The Jazz Cadence of American Culture

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Robert G. O'Meally
Columbia University Press, 1998 - Music - 665 pages
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Taking to heart Ralph Ellison's remark that much in American life is "jazz-shaped," The Jazz Cadence of American Culture offers a wide range of eloquent statements about the influence of this art form. Robert G. O'Meally has gathered a comprehensive collection of important essays, speeches, and interviews on the impact of jazz on other arts, on politics, and on the rhythm of everyday life. Focusing mainly on American artistic expression from 1920 to 1970, O'Meally confronts a long era of political and artistic turbulence and change in which American art forms influenced one another in unexpected ways.

Organized thematically, these provocative pieces include an essay considering poet and novelist James Weldon Johnson as a cultural critic, an interview with Wynton Marsalis, a speech on the heroic image in jazz, and a newspaper review of a recent melding of jazz music and dance, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. From Stanley Crouch to August Wilson to Jacqui Malone, the plurality of voices gathered here reflects the variety of expression within jazz.

The book's opening section sketches the overall place of jazz in America. Alan P. Merriam and Fradley H. Garner unpack the word jazz and its register, Albert Murray considers improvisation in music and life, Amiri Baraka argues that white critics misunderstand jazz, and Stanley Crouch cogently dissects the intersections of jazz and mainstream American democratic institutions. After this, the book takes an interdisciplinary approach, exploring jazz and the visual arts, dance, sports, history, memory, and literature. Ann Douglas writes on jazz's influence on the design and construction of skyscrapers in the 1920s and '30s, Zora Neale Hurston considers the significance of African-American dance, Michael Eric Dyson looks at the jazz of Michael Jordan's basketball game, and Hazel Carby takes on the sexual politics of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith's blues.

The Jazz Cadence offers a wealth of insight and information for scholars, students, jazz aficionados, and any reader wishing to know more about this music form that has put its stamp on American culture more profoundly than any other in the twentieth century.

  

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The jazz cadence of American culture

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These two compilations take very different approaches to understanding jazz. Keeping Time is a fairly traditional documentary history, using newspaper and magazine articles, interviews, and excerpts ... Read full review

Contents

A JazzThe Word
7
Forward Motion An Interview with Benny Golson
32
Repetition as a Figure of Black Culture
62
Black Music as an Art Form
82
Remembering Thelonious Monk When the Music Was Happening Then Hed Get Up and Do His Little Dance
102
Improvisation and the Creative Process
111
Introduction
117
Whats American About America
123
African Art and Motion
311
Be Like Mike? Michael Jordan and the Pedagogy of Desire
372
Noise Taps a Historic Route to Joy
381
Introduction
389
Pulp and Circumstance The Story of Jazz in High Places
393
Jazz and American Culture
431
The Golden Age Time Past
448
Double V DoubleTime Bebops Politics of Style
457

Jazz and the White Critic
137
Music Like a Big Hot Pot of Good Gumbo
143
Blues to Be Constitutional A Long Look at the Wild Wherefores of Our Democratic Lives as Symbolized in the Making of Rhythm and Tune
154
The Ellington Programme
166
Introduction
175
Art History and Black Memory Toward a Blues Aesthetic
182
Skyscrapers Airplanes and Airmindedness The Necessary Angel
196
Profiles Putting Something Over Something Else
224
Celebration
243
Black Visual Intonation
264
Improvisation in Jazz
269
Introduction
273
Jazz Music in Motion Dancers and Big Bands
278
Characteristics of Negro Expression
298
It Jus Bes Dat Way Sometime The Sexual Politics of Womens Blues
469
Constructing the Jazz Tradition
483
Other From Noun to Verb
513
Introduction
535
The Blues as Folk Poetry
540
Richard Wrights Blues
552
Preface to Three Plays
563
The Function of the Heroic Image
569
The Seemingly Eclipsed Window of Form James Weldon Johnsons Prefaces
580
Sound and Sentiment Sound and Symbol
602
SOURCES
629
INDEX
633
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Edward D. berkowitz is professor of history and public policy and public administration at George Washington University. He is the author of eight books and the editor of three collections. During the seventies he served as a staff member of the President's Commission for a National Agenda, helping President Carter plan for a second term that never came to be.

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