Goin' to Kansas City

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, 1994 - Music - 252 pages
"A big juicy wedge of jazz history.
. . . Lots of wonderful stories."
-- Los Angeles Daily News
"Kansas City was a hub for Jazz bands that crisscrossed the country in
the 1930s. . . . The interviews go beyond jazz into the infamous political
machinery that made Kansas City a wide-open and corrupt town where jazz
could flourish."
-- Choice
"A wealth of stories, a good measure of entertainment and a valuable
stab at history -- not to mention some great pictures."
-- The Kansas City Star
 

What people are saying - Write a review

Goin' to Kansas City

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Based on a series of 41 interviews conducted between 1977 and 1980, this work "uses the development of jazz in Kansas City as the focal point for a social history.'' It traces the sources of Kansas ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Goin' To Kansas City
Nathan W. Pearson, Jr
University of Illinois Press, 1987
Hardback. 272pp. b&w illustrations
29.99
The great bands of the Kansas City era - The Blue Devils, Bennie Moten, Andy Kirk, the Kansas City Rockets, Count Basie and Jay McShann - rank among the most exciting groups in jazz. These musicians brought together many different musical styles to create a distinctive Kansas City jazz that was among the finest expressions of swing, and laid the groundwork for modern jazz.
Goin' to Kansas City tells the story of the community, primarily through the recollections of many who were active participants. Through interviews that provide first-hand accounts of such prominent musicians as Mary Lou Williams, Buck Clayton, and Buster Smith, and accompanying narrative, Nathan Pearson offers an intimate view of the times and lore of this important centre of American music, its development, and its great bands.
Kansas City has long been recognised as having been a major jazz centre, ranking in importance only behind New York, New Orleans, and Chicago. From the mid-1920s through the late 1930s, jazz musicians from the central states of America were "goin' to Kansas City" in search of jobs, musical challenge, and good times. When they arrived they entered a musical community that was extraordinarily supportive, demanding, and artistically uplifting. Pearson's social history reveals how this unique jazz style developed in the context of Kansas City's political and economic environment prior to World War II.
Kansas City jazz prospered while most of America suffered through the Great Depression, largely because of the corrupt but economically stimulating administration of Boss Tom Pendergast. Jazz was the popular social music of the time, and the centres of vice - nightclubs and gambling halls - usually hired musicians to attract customers. The serendipitous results were plentiful but low-paying jobs for jazz musicians from throughout the Mid-west and an outpouring of great new music.
NATHAN W. PEARSON, Jr., is trained as an ethnomusicologist and is a management consultant in New York City.
"Nathan Pearson and his colleague, Howard Litwak, did a wonderful job of locating and interviewing these oldtimers, and their documentation is full. Goin' to Kansas City will be useful to the sizeable audience interested in jazz in a scholarly way, which includes not only academic ethnomusicologist and other music types but also many people who have no academic affiliation but nevertheless specialise in jazz history. In addition, a lot of scholars are interested in materials like this as a basis for sociological and historical generalisation." - HOWARD S. BECKER
"A big juicy wedge of jazz history. . . . Lots of wonderful stories."
-- Los Angeles Daily News
"Kansas City was a hub for Jazz bands that crisscrossed the country in the 1930s. . . . The interviews go beyond jazz into the infamous political machinery that made Kansas City a wide-open and corrupt town where jazz could flourish."
-- Choice
"A wealth of stories, a good measure of entertainment and a valuable stab at history -- not to mention some great pictures."
-- The Kansas City Star
 

Contents

Roots of Kansas City Jazz
1
Sources of the Early Kansas City Jazz Style Ragtime and New Orleans Jazz
24
The Territories Jazz Emerges in the Midwest
33
Tales from the Territories The Twelve Clouds of Joy
54
Tales from the Territories The Blue Devils
64
The Road Leads to Kansas City
77
Toms Town The Pendergast Years
83
The WideOpen Town
92
George E Lee and His Singing Novelty Orchestra
148
The Kansas City Rockets Thamon Hayes and Harlan Leonard
154
The Jay McShann Orchestra
163
Kansas City Fadeout Wartime and the Evolution of Jazz from the Big Bands
184
The Great Innovators of Kansas City Jazz Buster Smith Lester Young and Charlie Parker
196
Kansas City Jazz Today
214
Chronology
219
Brief Biographies
223

Stepping Out and Sitting In The Musicians Nightlife
107
Kansas City Jazz Style
114
The Bennie Moten Orchestra
121
The Count Basie Orchestra
135
Selected Discography
229
Selected Bibliography
235
Index
239
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information