African American Jazz Musicians in the Diaspora

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This study examines the migration of African American jazz musicians to other parts of the world from 1919 to the present. It provides evidence that African American jazz musicians fared better in the diaspora than they did in America where jazz and its inventors were born. Characterized as bereft of ‘culture’ in America, they were hailed as the epitome of high culture in Europe, Asia, and the Soviet Union: they fraternized with royalty in Europe while Jim Crow laws prevailed in America. The study begins with the emergence of jazz music in America, examines musicians who traveled abroad, and their lives and influences in postwar Europe, including Germany from 1925-1945, and also presents some surprising statistics on the death rates of jazz and classical musicians in the US and abroad. The study, written by an anthropologist who is also a jazz musician, provides a treatment of the cultural, historical, artistic, innovative, and aesthetic aspects of the migration of African American jazz musicians to the diaspora.


“This book represents a valuable disquisition on the diaspora and involves a frank examination of the racial issues involved. It also includes a useful overview of the development of jazz in the twentieth century…. He is particularly good on the reasons motivating musicians to, as he puts it, become exiles from America. His descriptions, too, of the differing receptions of immigrants in their countries of exile, and from the early part of the twentieth century to now, are particularly convincing….the result of worthwhile and extensive research over long period, presenting convincing evidence of the reasons for the jazz diaspora, and concomitant with a discussion of the development of jazz in the twentieth century.” – Dr. Edward Brooks

"Expertly written by Larry Ross (a winner of the International Association of Jazz Educators Award for Outstanding Musi- cianship for the piano), [this book] is a methodical survey of the history of jazz music in the twentieth century, including jazz in Germany 1925-1945; jazz musicians in postwar Europe; the influence American culture had on the death rates of jazz and classical musicians; contemporary changes in the European jazz scene, and more. A thoughtful, extensively researched, and fact-filled discourse, [this book] is very strongly recommended for the academic library Black Studies, Music Studies and/or Music History reference shelf." - The Bookwatch

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Introduction
1. The Perils of Jazz Musicians in America
2. Jazz Praxis Abroad and Musicians’ Return to America
3. Jazz in Germany: 1925-1945
4. Jazz Musicians in Postwar Europe
5. The Influence of American Culture on the Death Rates of Jazz and Classical Musicians
6. Contemporary Changes in the European Jazz Scene: A Personal Postscript
7. Jazz: Its Past, its Present, and its Future?
Bibliography; Index

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