|Visit Us On FB
foreground. Of the few remaining big jazz bands and dance bands, most are still all-white or all-Negro, but the combos, more important to the development of jazz as a whole, are rapidly losing their color consciousness.
Whatever restrictions are still imposed on Negro artists are most often the consequence of outside pressures. The bland, nondescript orchestras of Lawrence Welk and Ray Anthony have had their own regularly sponsored television series, a privilege never accorded Duke Ellington or Count Basic. Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney and dozens of other white singers have similarly found the commercial TV sponsorship for which the Ella Fitz-geralds and Sarah Vaughans search in vain.
The case of Nat Cole is a bitter illustration of the forces that govern success in this area. In the fall of 1956 NBC-TV allotted him a fifteen-minute program. The reaction was so favorable that it was expanded to thirty minutes. Audience surveys showed that it had a powerfully high rating which at one point almost equalled that of a long-established and tremendously popular opposing program on the CBS network. A number of important stars of show business appeared as Cole's guests for nominal salaries in an attempt to bolster his position. Yet by September of 1957, after almost a year of weekly broadcasts, the combined sales forces of NBC in New York and Los Angeles had been unable to find a national sponsor for the show; moreover, Cole remained the solitary Negro artist with a TV show of his own.
Cole's program, though seen on a few southern stations, was officially banned in a city in his native state (Birmingham, Alabama). Fear of antagonizing the southern market was, as always, the reason for the lack of coast-to-coast sponsorship.
The Negro percentage among great jazz soloists, singers and arrangers at present probably accounts for from 40 to 60% of the total. Most of the great innovators of jazz history have been Negroes; a few were white—Beiderbecke, Goodman, Tris-tano. Purely by chance, the great clarinetists and guitarists, at least for the past 15 years, have been white, while a majority of the trumpeters and drummers have been Negro, and the saxophonists and trombonists are more or less equally divided. Purely through association, the "cool tenor" of the Stan Cetz