Blues

Amiri Baraka’s "Blues People" at Fifty

This comprehensive study, the first to be written by an African American, is a precursor to the fields of cultural studies and critical race theory. William J. Harris discusses the implications of this sociocultural history of African American music and its unique place in American music history and culture. The talk marks the 50th anniversary of Amiri Baraka’s classic, which was published in New York City On September 25, 1963 with a first impression of 5000 copies and never went out of print.

Doctor Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton

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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.

“’How You Sound??’: Amiri Baraka Writes Free Jazz.”

Harris' essay examines the ways authors Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed translated elements of jazz-particularly free jazz-into literary expression. Baraka believed that free jazz captured what was most valuable in the black tradition and updated it to respond to contemporary phenomena. Harris makes reference to the authors' written work and to Baraka's actual spoken performances.

 

To view the complete resource, download it as a PDF.

Stitt's Time (from The Velvet Lounge)

Author: 

Gerald Majer, a native of Chicago's racially segregated South Side, has written a book about its musical life. The Velvet Lounge combines his personal experiences with the story, or stories, of his community, merging his account of the music and with the difficult conditions that shaped it. The result is an innovative combination of history, subjective experience of that history, and reflection on its meaning--that is, of fact, literature, and criticism.

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