Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jazz Babies

I) Mass Culture

A) Radio – for the first time, a mass audience could experience an event at the same time. Although this was used as a technique to keep alive ethnic cultures (polka stations, foreign language programs, etc.), it also allowed others outside that culture to experience it; business side led to mass entertainment to sell products—which in turn contributed to the homogenization of culture

B) Phonograph records – a way to maintain ethnic ties as well; but once a record was distributed, there was no way to limit who would consume it, which meant that there was a great deal of interaction between cultures, which in turn created a new culture (Caruso, Sophie Tucker “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” the Austin High Gang of ethnics who frequented the jazz clubs of Chicago’s South Side and helped to create the swing music of the 1930s, particularly one Benny Goodman). It is important to not that during this era, very few phonograph records were played on the radio--like programming predominated, with  live musical performances and live shows.

1. Music was a "live" experience, largely, until the 1950s--and even beyond. Local bands often played versions of popular hits played on he radio--by other live bands. It was not until the advent of television that radio started playing phonographs.

C) Movies – 1920s were a boom time of the downtown movie palaces, which were paeans to consumer culture; as the star system became more refined, these actors became more and more used to sell products (cigarettes, automobiles, etc.)

II) African American Culture and Political Development in the North – the vitality and creativeness of African American culture first gets widespread recognition as more African Americans move north, and more white northerners come into contact with it.

A) Jazz – first comes north in the early 1920s—moved up the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis, and then from St. Louis to Chicago; Louis Armstrong moved to Chicago from New Orleans, first with his Hot Five (which eventually grew into his Hot Seven).

1) Southside Chicago – the area around 43rd and State was the heart of the African American community in Chicago, the so-called Black Metropolis. It was here that a group of second generation ethnics from the west side Austin High School came to listen to the jazz bands that played the venues here, and by the late 1930s had transformed the sound into what we know as swing.

2) New York – NYC quickly became a Mecca for African American jazz players, who found gigs in the burgeoning African American neighborhood in the city known as Harlem.

(a) “Black and Tan Clubs” – clubs where “slumming” whites could come and listen to and dance to black combos, without having to be alarmed with having to mingle with too many African Americans, unless it was the wait staff or the musicians. The Cotton Club became the most famous of the clubs.

3) “Sweet” music and “hot” music – white dance bands toured the hinterlands playing “sweetened” versions of new “hot” jazz hits. Bands like the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, who would hire a few “hot” players (most notably Bix Biederbecke), but played mainly toned down versions of jazz music.

III) Reaction to Mass Culture

A) Prohibition – outlawed the manufacture, and legal drinking; led to the flowering of organized crime. By outlawing what had been acceptable, it grouped this behavior with other behavior that was looked down upon as well (secular music, dance, homosexuality) that then became tolerated in this developing underground society—and then more laws were passed to outlaw this behavior.

B) Rise of Fundamentalist Religion – reaction to increased urbanization, increased social contact with Catholics and Jews in urban settings. White southerners moving north also contributed to this. Billy Sunday and Aimee Semple McPherson were two of be best-known names in this era.

C) Rebirth of the KKK – became particularly active in northern cities, like Youngstown, Ohio, where the Klan marched to celebrate the election of an endorsed candidate from mayor (the Klan had success in other political venues as well--much of the state government in Indiana was influenced by the Klan); Catholics and Jews became as much a target of intimidation in the North as African Americans during this time.

D) Scopes “Monkey Trial” – in Dayton, TN, ACLU convinced a teacher named John Scopes to violate recently passed creationist law; Clarence Darrow was the lawyer for the defense, and William Jennings Bryan was on prosecution team; Darrow called Bryan as an expert witness, and got him to admit to numerous embarrassing literal interpretations of the Bible—Bryan died soon afterward.

No comments:

Post a Comment