The Jazz Cadence of American Culture

Edited by Robert G. O'Meally

Columbia University Press

The Jazz Cadence of American Culture

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Pub Date: December 1998

ISBN: 9780231104494

576 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: December 1998

ISBN: 9780231104487

576 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£81.00

The Jazz Cadence of American Culture

Edited by Robert G. O'Meally

Columbia University Press

Taking to heart Ralph Ellison's remark that much in American life is "jazz-shaped," The Jazz Cadence of American Culture offers a wide range of eloquent statements about the influence of this art form. Robert G. O'Meally has gathered a comprehensive collection of important essays, speeches, and interviews on the impact of jazz on other arts, on politics, and on the rhythm of everyday life. Focusing mainly on American artistic expression from 1920 to 1970, O'Meally confronts a long era of political and artistic turbulence and change in which American art forms influenced one another in unexpected ways.

Organized thematically, these provocative pieces include an essay considering poet and novelist James Weldon Johnson as a cultural critic, an interview with Wynton Marsalis, a speech on the heroic image in jazz, and a newspaper review of a recent melding of jazz music and dance, Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. From Stanley Crouch to August Wilson to Jacqui Malone, the plurality of voices gathered here reflects the variety of expression within jazz.

The book's opening section sketches the overall place of jazz in America. Alan P. Merriam and Fradley H. Garner unpack the word jazz and its register, Albert Murray considers improvisation in music and life, Amiri Baraka argues that white critics misunderstand jazz, and Stanley Crouch cogently dissects the intersections of jazz and mainstream American democratic institutions. After this, the book takes an interdisciplinary approach, exploring jazz and the visual arts, dance, sports, history, memory, and literature. Ann Douglas writes on jazz's influence on the design and construction of skyscrapers in the 1920s and '30s, Zora Neale Hurston considers the significance of African-American dance, Michael Eric Dyson looks at the jazz of Michael Jordan's basketball game, and Hazel Carby takes on the sexual politics of Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith's blues.

The Jazz Cadence offers a wealth of insight and information for scholars, students, jazz aficionados, and any reader wishing to know more about this music form that has put its stamp on American culture more profoundly than any other in the twentieth century.
O'Meally's volume is the first to focus exclusively on the rich interdisciplinary commentary that jazz has inspired over the decades.... Impressive and thoughtfully assembled. Mark Tucker, Jazz Times
An important resource for understanding how such hard-to-define aspects as 'hipness' and 'soulfulness' shape a culture and its most characteristic forms of artistic expression. Jerome Klinkowitz, American Literary Scholarship
An innovative approach to understanding jazz within a larger social context. Library Journal
Both a celebration and an analysis of jazz, this massive omnibus of essays, interviews, riffs, reminiscences, lectures and meditations examines the impact of jazz on American culture from the 1920s Harlem Renaissance to the 1960s black arts revolution.... Outstanding. Publishers Weekly
There is much that is ducal among the 35 wide-ranging essays collected in The Jazz Cadence of American Culture. Billboard
O'Meally has assembled an impressive anthology that achieves an almost synesthetic rendering of jazz...the best designed reference book on the topic to date. It should be in every library. Choice
The Jazz Cadence of American Culture is a celebration of jazz that goes beyond the usual jazz history, carefully and informatively examining the impact of jazz on other arts, politics, and daily life. The Bookwatch
A monument to a grand and vital intellectual tradition that we cannot afford to neglect as jazz enters its second century--and as that great interdisciplinary, interpretive synthesis of jazz scholarship finally gets written. Notes
If race keeps us apart, jazz brings us together, as Ralph Ellison pointed out when he called American life 'jazz shaped.' The 35 essays in The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, edited by Robert G. O'Meally, testify that Ellison was on to something. The Washington Post Book World
What Is Jazz?
Introduction
Jazz—the Word, by Alan P. Merriam and Fradley H. Garner
Forward Motion: An Interview with Benny Golson, by Benny Golson and Jim Merod
James A. Snead
Black Music as an Art Form, by Olly Wilson
Remembering Thelonious Monk: When the Music Was Happening Then He'd Get Up and Do His Little Dance, by Quincy Troupe and Ben Riley
Improvisation and the Creative Process, by Albert Murray
One Nation Under a Groove; or, the United States of Jazzocracy
Introduction
What's American About America, by John Kouwenhoven
Jazz and the White Critic, by Amiri Baraka
Duke Ellington Music Like a Big Hot Pot of Good Gumbo, by Wynton Marsalis and Robert G. O'Meally
Blues to Be Constitutional: A Long Look at the Wild Wherefores of Our Democratic Lives as Symbolized in the Making of Rhythm and Tune, by Stanley Crouch
The Ellington Programme, by Barry Ulanov
Jazz Lines and Colors: The Sound I Saw
Introduction
Art History and Black Memory: Toward a Blues Aesthetic, by Richard J. Powell
Skyscrapers, Airplanes, and Airmindedness: The Necessary Angel, by Ann Douglas
Calvin Tomkins
Celebration, by Sherry Turner DeCarava
Black Visual Intonation, by Arthur Jafa
Improvisation in Jazz, by Bill Evans
Jazz is a Dance: Jazz art in Motion
Introduction
Jazz Music in Motion: Dancers and Big Bands, by Jacqui Malone
Characteristics of Negro Expression, by Zora Neale Hurston
African Art and Motion, by Robert Farris Thompson
Be Like Mike? Michael Jordan and the Pedagogy of Desire, by Michael Eric Dyson
Noise Taps a Historic Route to Joy, by Margo Jefferson
Tell the Story: Jazz, History, Memory
Introduction
Pulp and Circumstance: The Story of Jazz in High Places, by Gerald Early
Jazz and American Culture, by Lawrence W. Levine
The Golden Age, Time Past, by Ralph Ellison
Double V, Double-Time: Bebop's Politics of Style, by Eric Lott
It Jus Be's Dat Way Sometime: The Sexual Politics of Women's Blues, by Hazel V. Carby
Other: From Noun to Verb, by Nathaniel Mackey
Writing the Blues, Writing Jazz
Introduction
The Blues as Folk Poetry, by Sterling A. Brown
Richard Wright's Blues, by Ralph Ellison
Preface to Three Plays, by August Wilson
The Function of the Heroic Image, by Albert Murray
The Seemingly Eclipsed Window of Form: James Weldon Johnson's Prefaces, by Brent Edwards
Sound and Sentiment, Sound and Symbol, by Nathaniel Mackey

About the Author

Robert G. O'Meally is Zora Neale Hurston Professor of American Literature at Columbia University.