The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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folk music that could never be documented, and by insisting on the necessity of a binary meter. Some jazz authorities still hold these views, though to an ever-diminishing degree.
At least half the greatest jazz artists have been Negroes; but they would rather be accepted for their intrinsic merit than on chauvinistic grounds. Jazz was the product of a specific social environment in which a group of people, the American Negroes, largely shut off from the white world, developed cultural pat­terns of their own. As soon as the rigid segregation under which they had lived began to soften, it became obvious on the basis of a freer interchange of ideas that anyone could play jazz, according to his environment, his ability and his talent as an individual, not as white or Negrp. Place an infant from Australia, China or Siam in the care of a jazz-oriented New York family and he will have as good a chance as any other infant in those circumstances of growing up to be a great jazz musician. Take the infant son of a famous and universally respected jazz musician and rear him in a non-musical setting among the people of a distant country; the chances that he will ever develop any jazz interest or talent jare remote.
They are less remote, however, than they would have been a few years ago; for as the jazz world has in one sense grown, in another it has shrunk. Today it is so small that an idea created one month by a saxophonist in California may be ex­pressed with a similar power of inspiration a month later by a record-buying jazzman in Stockholm. Jazz ideas are imported as well as exported; the pianists and guitarists who have been influenced by Shearing and Reinhardt, the saxophonists who wait eagerly for the release of Lars Gullin's next LP, attest to the increasing degree of international interchange and to the theory that jazz at present is not local, not regional or facial, but natural —natural to any musician, regardless of his geographical circum­stances, who may be within reach of a phonograph, a radio, or another musician.
That this interchange was impossible at the stage when jazz was crystallizing must certainly be taken into account in any assessment of its origins. Moreover, the documentation of this early period has been thoroughly and painstakingly undertaken