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Gushee asks whether New Orleans deserves its central place in the story of jazz' origins. He argues that, although ragtime was being "faked" throughout the country by the beginning of the 20th century, it was New Orleans' version that had the most influence on Chicago jazz and early swing that followed in the 1920s. Drawing on a thorough and imaginative command of primary sources, Gushee focuses on New Orleans musicians' distinctive manner of accompanying contemporary dance music to make his point.
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.
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.