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
Joachim-Ernst Berendt, a brilliant and well-informed writer, is German/s leading jazz critic. His survey Das Jazzbuch is illustrated by a series of genealogical tables, one to each instru­ment, in which are shown the relationships of various styles. In almost every case two main lines are traced, one labeled "schwarz" the other "weiss." The result is a tangled skein of non-sequiturs in which, to take one example at random, Harry James stems directly from Bix Beiderbecke, while Bex Stewart forms a link between Bubber Miley and Buck Clayton. Common sense, memory and the human ear recall that James* real in­fluences were Armstrong and Spanier, and that Rex at one time copied Beiderbecke choruses note for note.
Even Andx6 Hodeir has a blind spot on the race question. To him there is a greater natural relaxation among Negroes which manifests itself not only in their jazz performances but in the events at the Olympic Games. This pseudo-scientific gobbledy-gook led M. Hodeir to some curious mathematical equations in an examination of two Miles Davis recording sessions on Capitol. On one, he observed, there were seven white and two Negro musicians; on the other the proportions were almost reversed. Ergo, the second swings more. One wonders whether M. Hodeir would have picked out the four tunes on the second session as swinging more had he had no prior information con­cerning the racial make-up of each group.
In England the same attitude is prevalent. An otherwise ex­cellent survey of modern jazz, written by Alun Morgan and Raymond Horricks, constantly refers to musicians by their color, employing such phrases as "meanwhile, among the white musi­cians . . ." or "the Negro trombonists, on the other hand . . >w One wonders again how this attitude would have held up under blindfold conditions.
The final proof of the absurdity of this race-conscious view of jazz lies in its arbitrary method of segregating the musicians. By what scientific standards, for instance, do Hodeir, Berendt; Morgan and Horricks assign Willie Smith to the Negro side of the fence when the saxophonist clearly, by any but the most HitJerian of standards, is white? In which branch of their split family tree do they place an equally white trumpeter named Carl