The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

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

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes

Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
Jazz and Race
The incidents continue, the subtle and non-violent, the coarse and violent. In the corroding cumulative effect on the mind of the victim, the first class is more vicious and noxious than the second, for one can legislate against violence, but there is no legislation to govern the poison in the human mind.
Jazz lives in this race-ridden world. There is no musician of stature, white or Negro, who is not touched directly or indirectly by episodes such as these: none who at some point in his life has not faced the problem of having been unable to offer or to accept employment, of having seen employment denied to him or to a personal friend or musical idol for racial reasons. Jazz, on whose lofty peak we fly the flag of democracy like a slightly soiled shirt, fights the noble fight and chips the granite of prejudice, but too often it is a fight beyond the endurance of men who must live at peace with themselves and their families and their tax-collectors. Until the story of racial mixing in jazz is more fully told and more widely understood, there will continue to be misapprehensions concerning the physical and psychological characteristics of the jazzman.
Most of us no longer speak of "white jazz" and "Negro jazz." The myth of race, a curious distortion of Hitler's theories, exists today only among a handful of critics, most of them overseas, and among a very small minority of musicians of both races. It has become fairly generally accepted that there are no jazz genes, that the Negro is not, as the paternalistic white southerner would have us believe, "born singing and dancing" with an innate, natural gift in which musical education plays no part.
Long before he was able to think of music in terms of a professional livelihood, the Negro turned to music as a solace and relief from the tyranny of slavery, an outlet in which he was more likely to be encouraged than punished. Decades later, while his chances of becoming a lawyer, banker, successful busiĀ­nessman, Army officer, architect, senator, judge, were limited to an incalculable degree by the handicap of his color, music was one area in which he was comparatively free to pursue the chance of a livelihood. Since music in many cases had been a part of the constricted life of his parents, many of them sjaves