ChickenBones: A Journal
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People made bebop. The question the critic must ask is: why? But it is just this why
of the [black American] music that has been consistently ignored or misunderstood
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Bebop Modernism and Change
A Course by Dr. Floyd Hayes, III
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit
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Jazz is an extenuation of the African chants and songs. It is an extenuation of the pain and suffering of those long, and too often, destinationless trips across the Atlantic Ocean, deep in the holes of those dark, damp, filthy, human slave ships, endured by chained, innocent, black men and children. Jazz is an extenuation of the humiliations suffered by these same human beings while being sold as cattle or produce. It is an extenuation of the pain of the whip, the assaulter, the procurer, the driva man, the patrol wagons, the kidnapper, the sunup to sundown slave field and plantation. It is the extension of many, many lynchings, castrations, and other improvisations of genocide on these same black men, women and children. Jazz is an extension of the black man, freed, who found himself still shackled to the same chain, all shinned up, when he unwittingly ventured out into their free world of opportunity and wealth, only to be assaulted, whipped, murdered, and raped some more. The Spiritual, Race Music, Rhythm and Blues, Dixieland, Jazz, (and never, yet, any of the music named by its creators, but by the disdainful, master observer). Jazz is an extension of the black artist being relegated to practice his or her craft, even today, under these intolerable, too similar, conditions.Max Roach, Jazz
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[Black] music is essentially the expression of an attitude, or a collection of attitudes, about the world, and only secondarily an attitude about the way music is made. . . . A man can speak of the heresy of bebop for instance, only if he is completely unaware of the psychological catalysts that made that music the exact registration of the social and cultural thinking of a whole generation of black Americans. The blues and jazz aesthetic, to be fully understood, must be seen in as nearly its complete human context as possible. People made bebop. The question the critic must ask is: why? But it is just this why of the [black American] music that has been consistently ignored or misunderstood; and it is a question that cannot be adequately answered without first understanding the necessity of asking it. Contemporary jazz during the last few years has begun to take on again some of the anarchy and excitement of the bebop years.Amiri Baraka [LeRoi Jones], Black Music
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Contemporary jazz scholarshipwhether affiliated with ethnomusicology, English, American studies, cultural studies, or historyinvestigates the ways jazz has been imagined, defined, managed, and shaped within particular cultural contexts. It considers how jazz as an experience of sounds, movements, and states of feeling has always been mediated and complicated by peculiarly American cultural patterns, especially those of race and sexuality.John Gennari, Blowin Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics
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Seminar Description and Purpose
Although jazz had emerged out of the lived experiences of African-descended Americans during the early decades of the twentieth century, many white American musicians and entrepreneurs had appropriated swing jazz by the 1930s. Reflecting the structure of Jim Crow segregation across the landscape of America, large swing jazz bands often excluded black musicians, denying them the means to maintain economic self-sufficiency. Hence, as always in America, white supremacy, cultural appropriation, and capitalist exploitation were dynamic elements of a social structure of domination. By the 1940s, a cadre of young black American musiciansthe stellar list includes Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monkset in motion a paradigm shift that challenged American cultures social and musical inequality. The bebop musical revolution was characterized by innovative and improvisational moves as black American and Afro-Cuban creative artists produced a new, intense, and rebellious sound that reverberated throughout American society.
This seminar explores the social and political content, meanings, and intent of jazz music, in general, and bebop music, in particular. While the major historical focus is from the 1940s to the 1960s, the seminar also will examine the broader history of black progressive music (jazz) and its impact on the social transformation of modern America. Bebop, as an intellectual and musical system, embodied and reflected the political and social conditions of the turbulent timesthe frustrations, aspirations, and subversive sensibilities of a progressive group of black American musicians. As World War II ended, black Americans once again began to challenge the national and global structures of white supremacy, economic exploitation, and cultural imperialism.
Demanding the democracy they had fought for during the war, black Americans called for the end of segregation in America and the termination of colonialism in Africa. It was during these moments of agitation and protest that black creative artists began to express a new musical sensibility that embodied, reflected, and accompanied the new social movement for black liberation.
For numerous historical reasons, particularly since the advent of modernity and the rise of the Enlightenment in Western Europe, the production of Africana cultural and literary discourse has been a political act. In particular, African American cultureand black culture in Latin America and the Caribbeanemerged within the context of Western cultural dominationthe Atlantic Slave Trade, chattel slavery, imperialism, colonialism, segregation, white supremacy, and antiblack hatred and violence. These structures and processes of domination also served as the cultural milieu in which Western Europeans and Euro-Americans came to define and represent their African captives and their American descendants (throughout the Americas) as negative and inferior.
Hence, the life experiences of native black Americans have been characterized by intense political, social, and cultural struggle. Black American creative artists have themselves engaged in various forms of resistance in the historic and monumental battle for black freedom, human rights, and self-determination. In many ways, reflecting black peoples experiences with the underside of modern American culture, beboppers and their complex and improvisational music might be considered counter-modernists, as they both embraced and challenged modernist American culture.
Through an historical examination of the African American progressive music tradition, this course will give seminar members the opportunity to reflect upon the complex meanings, intent, and content of bebop music. The seminar will stress an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge (historical, political, cultural, and philosophical), allowing for a reconsideration of the meaning of bebop music and the significance of its African American creators with respect to the changing character of American society.
As Julie Thompson Klein asserts in her book, Crossing Boundaries: Knowledge, Disciplinarities, and Interdisciplinarities (1996): [A]n interdisciplinarity rooted in critical thought reinvents scholarly and public discourse by regenerating method and epistemology. When intellectuality is premised on rediscovery and rethinking, resocialization and reintellectualization, interdisciplinarity becomes not just a way of doing things but a new way of knowing (1996: 15).
Thus, interdisciplinarity recognizes the inter-connectedness that propels our increasingly complex society and its cultural production and understands that the measure of competence for its members will reflect their ability to grasp this characteristic. In the final analysis, the seminar is designed to equip students with a method of inquiry that will be useful in understanding the complex interconnections of bebop music and social change in America from the 1940s to the 1960s and beyond.
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Griffin, Farah Jasmine. 2002. If You Cant Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday. New York: One World/Ballentine Books.
Jones, LeRoi (Baraka, Amiri). 1963/2002. Blues People: Negro Music in White America. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Maggin, Donald L. 2005. Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
OMeally, Robert G. 1998. Ed. The Jazz Cadence of American Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.
Porter, Eric. 2002. What Is This Thing Called Jazz?: African American Musicians as Artists, Critics, and Activists. Berkeley: University of California Press.
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Journals and Online Sources
Black Music Research Journal / Black Perspective in Music / Critical Inquiry / Downbeat / Ethnomusicology
Jazz Journal International / Jazztimes (Jazztimes.com) / Journal of American Musicology / Journal of Musicological Society
Jazz: Historical, Social, and Political Contexts
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Harrison, Daphne. 1988. Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920s. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
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Henderson, Stephen. 1973. Understanding the New Black Poetry: Black Speech and Black Music as Poetic References. New York: William Morrow and Company.
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Jones, LeRoi [Amiri Barake]. 1968. Black Music. New York: William Morrow and Company.
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Keil, Charles. 1966. Urban Blues. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
King, Richard H. 2004. Race, Culture, and the Intellectuals, 1940-1970. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Lawrence, A. H. 2001. Duke Ellington and His World: A Biography. New York: Routledge.
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Lewis, David L. 1982. When Harlem Was in Vogue. New York: Oxford University Press.
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Monson, Ingrid. 1994. Doubleness and Jazz Improvisation: Irony, Parody, and Ethnomusicology. Critical Inquiry. 20 (Winter): 283-314.
_____. 1995. The Problem of White Hipness: Race, Gender, and Cultural Conceptions in Jazz Historical Discourse. Journal of the American Musicological Society. 48: 3 (fall): 396-422.
Morrison, Toni. 1993. Jazz. New York: Plume Books.
Moten, Fred. 2003. In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Murray, Albert. 1970. The Omni-Americans: Some Alternatives to the Folklore of White Supremacy. New York: Da Capo Press.
_____. 1973. The Hero and the Blues. New York: Vintage Books.
_____. 1976. Stomping the Blues. New York: Da Capo Press.
_____. 1996. The Blue Devils of Nada: A Contemporary American Approach to Aesthetic Statement. New York: Pantheon Books.
Naison, Mark. 1983. Communists in Harlem during the Depression. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Nicholson, Stuart. 1995. Billie Holiday. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
Nielsen, Aldon Lynn. 1997. Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism. New York: Cambridge University Press.
_____. 2004. Integral Music: Languages of African American Innovation. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press.
Nisenson, Eric. 1993. Ascension: John Coltrane and His Quest. New York: St. Martins Press.
_____. 2000. Open Sky: Sonny Rollins and His World of Improvisation. New York: St. Martins Press.
Owens, Thomas. 1996. Bebop: The Music and Its Players. New York: Oxford University Press.
Panish, Jan. 1997. The Color of Jazz: Race and Representation in Postwar America Culture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Porter, Lewis. 1985. John Coltranes A Love Supreme: Jazz Improvisation as Composition. Journal of American Musicological Society 3 (fall): 600-.
_____. 1998. John Coltrane: His Life and Music. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
Powell, Richard J. 1989. The Blues Aesthetic: Black Culture and Modernism. Washington, D. C.: Washington Project for the Arts.
Ramsey, Gutherie P., Jr. 2003. Race Music: Black Cultures From Bebop to Hip-Hop. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Roach, Max. 1999. Jazz. In Hazel A. Ervin. Ed. African American Literary Criticism, 1773 to 2000. New York: Twayne Publishers, pp. 113-116.
Robinson, Cedric J. 1983. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. London: Zed Books Ltd.
Radano, Ronald, and Philip V. Bohlman. 2000. Eds. Music and Racial Imagination. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Santoro, Gene. 2000. Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus. New York: Oxford University Press.
Schuller, Gunther. 1968. Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development. New York: Oxford University Press.
_____. 1989. The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930-1945. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shipton, Alyn. 1999. Groovin High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sidran, Ben. 1971. Black Talk. New York: De Capo Press.
Silver, Horace. 2006. Lets Get to the Nitty Gritty: The Autobiography of Horace Silver. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Spellman, A. B. 1966. Four Lives in the Bebop Business. New York: Pantheon.
Stuckey, Sterling. 1987. Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory & the Foundations of Black America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sullinvan, Patricia. 1996. Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Szwed, John F. 1997. Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra. New York: Pantheon Books.
Thomas, J. C. 1976. Chasin The Trane: The Music and Mystique of John Coltrane. New York: Da Capo.
Thorpe, Earl E. 1961. The Mind of the Negro: An Intellectual History of Afro-Americans. Baton Rouge: Ortlieb Press.
Tirro, Frank. 1977. Jazz: A History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Vincent, Ted. 1995. Keep Cool: The Black Activists Who Built the Jazz Age. East Haven: Pluto Press.
Von Eschen, Penny M. 2004. Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
_____.1997. Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937-1957. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Wallace, Michele. 1990. Modernism, Postmodernism, and the Problem of the Visual in Afro-American Culture. In Russell Ferguson, Martha Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Cornel West. Eds. Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 39-50.
Werner, Craig H. 1994. Playing the Changes: From Afro-Modernism to the Jazz Impulse. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
West, Cornel. 1990. The New Cultural Politics of Difference. In Russell Ferguson, Martha Gever, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Cornel West. Eds. Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures. Cambridge: The MIT Press, pp. 19-36.
Whaley, Preston, Jr., 2004. Blows Like a Horn: Beat Writing, Jazz, Style, and Markets in the Transformation of US Culture, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Wood, Forrest G. 1990. The Arrogance of Faith: Christianity and Race in America from the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Wright, Richard. 1940. Native Son. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.
_____. 1945. Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.
_____. 1953. The Outsider . New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.
_____. 1957. White Man Listen! New York: Harper & Row, Publishers.
_____. 1979. American Hunger. New York: Harper and Row.
Yaffe, David. 2006. Fascinating Rhythm: Reading Jazz in American Writing. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Modernism, Eurocentrism, and Critique
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Dupre, Louis. 2004. The Enlightenment & the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.
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_____. 1967. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove Press.
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Lara, Maria P. 2001. Ed. Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Levin, David M. 1987. Ed. Pathologies of the Modern Self: Postmodern Studies on Narcissism, Schizophrenia, and Depression. New York: New York University Press.
_____.1988. The Opening of Vision: Nihilism and the Postmodern Situation. New York: Routledge.
_____. 1999. The Philosophers Gaze: Modernity in the Shadows of Enlightenment. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Madison, Gary B., and Marty Fairbairn. 1999. Eds. The Ethics of Postmodernity: Current Trends in Continental Thought. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
Mamdani, Mahmood. 2004. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror. New York: Pantheon Books.
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Nietzsche, Fredrich. 1989. Beyond Good and Evil. Trans. Walter Kaufman. New York: Vintage Books.
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Pocock, J. G. A. 1975. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Said, Edward W. 1983. The World, the Text, and the Critic. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
_____. 1993. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
_____. 2001. Power, Politics, and Culture. New York: Pantheon Books.
_____. 2001. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Sass, Louis A. 1992. Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Schacht, Richard. 1994. Ed. Nietzsche, Genealogy, and Morality: Essays on Nietzsches On the Genealogy of Morals. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Scheler, Max. 1994. Ressentiment. Trans. L. Coser and W. H. Holdheim. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press.
Spadafora, David. 1990. The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Solomon, Richard. 1994. One Hundred Years of Ressentiment: Nietzsches Genealogy of Morals. In R. Schacht. Ed. Nietzsche, Genealogy, and Morality: Essays on Nietzsches On the Genealogy of Morals. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Taylor, Charles. 1989. Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Valls, Andrew. 2005. Race and Racism in Modern Philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Vattimo, Gianni. 1988. The End of Modernity. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Warren, Mark. 1988. Nietzsche and Political Thought. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
West, Cornel. 1982. Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.
Williams, Raymond. 1989. The Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists. New York: Verso.
Wolfenstein, Eugene V. 2000. Inside/Outside Nietzsche: Psychoanalytic Explorations. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Wuthnow, Robert. 1989. Communities of Discourse: Ideology and Social Structure in the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and European Socialism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
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Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own CountryBy Constance Pohl and Esther Cooper Jackson
A collection of over 50 articles originally published in Freedomways, one of the premier African-American intellectual periodicals during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
Until now, these documents, which show the depth and breadth of the struggle for democracy, had been lost to the public. The publication of the Freedomways Reader restores this lost treasury. It contains what amounts to an oral history of the liberation movements of the 1960s through the 1980s. Through the reports of the Freedom Riders, the early articles against the Vietnam War and South African apartheid, the short stories and poems of Alice Walker, and the memoirs of black organizers in the Jim Crow south of the Thirties, one can walk in the footsteps of these pioneers. When it was created in 1961, the goal of the publication Freedomways was “to serve as a vehicle of communication, which will mirror developments in the diversified many-sided struggles of the Negro people.”
By the time of its demise in 1986, it had tracked the peril and promise of the civil rights era and the bewildering decade of the 1970s. This informative reader, compiled by the magazine’s cofounder Esther Cooper Jackson, covers the full scope of Freedomways’ history. In addition to contributions by W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, and James Baldwin, the magazine boasted three Nobel Prize winners in Martin Luther King Jr., Pablo Neruda, and Derek Walcott. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee graced its pages, along with then-rising stars Alice Walker, Angela Davis, and Jesse Jackson. Covering topics as diverse as politics, culture, jazz, the antiwar movement, Pan-Africanism, prison, and education, Freedomways Reader is an excellent diary of late-20th-century African American life.Eugene Holley Jr
Jackson was the original editor of Freedomways, a quarterly magazine published between 1961 and 1986, chronicling the struggle for racial justice in the U.S. The magazine featured contributions by many of the luminaries of black literature, art, and politics, including three Nobel Prize laureates: Martin Luther King Jr., Pablo Neruda, and Derek Wolcott. Other contributors included Alice Walker, James Baldwin, W. E. B. DuBois, Jomo Kenyatta, C. L. R. James, and common black folk. The collection features poetry, essays, speeches, articles. There are memoirs of a Birmingham coal miner, tributes to Paul Robeson, and reflections of black feminists, labor organizers, and prisoners. The anthology begins with articles actually written in the 1940s and 1950s, which provide historical context for the journal itself, followed by the pieces, organized topically, e.g., the Southern movement, international solidarity, the movement in the North, and art and activism. This comprehensive collection reflects the global nature of the struggle for equality and the longing for racial justice over an important 25-year period.Vanessa Bush, Booklist
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By H. W. Brands
In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign. The Economy
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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updated 13 October 2007