Dissemination: Morton, La Rocca, and Armstrong

in Subversive Sounds

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780226328676
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226328690 | DOI:
Dissemination: Morton, La Rocca, and Armstrong

Show Summary Details


This chapter focuses on the dissemination of jazz from New Orleans outward. It shows how Jelly Roll Morton (Creole), Nick La Rocca (white), and Louis Armstrong (black) spread the carnivalesque values of the Crescent City, continuing the musical miscegenation that began there. In particular, each man's story illustrates the complex relationship between physiognomy, racial identity, musical style, and commercial success. With a focus on Armstrong, who thought of his music as a device for racial rapprochement, the chapter argues that the contrasting fates of the three men was influenced by their racial identities and their relationship to those identities. Though La Rocca and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band achieved mass success and Morton created innovative and influential compositions and recordings, only Armstrong reached a wide audience for the long haul. Using African devices to transform popular songs, Armstrong and his impure, subversive sounds challenged racial boundaries for decades.

Keywords: New Orleans; Jelly Roll Morton; Nick La Rocca; Louis Armstrong; Crescent City; physiognomy; racial identity; musical style; commercial success; popular songs

Chapter.  15630 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.