History and Memory, Pathways and Practices: The African Americanness of Jazz

Travis A. Jackson

in Blowin’ the Blues Away

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780520270442
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520951921 | DOI:
History and Memory, Pathways and Practices: The African Americanness of Jazz

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This chapter explores the issues of race, culture, history, memory, education, and experience that are integral to (and frequently debated with regard to) the making of jazz. One of the most trenchant questions in the chapter is whether jazz is African American music, American music, or something else altogether. The response hinges on problematizing notions of race/culture and history/memory, seeing them as constructs that have been strategically deployed by various commentators. While the writings of these commentators frequently conflate race and culture with one another, they stake their claims to authority by valorizing history at the expense of memory without seeing the two as related rather than opposed entities. As a corrective, the chapter considers the pathways taken by various musicians to performing, recording, and listening to jazz. In doing so, it draws attention to the roles of practical activity, lived experience, and notions of social, economic, and cultural capital to argue that there are compelling reasons to consider jazz African American.

Keywords: jazz; African American music; race; culture; musicians

Chapter.  10468 words. 

Subjects: American Music

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