Amiri Baraka’s "Blues People" at Fifty : William J. Harris

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.

The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Jazz

Black Music Research Journal

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.

Syncopating Rhythms: Jazz and Caribbean Culture

Miller argues that Caribbean music is central to the emergence and development of jazz. The Caribbean islands were a crucial transfer point to the mainland United States for African rhythms and musical forms from the beginning of the slave trade until the present. Caribbean music was especially important in the development of jazz in New Orleans, America's Caribbean city.

Doctor Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton


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.

Cosmopolitan or Provincial?: Ideology in Early Black Music

Black Music Research Journal

This article explores the historiography of early black music and its legacy. In examining texts from the 19th century to the 1940s, Ramsey finds that black music has always been a fertile source of controversy-and that the same issues still resonate in current debates. He takes as his starting point the cleavage between "cosmopolitan" and "provincial" outlooks, which viewed American music from a European perspective, or a more resolutely and defiantly American one, respectively.

Eugene Stratton and Early Ragtime in Britain

Black Music Research Journal

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'."

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