Jazz, Roots to 1956

University of Kansas

American Studies

Fall 2006


How you'll be graded: On the basis of: two in-class exams (each counting 20% toward your overall grade); a comprehensive take-home final exam (25%), due via Blackboard no later than Thursday, 14 December, 1 pm (when our scheduled final exam ends); a 1750-word research paper on a topic you select and I approve, due 30 November (15%); and a class participation score (20% of your final grade) based on your in-class comments and answers to questions, and short response papers assigned in class. (Not turning in assignments, needless to say, will gravely affect that score.)

YOUR TERM-PAPER REQUIREMENT WILL BE WAIVED IF a) your total absences for the semester do not exceed four classes, and b) you get an ‘A' on both in-class tests, in which case those tests combined will count for 35% toward your final grade. (Test grades are not subject to appeal.)

Graduate students are further required either to a) write an additional 2000-word paper or b) do a 30-40-minute classroom lecture/presentation, on a topic to be selected in consultation with the professor. For grad students other grade criteria shrink to 75%, paper/presentation counts for 25%.

Attendance policy: Attendance at every scheduled class is expected. However, to accommodate sick days, personal business, family emergencies, school trips, etc, you may miss FOUR classes without penalty. AFTER THAT EACH ABSENCE WILL COST YOU ONE FULL GRADE POINT (i.e., your A becomes a B, etc., and down the scale for each class missed). Absence from the first class counts, even if you had not yet enrolled in the course.

HOWEVER, if you attend every session, and complete all assignments in good faith, your lowest grade in any category-any exam, term paper, class participation-will become an A.

If you skip a class, you are still responsible for work assigned and material covered in your absence; kindly find out what you missed from another student.

Please arrive on time, and do not leave the room during class. Late arrival, early departure, unscheduled breaks and catnaps will influence your class participation grade; repeated violations may be counted as an absence at my discretion.

Plagiarism warning: Stealing and passing off as your own someone else's ideas or words, or using information from another's work without crediting the source: that's plagiarism. Some specific examples include PASTING TOGETHER UNCREDITED INFORMATION FROM THE INTERNET or published sources, submitting an entire paper written by someone else, submitting a paper written for another class (and thus not original work), and copying another student's work (even with their permission). In order to avoid unintentional plagiarism and to represent your work honestly, you will need to be meticulous about giving credit to any and all sources, whether directly quoted (even a few words) or paraphrased.

The university avails itself of a sophisticated search engine to ferret out plagiarism; you may be asked to submit current or past papers electronically (via the Blackboard site) at any time during the semester, so KEEP COMPUTER FILES OF ALL SUBMISSIONS UNTIL YOU RECEIVE A FINAL GRADE. FAILURE TO SUBMIT A PAPER ELECTRONICALLY WHEN REQUESTED TO DO SO WILL BE CONSIDERED AN ADMISSION OF PLAGIARISM.

All incidents of plagiarism will be penalized (i.e., with an F for the assignment), reported, and kept on file in the American Studies Department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Ted Gioia, The History of Jazz (Oxford)-plus the occasional handout or reading posted at the class Blackboard site.

Much required listening is available as streaming audio at redhotjazz.com, a most valuable resource.


Ned Sublette, Cuba and Its Music

Martin Williams, The Jazz Tradition & Jazz Masters of New Orleans

Alan Lomax, Mr. Jelly Lord

Gunther Schuller, Early Jazz & The Swing Era

Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, eds. Hear Me Talkin' to Ya

Stanley Dance, The World of Earl Hines, The World of Duke Ellington, The World of

Swing & The World of Count Basie

Albert Murray, Stomping the Blues

Ross Russell, Jazz in Kansas City and the Southwest

Linda Dahl, Morning glory : A Biography of Mary Lou Williams

Ira Gitler, Jazz Masters of the 40's & Swing to Bop

Scott DeVeaux, The Birth of Be-Bop

Jack Chambers, Milestones 1 & 2

David Rosenthal, Hard Bop

Very useful biographical entries (and excellent discussions of general topics like harmony and the blues) in: New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (3 volumes), 2002


(Topics subject to change, embellishment, improvisation, etc.):

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Roots: West African music, slave culture, brass bands, marches & rags, classic blues

Read Gioia to p. 34.

Week 3: First jazz records, 1913-1920; New Orleanians in Chicago: King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton

Read Gioia to p. 53.

Week 4: Louis Armstrong in the 1920s; Sidney Bechet and other early soloists

Read Gioia to p. 70.

Week 5: Beiderbecke, Trumbauer, Teagarden, etc.; White Chicagoans; New York stride piano

Read Gioia to p. 89.

Week 6: Fletcher Henderson & Paul Whiteman; Duke Ellington in the 1920s

Read Gioia chapter 4 (to p. 133).

Week 7: TEST 1

Week 8: "The swing era": Goodman & Shaw

Read Gioia to p. 157.

Week 9: Small-group swing; Art Tatum, Billie Holiday, etc.

Read Gioia (bottom) 176-182.

Week 10: Sidebar: American Popular Song

Week 11: Catch-up/sound-off day; term-paper briefing


Week 13: Kansas City in the '20s and '30s: Basie, Lester Young, Mary Lou Williams

Read Gioia 157-176.

Week 14: Hawkins & Django in Europe; Ellington in the '30s

Read Gioia to p. 197.

Week 15: Ellington in the '40s; the birth of bop

Read Gioia to p. 216.


Week 16: Bebop; postwar big bands

Read Gioia to p. 275. (You can skip the Sun Ra page.)

Week 17: TEST 2

Week 18: NO CLASS

Week 19A: Bebop singers, etc.: Fitzgerald & Vaughan

Week 19B: Early 50s: approaching hard bop.

Read Gioia 292-(middle) 296, 309-325.

Week 20: Sidebar: jazz and country & western

Week 21: Los Angeles cool; the coming avant-garde

Read Gioia 286-292.


Week 22: Los Angeles hot

Read Gioia (bottom) 325-(top) 329.


Week 23: Early 50s: approaching hard bop; your questions.

Read Gioia 292-(middle) 296, 309-325.

Week 24: Catch up/fill-in; where are they now?

Download this resource as a PDF.

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1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, bebop, bibliographies, Big Bands, jazz history, jazz studies, New Orleans, roots music, slave culture, swing, syllabi