2553Re: [RedHotJazz] Jazz without New Orleans (was Re: New Orleans)
- May 3, 2006
----- Original Message -----
> The question makes me think about someone like W.C. Handy who wasn't
> born into Blues but learnt about it after he already had a classical
> music background. However , his music is more Jazz than the
> traditional Blues that inspired Handy (the Delta Blues as instance).
> It makes me think wether the Jazz was something that was going to
> happen regardless of the New Orleans connection.
In a way, this is what I had in mind. I was about to tell Howard that if I
should write my own definition of jazz, it probably wouldn't match what I
regard as essential... but it does not mean that the essential came first.
I think the question has more to do with the intercourse between composed
music and folk elements than with racial considerations (although there is
an obvious link in our case). I really don't mind thinking that "hot"
soloists or bandleaders may have inserted their talent and individuality
into some kind
of highly popular, slick or caricatural dance music, turning the caricature
into an art form - just like ragtime composers and black minstrels had done
For African-American musicians, for people like Handy or... Ellington, to go
back to the original statement that started the thread, it meant having at
last a grasp on what had always been labeled as 'Ethiopian music', 'coon
songs' etc., consciously claiming and adorning caricatural elements until
everyone was forced to regard them as true inventivity (which makes me think
of Ralph Elison rather than Scott Fitzgerald, but it took me decades until I
could make the connection).
For people like Bix and probably many more youngsters of the period, it
meant 'playing like blacks' and actually taking their inspiration out of
something more interesting than contemporary dance bands - either real negro
performers, or just the way they figured out negro bands would play. Pure
creativity in any case, and as far as black musicians are concerned I think
that regarding them as creators rather than mere transmitters of an
imaginary African musical tradition would be a greater tribute to pay to
their musical talent than the common idea of blues coming straight from the
coasts of West Africa and giving birth to jazz (do I need a tin hat too?;)
Since you vaguely know what I think about it, Handy and the Delta blues will
deserve another reply some time or other.
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