An unlikely encounter between folklore archivist Alan Lomax and jazz composer and pianist Jelly Roll Morton led to some remarkable recordings for the Library of Congress of Morton speaking, singing, and playing. This article recounts the events that led to the historic meeting and explores the significance of the life and music captured in the recordings. The article contains a wealth of information on Morton’s early life, his uneven career, his incisive and wide-ranging views on jazz and related musical forms, and his central place in the development and dissemination of jazz.
This essay explores the way New Orleans jazz was disseminated throughout the country, taking the Creole Band as a case study. This group included legendary jazz musicians Freddy Keppard and George Bacquet, was a popular vaudeville act, and traveled earlier and more widely than its New Orleans peers. Yet the Creole Band has had far less historical documentation and discussion. The authors address this gap by examining notice of the Creole Band in the white theatrical press.
Pickering examines Stratton's popular blackface routine in late 19th century Britain. He argues that Victorian society defined itself as modern and civilized vis-à-vis a stereotyped racial "other"-yet also cynically suppressed awareness of the brutal colonial oppression attending its growing empire. Stratton made "visible for his British audiences what was otherwise evaded or concealed ‘inside themselves'."
Just after World War I, when proper jazz journalism did not yet exist, composer and orchestra leader James Reese Europe served as an articulate, even prophetic voice. Though not a writer, comments Europe made on jazz to the press helped cast it as a legitimate art form rather than a threat to society, as it was then sometimes seen. Welburn discusses Europe's comments on race, the origins of jazz, and idiomatic jazz performance techniques.
The full text of a pathbreaking early book on jazz.