“‘We Insist-Freedom Now!’: Black Moral Authority, Jazz, and the Changeable Shape of Whiteness.”
ROBERT K. MCMICHAEL.
Abstract: This article examines jazz in America in the 1960s in the context of the African-American civil rights movement, racial identity, and black nationalism. Black representation in mainstream American culture is analyzed, and prominent jazz musicians discussed include Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane.
In 1960, the 43-year-old jazz composer and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie appeared on an episode of Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy’s Penthouse,” which featured a number of other African American artists and entertainers during its two-year run on network television.(1) This episode begins with the camera entering the penthouse like a guest, receiving a somewhat stiff welcome from Hefner, who is surrounded by white men and women in tuxedos and evening gowns (respectively), most of whom hold cocktails. A trio of African American musicians (piano, acoustic bass, and drums) plays some straight-ahead but unobtrusive jazz, and Hefner, after dispensing with white comedian Milt Kamen’s phallic one-liners about the Cold War (something about the size of U.S. missiles), sits sideways on the piano bench next to the pianist, without looking at him.
After a few songs by Mae Barnes, an African American singer, Gillespie performs “Ooh Shooby Dooby,” in which he tries to involve the audience in singing the chorus with him, but they don’t do a very good job. Hefner then joins Gillespie, who states with a playful tricksterness, “You know that when you hear jazz on the air, it’s not being paid for, right?” The guests, but not Hefner, respond half-heartedly, “Right. Yeah.” Gillespie continues, “Jazz musicians don’t have no money, so they can’t pay off stations to play it. [Jazz] is the only thing we have to offer the world.”(2) Gillespie continues his commentary about jazz being the “only original American art form,” and then looks at Hefner and says, “You’ve been embellishing our art form.”(3) Hefner only responds by putting his hand on Gillespie’s shoulder and saying, for the third time (he twice tried but failed to interrupt Gillespie’s obviously unscripted remarks), “Play the St. Louis [pronouncing it “Louie”] Blues for us, Diz!” Gillespie complies finally, after telling Hefner to hold his drink for him, and appears to get into the music until Milt Kamen jumps in and does what looks like a parody of the great black dancer Earl “Snakehips” Tucker. While the theme music for the show plays, the guests mingle as the camera moves out of the room, and, just before the show ends, Gillespie is seen ignoring Kamen’s attempt to get him to joke around with him.
Here Gillespie, a popular (at least by jazz standards),(4) crowd-pleasing performer, is asserting himself as a human being in a situation where his host clearly expects the traditionally deferential black entertainer. The relative leeway Hefner gives Kamen and Gillespie conforms to dominant codes of racial interaction, which Gillespie tests in the penthouse. As a comedian, Kamen’s commodity is words (as opposed to Gillespie’s music), and he gets to talk more freely and frequently on the show, while Gillespie resists the fact that his host expects him to play but not speak. The guests don’t quite appear to know what to do, seeming to go along with Gillespie’s decrying the economic exploitation of jazz by people like Hefner, but then also–by the confused and unsure looks on some of their faces as to whether to laugh, agree, or say nothing–they seem to sense that by going along with Gillespie they are somehow betraying their host, Hefner. James Baldwin, in a piece published in Esquire in 1962 (which had a largely white readership), commented on this dynamic:
Well, the Negro is not happy in his place, and white people are not happy in their place, either–two very intimately related facts–but the unhappiness of white people seems never to rattle and resound more fiercely than in their pleasure mills. The world that mainly frequents white nightclubs seems afflicted with a strange uncertainty as to whether or not they are really having fun–they keep peeking at each other in order to find out. One’s aware, in an eerie way, that there are barriers which must not be crossed, and that by these invisible barriers everyone is mesmerized.(5)
Contrasted with how the guests responded to Mae Barnes’s performance mostly of hypersexualized blues songs–which conformed more to a traditional, white-dominant mode of black performer/white audience interaction in their hearty laughter, especially at Barnes’s frequent sexual innuendo and self-deprecation–Gillespie’s portion of the show is both uncomfortable and exciting to watch because of the constant tension between Hefner’s attempt to reinscribe dominant representations of blackness on Gillespie, and Gillespie’s attempts to resist and subvert this process. Barnes’s and Gillespie’s performances in this one episode straddle the divide between the pre-civil rights and the post-civil rights definitions of blackness, and, consequently, illustrate the instability of white racial identity during the early 1960s.
I describe this episode at length because it seems a poignant metaphor for an accelerating struggle over the definition of blackness in the early 1960s mainstream, a struggle that resulted in a shift in both African American moral authority and white racial identity between about 1960 and 1965. These five years bracketed a moment whose radical political potential went largely untapped but whose memory still haunts us and influences much mainstream and subcultural production and consumption in the United States. My account of the Gillespie performance also emphasizes the significant connections between jazz’s complex integrationist subcultures(6) and social change, connections that often go unacknowledged, especially by outsiders to those subcultures.
When white Americans watched televised images of Ross Barnett, Bull Connor, and George Wallace throwing their racist weight around in the first half of the 1960s, what did they see? Images such as these forced many whites to reconcile their own white identities with that of these arch-racists and come up with something different. In the minds of many mainstream white Americans in the early 1960s, blackness escaped its earlier confinement to the realm of leisure and entertainment, partly because of the impact of television coverage of violent attacks on civil rights demonstrators and the federal government’s eventual support of the movement through civil rights legislation. In a racist society, the possibility for imagining new racial and national identities is a significant part of social change, and music has been a central part of this process. Houston Baker Jr. writes,
In the concrete instance of southern Jim Crow legality, for example, [the African American imagination] had to fashion a voice, songs, articulations, conversions of wish into politics…. The black civil rights struggle, and particularly during the decade from 1955-1965, exemplifies the active working of the imagination of a subaltern, black American counterpublic.(7)
This “subaltern black American” imagination, seen in one of its many manifestations in Gillespie’s performance on “Playboy’s Penthouse,” insisted that whites examine their own identities in relation to the social place of African Americans, and–in an impressive variety of ways–exploited the racial instability of the period to expedite this examination. The body and sound (exemplified here through the emerging free jazz of the early 1960s) are crucial sites for understanding the processes of these changes in the country’s moral balance and in definitions of whiteness and blackness.
Between 1960 and 1965 three new sociocultural forces emerged in the United States: first, mainstream television and newspaper coverage of white racists brutalizing black (and white) civil rights demonstrators; second, a highly profiled avant-garde jazz movement with a substantial white audience; and third, a growing body of widely distributed black nationalist jazz writing. These three things combined to politicize blackness for white listeners of jazz who were even marginally attentive to the social changes of the moment. The social ferment of the 1960s established the foundation for revisions of whiteness by those closest–emotionally, geographically, ideologically–to the civil rights struggles, and demonstrates how one major form of African American culture–jazz–continues to influence and be affected by the process of political struggle. Musical developments in jazz, particularly the rise of the avant-garde in the early 1960s, were intricately linked to broader social and political developments. As perhaps the longest-running site of an integrationist subculture in U.S. history, the social changes in the jazz scene since the 1920s serve as a good indicator of the possibilities for racial parity, with the developments of the early 1960s being perhaps the most promising in this regard.
The complexities of white representations of blackness from the 1920s through the 1950s laid the groundwork for major changes in race relations of the 1960s. The jazz scenes of the 1920s and 1950s both reflected and significantly departed from dominant modes of racial interaction between blacks and whites. The integrationist subcultures of jazz clubs and other social spaces housed various kinds of cross-racial interaction between audience members and musicians, creating potentially important sites of resistance to racism. But because race relations in mainstream society had remained relatively unchanged since Reconstruction, and because these jazz subcultures of integration did not exist in a vacuum, sealed off from any influence by larger social forces, much of the cross-racial interaction in the jazz scenes still reverberated with long-standing elements of racism, especially primitivism.(8)
Prior to the 1960s the racially mixed community of musicians themselves (and not so much the audience) best exemplified the tensions between dominant white culture’s simplistic and racist views of blackness and the sometimes more enlightened, humanist perceptions found within the jazz scene.(9) Despite the existence of white critical engagements with blackness in earlier periods, however, until the 1960s such instances remained relatively marginalized in relation to mainstream culture. The U.S. government “discredited” and deported Marcus Garvey in 1927, for example, and other black leaders and cultural figures resided essentially on the borders of the majority culture as well, or were limited to largely depoliticized roles in sports or entertainment. In a Gramscian sense, one could interpret this as a successful hegemonic containment of blackness within a boundary of relative irrelevance, at least as far as power was concerned. The fracturing of this hegemony in the 1960s allowed the majority of Americans to see blackness as not only politically powerful but also as representing characteristics that previously were assigned only to whites, such as intellect, humanity, moral authority, and sociopolitical entitlement.
The constellation of social, cultural, and political events during the period of postwar economic prosperity created an environment that allowed for a reexamination of racial and social identity by all Americans. The comfort and prosperity of young, middle-class whites gave them more room than their parents’ generation had to consider moral issues in the abstract and to apply those considerations to actual events, such as the emerging civil rights movement of the post-Brown era. The white, Northern, middle-class college students who volunteered to work with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to help register black voters in the South exemplify this generational and class-based aspect of the social movements of the 1960s.(10)
More important than the middle-class element in the social changes of the 1960s, though, was a growing crisis over Jim Crow and the threat of nuclear annihilation, realities that gained more exposure with the increasing media coverage of civil rights demonstrations and Cold War crises like the Cuban missile crisis. Jazz, and postwar black music in general, similarly appealed to white youth, male and female, across class boundaries.(11) Contradicting what postwar prosperity centrists like Daniel Bell termed the “end of ideology,”(12) the expanding Cold War and the accelerating civil rights movement created a lurking sense of moral and political crisis in society, highlighted by a critical shift in the balance of moral authority from white to black which penetrated the entire social fabric, not just the white middle-class threads in it. With successful nonviolent civil rights demonstrations in the late 1950s and early 1960s, African American political power–exemplified most clearly by Martin Luther King Jr.–became a new site of American excellence and aspiration, overshadowing sports and entertainment as the major sites of blackness in dominant culture.
This newly, shaped black presence in mainstream American culture and society caught the attention of younger whites whose relationship with the racial status quo was more tenuous than their parents’ generation. The period’s economic prosperity and its contradictory social conditions were important factors, but so was a conditioning to blackness through popular music that their parents did not experience. Expanding technology, particularly the blooming of the recording industry and commercial radio, exposed the generation of young whites growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s to a vastly broadened field of culture.(13) The coincidence of a growing market for black music and culture among white youth, and the increased media coverage of civil rights demonstrations, created a uniquely bicultural, or at least biculturally receptive, generation of young whites.(14)
Another critical contextual element of these changes was that by the early 1960s, whiteness as a racial category had become largely homogeneous in the United States. This racial coalescence of dominance homogenized whiteness not only into a thing against which the African American-led civil rights movement could fight, but also against which whites sympathetic to the movement could measure alternative white identities. In relation to earlier periods in American history, in which “Caucasians” were categorized (and variously persecuted) by ethnic subdivisions–Irish, Italian, Polish, Russian, and so on–the postwar period saw the culmination of a continual process of ethnic nationalization and racialization in which these groups gained “white” status in antagonistic relation to blackness, or, as black comedian Richard Pryor put it, immigrants became American “by learning how to say `nigger.'”(15) This postwar paradigm shift from ethnicity to race in American cultural politics crossed class lines and–for the purposes of the racist state–oversimplified social relations into largely black-white configurations.(16)
Significantly and somewhat ironically, this homogenized whiteness during the early civil rights movement gained unprecedented and problematic visibility. The historically predominant invisibility of whiteness–as the unseen membership card of American social privilege–has worked as the crucial factor in the insidiousness of modern racism. In the early 1960s South, however, whiteness became increasingly visible to the entire country as the problem: the nation watched Arkansas’s governor Orval Faubus subject black American children to unbelievable terror in their struggle to desegregate Little Rock’s public schools in 1957; the nation watched Birmingham, Alabama’s police chief Bull Connor drive a white tank through his city’s streets to intimidate demonstrators and saw him blast black children across city parks with high-powered water hoses in 1963. Countless other images of white racist terror and violence destabilized and exposed whiteness so dramatically that it raised serious moral questions among many whites regarding their own racial identity.
This differently constituted generation of white youth in the 1960s provides a background for a significant break in white dominant culture’s representations of blackness and black culture. Jazz and the civil rights struggle figure prominently in this break in the first half of the 1960s. After about 1965 a certain regression in race relations occurred, and, arguably, we are still regressing as the century screams to a close. The role of jazz in all of this, however, and the reason it is important, is that it has provided, especially since the early 1960s, a site for the production of oppositional identities through its subcultures of integration.
Black and White Bodies and Minds
Abbey Lincoln’s blood-curdling screams on “Protest” from Max Roach’s 1960 recording We Insist! Freedom Now Suite highlight the parallel changes in jazz and society that erupted in full force in the early 1960s.(17) Candid Records issued this album with a cover photo of African American civil rights demonstrators at a lunchcounter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina in February 1960, the participants staring straight at the camera. White producer and jazz critic Nat Hentoff’s liner notes emphasized to record buyers the connections between jazz and civil rights by discussing the political activism of musicians and interpreting the historical allusions to slavery in We Insist! as a scathing criticism of the social conditions for blacks in the United States and Africa, specifically mentioning the recent Sharpeville massacre in South Africa.(18)
But Hentoff’s notes were probably redundant for the many whites among the jazz club-going and record-buying public who were already getting an education on race relations (along with the rest of the country) from mainstream media coverage of civil rights demonstrations. The connections among jazz, political activism, and racial identity in the early 1960s show that jazz music historically has provided sites of integrationist subcultures in which racial boundaries exist but at moments do not reproduce the same power relations as in mainstream society. More specifically, the early 1960s jazz scene provided unique opportunities for white musicians and audience members to reflect on and rearticulate their own racial identity and, perhaps, to paraphrase David Roediger, to abolish normative (i.e., racist) whiteness.(19)
In the first half of the 1960s, the increasing media coverage of violent white segregationist responses to civil rights demonstrations, as well as subsequent federal civil rights legislation, propelled African Americans into the consciousness of mainstream America as socially and politically powerful people. Many whites began to perceive blacks as whole beings (with bodies and minds)(20) and began questioning the meaning of their own whiteness.(21) No longer contained by the body-centered realm of leisure and entertainment–as earlier dominant representations of Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, and Louis Armstrong had been, for example–whites were shown a blackness defined by more political and intellectual characteristics when they watched or heard the powerful oratory and jeremiads of Martin Luther King Jr. and other African American leaders of and participants in the civil rights struggles during the early 1960s.(22)
Again, it is important to emphasize the precedents of African American political activists and organic intellectuals in the struggle for social justice; despite what Michael Omi and Howard Winant correctly refer to as a “paradigm shift” from ethnicity to race in the late 1950s and early 1960s, their claim that the “racial and minority movements of this period were the first to expand the concerns of politics to the social, to the terrain of everyday life”(23) is only true insofar as mass cultural representations of these movements are concerned. This construction of minority political activism ignores the earlier, continuous efforts of organic intellectuals like Duke Ellington, and political officeholders like Adam Clayton Powell who, for years prior to the 1960s, connected and exposed the cultural and social contradictions of the racist state not only for their African American “constituents,” but for many whites as well.(24) It was only with the critical expansion of electronic media technology in the late 1950s and early 1960s that these social movements entered the mainstream on an immediate and daily basis. In large part, then, much of the “newness” of this moment depended on the media and its new technologies.(25)
In addition to the mainstream distillation of a distinctly political and intellectual component to blackness, this new moment also involved a rearticulation of “the black body,” which continued to be a site of abuse and exploitation but now moved outside the spectacle of popular entertainment. This rearticulation of “the body in pain” occurred in the sociopolitical sphere, not bounded by movie screens, boxing rings, nightclubs, or stadium walls.(26) The civil rights movement capitalized on the social crises it self-consciously created in the early 1960s by exploiting the newly expanded media apparatuses to show previously unconvinced whites the magnitude of racism affecting black lives, minds, and bodies. Civil rights leaders like King deliberately used nonviolent direct action to provoke violence by white segregationist mobs and officials, and used the body to prove the existence of the mind, and to connect the two in a visible way. “We will wear you down with our capacity for suffering,” King once told a group of white segregationists.(27) The charged presence of beaten and abused black bodies in the public sphere led to a new and widespread recognition of black Americans’ moral authority. Ironically, it was the jailed, abused, and murdered black (and white, if you consider Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner)(28) body that constructed–on a national level–a perception of black moral and intellectual leadership and, as Gerald Early has suggested, the conflation of black citizenship with Americanness.(29)
What became clear to many whites out of this calculated dynamic of nonviolent protest inciting violent racist repression was that black Americans were merely demanding their human rights, which the Southern (and Northern) racist system did not want to grant them. This imbalanced equation highlighted–in a necessarily exaggerated way–the injustice of white racial privilege, and, combined with the tremendously effective and incredible, disciplined adherence to nonviolent direct action on the front lines of struggle, shifted the moral and intellectual balance of power in the United States from whites to blacks. For much of the nation, including “the moderate white,” the “negro problem” had become a “white problem.”
For whites participating in the struggles down South, the mind-body connection and the consequent humanity of blacks became very clear very quickly. Mississippi Summer volunteers like Kathie Sarachild, a white student from the North, explains:
Here I was the first day [in Mississippi], in the midst of a group of people who seemed to me better and brighter than all those people I’d been spending time with at Harvard. And they were black! It was incredible. Suddenly I went from mildly thinking that black people because of certain historical conditions were still somewhat inferior to whites, almost like overnight to thinking that black people were more advanced actually–or at least these black intellectuals were more advanced than white people. It was a total inversion of my former reality.(30) [Emphasis in original.]
White volunteers saw the Freedom Summer project as a way of struggling for their own freedom from racism, and wanted to prove that blacks and whites could live together. Unita Blackwell, a Southern African American woman involved in the biracial work to secure voting rights for black citizens in Mississippi, recalled what now may seem like a utopic moment in daily life for those working together: “But this, when they [white workers] was sitting on the floor there and was talking and we were sitting there laughing–I guess they became very real, very human, we each to one another.”(31)
White volunteers also learned the strategy for extending this kind of racial consciousness-raising from people like Bob Moses and Amzie Moore, Northern and Southern African Americans, respectively, in charge of the voter registration drives in Mississippi:
The people who organized the Mississippi Summer project understood that if I went to Mississippi my parents would care, my brothers and sisters would care, my grandparents would care, my aunts and uncles would care, the people in the community would care. And people did things because someone, they knew, or at least someone from their community, was involved.(32)
And if white volunteers’ racial consciousness was not raised through observing the organizational and strategic brilliance of the SNCC and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) people who worked against Southern racial segregation, their first-hand experiences with violence in the field did it, more directly than but parallel to the rising awareness of television viewers and newspaper readers across the country. White Mississippi Summer volunteer Rick Weidman explains what it was like confronting Southern white racists in Mississippi in 1964.
As soon as you step over that line–and there is no middle ground–then you’re one of them [an African American], but if you’re not one of them, then you’re a “nigger-lover.” And suddenly you’re the object of hate. And when you feel that full force for the first time, you’re never the same again, ever.(33)
Jazz, Blackness, Protest, and Television
The year 1959 bade fair to write finis to racial segregation in jazz and to cap a gradual movement under way for the last few years that saw increased mixing of white and negro musicians in clubs, at sessions, and on record dates of all kinds. The integration movement throve in the clubs and sessions…. As racial mixing grew, so the character of the music broadened and deepened with both white and Negro deriving benefits from each other’s conception. This democratic intermingling may well provide the key to the progress of jazz in 1960 and through the years. It would be dishonest to deny that the spark of change in jazz … was kindled … almost wholly by Negro musicians…. –Down Beat editorial, February 1960(34)
Because much of the music reaffirmed its blackness and directly referred to the social upheavals of the early 1960s, jazz and the cultural practices of performance and consumption paralleled the civil rights movement, and occasionally were indistinguishable from direct action; musicians like Horace Tapscott in Los Angeles, and organizations like Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, and Jazzmobile in New York, developed free African American music and culture programs in black neighborhoods, often compromising their own economic success in the jazz industry. Charles Mingus launched a successful alternative jazz festival in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1960 to protest the Newport Jazz Festival’s increasingly nonjazz (i.e., commercial) and nonblack programming. Max Roach interrupted a Miles Davis concert in New York in May 1961, walking onto the stage with a picket sign criticizing the Africa Relief Foundation, for which Davis was playing a benefit, for perpetuating colonialism in Africa.(35)
Many jazz musicians came from the South or held significant collective memories of and experiences from the South which figured in their identification with the civil rights movements. Following the Brown decision in 1954, Dizzy Gillespie’s big band performed “Manteca” (written by Gillespie, Gil Fuller, and Afro-Cuban drummer Chano Pozo in 1947) during Southern white resistance to school desegregation, chanting, “I’ll never go back to Georgia.”(36) Charles Mingus introduced his “Meditations on Integration” at an NAACP benefit at Town Hall in New York in the spring of 1964 with the following words:
Eric Dolphy explained to me that there was something similar to the concentration camps once in Germany now down South, where they separate the picketers, the green from the red or something like that. And the only difference between the electric barbed wire is that they don’t have gas chambers and hot stoves to cook us in yet. So I wrote a piece called “Meditations as to how to get some wirecutters before someone else gets some guns to us.”(37) [Applause]
Mingus reached a wide variety of audiences in the late 1950s and early 1960s and regularly connected his performances with civil rights struggles at home and abroad through composition titles, spoken introductions to his pieces, and in liner notes he wrote accompanying his recordings.(38)
Another telling parallel between the activism within jazz and the civil rights movement occurred in the realm of television. The increasing coverage television news programs devoted to covering the civil rights demonstrations throughout the South reflects both a softening of racist containment of black images and black concerns by the dominant culture, and a dialectical involvement in the construction of a new black moral and intellectual authority in mainstream American culture.(39)
The unprecedented–and still unrepeated–number of jazz programs on television in the late 1950s and early 1960s echoes on the cultural front the kind of sociopolitical emergence of blackness into the majority culture, which corresponded with changing mainstream attitudes toward blackness. Jazz on TV at this time also reflected the expansion of the media in the postwar “culture boom”; in a 1962 Down Beat editorial called “Of Culture Booms and Jazz Appreciation,” the magazine noted that “the strongest gains made by jazz in the mass media have been in television.”(40) Each of these shows featured mixed racial environments, but the quality of the integrationist aspects of these shows depended largely on the individual hosts or producers and their ability to negotiate successfully with sponsors who were more interested in “show business values [than] artistic considerations.”(41) Timex, for example, sponsored four one-hour “All Star Jazz Shows” on CBS between December 30, 1957, and January 7, 1959, packing far too many musicians into the time slot for any of them produce anything like a “real” jazz performance. The final one-hour show (with commercials), on January 7, 1959, for example, was hosted by an obtrusive Jackie Gleason, and featured eight different groups of musicians performing fourteen different compositions! Despite good ratings for all four shows, every single issue of Down Beat in 1958 and the first several issues in 1959 contained overwhelmingly harsh articles, editorials, and angry letters to the editor condemning the Timex programs, with one audience member vowing to boycott Timex watches as long as he lived.(42)
White producer Robert Herridge created two jazz programs on CBS that received broad critical and audience approval. The Sound of Jazz aired on December 8, 1957, featuring a racially mixed group of musicians, and is impressive in its casual, nonintrusive, and respectful presentation of the music and musicians. Herridge’s other program, The Sound of Miles Davis, aired May 31, 1959, on CBS, in two parts. Herridge hired the widely respected (especially by many black musicians)(43) jazz writer and producer Nat Hentoff as an advisor for The Sound of Miles Davis, which significantly affected the integrationist quality of the shows. These two shows, and some others like them before 1960, are significant in that to a certain extent they prefigure later integrationist subcultures not only in jazz, but also in the multiracial civil rights organizations like SNCC.(44) Herridge presented black and white musicians together in an environment of almost deferential respect to jazz, and he insisted that the musicians, most of whom were black, set the terms for performance. The fact that such programs appeared on national television is remarkable because they presented a model of social interaction that even Martin Luther King’s dream–still nearly three years from its national audience–did not imagine: blacks and whites getting together to do something where blacks, not whites, defined the roles and methods and performance standards. The fact that all of these televised jazz programs occurred on white-owned and -operated commercial networks, of course, complicates the integrationist aspects of the actual broadcast images and sounds. Racist and capitalist exploitation of black musicians continues to check the counter-hegemonic power of black musical forms, and there is a rich history of jazz musicians actively protesting racial discrimination in the music business, especially in the film and television industry.(45) The tension between jazz’s oppositional power and the racist structures within which that power operates is never neatly resolvable, which accounts for the kinds of ambiguity and complexity of interracial exchange typified by the Gillespie-Hefner encounter described earlier. Still, the representations of integration on television during this period provided many viewers with unprecedented opportunities to think about their own, and others’, racial identity and the politics surrounding it, especially given the coincident televised images of violent white responses to peaceful civil rights demonstrations.
Between 1960 and 1964, many other jazz programs aired weekly for extended periods of time on network television, such as Ralph J. Gleason’s Jazz Casual (on PBS stations); Steve Allen’s syndicated Jazz Scene U.S.A.; and broadcasts of the 1960 and 1961 Newport Jazz Festival, broken into two dozen segments each year, airing on PBS. Jazz Scene U.S.A., like the other shows, was part of the white-controlled media apparatus, but it provided an important space for the transgression of dominant racial codes. Hosted by African American singer-songwriter Oscar Brown Jr., Jazz Scene U.S.A. was broadcast nationally during 1963, featuring many California-based artists as well as nationally known jazz musicians. Brown provided detailed background information on and historical contextualization of the artists’ careers and musical styles, and conducted brief, apparently improvised interviews with the leader of each musical group. In a segment featuring alto saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Brown referred to Adderley’s recent hit single, “African Waltz,” which had shocked everyone by climbing onto the pop charts in 1961, and asked the artist how he accounted for its great success. Brown may have been asking a leading question, perhaps hoping Adderley would link “African Waltz” with the period’s growing black internationalist consciousness. Adderley replied, “You know, that general record market is one of the mysteries of the record business; if somebody knew what to do, they’d all be rich. How do you account for Dave Brubeck’s `Take Five,’ for instance?”(46)
As Adderley asked the question about the white pianist’s “Take Five,” he cocked his head and smiled somewhat mischievously, seemingly delighted by the opportunity to take a dig at Brubeck’s success, which some black musicians had criticized as yet another example of racism in the music industry. Brubeck, however, was outspokenly critical of Jim Crow and once canceled a twenty-five-day tour of Southern colleges in 1960, costing him over $40,000, because many of the schools objected to his racially integrated band (Brubeck’s bassist Eugene Wright was black).(47) It is also important to note, however, that Brubeck’s antisegregationist politics did not necessarily prevent him from benefiting from the white-controlled, racist media structure and record industry.
Perhaps Adderley’s mirth signified his knowing refusal to connect himself to black nationalism on national television, which, given the “mysteries of the record business,” might have damaged his newfound commercial appeal. White producer Orrin Keepnews’s notes on the back of the record album, incidentally, although they celebrate the commercial success of the record, also make no connection between the recording and political consciousness. Whatever the unspoken meanings of this interaction, however, this small example is significant both for the content of Adderley’s criticism, and for foregrounding black musicians in roles of dominance, expertise, and intellect in a nationally aired context.
Jazz as an Integrationist Subculture: The Early 1960s
There is … more interracial social equality in jazz than in any other area of American society because more whites and Negroes actually come to know each. other as individuals in jazz than they are likely to in their business or social lives. –Nat Hentoff(48) Jazz has always been a music of integration. In other words, there were definitely lines where blacks would be and where whites would begin to mix a little bit. I mean, jazz was not just a music; it was a social force in this country, and it was talking about freedom and people enjoying things for what they are and not having to worry about whether they were supposed to be white, black, and all this stuff. Jazz has always been the music that had this kind of spirit. Now I believe for that reason, the people that would push jazz have not pushed jazz because that’s what jazz means. A lot of times, jazz means no barriers. –Sonny Rollins(49)
Whites who listened to the emerging “free” or “avant-garde” jazz in the early 1960s did so within this context of the parallel forces of black-directed social and musical activism, both of which significantly affected black and white racial formation on both mainstream and subcultural levels. Avant-garde jazz played a particularly important role in this new discursive space because “free jazz” itself and its distinct modes of reception from more traditional types of jazz performance (discussed below) added a different layer of comprehension to the rearticulation of racial identity which occurred in a unique social space–the jazz club.
Several things made the jazz club a unique environment. First, beginning in the early 1960s it generally became more and more a white space, where whites comprised the majority of the audience for most types of jazz, but especially for the avant-garde performances in commercial venues. The relatively straight-ahead vocalist Betty Carter corroborates this in a 1972 interview with drummer Art Taylor:
You can go uptown and ask ten people on the street who Archie Shepp is and they won’t be able to tell you. Ninety percent of his audience is white…. Today most of our musicians like Ornette Coleman, avoid black people. When you go to their concerts you don’t see any black people there…. Sun Ra has got whitey going for it. He couldn’t go uptown and do that to blackie. He would be chased off the stage in Harlem.(50)
Carter’s representation of the situation is more or less accurate, even if laced with what may be some resentment about her being musically out of vogue. Miles Davis also comments critically on the avant-garde’s appeal to whites, here discussing the late trumpeter Don Cherry: “Anyone can tell that guy’s not a trumpet player–it’s just notes that come out, and every note he plays, he looks serious about, and people will go for it–especially white people. They gO for anything. They want to be hipper than any other race, and they go for anything like that.”(51)
These comments from Carter and Davis–both influential jazz musicians over a number of decades prior to and after the 1960s–illustrate, among other things, a tension over the cross-racial aspects of modern jazz performance. But despite the conflict some musicians felt over the racial makeup of their audiences, they realized that whites flocked to jazz clubs and performance spaces for the new music–and jazz in general–in greater proportion than blacks.(52)
There are many reasons for the paucity of black audience members for the new music. For one, the venues for jazz in black communities steadily declined, beginning in the late 1950s. Harlem, for example, had served as the center for cutting-edge jazz, both during the 1920s and in the 1940s and early 1950s, during bebop’s zenith. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, many of these venues closed because of the commercial impact of the changing musical directions of some players, the younger of whom were moving away from more traditional forms of jazz toward the avant-garde. Some musicians have blamed the white critical establishment for this because–in the face of the increasing hegemony of rock–some white critics tended to champion the avant-garde over the more mainstream forms of jazz. Straight-ahead tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, living in Paris during a 1969 interview with fellow black American drummer Art Taylor, talked angrily about this:
They’ve got all the black musicians on the run. Black musicians all over Europe, running away from America. But that’s part of the white power structure that’s killing us and our music…. They sold us down the line. Took the music out of Harlem and put it in Carnegie Hall and downtown in those joints where you’ve got to be quiet. The black people split and went back to Harlem, back to the rhythm and blues, so they could have a good time. Then the white power structure just kicked the rest of us out and propagated what they call avant-garde. Those poor boys can’t blow their way out of a paper bag musically. But the white power structure said they’re geniuses…. If it wasn’t for the revolution that’s taking place [the black nationalist movement], they would probably be writing in fifty years that jazz was all white…. [The critics] don’t know anything about jazz. They’re not jazz musicians. And besides, they’re all white. So what are they going to know about black music? White-controlled press, Downbeat.(53)
Despite Griffin’s angry penchant for exaggerations (e.g., many avant-garde jazz musicians were extremely well-trained musicians, and by the mid-1960s there were some black music critics of influence, such as Amiri Baraka, discussed below), there is a grain of truth to his comments, including the large exodus in the late 1950s and early 1960s of many black American jazz musicians to Europe.(54) Also, the popularity of rock and other forms of black music like soul and rhythm and blues reduced the music industry’s commitments to jazz.(55) Again ! turn to James Baldwin, from the 1962 Esquire piece quoted earlier: “Now, unless Ray Charles or Nina Simone is down the street at the Apollo, one will have to go downtown to hear [jazz]. And not many of Harlem’s Negroes go downtown for their entertainment because they do not feel welcome there.”(56)
Second, with the increasing presence of white audience members coming from a “whiter” and more emotionally reserved social context than most African Americans,(57) jazz clubs generally became more and more spaces where one was expected to listen, a context requiring people to think and pay attention, or at least to be alone with their own minds (and bodies). This “whiter” body of listeners created a shift in expectations–for musicians and audiences alike–for the listening context itself. Many musicians (especially ones younger than Griffin, who aligned themselves more with the avant-garde) have complained about audiences talking during performances and generally not paying attention to the music as they would at a classical symphony concert, for example. But the avant-garde audiences, beginning in the 1960s, tended to be more attentive to the music as art and as a source of pleasure and enlightenment through concentration.(58) The idea that listening is partly an intellectual pursuit with a dialogic component blurs the border between artist and audience, which is more akin to the participatory, antiphonal (call-and-response) aspects of African and African American communal performance practices than to more dominant Eurocentric notions of propriety concerning the consumption of art. Even though a more “attentive” jazz audience may treat a performance with the same level of “respect” as a classical symphony, the intimacy of the performance space of the jazz club or loft, and the often articulated feeling of communication with improvising musicians sets jazz as a cultural practice–involving artist and audience–apart from other forms of popular music like rock, as well as from Western classical music.
In this sense of musician-initiated dialogue, then, the cultural practice of live jazz performance in a club moves away from situational definitions of normative whiteness because the white audience doesn’t set the terms for the performance–the musicians do, and the listeners participate in the process by doing the work required to get pleasure from listening to and watching the musicians’ performances.(59) In a review of a 1962 concert by Oscar Brown Jr. (whom we met earlier as the host of Jazz Scene U.S.A.), the white Down Beat critic John tynan wrote:
[Brown] draws his material–which is largely original–from urban Negro life with a perception and sensitivity enabling him to range from pointed social comment to satire and humor that is essentially Negro–rich, full, and warmly rewarding. And because of the universality of his grasp of the material and the power of his own theatrical personality he drives home these aspects of Negro culture with frequently stunning force. Brown, therefore, is possibly the first Negro performing artist to project a wholly Negro concept to wide audiences outside that milieu and to make it stick on its own terms.(60) [Italics in original]
While the race-essentialism implied in Tynan’s review may be linked with certain oppressive racial ideologies from the past, his emphatic privileging of “Negro” culture inside the subcultural “milieu” of the live jazz performance space highlights the inversion (or subversion) of oppressive racial codes. In the context of the early 1960s, such affirmation and privileging of a black perspective was a radical act.
Charles Mingus’s career exemplifies the tension between dominant modes of racial intercourse and the alternative modes in jazz’s integrationist subcultures. In his autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, Mingus sketches an early 1960s-type of jazz subculture, probably at the Five Spot in New York City about 1959:
The club is definitely the place this season for society and college girls from New York and out-of-town who want to have a fling at life via the bandstand or the single male customers who press around the bar and it’s nothing wild to walk in on a crowded night and find Mingus at a table with half a dozen girls huddled around him or sitting on his knees or him perching on theirs. The owner, Mr Caligari, calls him son and his two sons call my boy [Mingus] brother and they’ve given him a contract saying he can always return with this group anytime he chooses no matter who’s playing there. These days Charles feels wholly free and not only as good as any white people but better than most and he’s found a musical home, a place to play for people who really seem to want to hear. But there’s lumps in everything in this life. My boy can’t help having a hunch that the Police Department really enjoys harassing any club where a healthy integrated feeling is a little too out in the open.(61) [Emphasis added.]
Here Mingus eloquently reflects the tension between his assumption of black moral authority and the continuing repressive forces of dominant culture. Mingus also occasionally lectured his audiences on their behavior at a performance. The following transcription of one of his audience scoldings illustrates his deep concern that people listen to his music, and expresses an honesty about the cultural practice of live jazz performance which could only come from someone with an investment in his environment as a progressive and integrated racial space:
All of you sit there, digging yourselves and each other, looking around hoping to be seen and observed as hip. You become the object you came to see, and you think you’re important and digging jazz when all the time all you’re doing is digging a blind, deaf scene that has nothing to do with any kind of music at all…. And the pitiful thing is that there are a few that do want to listen. And some of the musicians … we want to hear each other, what we have to say tonight, because we’ve learned the language. Some of us know it too well. Some of us know it only mechanically. But by listening to others who play it spiritually, soulfully, we can learn to speak a little less technically. But imagine an artist of rhetoric, with thinking faculties, performing for an audience devoid of concern for communication…. Imagine his attempting a sensible communicating association even in plain verbal language. Then open your eyes, look around at yourselves posing as listeners to music, which is another language, so much more wide in range and vivid, and warm and full and expressive of thoughts you are seldom able to convey.(62)
Implicit in Mingus’s lecture is the sense that the musicians as well as the audience were conscious of and interested in the cultivation of an integrationist subculture.
The social movements of the early 1960s contributed to the construction of integrationist subcultures that differed from relationships between white audiences and black musicians in earlier periods, mainly because the situation in the 1960s relied on a rearticulated concept of blackness among whites that resisted reproducing racist stereotypes of blacks as primitive, noble savages. Also, this black-defined performance environment resists the kinds of performance environments–and their accompanying, degrading images–of the many popular films of the 1930s and 1940s featuring artists such as Louis Armstrong; in the 1932 short Rhapsody in Black and Blue Armstrong performs bare-chested and draped in animal skins, and in the 1943 film Cabin in the Sky he appears as a grinning, trumpet-toting devil.(63) The defining features of this emerging integrationist subculture in jazz were the historically unique co-presence of black autonomy and authority and a predominant (but not universal) white affirmation of black authority.
The late African American jazz drummer Art Taylor’s book, Notes and Tones, a priceless collection of interviews he conducted in the late 1960s and early 1970s with other black jazz musicians, is filled with comments from musicians testifying to the music’s role in creating more positive spaces for black-white interaction than in the dominant culture. Johnny Griffin talked about what playing for an audience does for him:
I learned how to play music for the beauty that I could derive from compositions and for the catharsis that it gives me when I am able to express myself…. I’m always talking about using my horn like a machine gun, but not to kill anybody. I want to shoot them with notes of love. I want them to laugh. I want to give them something positive…. I’m playing my horn to bring out the positive things in people so they can enjoy what I’m doing. Actually, if I’m too negative I can’t even play. I can play, actually, because as soon as I start playing, music takes me away from all this b.s. around me. In fact, music is the thing that saves me. It’s my relief. It takes me away from all this black, white, yellow and brown and you’re lighter than me.(64)
Griffin’s remarks represent the fact that many black musicians didn’t necessarily want to hang out and socialize with whites, but rather wanted the world to be a place where they didn’t have to worry about the negative realities of being black in a racist society. Interacting amiably with and performing in an interracial atmosphere of pleasure and enjoyment was one way of achieving this goal. The music, and his role in creating it, facilitated–indeed, created–radically restructured social relationships, relationships that transcended, at least during performances, “normal” social relations burdened or programmed by racism.(65) The intentionality of such musical practice is integrationist at the center because it combines the desire to transcend or obliterate race altogether with the reality of living in a society structured in dominance around race.
Another tenor player, Sonny Rollins, interviewed in 1971, talked about his feelings on race relations in the early 1960s, and how they changed over time:
About ten years ago [about 1961] I used to be very much in favor of trying to bridge all the people in the world together and trying to bridge the gap between white and black. I used to read a lot of philosophy and look for ways of bringing everybody together. I would go out of my way to try and make friends. But now I know that this is redundant on my part as a black man, because it’s not up to me to do it; it’s up to the white man to be friendly with me. If I do it, the white cat can say it’s because I want to better my position in the world. It can be looked upon as a selfish thing. I can’t go around to the guy preaching love and let’s get together, because it can be looked upon as being suspect coming from a black cat. Do you understand what I mean? It’s a white person’s prerogative to do all of these things; I can’t do it. I had to give up on that idea because it really doesn’t work. It’s up to the ruling class, so to speak, to do all of these things. It’s probably to the advantage of a white person to keep himself on top and the black below, so I honestly can’t see why a white person would want to change things.(66)
Rollins’s comments reflect the shift in the mood of the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, from a feeling of change through interracial cooperation and nonviolent spiritual belief in justice and freedom, to a more pragmatic analysis of the glacial (if at all detectable) pace of social change. This shift will be discussed more in the section on the regression in race relations after about 1965. But Rollins still expressed a belief in music’s utopic potential: “I think music should be judged on what it is. It should be very high and above everything else. It is a beautiful way of bringing people together, a little bit of an oasis in this messed-up world.”(67)
Miles Davis is perhaps the most instructive figure in early 1960s jazz regarding the instability of black and white racial identities. His public persona and his music represented a strong, black-defined integrationist ideology that sought to gain respect for his music on its own terms. Davis, in telling Art Taylor about his misperceived behavior toward his audiences, conveys a sense of mutual respect between himself and the audience that the mainstream media reports of his performances rarely conveyed:
They [white critics] say I’m rude, and that I turn my back on the audience, and that I don’t like white people. And that I don’t like the audience. But the thing is, I never think about an audience. I just think about the band. And if the band is all right, I know the audience is pleased. I don’t have to hold the audience’s hand. I think audiences are hipper than musicians think they are. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to hear some music, so you don’t have to con them into believing that this music is great. I figure they can judge for themselves, and those who don’t like it don’t have to like it, and those who like it will have a nice time listening. If I go to a concert, I take it like that.(68)
In putting himself in the place of his audience (“If I go to a concert …”), Davis is imagining his listeners in a much more positive light than the white media claims he does. For example, consider the following comments in a 1959 Down Beat after a white policeman beat Davis’s head bloody during a break in one of Davis’s performances at a New York jazz club on August 26, 1959: “Miles [is] admittedly known throughout the music business for arrogance, general cantankerousness, and a well-developed Crow Jim attitude.”(69) The discourse in Down Beat following what one newspaper article referred to as a “Georgia head-whipping”(70) seemed to suggest that Davis’s persona caused the incident, despite quoting Cannonball Adderley, who witnessed the incident, as saying the police used unnecessary force and brutality. In a subsequent letter to the editor, however, a Miles Davis “admirer” gives an even more critical perspective on Davis regarding the “slugging” incident (as it was referred to in Down Beat), suggesting that Davis may have overestimated some of his fans’ admiration:
I have long been an admirer of Miles’ playing, but his makeup and personality leave me very much disturbed. True, some idiosyncrasies can be attributed to artistic temperament, but other acts are entirely inexcusable. Many times I have seen the Davis groups in a club or concert, and never once have I heard Miles introduce a number, acknowledge applause, or in general show any concern for his audience. We read Miles in print: “All white tenor players sound the same to me…. Brubeck’s piano makes me sick…. Oscar Peterson ruins everything he plays….” Surely the music and professionalism of a Brubeck … or Peterson … has done a great deal more to further the cause of jazz than a picture in the Times … of Miles beaten and bleeding, riding to jail in a wagon. Jazz has come a long way, and it’s a shame that one of its major voices is so discontent. I am also irked by the trade magazines for holding Miles in such adulation that his views and opinions are held as the last gospel word, which indeed they are not. Miles has so much to say in print, yet so little to say in personal appearances. I will continue to buy and am sure enjoy Miles’ records but cannot help feeling that his psychical maturation has not equaled his musical maturity. Belmont, Mass. Tom Sheely Ed. note: Amen.(71)
Mr. Sheely’s letter, and the Down Beat editor’s “amen” response, view Davis through a more conventional standard for protocols of black entertainers (or artists), illustrating the continued presence of repressive racial codes within the jazz subculture. In his autobiography, though, Davis’s account of his beating and the fallout over it stresses his refusal to accept dominant codes of cross-racial interaction, despite realizing the costs of doing so:
That incident changed me forever, made me much more bitter and cynical than I might have been. It took two months for three judges to rule that my arrest had been illegal and dismiss the charges against me…. Around this time, people–white people–started saying that I was always “angry,” that I was “racist,” or some silly shit like that. Now, I’ve been racist toward nobody, but that don’t mean I’m going to take shit from a person just because he’s white. I didn’t grin or shuffle and didn’t walk around with my finger up my ass begging for no handout and thinking I was inferior to whites. I was living in America, too, and I was going to try to get everything that was coming to me.(72)
Davis assumed a sense of power and equality–which were constantly contested, as shown in the comments on his “attitude”–as a black artist in this subculture which inverted dominant racial codes without reproducing racism. Like Mingus, Davis demanded a more sophisticated level of listening from his audience members–white or otherwise–than other, “less aggressive” black musicians. His refusing to accommodate the traditional expectations whites held for black performers–of introducing the musical selections, acknowledging their applause, in short, of entertaining–forced audiences to focus on the sound and the art (the “mind”) and not so much on the entertainment value (the “body”), and in the process helped elevate blackness in the public sphere.
Integration in jazz subcultures has been defined differently than mainstream concepts of integration. As Abbey Lincoln told a group of jazz critics in 1962, “Integration in this country means assimilation for the Negro,” meaning that she saw King’s dream of integration occurring on white terms.(73) Unlike mainstream conceptions and realizations of integration, the terms of inclusion in jazz’s subcultures of integration have largely been defined by the African American artists. To be sure, the range of white responses to black culture–from primitivist to humanist–have significantly affected the quality of these subcultures. And while this primitivist-to-humanist continuum still existed within the jazz avant-garde’s integrationist subcultures of the early 1960s, the dynamic tended to lean more heavily to the humanist side, partly as a result of the changes in dominant representations of blackness coming out the civil rights struggles but also because of what was happening with the music itself.
A New Black Subject in Free Jazz
The musicians’ deployment of a rearticulated, “artistically othering”(74) blackness inside the jazz club was a kind of a signifying on racial formations that preceded the emergence of the civil rights movements of the early 1960s. Bassist Ron Carter discussed this with his colleague Art Taylor in 1969:
Whenever there has been a major change in jazz, there’s been a major change in everything else afterward. It’s incredible how it happens. Freedom music to me represents the younger musicians getting tired of the establishment. The establishment to me is chord progressions and a thirty-two bar form. The student radicals are like the freedom jazz players who want to bypass most of the present standards for playing a tune…. In 1959, when Ornette Coleman hit New York, he predicted the social changes musically.(75)
Ornette Coleman’s December 1960 recording “Free Jazz” (with white abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock’s painting “White Light” on the inside cover) underscored these social and cultural changes partly by decentering the body in musical representations of blackness through a deconstruction of rhythm and a recontextualization of the traditional blues-based harmonic structures of jazz. With very few exceptions, all previous jazz music depended on regular and discernible pulses. It is true that the emergence of bebop in the 1940s vastly complicated jazz rhythm by incorporating more West African and Latin-derived polyrhythmic elements, but the basic pulse was always there, at least with the bass if not with the drums as well. The avant-garde shattered jazz’s traditional concept of swing with its insistence on freeing all instruments from previous metric, rhythmic, and (most prominently) harmonic “constraints.” While instrumentalists like Coleman still employed blues-inflected motifs in their improvisations, free jazz compositions themselves more often than not avoided the traditional 12-bar harmonic structure of the blues (or other traditional harmonic structures of jazz, like 32-bar AABA song forms, or bebop’s ii-V-I sequences), as well as chord progressions over which soloists could insert blues-based substitute chords. In very general terms, it became more than ever a music of expressive freedom.(76)
If Coleman’s classic 1960 recording “Free Jazz” can be said to exemplify the more cerebral aspects of the jazz avant-garde because it complicates the rhythmic groove, often interrupting a distinct and regular time pattern with which to move the body, then saxophonist Albert Ayler’s 1964 rendition of Sonny Rollins’s “Rollins’ Tune” might be said to represent the more emotional or visceral elements of the new music (i.e., the “new” black body). Ayler’s saxophone screams in this piece shifted the representation of the body away from rhythm–where it dwelled in previous forms of jazz–and toward a tonal expression of physicality laden with what many writers and fans describe as raw emotion. White critic John Litweiler, for example, describes Ayler’s music with such a primordial focus that it testifies, again, to the kinds of limited and limiting concepts of blackness held by many whites even within the jazz subculture:
He screamed through his tenor saxophone in multiphonics and almost uncontrolled overtones, absolutely never in a straight saxophone sound or in any identifiable pitch. His ensembles really did improvise with utter abandon, and they related their music to each other’s in the most primal, irregular ways…. Frenzied ecstasy … and hysteria were the sole content of his soloing…. He bypassed the entire history of jazz to go back to attitudes and ideas about music that predated the art’s inception; he then built up his own art out of primitive discoveries.(77)
Unlike Litweiler, other white critics saw a more complete and human picture of this new black music and the artists creating it. Nat Hentoff off connected the mind and body of African American jazz musicians with liner notes like those accompanying Max Roach’s We Insist!, as well as on more avant-garde records. Martin Williams’s liner notes on Ornette Coleman’s recording Free Jazz emphasized the connections between mind and body: “Ornette Coleman put it, `We were expressing our minds and emotions as much as could be captured by electronics’ [italics in original].”(78) Nat Hentoff’s notes to John Coltrane’s 1964 album Crescent are another good example of this mind-body construction: “In addition … to the fiercely searching, turbulently complicated Coltrane, there is the soloist-writer who focuses on reflective order, distilling his emotions into carefully shaped structures.”(79) Hentoff is speaking about the process by which jazz musicians create as if it unavoidably involves combining rational thought with feeling and emotional intensity. In a long 1962 letter to the editor of Down Beat, one reader named Jack Howell strenuously objected to John Tynan’s dehumanizing review of John Coltrane’s and Eric Dolphy’s music by emphasizing the combination of mind and body in modern art:
In this age of nuclear anxiety, the John Birch Society, and the Twist, who’s to call Coltrane’s music “nonsense”? … The trend in modern art forms is abstraction, which gives the connoisseur the opportunity to deduce for himself a personal and meaningful scheme in the art object. This can be both an emotional and intellectual experience for the beholder. Coltrane, and his acolyte, Dolphy, possess this abstract element…. In conclusion, let me hasten to add that I believe that intellect is not more desirable than emotion but that both are integral parts of modern jazz. Coltrane is the synthesis of these two ingredients, as well as the synthesis of understanding and complexness.(80)
The musicians themselves echoed this connection between “intellect” and “emotion” in art, comparing their musical experiments with the civil rights struggles in the South. Charles Mingus’s liner notes to his September 1964 recording, Mingus in Monterey, discusses the linkage in relation to his composition “Meditations on Integration”:
During “Meditations on Integration” I began to notice that the audience began to stir. You’ll say, and the critics did say, that it sounds almost classical. It is classical. You see, black faces aren’t expected to play classical. But they do. We, too, went to school. We, too, studied music…. [“Meditations on Integration”] is chaos, but it’s organized chaos. The main vocal line of the trumpet is like a prophet unifying all. It’s like the turmoil inside of me. Everyone has lived this or they wouldn’t applaud like that…. Onstage I could feel the presence of my musicians like they were touching me. Anyone could play “Meditations” on that day in this time of ours when everyone is fighting everyone else all over the world. Man, woman, religious sects, people in general, colors…. Well, it’s time that people get together and try to fight their way through to love with something that warms them and brings them together.(81)
Mingus’s hopes for finding common ground and togetherness were echoed by many in jazz communities across the country. In another lengthy Down Beat letter to the editor in 1962, in response to a two-part panel discussion on racial prejudice in jazz, a white female jazz bassist from Vancouver, Washington, named Bonnie Wetzel Carroll described how working with racially mixed groups of musicians and experiencing racial prejudice from “both sides” helped her to make the transformation from hating her own whiteness to appreciating and valuing difference; integral to this transformation in her understanding of her white identity was her realization of the qualities of African American humanity in a racist society:
Unaware of what was slowly building up inside me, under pressure and remarks not from musicians but from others to whom the color of my face seemed important, I found myself with a profound disgust for everything that “white” seemed to stand for. I’m afraid I became an emotional advocate of what is called Crow Jim, though I didn’t know it had a name. I would have gladly changed the color of my skin to stop people from trying to make me choose sides…. It wasn’t until a dear friend of mine, a nonmusician much older, wiser (and darker) than I, quietly explained to me that the hatred I felt for my own race was in reality quite as sick as the prejudice I hated. I couldn’t possibly hate (he named mutual friends and musicians) simply because they were white? I began to understand that the Negro is called upon to be a super-human being in order to rise above cruelty, injustice, and stupidity with a wisdom and understanding (and sometimes with a sense of humor) that few humans reach in their lifetime…. I will … teach my two young sons the beauty and wonder of the differences and the sameness of all people.(82)
Carroll’s comments suggest that jazz, as a terrain for cross-racial encounters, created a context for the construction of antiracist (white included) identities.
Some of the contemporary listeners I have interviewed about their jazz listening practices (for a book project, called Hearing Jazz) reflect similar connections between intellectual and emotional components of jazz, testifying to the legacy of both the new music of the early 1960s and the changes in race relations.
Peter: I think if you can intellectually try to grasp what these musicians are trying to do, and you get a feel for it–and it doesn’t mean like you read their sheet music and know what’s going on–but you get a sense that there is some architecture to this music, even though it’s supposedly just free word association, musically, if you will. But there is some architecture to this music, and once you realize there is, then you can take it another step further and get into the emotion behind it.(83)
Peter’s description here about apprehending and comprehending the “architecture” of avant-garde jazz as a prerequisite to getting any emotional meaning and satisfaction out of it strikes me as analogous to how many whites–such as those describing their experiences in Mississippi–may have processed the social dramas unfolding in front of them during the early civil rights struggles. Understanding the rationale behind the protests, having the “architecture” (the racist social system) exposed, adds an emotional component to that understanding because of the injustice and terror whites could feel while consuming images of civil rights demonstrations. One gets something out of the music, which holds intense meaning when the cerebral and visceral experiences connect. The letters from Jack Howell and Bonnie Wetzel Carroll convey similar sensibilities regarding constructions of racial identity in the political, cultural, and racial environment of the early 1960s, testifying to the successful rhetorical strategies of black civil rights and cultural leaders. These two whites, along with white civil rights activists, many white jazz fans, and others sympathetic to the struggle for racial equality, would have supported Dizzy Gillespie much more strongly than the confused white guests at Hugh Hefner’s penthouse that evening in 1960.
These concepts about changing white representations of blackness hold for avant-garde jazz as well as the more “straight-ahead” types of jazz. Certain musicians like Cannonball Adderley and Charles Mingus blurred the boundaries between “free” and “straight-ahead” jazz to such an extent that it is possible to view the distinction between the two subgenres as artificial constructions by critics and the music industry, although there is no shortage of bitter comments in both directions from musicians aligning themselves with one camp or the other; the earlier quotations from Miles Davis and Betty Carter attest to this kind of antipathy, which represents a fickle public and an unstable economic situation for jazz, especially at the time they made those comments–the late 1960s.
Perhaps one of the most defining features of difference between these two “camps” of jazz is actually the audience itself. The audiences for Cannonball Adderley, for example, who filled a slot in the more straight-ahead jazz category (soul or funky or hard bop),(84) tended to contain more African American listeners than those of the more avant-garde artists like Ornette Coleman or John Coltrane.(85) Likewise, the audiences one can hear on Adderley’s many live recordings tend to practice a more Afro-diasporic, participatory kind of audienceship; on many recordings one can hear audience members responding to Adderley with affirmative shouts and hollers, much like the call-and-response between preacher and congregation at a black Baptist church service.(86) As discussed previously, many of the audiences for more of the avant-garde types of jazz performances tend to sound “whiter” in that there is less audible response and participation from the audience’s side, but the sense of connection and community between and among musicians and audience is still present.
In both of these subgenres, though, what I am calling the “rearticulated black body” became more of a presence in jazz performance in the early 1960s. The precursors of this lay in the 1940s and 1950s with the rise of bebop, but social conditions at that time did not reinforce the growing power of the black musician as artist, definition-setter, arbiter of hipness, to the extent that the white primitivistic gaze on blackness could be significantly blinded and/or reformed. The black-directed but multiracial social movements of the early 1960s, then, legitimized on a broad field of social and cultural experience–for both whites and blacks–this rearticulated blackness containing a more completely human combination of intellect and emotion.(87)
So in the first half of the 1960s we see: (1) the civil rights demonstrations showing to increasingly shocked mainstream TV and newspaper audiences the white racist brutalization of blacks; (2) whites comprising a large percentage (if not the majority) of the free jazz audience–it is possible to read the jazz avant-garde as explicitly directed toward whites;(88) and (3) Amiri Baraka (then LeRoi Jones) and other black writers entering this new discursive space as outspoken black nationalist or Afrocentric jazz critics with a significant white readership (discussed below).
These three things all contributed to an antiracist politicization of the black body in social spaces and in music, which necessarily politicized many whites regarding race: the general population could no longer consume images of racist attacks innocently, that is, without imagining their own racial identity implicated in these images. Michael Rossman, a white student volunteer, speaks about his motivation for becoming a volunteer for the Mississippi Summer project in 1964:
The only thing out there in society that gave me any hope that I could do anything with the feelings that were mine and so different from anything else and that couldn’t exist in a gray flannel suit were the Negroes…. They weren’t in my county, but on the television comes these pictures of these black kids in the compounds down south, with the dogs at them, with the hoses on them. Good God! It was unbelievable. Here were people that were standing up for something that was vital to them, that was right for them as citizens, saying NO to what had been and saying YES to what was promised them, what was inside them. And it sliced across the face of the American reality. We grew up in a time when none of the adults would take a chance!(89) [Emphasis in original.]
Similarly, jazz audiences couldn’t hear Ayler or Coleman or Coltrane without thinking about racial subjectivity (of self and other, white and black) as they did in the 1950s and earlier.(90) Now, for whites whose daily lives included consuming jazz, the entire structure of contemporary social relations was open to question. Horrifying televised scenes of white racist violence against black demonstrators resonated with jazz performances like Roach’s We Insist and with John Coltrane’s November 1963 live recording of “Alabama.” LeRoi Jones’s (now Amiri Baraka) liner notes associated “Alabama” with the bombing two months earlier of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls, and Bill Cole’s study of Coltrane claims that the melody of “Alabama” echoes the “rhythmic inflections of a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King.”(91) The white San Francisco writer and syndicated jazz columnist Ralph J. Gleason presented to a large national readership in May 1963 an implicit but sincere questioning of the meaning of whiteness in his report on the black activist and comedian Dick Gregory’s onstage incorporation of his participation in the struggles in Birmingham:
[Gregory’s] appeal–and this increases as the frankness increases–is like that of Lenny Bruce and James Baldwin and the jazz musicians who tell it like it is…. Gregory comes to us direct from a world where the values we have learned and which we teach, from the Pledge of Allegiance to the Ten Commandments, are being tested. He should have lessons for us all.(92)
Through their own experiences with jazz, and with help from organic intellectuals such as Ralph Gleason and Dick Gregory (and certainly Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, and many others), white jazz listeners exposed to the turmoil of the 1960s developed an appreciation of difference through listening, through intellectually and emotionally acquired knowledge gained from their participation in jazz subcultures of integration. Their appreciation of difference is remarkable for its reflexivity, which is instrumental in their probing and questioning their own racial identity.
LeRoi Jones ended his liner notes to John Coltrane’s 1963 Live at Birdland album (on which “Alabama” appeared) by writing: “There is a daringly human quality to John Coltrane’s music that makes itself felt…. If you can hear, this music will make you think of a lot of weird and wonderful things. You might even become one of them.”(93) Baraka’s statement, its marketing function (as a liner note) notwithstanding, nicely sums up how some white jazz listeners might have become “weirdly” or “wonderfully” human through their love for the music. Baraka’s liner notes and other writings of his during this period(94) took advantage of the space made possible by the social ferment of the 1960s for such an African American critical intervention in dominant representations of blackness. Much of his writing adopts a race-essentialist ideology, often constructing a type of “authentic” black subject, which is indicative of a black cultural nationalist strategic essentialism (in contrast to the essentialism of a white critic like John Litweiler, which is more reflective of residual, dominant racist white ideology and identity). That whites comprised probably the majority of listeners to the cutting edge jazz that Baraka and a few other “radical” black writers wrote about suggests that a good part of his readership was white; this lends an even greater complexity to the alternative construction of whiteness among some fans, which needs further exploration.(95)
Turnaround: The Post-1965 Decline in Integrationism
We hoped to bring about some kind of revolution in the American conscience, which is, after all, where everything in some sense has to begin. Of course, that’s gone now. It’s gone because the Republic never had the courage or the ability or whatever it was that was needed to apprehend the nature of Martin’s dream. Let me just put it that way; it is an oversimplification, but you know what I mean. –James Baldwin, talking with Margaret Mead, 1970(96)
The year 1965 marked a significant turning point in race relations in the United States. In February, Malcolm X was assassinated, and his autobiography was published in its second edition that year, increasing his influence on the emerging postwar black nationalism, as well as frightening moderate whites who read it.(97) Martin Luther King’s Selma-to-Montgomery march that spring signified what some have argued was the “high-water mark of integrationism.”(98) SNCC continued its internal debates over whether whites should be involved in organizing black communities. In August the Watts rebellions in Los Angeles burned for three days, with much of the revolt covered by television. The escalation of the Vietnam War, as well as the emerging counterculture among disaffected white youth, detracted from the news media’s focused concentration on the civil rights movement; since at least 1963, when a Gallup poll showed that Americans considered racial tension to be the nation’s major problem, the civil rights struggle had fairly monopolized domestic news reporting.(99) The development of separatist and new black nationalist ideologies within the civil rights movement, and the increasing unrest among black communities in the North and the West frightened mainstream culture with a clear departure from nonviolent direct action as a strategy for social progress. The growing white backlash against black progress suggested more and more clearly as the 1960s wore on that integration was a goal only if attained on dominant white culture’s terms, with the desire to contain blackness in its traditionally bounded way as a “congenial Other.”(100)
With the urban rebellions of black communities across the country, and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, the idea of cross-racial collaboration and progress faded, the hopes and dreams of the idealistic and hard-working civil rights activists dissolving with the conflicted memory of past successes (e.g., the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, and a tenfold increase in black registered voters in Mississippi). Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign platform exploited white fears of blacks he portrayed as having become too powerful and violent, calling on the “silent majority” to uphold “law and order” by electing a president who would take control of and shore up the status quo that seemed to be toppling. Electoral politics as a whole seemed to have become thoroughly implicated in the reassertion of state authority, the police crackdown on demonstrators at the Democratic convention in Chicago that summer being just one example.
The litany of “failures of the Sixties” in the face of the retrenchment of the racist state continues to be debated.(101) But one thing is certain, and it is that no fundamental changes have resulted in social relations–particularly those involving race–since the sixties; if anything, the sharp racial divide continually presented by the media following the O.J. Simpson trial verdict in October 1995 is only the most spectacular symptom of Reagan-Bush era race-baiting strategies designed to maintain racial polarization and all it secures for the white-male power structure. Perhaps the most egregious example of this strategy involves Willie Horton, a black Massachusetts prisoner who, when furloughed during Michael Dukakis’s governorship, raped and beat a white woman and was subsequently featured in a chilling advertisement created by Lee Atwater of George Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign staff, becoming the Republicans’ symbol of everything wrong with liberal social policy. In one of the first of many articles published in the popular press on the failure of King’s integrationist dream, Anthony Walton, a young, Ivy-League-educated black American, discusses Willie Horton as a construction of white racism and its intention to essentialize blackness in the minds of white Americans.
I don’t think, for good or bad, that in any other ethnic group the fate of an individual is so inextricably bound to that of the group, and vice-versa. To use the symbol and metaphor of Willie Horton in another way, I do not think that the lives and choices of young white males are impacted by the existence of neo-Nazi skinheads, murdering Klansmen or the ordinary thugs of Howard Beach. I also, to put it plainly, do not recall any young black man, even those who deal drugs in such places, entering a playground and spraying bullets at innocent schoolchildren as happened in Stockton, California. It is not my intention to place value considerations on any of these events; I want to point out that in this society it seems legitimate, from the loftiest corridors of power to the streets of New York, to imply that one black man is them all.(102)
Jim Merod highlights the unsuccessful role of the left in combating this depressing cultural and political reality in his essay on “jazz as a cultural archive,” discussing the left’s “failure throughout the 1970s and 1980s (continuing today) to accomplish anything resembling populist, pragmatic, and effective transformative political activity on the terrain of democratic capitalism.”(103) But Merod rightly continues by claiming jazz as a space of complex personal, cultural, and political redemption for all of those whose lives are deeply affected by it. John Coltrane’s career between 1965 and 1967 (the year he died) can be used as the baseline for such a narrative of optimism and hope. On June 28, 1965, Coltrane assembled for the first time in his tremendously prolific recording career a group of younger, distinctly avant-garde musicians, at least one of whom–Archie Shepp–was (and still is) an outspoken black cultural nationalist.(104) Coltrane himself never talked explicitly in public about his political beliefs, but when pressed about racial politics and his audiences by white writer Frank Kofsky in 1966, Coltrane responded in the spirit of integration:
Sometimes people like [my music] or don’t like it, no matter what color they are…. It seems to me that the audience, in listening, is in an act of participation, you know. And when you know that somebody is maybe moved the same way you are, to such a degree or approaching the degree, it’s just like having another member in the group.(105)
Kofsky’s book in which this interview with Coltrane appeared is called Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music, the cover of which is graced by a photo of a contemplative John Coltrane. This influential artist represented, for Kofsky, the essence of jazz’s close relationship from the mid-1960s forward with black nationalism, and Kofsky more than once discusses Coltrane as a kind of musical parallel to Malcolm X. But in the interview Kofsky repeatedly tries to elicit antiwhite and oversimplified black nationalist statements from Coltrane. Coltrane does not comply, speaking instead of “brotherhood” and more broadly humanist ideals.
Coltrane was (and remains) a complex symbol of both integrationism and black nationalism, bridging the gap between his past and the future, bringing new, more politically radical musicians like Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders, Marion Brown, and others into positions of influence or at least broader attention. Miles Davis, who employed Coltrane for several years in the 1950s and early 1960s, referred to him between 1964 and 1967 as a symbol of black nationalism, but also mentioned his broader political appeal: “It was this way for many intellectual and revolutionary whites and Asians as well…. He was embraced by a lot of different kinds of people.”(106) Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Dizzy Gillespie, and a host of other black jazz musicians whose careers extend from bebop’s heyday (or earlier, if you consider Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” or much of Ellington’s work, for example) until today, and whose styles span the continuum from bop to neo-avant-garde, have resonated with Coltrane’s complex involvement with integrationist ideas. The exchange between Kofsky and Coltrane in a sense echoes (or signifies on) the Gillespie-Hefner exchange that began this article, but similar interactions exist throughout jazz’s rich history of cross-racial interaction, and underscore the importance of jazz as a site for exploring more deeply the complexities of cross- and multiracial interaction and their accompanying ideologies of integrationism.
Jazz suffered from declining public interest in the music during the late 1960s. In his autobiography, pianist Hampton Hawes described some of these changes:
The clubs were beginning to hurt. The kids were jamming the rock halls and the older people were staying home watching TV. Maybe they found they couldn’t pat their feet to our music anymore. Big-drawing names like Miles and John Coltrane were breaking out of the thirty-two-bar chord-oriented structure and into free expression–or “avant-garde” or “outside,” whatever tag you want to stick on it–charging the owners so much they had to raise the covers and minimums. The players who were ace sight readers … were going into the studios.(107)
Until the “young lion” Wynton Marsalis came on the scene in the early 1980s, jazz remained an essentially marginal form of popular culture, never climbing out of the valley it slid (or was pushed) into in the mid-1960s. But the musicians who were able to continue playing retained a relatively small, vibrant, multiracial audience of dedicated listeners who helped perpetuate the kinds of integrationist subcultures formed in the first half of the 1960s.
I would like to express my profound appreciation for the thorough readings and constructive comments on versions of this article from the following scholars: Sherrie Tucker, Kevin Gaines, Louise Newman, Robert Walser, Ronald Radano, and the two anonymous readers for American Music. I also wish to thank Stanford University’s Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Department of Music at Stanford, and Theresa Tran for support while working on this article.
(1.) First aired in late 1959, Playboy’s Penthouse ran just two seasons. In 1969 Hefner developed a similar television program, Playboy After Dark, which lasted just that one season. I accidentally happened on the episode featuring Gillespie at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City, where it is catalogued only by the year, 1960. I have been unable to find further information on this program.
(2.) Gillespie was referring to the “payola” scandals in the late 1950s, in which record companies paid radio stations to play certain songs and not others, a practice that had spread throughout the entertainment industry. Down Beat regularly condemned this practice in its editorials throughout 1959 and 1960.
(3.) In classic double-voiced signification, with the word “embellishing” Gillespie simultaneously compliments and criticizes Hefner as a representative of the long tradition of white appropriation of black cultural expression. If “embellish” can be read as a compliment, its rhetorical effectiveness is doubled by the large critical context within which Gillespie’s remarks operate. In Aretha’s words, “Who’s zoomin’ who?”
(4.) Actually, I may be underestimating Gillespie’s mainstream popularity; beginning with the popularization of bebop in the mid-1940s, Gillespie appeared in a number of popular magazines, most notably a photo spread in Life illustrating an elaborate bebop “handshake” (which Gillespie later shamefully admitted was totally contrived), and he also appeared on the Tonight Show once a year between 1954 and 1960, and on at least a dozen other nationally syndicated television programs during the same period. See Gillespie’s amazing autobiography, written with Al Fraser, To Be or Not to Bop: Memoirs of Dizzy Gillespie (New York: Da Capo Press, 1979), 525-26.
(5.) James Baldwin, “Color,” in The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948-1985 (New York: St. Martin’s/Marek, 1985), 321; originally published in Esquire, December 1962.
(6.) I use the term “integrationist subculture” to represent the long and complex history of African Americans and whites (mostly, but not totally, limited to these two groups) interacting with more or less “good” intentions in the variety of jazz subcultures. The term implies intentional interracial interaction, rather than accidental or incidental cross-racial contact at desegregated (and some segregated) social sites such as sporting arenas and theaters. It may be useful to distinguish between the two types of integration as “integrationist” and “integrated” (as in the latter, accidental, case).
My use of the term “integrationist subculture” is not intended to suggest, however, a homogeneous definition of “integration” for all of those participating in these interracial spaces. Indeed, the concept of integration itself is historically contingent and understood differently by the various actors involved in each subcultural space and time. The best example of conflicting and contested conceptions of integration with a jazz integrationist subculture occurs in the two-part panel on “Racial Prejudice in Jazz” in Down Beat, March 1962, referred to later in this article.
(7.) Houston A. Baker Jr., “Critical Memory and the Black Public Sphere,” in Public Culture 7 (1994): 12.
(8.) For a more detailed analysis of the texture of integration in jazz prior to the 1960s, see my “Conflicted Legacies of Whiteness: The Jazz Age, the Beat Era, and Subcultural Negotiations of Racial Intercourse,” chapter 2 of my Ph.D. thesis, “Consuming Jazz: Black Music and Whiteness,” Brown University, 1996.
(9.) The Italian American clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, for example, talked about Charlie Parker’s music as “the greatest combination of real swing feeling and the intellectual approach to playing jazz…. If you wanted to isolate the physical from what he did mentally, it was just fantastic. And if you wanted to disregard what he did mentally and just feel what he did, you could do that also. And why in hell 90 percent of the population didn’t pick up on that, I’ll never know. That remains a mystery. I just think they were scared, maybe, of the cerebral part of it.” Quoted in Ira Gitler, Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 315.
(10.) See Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York: Bantam, 1987); Sally Belfrage, Freedom Summer (Charlottesville, Va.: University of Virginia Press, 1965); Making Sense of the Sixties, pt. 2, “We Can Change the World” (Alexandria, Va.: PBS Video, 1991), video.
(11.) Many of the white (and black) American musicians, critics, disc jockeys, and other music industry people involved with jazz came from working-class backgrounds. Published in 1948, Sidney Finkelstein’s Jazz: A People’s Music emphasized the working-class roots of many white jazz musicians, writers, and fans from the 1920s on, and consistently railed against what he termed the “false division” between classical and popular music and the corresponding divisions between classes. Sidney Finkelstein, Jazz: A People’s Music (New York: Citadel Press, 1948). See also Lewis Erenberg, “Things to Come: Swing Bands, Bebop, and the Rise of a Postwar Jazz Scene,” in Lary May, ed., Recasting America: Culture and Politics in the Age of the Cold War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 234-35. For an excellent account of the working class roots of rock and roll, see George Lipsitz, “`Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens’: The Working Class Origins of Rock and Roll,” in his Rainbow at Midnight: Labor and Culture in the 1940s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994); in this chapter, Lipsitz discusses the cross-racial aspects of the emerging rock music, which he links to the influence of jazz and blues on black and white working-class culture.
(12.) See Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology (1960; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988).
(13.) Eric Lott’s work on white interest in black culture provides excellent analyses of this interaction from a broad historical perspective, informed by psychoanalysis and a range of well-applied theoretical models. See his Love and Theft: The Racial Unconscious of Blackface Minstrelsy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), and his “White Like Me: Racial Cross-dressing the Construction of American Whiteness,” in Cultures of United States Imperialism, ed. Amy Kaplan and Donald Pease (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1993), 474-95.
(14.) See Steve Chapple and Reebee Garofalo, Rock and Roll Is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry (Chicago: Nelson Hall, 1977), esp. chaps. 3 and 7, on the expansion of the popular music market in the 1960s, and the role of black music in it. See also Reebee Garafolo, “Culture versus Commerce: The Marketing of Black Popular Music,” in Public Culture 7, no. 1 (Fall 1994): 275-88.
(15.) Richard Pryor, “That Nigger’s Crazy” (Reprise MS 2241, 1974). For similar, if not identical, formulations expressed in popular culture, see Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Grove Press, 1964), 399; and James Baldwin, “On Being White … and Other Lies,” Essence, April 1984, 90. To be sure, this process has a long history; in 1920 W.E.B. DuBois wrote in “The Souls of White Folk”: “America, Land of Democracy, wanted to believe in the failure of democracy so far as darker peoples were concerned. Absolutely without excuse she established a caste system … and she is at times heartily ashamed even of the large number of `new’ white people whom her democracy has admitted to place and power. Against this surging forward of Irish and German, of Russian Jew, Slav and `dago’ her social bars have not availed, but against Negroes she can and does take her unflinching and immovable stand … She trains her immigrants to this despising of `niggers’ from the day of their landing, and they carry and send the news back to the submerged classes in the fatherlands.” W.E.B. DuBois, “The Souls of White Folks,” from Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil , reprinted in Julius Lester, ed., The Seventh Son: The Thought and Writing of W.E.B. DuBois, vol. 1 (New York: Vintage, 1971), 500. See also David Roediger, “Whiteness and Ethnicity in the History of `White Ethnics’ in the United States,” in his Towards the Abolition of Whiteness (New York: Verso, 1994), 181-98.
(16.) See Michael Rogin, Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), and George Lipsitz, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness,” in American Quarterly 47, no. 3 (Sept. 1995): 373-74, and Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation (New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986), for a variety of political, cultural, and economic accounts of the homogenization of whiteness.
(17.) Max Roach, We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (Candid 9002, 1960).
(18.) We Insist was banned in South Africa, even though it was initially distributed there without Hentoff’s liner notes. See Down Beat, June 21, 1962, 11.
(19.) Roediger, Towards the Abolition of Whiteness. 1994). I consider Roediger’s use of the phrase “abolition of whiteness” to be a rhetorical strategy rather than a literal prescription for whites to adopt an antiracist practice and subjectivity; a more literal way of putting it would be to “reform” or “rearticulate” whiteness, divesting it of its pigmentation-based privilege.
(20.) See Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 97. The debate over the distinction between body and mind didn’t end, of course, with Descartes. Mainstream American culture, though, generally seems to reproduce an accepted mind-body split, despite the impact of black culture–whose African origins strongly resist the division–on American popular culture. See John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1970). For an anti-objectivist, Western philosophical argument against the ontological distinction between mind and body, see Mark Johnson, The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). For theoretical and phenomenological applications of Johnson’s ideas to music, see Robert Walser, Running with the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Music (Hanover, N.H.: Wesleyan University Press, 1993), 31-32; Susan McClary, Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 23-24; and Susan McClary and Robert Walser, “Theorizing the Body in African-American Music,” Black Music Research Journal 14, no. 1 (Spring 1994): 75-84.
(21.) See Harvard Sitkoff, The Struggle for Black Equality, 1954-1980 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 137-38. See also Paul Good, The Trouble I’ve Seen: White Journalist/Black Movement (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1975), for an account from inside the media. For testimony of whites whose racial consciousness was seriously affected by the movement, see Belfrage, Freedom Summer; Doug McAdam, Freedom Summer (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), 116; and Blackside, Inc., Eyes on the Prize pt. 3, “No Easy Walk, 1961-1963” (Alexandria, Va: PBS Video, 1986), video.
(22.) See Omi and Winant, Racial Formation, 74, for a description of the shift in the early 1960s from a culturally bound “war of maneuver” to a socially situated “war of position” (terms from Antonio Gramsci’s analysis of hegemony) in which the “racial state can be confronted.”
(23.) Ibid., 90.
(24.) On Ellington as an organic intellectual, see Kevin Gaines, “Duke Ellington, Black, Brown, and Beige, and the Cultural Politics of Race During World War II,” delivered at the American Studies Association Annual Convention, Nashville, Oct. 28, 1994.
(25.) For exhaustive documentation on the media’s relationship to the civil rights struggles, see Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988); see also Good, The Trouble I’ve Seen.
(26.) See Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 14.
(27.) Martin Luther King Jr., quoted in Baker, “Critical Memory and the Black Public Sphere,” 25. Baker’s essay reclaims King as a radical black leader, arguing that King revolutionized the black (and American) public sphere during his career.
(28.) It is important to recognize that Goodman’s and Schwerner’s white bodies played a crucial role in the mass cultural recognition of black bodies lost in the civil rights struggles. Thanks to Sherrie Tucker for this reminder.
(29.) Gerald Early, “Martin Luther King and the Reinvention of Christian Leadership in the United States,” Avenali lecture delivered at the University of California, Berkeley, March 13, 1996.
(30.) Making Sense of the Sixties, pt. 2, “We Can Change the World.” I am indebted to Louise Newman for referring me to this video.
(31.) Blackside, Inc., Eyes on the Prize, pt. 5, “Mississippi, Is This America?” (Alexandria, Va.: PBS Video, 1986), video. Blackwell went on to become the first black mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi, and helped revitalize the Mississippi Democratic Party in the 1970s and 1980s. See John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 484n.
(32.) Pam Chude Allen, in Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford, “Freedom on My Mind” (video), San Francisco: California Newsreel, 1994.
(33.) Making Sense of the Sixties, pt. 2, “We Can Change the World.”
(34.) John Tynan, editorial, Down Beat, February 4, 1960, 34-35.
(35.) See Jack Chambers, Milestones 2: The Music and Times of Miles Davis since 1960 (New York: Beech Tree Press, 1985), 36. Davis was apparently unaware of the allegations of colonialism against the ARE Ronald Radano’s excellent book on the jazz avant-garde musician Anthony Braxton provides perhaps the most thorough overview and analysis of the connections between jazz and politics during the 1960s and earlier, discussing musical events such as Duke Ellington’s 1946 “Deep South Suite,” the linkage between specific jazz recordings and the African anticolonialist movement of the late 1950s and 1960s, and Braxton’s membership and activism in CORE in the early 1960s. Ronald Radano, New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxton’s Cultural Critique (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 58-59.
(36.) Gillespie and Fraser, To Be or Not to Bop. “Manteca” is Spanish for “lard,” which can be read as another double-voiced word (cf. “embellish,” discussed earlier) from Gillespie: it is both a staple in cooking Mexican and other “ethnic” foods, and possibly a derisive metaphor for Southern white racists.
(37.) “Praying with Eric,” from Portrait, recorded at Town Hall, New York City, April 4, 1964, Prestige P24092.
(38.) See Charles Mingus, liner notes to “Mingus at Monterey,” recorded Sept. 20, 1964, Prestige P-24100.
(39.) For an eloquent account of television’s role in assisting the elevation of black moral authority and altering racial identities during the early 1960s, see Hettie Jones’s wonderful memoir, How I Became Hettie Jones (New York: Grove Press, 1990), 109-10. Jones, then married to LeRoi Jones (who later became Amiri Baraka, discussed later in this article), paints provocative pictures of the integrated Bohemian scene of New York’s East Village in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with frequent commentary on the adhesive role jazz played in this artistic and intellectual environment.
(40.) See Down Beat, April 12, 1962, 15.
(41.) Dan Morgenstern, “Jazz and Television: A Historical Survey,” in the catalog for the Museum of Broadcasting’s 1985 exhibition, Jazz and Television, p. 10 (n.d.).
(42.) It is difficult to find much information on these and the many other television shows featuring jazz. The major resource is the catalog from the Museum of Broadcasting’s 1985 exhibition, guest-curated by jazz film and video collector David Chertok. In his introduction to the catalog, Chertok correctly states that more research needs to be done on jazz and television. David Meeker’s Jazz in the Movies (New York: Da Capo, 1981) has a small section on television that lists broadcasts not mentioned by Chertok and is also a useful resource.
(43.) For an example of the trust and respect some black musicians held for Hentoff, see Charles Mingus, Beneath the Underdog (New York: Penguin, 1971), 234-35. Mingus writes: “In Boston you meet a very sensitive cat named Nat Hentoff who … turned out to be one of the few white guys you could really talk to in your life.”
(44.) See Cornel West, “The Paradox of the Afro-American Rebellion,” in The Sixties without Apology, ed. Sohnya Sayres, Anders Stephanson, Stanley Aronowitz, and Fredric Jameson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 47, for a comparison of SNCC’s model of integration with older integrationist organizations like the NAACP.
(45.) See, for example, Valerie Wilmer’s account of the 1970 emergence of the Jazz and People’s Movement in her As Serious as Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz (Wesport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill 1977), 215-18.
(46.) “Jazz Scene U.S.A., featuring the Cannonball Adderley Sextet,” broadcast in 1963, on Shanachie Video 6310 (ISBN: 1-56633-126-9).
(47.) See Ralph J. Gleason, “An Appeal from Dave Brubeck,” Down Beat, February 18, 1960, 13.
(48.) Nat Hentoff, The Jazz Life (New York: Da Capo, 1975), 61.
(49.) Sonny Rollins, quoted in Gitler, Swing to Bop, 303.
(50.) Art Taylor, Notes and Tones: Musician to Musician Interviews (New York: Perigree Books, 1971), 19.
(51.) Chambers, Milestones 2, 20. See n. 85.
(52.) It is not my intention to suggest that jazz consumption became, or ever has been, an exclusively white domain. As far as hard data on the racial composition of jazz’s audiences, to my knowledge only two studies have been published offering any demographic information on jazz audiences. Harold Horowitz’s The American Jazz Audience (Washington, D.C.: National Jazz Service Organization, 1986) offered information on the “rate of participation” in jazz in the United States in the early 1980s, which included everything from playing in a high school jazz ensemble to attending a concert. The study doesn’t offer much data regarding the racial breakdown of “the jazz audience.” Scott DeVeaux’s “Jazz in America: Who’s Listening?” in Research Division Report No. 31, National Endowment for the Arts (Carson, Calif.: Seven Locks Press, 1995) specifically addresses the racial composition of the contemporary American jazz audience, making the important point that jazz remains an interest and concern for the greater African-American community.
(53.) Taylor, Notes and Tones, 67-68.
(54.) See the film ‘Round Midnight (produced by Irwin Winkler, directed by Bertrand Tavernier on Warner Home Video, 1987) for a popular culture treatment of American jazz expatriots.
(55.) Garofalo, “Culture versus Commerce,” 277.
(56.) Baldwin, “Color,” 322.
(57.) Think of the affective differences, for example, between church services for the Protestant “Frozen Chosen”–as black pastor David Sharp describes Presbyterian congregations he preaches to–and the more effusive black Baptist style. Personal conversation with David Sharp, M.Div., April 4, 1998.
(58.) See chapter 5, “The Listeners,” in my Ph.D. dissertation, “Consuming Jazz: Black Music and Whiteness,” Brown University, 1996, which focuses on listening practices of contemporary audience members, many of whom prefer more avant-garde jazz styles originating in the 1960s. One listener I interviewed discussed this point in relation to learning to enjoy avant-garde recordings from the early 1960s and current live performances by avant-garde jazz artists like Cecil Taylor: “I think that what I liked was that you had to concentrate, you had to think about it differently to hear the pattern, or to hear the music…. You had to construct a little bit of a framework…. You had to do the work yourself a little bit.” Interview with Stacy, February 20, 1995.
(59.) The fact that whites owned the majority of jazz clubs is significant, and often mitigated or limited the extent to which musicians could practice their craft freely. However, it is worth considering the very existence of an improvisatory African American art form in a white-owned commercial space something of a radical (or at least postmodern) configuration, at least insofar as the tension between capitalist market forces and racially integrated but African American improvisatory and antiphonal practices often dramatically interrupts dominant racist social codes.
(60.) John Tynan, Down Beat, Aug. 2, 1962, 31.
(61.) Mingus, Beneath the Underdog, 250. Note that Mingus refers to himself in third-person (“my boy,” and “Charles”).
(62.) From Diane Dorr-Dorynek, “Mingus,” in The Jazz Word, ed. Dom Cerulli, Burt Koral, and Mort L. Nasatir (1960; New York: Da Chop, 1987), 14-18. Nathaniel Mackey has described the process of African American musicians inverting dominant modes of social behavior and subverting mainstream racial codes as “artistic othering.” Kevin Gaines extends this concept of “artistic othering” to a broader spectrum encompassing post-World War II African diasporic cultures–including jazz–and illustrates how these material practices of artists and their audiences carve out “utopian sites of historical transformation.” And Ingrid Monson has documented through her ethnographic and musicological work both the heterogeneity and ironic nature of jazz’s cultural practices in relation to dominant culture. All of this work, and the mass of evidence on which it is based, shows how jazz’s integrationist subcultures inverted dominant constructions of blackness and, by extension, whiteness. See Nathaniel Mackey, “Other: From Noun to Verb,” in Represenations 39 (Summer 1992): 51-70; Kevin Gaines, “Post World War II Black Diaspora Musics as Material Practice: Preliminary Thoughts on Time, Culture, and Politics,” in Political Phenomenologies, ed. Laura Doyle (forthcoming); Ingrid Monson, “Doubleness and Jazz Improvisation: Irony, Parody, and Ethnomusicology,” Critical Inquiry 20 (Winter 1994): 283-313.
(63.) Still photos from these films are printed in many books, including Albert Murray, Stomping the Blues (New York: Da Capo, 1976), 32-33.
(64.) Taylor, Notes and Tones, 70.
(65.) For persuasive theoretical assertions of how musical practice can create–as opposed to merely reflect–new kinds of social relations, see Walser’s Running With the Devil, 34; and Christopher Small, Music of the Common Tongue: Survival and Celebration in Afro-American Music (London: Riverrun Press, 1987), 69-71.
(66.) Taylor, Notes and Tones, 171.
(67.) Ibid., 172.
(68.) Ibid., 18.
(69.) Down Beat, Oct. 1, 1959, 11.
(70.) Ian Carr, Miles Davis (New York: Morrow, 1982), 111.
(71.) Down Beat, Oct. 1, 1959, 11.
(72.) Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), 240.
(73.) See “Racial Prejudice in Jazz, Part II,” in Down Beat, March 29, 1962, 25. In this panel discussion, featuring black and white musicians and critics, the African American musician Abbey Lincoln criticized America’s conventional notion of integration in 1962 as a force compelling blacks to adopt white middle-class values. Lincoln’s criticism also typifies the complexity of many black activist jazz musicians during this period. For example, while critical of dominant concepts of integration, Lincoln played a major role in jazz’s integrationist subcultures during the early 1960s, participating actively in a variety of dialogues concerning racial politics and social change in the United States and in Africa. For more information on Lincoln’s political activism, see Kevin Gaines, “Sounding Off: Black Diaspora Consciousness in Jazz and the Critique of Liberalism in the Early 1960s,” paper delivered at the 1997 American Studies Association annual meeting, Washington, D.C., Nov. 2, 1997.
(74.) Mackey, “Other: From Noun to Verb.”
(75.) Taylor, Notes and Tones, 63. See also Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), for an extended theoretical exploration of the same idea Carter brings up here, but regarding music in general.
(76.) Because of space limitations, I have greatly oversimplified the structural and aesthetic changes of the emerging avant-garde jazz music, especially regarding rhythm (e.g., many “seminal” recordings, such as Coleman’s “Free Jazz” itself, often feature bass and/or drum grooves that don’t significantly differ from bebop rhythm). For a thorough and nuanced account of the musical features of avant-garde jazz and their respective innovators, see Michael J. Budds, Jazz in the Sixties: The Expansion of Musical Resources and Techniques, 2d ed. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1990).
(77.) John Litweiler, The Freedom Principle (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), 51. This passage is representative of Litweiler’s apparent obsession with such body-centered constructions of black musicians and music.
(78.) Ornette Coleman, Free Jazz, Atlantic 1364, 1960.
(79.) Coltrane, Crescent, MCA Impulse! MCAD-5889, 1964.
(80.) Down Beat, Feb. 1, 1962, 7.
(81.) Charles Mingus, Mingus at Monterey, Prestige P-24100, recorded Sept. 20, 1964, at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, California.
(82.) Down Beat, May 10, 1962, 5. Bonnie Wetzel Carroll died of cancer in 1965. See Linda Dahl, Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen (New York: Limelight Editions, 1984), 88-89.
(83) Interview with Peter, March 4, 1995, in my “Consuming Jazz: Black Music and Whiteness.”
(84.) For a description of these emergent subgenres of jazz in the early 1960s, see David H. Rosenthal, Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
(85.) The racial composition of jazz audiences has changed significantly throughout the years, and has always varied by region and community. In the later 1960s and 1970s, for example, many avant-garde jazz musicians performed frequently in African American urban communities, partly because working opportunities for all jazz musicians diminished significantly after the mid-1960s, and partly because of a deliberate effort these younger black musicians made to involve their own communities in black creative music. See Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life.
(86.) See, for example, Cannonball Adderley, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy: Live at the Club, Capitol CDP 7243 8 29915 2 6, recorded Oct. 20, 1966.
(87.) See n. 20.
(88.) For example, the liner notes to many of the avant-garde recordings explain things about race that black people had been clearly aware of for centuries in the United States. Nat Hentoff’s notes to Max Roach’s We Insist!, an album that bordered on the avant-garde, explain what a “pateroller” was during slavery and clarify who Marcus Garvey was. Similarly, much of Baraka’s writing contains the same kind of explanatory narratives which would be more or less obvious to most black readers and much less so to whites.
(89.) From Making Sense of the Sixties, pt. 1, “Seeds of the Sixties” (Alexandria, Va.: PBS Video, 1991), video.
(90.) For an example of how white listeners to jazz (particularly John Coltrane’s music) in the early 1960s connected the music to their increasing racial awareness and the struggles of the civil rights movement at home and the anti-imperialist struggles abroad, see Charles Keil and Steven Feld, Music Grooves: Essays and Dialogues (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), esp. 2-15.
(91.) John Coltrane, Live at Birdland, 1963, MCA-Impulse! 29015. It is also interesting to note that Bernice Johnson Reagon, as music coordinator for the first “Eyes on the Prize” series, selected “Alabama” as the background music for the segment on Malcolm X’s funeral. On the parallel between “Alabama” and King’s oratory, see Bill Cole, John Coltrane (New York: Schirmer, 1976), 150.
(92.) Ralph J. Gleason, “Satire, Reality and Dick Gregory,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 20, 1963 in Gleason’s letters to Alexander P. Hoffman, unpublished collection, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Gleason’s column in the Chronicle was syndicated in more than twenty-five papers nationwide.
(93.) Coltrane, Live at Birdland, 1963. MCA-Impulse! 29015.
(94.) See especially LeRoi Jones, Blues People: Negro Music in White America (New York: Morrow, 1963), and Imamu Amiri Baraka, Black Music (New York: Morrow, 1967).
(95.) See, for example, Radano, New Musical Figurations, 95, for a discussion of the “crisis of black identity” in the context of nationalist rhetoric; what, for example, was the impact of the antiwhite, separatist thought of black nationalism on white fans sympathetic to the movement and the music associated with it? Frank Kofsky, a white writer, discussed later in this article, would be one good case study for looking into this question: his book, Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), evidences his obsession with black nationalist musicians and a palpable disgust with the white bourgeois power structure.
(96.) See James Baldwin and Margaret Mead, Rap on Race (New York: Dell, 1971), 8.
(97.) See Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
(98.) See Gitlin, The Sixties, 168.
(99.) Gallup poll cited in James T. Patterson, America in the Twentieth Century: A History (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989), 376.
(100.) Gitlin, The Sixties, 165.
(101.) There is a mass of literature on every possible aspect of the 1960s. The following citations are three excellent sources on its social, political, and cultural aspects–with attention to the successes and failures of the decade. For a very brief, but concise summary of the accomplishments of “the Sixties,” see Gitlin, The Sixties, xi-xii. For a balanced, but less brief, account of the successes and failures of the 1960s, see George Lipsitz, “Who’ll Stop the Rain?: Youth Culture, Rock `n’ Roll, and Social Crises,” in The Sixties: From Memory to History, ed. David Farber (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 206-34. For a collection of more theoretical pieces, see Sayres et al., eds., The ’60s Without Apology.
(102.) Anthony Walton, “Willie Horton and Me,” in Speech and Power: The African American Essay and Its Cultural Content from Polemics to Pulpit, vol. 2, ed. Gerald Early (Hopewell, N.J.: Ecco Press, 1993), 397-401. Originally published Aug. 20, 1989, in New York Times Magazine.
(103.) Jim Merod, “Jazz as a Cultural Archive,” in boundary 2 22, no. 2 (Summer 1995): 11.
(104.) See John Coltrane, Ascension, recorded June 28, 1965, at the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (reissued on CD in 1992 as The Major Works of John Coltrane: Ascension [Editions I and II], Om, Kulu Se Mama, and Selflessness, Impulse GRP GRD-2-113). It is interesting to note Archie Shepp’s participation in National Public Radio’s January 1996 piece, “Jazz and Race” (discussed at length in my “Consuming Jazz,” 287-90), in which Shepp is used to express one side of an oversimplified dichotomy between definitions of jazz as either black music or a more universalized, “democratic” and raceless form of cultural expression devoid of political meaning. Shepp’s thoughts, from the beginning of his career, have been much more complex than the mainstream press has represented them. See, for example, Shepp’s two-part “Blindfold Test” with Leonard Feather in a 1966 Down Beat, in which Shepp comes across as “surprisingly reasonable” for a black nationalist musician (reflecting the emerging suspicion and consequent retrenchment of whites in jazz faced with a growing number of assertive African American musicians and public intellectuals, like Amiri Baraka). I discuss the Shepp Blindfold Test in more detail in my “Leonard Feather and the Tangled Web of Whiteness in Postwar Jazz,” paper presented at the 1997 American Studies Association annual meeting, Washington, D.C., Nov. 2, 1997. For more analysis of Shepp, especially in terms of his complexity as a representative of black cultural nationalism, see John O. Calmore, “Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World,” in Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, ed. Kimberle Crenshaw, et al. (New York: New Press, 1995), 315-29. For excellent analyses of the linguistic and political struggle over jazz’s “blackness,” see Herman Gray, “Jazz Tradition, Institutional Formation, and Cultural Practice: The Canon and the Street as Frameworks for Oppositional Black Cultural Politics,” in From Sociology to Cultural Studies: New Perspectives, ed. Elizabeth Long (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1997), 359-63; and Ingrid Monson, Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), esp. 199-206.
(105.) Kofsky, Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), 226.
(106.) Miles Davis, quoted in Taylor, Notes and Tones, 33.
(107.) Hampton Hawes, with Don Asher, Raise Up Off Me: A Portrait of Hampton Hawes (1972; New York: Da Capo Press, 1979), 138.
Currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University, Robert K. McMichael has taught courses on popular music and cultural politics at Brown University and Stanford. His book, Consuming Jazz: Racial Difference, Ambivalence, and Integration, is forthcoming from the University of California Press.3
Source Citation: MCMICHAEL, ROBERT K. “”We Insist–Freedom Now!”: Black Moral Authority, Jazz, and the Changeable Shape of Whiteness.(Critical Essay).” American Music 16.4 (Winter 1998): 375.