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Re: Did Whiteman Steal form Oliver?

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  • Albert Haim
    The flow of influences between black and white musicians was not a one-way street. White musicians found what some of the black musicians were developing of
    Message 1 of 44 , May 1, 2006
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      The flow of influences between black and white musicians was not a
      one-way street. White musicians found what some of the black musicians
      were developing of value and interest, and vice versa. Just a
      well-known example: listen to some of Louis Armstrong's early 1930s
      sides and compare to the sweet sound of Guy Lombardo.

      You describe the influence of black music on white musicians as
      "stealing." As I said in my previous post: since when is a music style
      the exclusive property of one individual, a band, or a race? And since
      when being influenced by another musician or a style is defined as
      "stealing"? Bach was influenced by Vivaldi. Would you say that Bach
      "stole" from Vivaldi? If you define the influence of black musicians
      on white musicians as "stealing," what would you call the fact that
      the black musicians "borrowed" (I use the quotes, just as you did) the
      diatonic scale from the white musicians as well as most of their
      instruments?

      You seem to be under the spell of the "politically correct" theories
      that the black musicians were the originators, while the white
      musicians were "imitators," "followers", that they did not contribute
      in a creative way to the music they played. White musicians were
      developing music in the 1920s along their own sensibilities, they were
      not just parroting what the blacks were doing. Take musicians like
      Miff Mole, Red Nichols, the Dorsey Brothers, Joe Venuti and Eddie
      Lang, the Chicagoans, Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, etc. etc.
      Their creative output was distinct from that of the black musicians:
      they were not just copying what the black musicians were doing, they
      were originating their own approach and concepts. Maybe you should
      read "Lost Chords" by Richard Sudhalter.

      Certainly, there was segregation and prejudices in America in the
      1920s (and beyond). But just because segregation existed and the white
      musicians had available to them more venues that paid well as compared
      to the black musicians, it is inappropriate to assign to the white
      musicians the label of "stealing" ┬ľas you do. Moreover, the
      financially successful music played by the white musicians in the
      segregated venues was not jazz lifted directly from what the black
      musicians were playing, it was dance band music, sometimes hot,
      sometimes sweet, sometimes both. But any accusation that the white
      musicians "stole" jazz from the black musicians and became rich and
      prosperous playing it in segregated venues has no basis in fact. It is
      part of the Ken Burns/Wynton Marsalis and company effort to change
      history to suit their political agendas.

      Albert




      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Howard Rye <howard@...> wrote:
      >
      > on 28/4/06 16:32, Albert Haim at alberthaim@... wrote:
      >
      > > --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, Walter Five <walterfive_666@>
      wrote:
      > >
      > >> Oliver was being dismissive; he knew what was being stolen from
      > > him: guys like Paul Whiteman were playing luke-warm Jazz
      > > "arrangements" at best, and being hailed as "King" in their own right.
      > >>
      > >
      > > I cannot let that comment pass without expressing my complete
      > > disagreement. Stolen? Since when does a certain type of music belong
      > > exclusively to an individual, a group of individuals, or a race? You
      > > are echoing the "politically correct" views espoused by Ken
      > > Burns/Wynton Marsalis and company.
      > >
      > > What do you mean by Whiteman stealing from Oliver?
      >
      > On the substantive issue I very much doubt that Whiteman took much from
      > Oliver. If he did it certainly had very little effect. Any literal
      stealing
      > is likely to have been in the other direction. Oliver had much more
      need of
      > Whiteman's classically based arranging tricks "to keep up with the
      times"
      > than Whiteman had of Oliver's strengths.
      >
      > But you seem to be making a more general point also. It can hardly be
      > disputed that white musicians did 'borrow' from African-Americans
      and then
      > perform what they had borrowed in venues in which black musicians
      could not
      > compete on equal terms or at all because of segregation, prejudice,
      union
      > rules, or all three. That is what makes it appropriate to talk of
      stealing
      > rather than sharing. To suggest that it is merely "politically
      correct" to
      > point that out is morally quite out of order (or a naive attempt to
      abolish
      > prejudice and segregation retrospectively).
      >
      > And African-American musicians did resent it bitterly (see Dave Peyton's
      > columns in the Chicago Defender for one source) and in my view quite
      > justifiably. As late as 1934 Cab Calloway on his visit to Britain in
      that
      > year wrote an article (which of course I can't actually find at the
      moment)
      > called "Grand Larceny in Split Commons" in which he expressed trenchant
      > opinions on the subject. The process of taking and slightly adapting
      > African-American music for presentation in segregated venues
      continued well
      > in to the rock and roll era.
      >
      > The question of the extent of the "guilt", if any, of any particular
      > individual is altogether a more complex matter.
      >
      > Howard Rye, 20 Coppermill Lane, London, England, E17 7HB
      > howard@...
      > Tel/FAX: +44 20 8521 1098
      >
    • Andrew Homzy
      ... Everybody bought Paul Whiteman records. A.
      Message 44 of 44 , Jun 2, 2006
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        > Maybe you are right but I wonder how Oliver could listen to Whiteman,
        > I mean , was he allowed to enter a record store that is dedicated to
        > noncolored artists music and buy records ? Or maybe he entered one of
        > Whiteman's gigs ? Is it possible ?
        > tommersl

        Everybody bought Paul Whiteman records.

        A.
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