoniaofthefortiespopularsongwasplainlyevidentanalogiescouldbemadetoalmostallareasofAmericanlife.Jazzhad,withitsconsciousaddresstothatbroader
emotionalfieldofwhichIspoke,necessarilydivideditself,asdoesallWesternart,intostrata,justaswecandemonstratethedifferentlevelsintowhichclassicalmusicisdivided.
Thereisadifferentkindofprehensionnecessary,evenexpected,toenjoymusicasdifferentas
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thatofDukasandMozart.(Thatonemusicdemandsthefullerapplicationofintellectualfacultiesforitsenjoymentseemstomeapparent.)Mostcooljazz,forinstance,was,almostinits
intentions,amiddlebrowmusic.Hardbop,thoughitsoughttoerasethestrongmiddlebrowflavorthatthejazzofthefiftieshaddeveloped,providednevertheless,becauseofits
musicalandextramusicalaffectationsanditsconspicuous"exclusiveness,"almostagroupofanthemsforanotherkindofAmericanmiddlebrowablackone.Butbophadmovedin
anoppositedirection,justasthemusicofArmstrongandEllingtonhadmovedtowardtheconsiderationsandresponsibilitiesofhighart.
Whenthepurelypopular,purely"undignified,"musicofAmerica,itsmainstreamfolkmusic,hadalmostcompletelycalcifiedwithevenmoredrasticdilutionsofswingstyle,itwasa
contemporarybluesformthatwasutilizedtoreviveit,andnotthemiddlebrowextensionshardbopandcoolhadbecome.Thegeneralpublichadnouseforthem,inmanycasesdid
notevenknowtheyexisted(exceptthataformofthelatterwasusedasbackgroundmusicformanytelevisionprograms).
Rhythm&blues,theurbancontemporaryexpressionofblues,wasthesourceofthenewpopularrevitalizationrock'n'rollisitsproduct.Anditis,askany"average"Americanmother,
amusicfor"lowbrows."ButanElvisPresleyseemstomemoreculturallysignificantthanaJoStafford.
TakeoutthepapersandthetrashOryoudon'tgetnospendingcash.Ifyoudon'tscrubthekitchenfloorYouain'tgonnarockandrollnomore.
(FromYaketyYak,wordsandmusicbyJerryLeiberandMikeStoller)
Tobesure,rock'n'rollisusuallyaflagrantcommercializationofrhythm&blues,butthemusicinmanycases
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dependsenoughonmaterialsthataresoalientothegeneralmiddleclass,middlebrowAmericancultureastoremaininteresting.ManyofthesamekindsofcheapAmerican
dilutionsthathaddisfiguredpopularswinghavetendedtodisfigurethenewmusic,butthesource,theexcitingand"vulgar"urbanbluesoftheforties,isstillsufficientlyremovedfrom
themainstreamtobevital.Forthisreason,rock'n'rollhasnotbecomeasemotionallymeaninglessascommercialswing.Itisstillrawenoughtostandthedilutionandinsomecases,
toevenbemadeattractivebytheveryfactofitscommercialization.Evenits"alienation"remainsconspicuousitisoftenusedtocharacterizewhiteadolescentsas"youthfuloffenders."
(Rock'n'rollalsoispopularwithanother"underprivileged"minority,e.g.,PuertoRicanyouths.Therearenowevenquitepopularrock'n'rollsongs,atleastaroundNewYork,that
havesomeofthelyricsinSpanish.)Rock'n'rollisthebluesformoftheclassesofAmericanswholackthe"sophistication"tobemiddlebrows,oraretoonavetogetinonthe
mainstreamAmericantastethosewhothinkthatsomehowMelachrino,Kostelanetz,etc.,aretoolifeless.
Thereferencehardbop(andanattendant"bluesrenaissance,"whereinmanyoftheolderbluessingerswerererecordedandinsomecases,restoredtoagoodmeasureofpopularity)
madetotheolderformsofAfroAmericanmusicandtheimplicationsofsuchaculturalreconstructionbecameevenmoresignificantbytheendofthefiftiesandthebeginningofthe
newdecade.Thiswassodespitethefactthathardbop,saggingunderitsownweight,hadjustaboutdestroyeditselfasthemeanstowardamovingformofexpression.Buttherewere
afewmusicians,likesaxophonistsJohnColtraneandSonnyRollinsanddrummerElvinJones,whohadbeenidentifiedcloselywiththisstyle,whoemergedinthesixtiesworkingin
newareas,thoughtheirwayhadbeenpreparedtoagreatextentbythe"funky"style.
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SonnyRollins,forinstance,wasoneoftheleadersofthehardbopschool,buthehasgoneintoamusicthatismuchmoreprofound,thoughtheseedsofitaredefinitelytobefoundin
hisearlier"funky"style.JohnColtraneplayedwiththeMilesDavisQuartetandQuintetduringthemiddleandlatefifties,whenforallDavis'lyricism,hisgroupswereconstantly
identifiedashardboppershealsoplayedwithTheloniusMonk's"perfect"group.ButColtrane,too,hasmovedoffintoamusicquiteunconnected,andalmostantithetical,tothework
ofmostofthehardgroups.ElvinJones,alsoassociatedwithmanyleadinghardgroups,hasworkedforthepastcoupleofyearsinColtrane'snewbands,contributinggreatlytothe
excellenceandfreshnessoftheirmusic.PianistTheloniusMonk,oneofthebebopinnovators,alsoreemergedinthelatefiftiesasanuncompromisingindividualistwhosereal
contributionstojazzwerejustbeginningtobereallyunderstood.
Withthesemen,therealsoemergedinthesixtiesayoungergroupofmusicianswho,alongwithRollins,Coltrane,etc.,begantoanswersomeoftheweightyquestionsofthefiftiesand
eventoproposesomenewonesoftheirown.TheseyoungmusiciansIwillcall,forlackofamorespecificterm,"avantgarde."Ithasbeensaidmanytimesthatthisgenerationof
Americans(myowngeneration)wasbornduringaDepression,grewupduringWorldWarII,andgrewtomaturityincollegeorelsewhereduringtheKoreanWar.Amajorcatastrophe
foreachdecadeoftheirlives.Andnowthattheyaremovingtowardafourthdecade,anevenmoreviolentcatastropheiswithineasyreachofreality.
ThemusiciansofthisgenerationareoldenoughtohavebeenimpressedasadolescentsbytheNegromusicoftheforties,andtheyarecertainlyoldenoughtohaveunderstoodthe
reactions,likeDixie,progressive,cool,andhardbop,thathave,tovaryingdegrees,servedtoobscurethevaluablelegaciesofthatmusic.Theyarematureenough
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nowtohaveproducedahighlyarticulatemusicallanguagethatmakesprofounduseofthevitalmusicoftheforties.Indoingthis,theyarealsoreemphasizingthemostexpressive
qualitiesofAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionwhilealsoproducinganAmericanmusicwhichhascompleteaccesstotheinvaluableemotionalhistoryofWesternart.PianistCecilTaylor
andaltosaxophonistOrnetteColemanarethemostimportantoftheserecentinnovators.
Whatthesemusicianshavedone,basically,istorestoretojazzitsvalidseparationfrom,andanarchicdisregardof,Westernpopularforms.Theyhaveusedthemusicofthefortieswith
itsjagged,excitingrhythmsasaninitialreferenceandhaverestoredthehegemonyofbluesasthemostimportantbasicforminAfroAmericanmusic.Theyhavealsorestored
improvisationtoitstraditionalroleofinvaluablesignificance,againremovingjazzfromthehandsofthelessthangiftedarrangerandthefashionablediluter(thoughnodoubtthesewill
showupintime).
Coleman'smusicisthatofanimprovisingsoloistlikeCharlieParker,heisabrilliantsoloist,andhispurelyextemporaneousstatementscannotbereproducedbyanynotation.Taylor's
musicseemstolenditselfmoretonotationinfact,hehasrecentlyscoredquiteafewworksforlargergroups.Buteventhoughthemusicisarranged,thereisstillthefeelingof
freedomandunmeasuredexcitementthatonlythemusicianwhohasdevelopedasanextemporaneousartistcanproduce.
Whilethemusic,withitscontemporarydependenceonolderforms,isinmanywayssimilartothemusicoftheforties,therearealsoreinterpretationsoftheusesofformalmusical
definitions,thoughthesearenotnecessarilybasedonanytheoreticalreevaluations(onlyperhapsafterthefact).Themusichaschangedbecausethemusicianshavechanged.And
itwouldbeabsurdtosuppose(asmanyjazzhobbyistshavedone)thatanythingelsecouldbethecase.Thereisnobasisinsocial,psychological,economic,cultural,
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orhistoricalfactforassumingthatOrnetteColemanorCecilTaylorshouldbetryingtoplayjazzthatsoundsliketheFletcherHendersonorchestra:
"Theboppersweretiredofthesameoldchordsandexplorednewones.Butessentially,mostofthemwerestillplayingariffstyleitisjustthattheirkindofriffswerebuiltonanew
approachtoharmonybutnotreallysonewasonethought.Againthebestofthemleanedonthemelodicbackgroundofthebluesforamelodicformandunityofmood..."81
Bynow,eventhefreshusestowhichtheboppersputriffbasedchordshavebeenexploitedandreexploitedtostaleness.Thehardboppers,ifanything,increasedtoanevengreater
degreetheimprovisingjazzmusician'srelianceon"changes"(recurringchords).Also,the"tonalcenters"ofthismusic,especiallyasinfluencedbypseudogospelharmonies,areso
predictableandflatthatinthiscontexteventhegiftedimprovisersbegantosounddull.WhatColemanandTaylorhavedoneistoapproachakindofjazzthatispracticallynonchordal
andinmanycasesatonal(meaningthatitstonal"centers"areconstantlyredefinedaccordingtotheneeds,orshapeanddirection,oftheparticularmusicbeingplayed,andnot
formallyfixedasisgenerallythecasewhatcomposerGeorgeRussellhascalled"pantonality").Theirmusicdoesnotdependonconstantlystatedchordsforitsdirectionandshape.
Nordoesitpretendtoaccepttheformalconsiderationsofthebar,ormeasure,line.Inasense,themusicdependsforitsformonthesamereferencesasprimitivebluesforms.It
considersthetotalareaofitsexistenceasameanstoevolve,tomove,asanintelligentlyshapedmusicalconcept,fromitsbeginningtoitsend.Thistotalareaisnotmerelythelargely
artificialconsiderationsofbarlinesandconstantlystatedchords,butthemoremusicalconsiderationsofrhythm,pitch,timbre,andmelody.Alltheseareshapedbytheemotional
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requirementsoftheplayer,i.e.,theimprovisingsoloistorimprovisinggroup.
"...chordshavealwayshelpedthejazzplayertoshapemelody,maybetoanextentthatheisnowoverdependentonthechord.Ornetteseemstodependmostlyontheoverall
tonalityofthesongasapointofdepartureformelody.BythisIdon'tmeanthekeythemusicmightbein.Hispiecesdon'treadilyinferkey.Theycouldalmostbeinanykeyornokey.I
meanthatthemelodyandthechordsofhiscompositionshaveanoverallsoundwhichOrnetteseemstouseasapointofdeparture.Thisapproachliberatestheimprovisortosinghis
ownsongreally,withouthavingtomeetthedeadlineofanyparticularchord.Notthathecan'tbeverticalandsayachordifhechooses."82
Theimplicationsofthismusicareextraordinarilyprofound,andthemusicitself,deeplyandwildlyexciting.Musicandmusicianhavebeenbrought,inamannerofspeaking,faceto
face,withoutthestrictandoftengrimhindrancesofoverusedWesternmusicalconceptsitisonlytheoverallmusicalintelligenceofthemusicianwhichisresponsibleforshapingthe
music.Itis,formanymusicians,aterrifyingfreedom.
TheseyoungmusiciansalsorelytoagreatextentonaclosenessofvocalreferencethathasalwaysbeencharacteristicofNegromusic.PlayerslikeColeman,Coltrane,andRollins
literallyscreamandrantinimitationofthehumanvoice,soundingmanytimesliketheunfetteredprimitiveshouters.CharlieParkeralsohadtorestorethisqualitytojazztimbreafter
thelegitimatizinginfluencesofcommercialswing.
AlongwiththemusicthatmenlikeOrnetteColemanandCecilTayloraremaking,thereareafewoldermusicianswhoarealsohelpingtorevitalizethejazzofthelatefiftiesandearly
sixties.Twoofthese,asIhavementionedbefore,
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areJohnColtraneandSonnyRollins.InmanywaysthemusicthesetwomenaremakingfallsindirectcontrasttothemusicofyoungermenlikeColemanandTaylor.Butitsemotional
directnessandfreshreconsiderationofalltheelementsofitsmusicalexistencehavehadaneffectonjazzverysimilartothatoftheyoungermusicians.
IfColeman'smusiccanbecallednonchordal,JohnColtrane'smusicisfanaticallychordal.Inhissolos,Coltraneattackseachchordandseemstoalmostwanttoseparateeachnoteof
thechord(anditsovertones)intoseparateentitiesandsuckouteventhemostminutemusicalpotential.Witheachinstance,Coltraneredefineshisaccompanyingchordsaskinetic
splintersofmelody,ratherthanusingthegeneralizedblocksoundofthechordasthefinaldeterminantofhismusic'sdirectionandshape.
Rollins,amarvelouslygiftedimproviser,hasrecentlyshownsignsofabandoningapurelychordalconceptofplaying,combiningtheoveralldirectionColeman,Taylor,andtheother
youngermusicianshavetakenwithhisownabilitytoutilizeboththematic,ormelodic,variationaswellasharmonicvariationinshapinghismusic.Hehasalsorecentlybrought
togetheragroupwithtwoformermembersofOrnetteColeman'soriginalband:trumpeterDonCherryanddrummerBillyHiggins.Theresultshavebeenextremelygratifying,andshow
howindelibleanimpressionOrnetteColeman'smusichasmadethoughRollinshasmadehisownhighlyoriginalappropriationsofit.
Inasense,menlikeColtraneandRollins(especiallyColtrane)areservingasthisnewgeneration'sprivateassassinsdemonstrating,perhaps,thefinalbeautiestobeextractedfrom
purelychordaljazz,andinsodoing,makingitalmostimpossibleforthemusictocontinuetobecommittedtofreeemotionalstatementwithoutcomingtogripswiththeideasthat
Coleman,Taylor,andsomeothershaveputforward.
Thereisanotherbodyofmusicemergingrecentlythatseemstohavedevelopedoutofthesameconceptsthatproduced
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progressivejazz.Itiscalled"thirdstreamjazz,"anditisamusicthatutilizesasblatantlyaspossiblesomeoftheformalideasandtechniquesofcontemporaryclassicalmusic.Asone
example,trumpeterDonEllis,oneofthemusiciansassociatedwiththirdstream,hasrecentlyrecordedapiecewrittenbythecontemporaryGermancomposerKarlheinzStockhausen.
ComposerssuchasGuntherSchullerhavealsocontributedtothemusic,aswellassuchjazzmenasJimmyGiuffreandJohnLewis.LewisandhisModernJazzQuartethaveeven
recentlyrecordedwiththeBeauxArtsStringQuartet,andLewisonceperformedsomeofhisowncompositionswiththeStuttgartSymphonyOrchestra.Olderclassicalformsareutilized
inmanyofLewis'compositionswithvaryingdegreesofsuccess.Mostofthetime,hisambitious"serious"music,suchasEuropeanWindows,whichwasplayedwiththeStuttgart
Orchestra,ortheballetscoreOriginalSin,hasseemedtomeveryclosetothelifelessstringmusiconeisapttohearinmodernelevators.However,asIhavesaid,Lewishimselfcan
beadeeplymovingpianist,andhisgroup,theModernJazzQuartet,hasbeenresponsibleforsomeofthemostexcitingjazzofthelastfewyears.ButLewis'attemptsto"combine"
classicalmusicandjazzhavemoreoftenthannotbeenfrighteningexamplesofwhatthefinaldilutionofAfroAmericanmusicaltraditionmightbe.
Theattemptitselfisanoldclutch,andonethatimmediatelyrevivesmemoriesofprogressivejazz.And,ofcourse,therearepeoplewhoarelumpingtheeffortsofmenlikeColeman
andTaylorintothethirdstreamcategoryinmuchthesamewayasbopwascalledprogressivejazz.ThereisnodoubtinmymindthatthetechniquesofEuropeanclassicalmusiccan
beutilizedbyjazzmusicians,butinwaysthatwillnotsubjectthephilosophyofNegromusictothelessindigenouslypersonalattitudesofEuropeanderivedmusic.Taylorand
ColemanknowthemusicofAntonWebernandareresponsibletoitintellectually,astheywould
230
betoanystimulatingartform.Buttheyarenotresponsibletoitemotionally,asanextramusicalcatalyticform.TheemotionalsignificanceofmostNegromusichasbeenitsseparation
fromtheemotionalandphilosophicalattitudesofclassicalmusic.Inorderforthejazzmusiciantoutilizemostexpressivelyanyformalclassicaltechniques,itiscertainlynecessarythat
thesetechniquesbesubjectedtotheemotionalandphilosophicalattitudesofAfroAmericanmusicthatthesetechniquesbeusednotcanonized.Mostthirdstreamjazz,itseems,
hastendedtocanonizeclassicaltechniquesratherthanusethemtoshapetheexpressivefabricofa"new"jazzmusic.Thecontroversyoverwhetherthismusicisjazzornotseems
foolishandacademic,sincethegenredoesnotdeterminethequalityoftheexpression.However,inthecaseofthirdstreamjazzthequalityoftheexpressionhasbeen,inmost
instances,unimpressive.
The"artist'slife"hasmanydefinitesocialandhistoricalconnotationsintheWest.InEuropeanartistorBohemianistolerated,evenlookeduptoasapersonofmysteriousbutoften
valuablecapabilities,butinAmericanosuchadmiration(norevenananalogoustermoftoleration)exists.Theartistandhisfellowtraveler,theBohemian,areusuallyregardedinthis
societyasuselessconmenandassuch,aretreatedasenemies.(IfthepoliticaltoneofcontemporaryAmericandemocracycanbeperhapstooeasilysummedupas"anti
communist,"itsculturaltone,withequalvagueness,canbecalled"antiartistic.")ThecompletedominationofAmericansocietybywhatBrooksAdamscalledtheeconomicsensibility,
discouragingcompletelyanysignificantparticipationoftheimaginativesensibilityinthesocial,political,andeconomicaffairsofthesocietyiswhathaspromotedthishatredofthe
artistbythe"averageAmerican."ThisphenomenonhasalsocausedtheestrangementoftheAmericanartistfromAmericansociety,andmadetheformalcultureofthesociety(the
dilutedformalismofthe
231
academy)anemicandfraughtwithincompetenceandunreality.IthasalsocausedthehighartofAmericatobecalled"anartofalienation."TheanalogytothelifeoftheNegroin
Americaandhissubsequentproductionofahighartwhichtookitsshapedirectlyfromthenatureandmeaningofhisownalienationshouldbeobvious.Thisconsideration(dealtwith
consciouslyorinstinctively)certainlyreshapedcertaincrucialelementsoftheAmericanartofthelasttwodecades,andgaveadeeplynativereferencetothedirectionofAmerican
Bohemianism,orartist'slife,ofthefifties.
ItwasalateralandreciprocalidentificationtheyoungwhiteAmericanintellectual,artist,andBohemianofthefortiesandfiftiesmadewiththeNegro,attempting,withvaryingdegrees
ofsuccess,toreapsomeemotionalbenefitfromthesimilarityoftheirpositionsinAmericansociety.Inmanyaspects,thisattemptwasmadeevenmorenaturalandinformalbecause
theNegromusicofthefortiesandagainofthesixties(thoughtherehasbeenanunfailinggeneralidentificationthroughbothdecades)wasamongthemostexpressivearttocomeout
ofAmerica,andinessence,waspossessedofthesameaestheticstanceastheotherhighartoftheperiod.
ButthereciprocityofthisrelationshipbecameactivelydecisiveduringthefiftieswhenscoresofyoungNegroesand,ofcourse,youngNegromusiciansbegantoaddressthemselves
totheformalcanonsofWesternnonconformity,asformallyunderstoodrefusalsofthehollownessofAmericanlife,especiallyinitsaddresstotheNegro.TheyoungNegrointellectuals
andartistsinmostcasesarefleeingthesame"classic"bourgeoissituationsastheirwhitecounterpartswhethertheclutchesofanactualblackbourgeoisieortheirdrab
philosophicalreflectorswhoarenoteventobeconsideredamiddleclasseconomically.Theimportantdevelopment,andIconsideritasociohistoricalprecedent,isthatmanyyoung
Negroesnolongerequateintelligence
232
orworthwiththetepidvaluesofthemiddleclass,thoughtheirparentsdailystrivetoupholdthesevalues.The"NewNegroes"producedamiddleclass,middlebrowartbecause
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orworthwiththetepidvaluesofthemiddleclass,thoughtheirparentsdailystrivetoupholdthesevalues.The"NewNegroes"producedamiddleclass,middlebrowartbecause
despitetheirdesiredstanceasintellectualsandartists,theyweresimplydefendingtheirright,therightofNegroes,tobeintellectuals,inasocietywhichpatentlydeniedthemsuch
capacities.Andifthegenerationofthefortiesbegantounderstandthatnosuch"defense"orexplanationwasnecessary,theyoungNegrointellectualsofthefiftiesandsixtiesrealize
manyofthemperhapsonlyemotionallythatasocietywhoseonlystrengthliesinitsabilitytodestroyitselfandtherestoftheworldhassmallclaimtowarddefiningorappreciating
intelligenceorbeauty.Again,thisaddresstoWesternnonconformitymustbepredicatedonafluencywith,anunderstandingof,thosecanons,thoseattitudesafluencywhose
accomplishmentisasavailabletoanalysis,andtheresultsofthisanalysisasreal,astheNegro'saccomplishmentofmusicalfluencywithEuropeaninstruments,whicheventually
resultedintheemergenceofjazz.
ThejazzofthefortieswasgivenitsclassicshapeinHarlem,wheremostNegromusiciansplayed.Andtraditionally,onehadtogototheNegroghettoinwhatevercitytohearthemost
legitimateandcontemporaryAfroAmericanmusic.Themusicians,also,generallylivedinthoseghettoes(whichiswhatImeantearlierby"anaturalreference"tothefolkoriginsofthe
music).ButCharlieParker,duringthelaterfortiesandfifties,usedtofrequentNewYork'sGreenwichVillage,traditionallyabreedinggroundofAmericanartandtheopenairfraternity
houseofakindofAmericanBohemianism.Parker,infact,atonepoint,waslivinginthevillagewithayoungNegropainter,HarveyCropper,andinexchangeforpaintinglessons,
"Bird"wassupposedtoteachCropperhowtoplaythetenorsaxophone.ManyofParker'sclosestacquaintanceswerepaintersandwriters,andhemovedinthatsocietywithrelative
ease.Dizzy
233
GillespiehassaidaboutParker:"No,hewasn'tabigconversationalistaboutmusic...Buthewouldtalk.Oh,hewasagreattalker...aboutanysubjectyou'dwanttotalkabout.Like
philosophy,orifyouwantedtotalkaboutarthe'dtalkwithyou.OrifyouwantedtotalkaboutHistoryEuropeanHistory,AfricanHistory,orMiddleAges,orStoneAgeHistory.Oh,he
knewaboutcurrenteventsandthingslikethat."83
Thejazzofthelatefiftiesandsixties,thoughithasbeengivenimpetusanddirectionbyadiversityofinfluences,istakingshapeinthesameareasofnonconformityastheother
contemporaryAmericanarts.InGreenwichVillage,forinstance,aplacegenerallyassociatedwith"artisticandsocialfreedom,"basedonwilling(thoughsometimesaffected)
estrangementfromthenarrowtenetsofAmericansocialprescription,youngNegromusiciansnowliveasintegralpartsofthatanonymoussocietytowhichtheartistgenerallyaspires.
Theirmusic,alongwiththeproductsofotheryoungAmericanartistsseriouslyinvolvedwiththerevelationofcontemporarytruths,willhelpdefinethatsociety,andbycontrast,the
natureoftheAmericansocietyoutofwhichtheseAmericanshaveremovedthemselves.
Thefeelingofrapportbetweenthejazzoftheforties,fifties,andsixtieswiththerestofcontemporaryAmericanartisnotconfinedmerelytosocialareas.Thereareaestheticanalogies,
persistentsimilaritiesofstancethatalsocreateidentifiablerelationships.AndtheserelationshipsseemvalidwhethertheyarefoundinthemostvitalcontemporaryAmericanpoetryor
thebestnewAmericanpainting.Theyoungermusicianssensethisasmuchas,say,theyoungerwriters.
Thewriterswhohavebeencalledthe"BeatGeneration"(usuallywithgreatbitternessandimprecision)havegainedmuchnotorietybecauseoftheirveryvocalattachmenttojazz.Jack
Kerouac'scharactersarealwaystalkingabout
234
onejazzmusicianoranother,andhehasprefacedhisbookofpoetry,MexicoCityBlues,withthenote:"Iwanttobeconsideredajazzpoet/blowingalongbluesinanafternoon
jam/sessiononSunday.Itake242choruses/myideasvaryandsometimesrollfromchorus/tochorusorfromhalfwaythroughachorustohalfwayintothenext."84Also,poetAllen
Ginsberghasspoken,perhapssomewhatingenuously,ofKerouac'sworkexhibitinganauthentic"bopprosody."Andinthesamevein,OrnetteColeman'srecentrecording,FreeJazz,
perhapshismostimportantrecordingtodate,hasforitscoverareproductionofaJacksonPollockpaintingColemanhasalsostatedthathethoughthisplayinghadsomerapportwith
Pollock'swork.
EventhecriticallanguageoftheEstablishmenthasbeenveryrecentlyusedalmostinterchangeablywhentalkingaboutdiverseareasofcontemporaryWesternart.Thusitisthata
somewhatreactionaryDownbeatjazzcriticcancallthemusicofOrnetteColemanandJohnColtrane"antijazz,"apparentlyappropriatingthetermfromreactionarycriticsinother
fieldsthetermsinthoseotherfieldsbeing"antitheater,"usuallyreferringtotheplaysofEugeneIonesco,SamuelBeckett,etc.and"antipainting,"usuallymeaningtheworkof
painterslikeJacksonPollock,WillemdeKooning,FranzKline,etc.Itisalsothesegeneralaestheticempathiesandtheflatteningofthedistinctionbetweentheintentsofcontemporary
Americanartandcontemporaryjazzthatledonemiddlebrow"literary"magazinetorefertoColeman'smusicas"abstract"and"beatnikjazz."(ButthenIhaveevenheardatieless
travelingsalesmanpassingthroughKankakee,Illinois,inasportscar,calledabeatnik.)InjazzcriticismthiscrossfertilizationbetweenrecentjazzandotherareasofAmericanarthas
metwithpredictablehostility.ThesamekindsofcommentandmisguidedprotesthavegreetedthemusicofColemanandotheryoungmusiciansthatgreetedthemusicofParker,
Gillespie,and
235
Monkintheforties.WherethemusicofParker,etal.,wascalledinDownbeatmagazine"illadvisedfanaticism,"Coleman'smusiciscalled"antijazz."ButasA.B.Spellmanhaswritten
inarebuttaltosuchcriticisms,"Whatdoesantijazzmeanandwhoaretheseofayswho'veappointedthemselvesguardiansoflastyear'sblues?"
ThemostcontemporaryNegromusicofthelatefiftiesandsixtieshasagainplaceditselfoutsideanymainstreamconsideration.Also,manymusicianshateandmisunderstandwhat
Coleman,Taylor,Coltrane,andtheothersaredoing,justasiftheywereanymiddlebrowmagazineeditorwhostillsomehowconnectsAfroAmericanmusicwithKayKayser.This
recentmusicissignificantofmore"radical"changesandreevaluationsofsocialandemotionalattitudestowardthegeneralenvironment.ButIcannotthinkthatthemusicitselfisa
moreradical,orananymoreillogical,extensionofthekineticphilosophythathasinformedNegromusicsinceitsinceptioninAmerica.Negromusicisalwaysradicalinthecontextof
formalAmericanculture.WhathashappenedisthattherearemanymoreNegroes,jazzmusiciansandotherwise,whohavemovedsuccessfullyintothefeaturelesssyndromeofthat
culture,whocannolongerrealizethebasicsocialandemotionalphilosophythathastraditionallyinformedAfroAmericanmusic.(Thehardboppersfinallywereleftwithamusicas
culturelessinitsemotionalpropensitiesasmadMantovaniamoodmusicforNegrocolleges.)Buteventhisphenomenonseemsanoldconsiderationifwecanimaginetheold
secularshoutersbeingreprimandedbythefreedmenandnew"sisters"forholleringallnight"devilmusic,"andsongsnotfoundinthe"Sankey."Itissimplythatthereisamore
widespreadfluencyamongNegroeswiththe"Sankeys,"i.e.,moreNegroesnowhavepurgedthemselvesof"stink"andcolortocrawlintothosecasuallysanctifiedhallsofwhite
middlebrowculture.(Inonesense,theyhavetraveledacompletecircle,stepping
236
rightbackintotheheartofapaternalandparochialsocietyfromslavetocitizenandhaverunthroughbluesanddiscardeditontheway.Buttheyhadto,itwasoneofthoseugly
remindersthattheyhadoncebeenoutsidethewallsofthecity.Andtherearenottoomanypeopleinthiscountry,blackorwhite,who'dbewillingtoadmitthat.)Butperhapsthe
proportionisbeingsignificantlyadjustedasevenmoreyoungNegroesbegintoconsciouslyfleethestalepurityofthemissionaries'legacy.Itisacuriousbalance,thoughone,asthe
Westfindsitselfcontinuouslyredefiningitspositionintheworldandinneedofradicalreassessmentofitsrelationshipstotherestoftheworld,thatwillproveoftheutmostimportance.
ItisnosecretthattheWest,andmostparticularlytheAmericansystem,isinthepositionnowofhavingtodefenditsvaluesandideasagainsttotallyhostilesystems.TheAmerican
NegroisbeingaskedtodefendtheAmericansystemasenergeticallyastheAmericanwhiteman.ThereisnodoubtthatthemiddleclassNegroishelpingandwillcontinuetohelpin
thatdefense.Butthereisperhapsaquestionmarkinthemindsofthemanypoorblacks(whichisoneexplanationfortheattractionofsuchgroupsastheBlackMuslims)andalsonow
inthemindsofmanyyoungNegrointellectuals.Whatisitthattheyarebeingaskedtosave?Itisagoodquestion,andAmericahadbettercomeupwithananswer.
Notes
nts
1TheMythoftheNegroPast(Boston,BeaconPress,1941),p.62.[return]
2JournalofaResidenceonaGeorgiaPlantationin18381839(NewYork,[return]AlfredA.Knopf,1961),p.260.
3Op.cit.,p.62.[return]
4Op.cit.,p.120.[return]
5Ibid.,p.121.[return]
6AJourneyintheSeabordSlaveStates(NewYork,1863),p.17.[return]
7H.E.Krehbiel,AfroAmericanFolksongs(NewYork,G.Schirmer,1914),p.73.[return]
8Op.cit.,p.80.[return]
9FromMaudCuneyHare,NegroMusiciansandTheirMusic(Washington,[return]D.C.,AssociatedPublishers,1936),p.27.
10Ibid.,p.73.[return]
11"TheRootsofJazz,"inNatHentoffandAlbertJ.McCarthy,eds.,Jazz[return](NewYork,Rinehart,1959),p.13.
12Jazz:APeople'sMusic(NewYork,Citadel,1948),p.68.[return]
13Loc.cit.,pp.2324.[return]
14FolkBeliefsoftheSouthernNegro(ChapelHill,UniversityofNorthCarolina[return]Press,1926).
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15FromHowardW.OdumandGuyB.Johnson,NegroWorkadaySongs[return](ChapelHill,UniversityofNorthCarolinaPress,1926),p.195.
16Op.cit.,pp.9293.[return]
17Ibid.,p.106.[return]
18Ibid.[return]
19Loc.cit.,p.21.[return]
20Op.cit.,p.69.[return]
21Op.cit.,p.69.[return]
22SlaveSongsoftheUnitedStates(NewYork,1867).[return]
23TheContoursofAmericanHistory(Cleveland,World,1961).[return]
24E.FranklinFrazier,TheBlackBourgeoisie(Glencoe,FreePress,1957),[return]p.18.
25Op.cit.[return]
26TheNegroNovelinAmerica(NewHaven,YaleUniversityPress,1958),[return]p.18.
27TheStoryofJazz(NewYork,OxfordUniversityPress,1956),p.43.[return]
28Op.cit.,pp.16364.[return]
29AlanLomax,Mr.JellyRoll(NewYork,Duell,Sloan&Pearce,1950),[return]pp.1516.
30FromNewmanIveyWhite,ed.,TheFrankC.BrownCollectionofNorth[return]CarolinaFolklore(Durham,DukeUniversityPress,1962),pp.8889.
31NegroWorkadaySongs(ChapelHill,UniversityofNorthCarolinaPress,[return]1926),p.38.
32FromNegroWorkadaySongs,p.196.[return]
33BluesFellThisMorning(London,Cassell,1960),p.30.[return]
34Ibid.,pp.3132.[return]
35FromSamuelB.Charters,TheCountryBlues(NewYork,Rinchart,1959),[return]illus.oppositep.160.
36"RecordingLimitsandBluesForm"inMartinT.Williams,ed.,TheArt[return]ofJazz(NewYork,OxfordUniversityPress,1959),pp.9192.
37Ibid.,p.92.[return]
38"ConversationswithJamesP.Johnson,"JazzReview(July,1959),pp.[return]1112.
39"GarvinBushellandNewYorkJazzinthe1920's,"JazzReview(January,[return]1959),p.12.
40BlackBoy(NewYork,HarperBros.,1937),p.202.[return]
41"ConversationswithJamesP.Johnson,"p.10.[return]
42F.RamseyandC.Smith,eds.,Jazzmen(NewYork,Harcourt,Brace,[return]1939),pp.1213.
43GarvinBushell,"GarvinBushellandNewYorkJazzinthe1920's,"Jazz[return]Review(January,1959),p.12.
44Op.cit.,p.19.[return]
45Ibid.,p.18.[return]
46"NewOrleansandTraditionsinJazz,"inJazz,p.39.[return]
47"GarvinBushellandNewYorkJazzinthe1920's,"JazzReview(February,[return]1959),p.9.
48TheStardustRoad(NewYork,Rinehart,1946),p.53.[return]
49AsquotedinTheStoryofJazz,p.128.[return]
50TheStoryofJazz,p.129.[return]
51JazzReview(November,1958),p.37.[return]
52AndrHodeir,Jazz:ItsEvolutionandEssence(NewYork,GrovePress,[return]1956),pp.5051.
53Jazz,APeople'sMusic,p.206.[return]
54HsioWenShih,"TheSpreadofJazzandtheBigBands,"inJazz,p.161.[return]
55Ibid.,p.164.[return]
56Ibid.,p.164.[return]
57Jazz:ItsEvolutionandEssence,p.33.[return]
58Jazz:APeople'sMusic,p.192.[return]
59SamuelChartersandLeonardKunstadt,Jazz,AHistoryoftheNew[return]YorkScene(NewYork,Doubleday,1962),p.262.
60TheCountryBlues,p.234.[return]
61HsioWenShih,loc.cit.,p.72.[return]
62RobertC.Weaver,NegroLabor(NewYork,Harcourt,Brace,1946),p.[return]306.
63E.F.Frazier,TheNegrointheUnitedStates(NewYork,Macmillan,[return]1957),p.436
64Ibid.,p.445.[return]
65Jazz,APeople'sMusic,p.206.[return]
66RossRussell,"TheParentStyleandLesterYoung,"inTheArtofJazz,[return]p.210.
67Jazz,APeople'sMusic,p.213.[return]
68"Jazz:ItsRiseandDecline,"TheRecordChanger,Vol.14,No.3,p.9.[return]
69"MuskratRamble:PopularandUnpopularMusic,"PartisanReview(May,[return]1948),p.622.
70Jazz:ItsEvolutionandEssence,p.210.[return]
71RossRussell,"Bebop,"quotedinTheArtofJazz,p.189.[return]
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72Ekonda,tribalmusicoftheBelgianCongo(RiversideRLP4006).[return]
73AmericanJazzMusic(NewYork,W.W.Norton,1939),p.36.[return]
74MartinWilliams,"ExtendedImprovisationandForm:SomeSolutions,"[return]JazzReview(December,1948),p.15.
75Op.cit.,pp.99100.[return]
76TheloniousMonk,asquotedbyNatHentoff,TheJazzLife(NewYork,[return]Dial,1961),p.195.
77Jazz:AHistoryoftheNewYorkScene,pp.21920.[return]
78TheStoryofJazz,p.153.[return]
79Ibid.,p.154.[return]
80MartinWilliams,"TheFunkyHardBopRegression,"TheArtofJazz,[return]p.233.
81MartinWilliams,asquotedinTheJazzLife,p.180.[return]
82GeorgeRussell,"OrnetteColemanandTonality,"JazzReview(June,[return]1960),p.9.
83FelixManskleid,"DizOnBird,"JazzReview(January,1961).[return]
84MexicoCityBlues(NewYork,GrovePress,1959).[return]
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