From “Jazz & The White Critic: 30 Years Later” by Amiri Baraka:
Yet, to be bluntly precise, just as the history of European “Classical” music would not be essentially changed by the exclusion of the many non-European artists who have contributed to it, by the same measure Afro-American music, which is the Soul of what must be regarded as American Classical music, would not be changed if not a single white artist’s contributions were included. And, face it, this analysis is not black chauvinism, but like they say, hard fact!
From “Black and White Blues,” posted yesterday by Nick Dellow on the Bix Beiderbecke web forum:
Jazz is a wonderful music that speaks for itself—close your eyes while you listen and you will see and hear that it is shaded from black to white and all the tones in between. It’s roots are black, of course, and throughout its history black culture has played a fundamental, vital, central role in its development, but to dismiss or at least marginalise the role of other cultures—“white” cultures if you want to be simplistic about it (though one might refine this by saying Italian, Jewish, Spanish, etc.)—is nonsensical and historically inaccurate.
Why do you think jazz started in New Orleans? Obviously (well, obvious to some), because the place was a cultural melting pot, with black and white cultures (Italians in particular) working together to create a new form of popular music. What a shame that some of its latter-day decedents who have been handed down this rich musical heritage have decided to obfuscate its true history in order to create a pastiche that fits modern politically correct sensibilities.
From the forthcoming Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans by Thomas Brothers:
The story of how, out of this [New Orleans] milieu, one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century emerged is uniquely African American and therefore uniquely American. To understand jazz as American in this way is to work with a social conception of the music that is quite different from the familiar story of jazz as an American musical gumbo, a melting pot of many different ethnicities.
[February 28, 2006]