The Jazz Revolution by Kathy J. Ogren (1989) looks at the impact of jazz music on popular music in society, seeking to clarify the cultural significance of jazz music and exploring the jazz controversy of the 1920 s. Ogren suggests that jazz music was significantly impacted by the migration of African Americans from the south, to the north in the 1920 s. Thus this migration hastened the growth of blues and jazz music in areas such as Harlem. Ogren explains the role of African American music, by that of " it spoke to the unique experiences of black Americans, becoming the dominant influence on American popular music" (11). Jazz music like that of music created by African Americans can be linked to African and slave music, which is transformed ."..
into powerful settings, especially in the industrial cities of the north", and aided in defining blacks in American society. Orgen suggests that early jazz developed through .".. participatory performance traditions that began in Africa and continued among blacks during slavery. Early jazz had social as well as musical aspects... the promise and uncertainty of migration were encoded in black music" (55). Ogren points out, that jazz was music created by blacks and imitated by white musicians (12).
Orgen traces the roots of jazz music to "ragtime" in the 1890 s, which derives from plantations banjo music (14). Like that of ragtime, jazz music incorporates blues, which expresses the Afro-American life through art. Orgen looks at the entertainment location in major cities and continuation as performance music. According to Orgen "New Orleans's Story ville is the entertainment zone first associated with jazz in the 1920 s (57).
In what is term "vice districts" lays the greatest economic prospects for the jazz musicians. In these districts musicians were able to explore their stylistic qualities. Orgen explains the change in environment from that of saloons, restaurants, and brothels where musicians worked for tips, occurred, as the white population became expose to jazz music. Establishing a new premise for the black musician to become recognize and accepted. Langston Hughes states, shows like Black Patti's Troubadours "laid the groundwork for public acceptance of the Negro woman and of the Negro male on stage in other than burlesques fashion." (66). Opening doors for such artist as Will Marion Cook and J.
Rosamond Johnson creating adaptations of African American music in the form of Broadway theatrical aspects (66). Orgen turns to explaining the jazz phenomena within the black community and their music. Orgen points out, .".. the debating character of black music and musical performances arose long before the jazz controversy of the 1920 s, and issues were rooted in the evolution of music during slavery. Here one sees the conflict within the African American community over secular and church music and need to define each, Orgen states, .".. church music is directed collectively to God; blues are directed individually to the collective" (112).
Thus creating strife between the music community, and the preachers in the black community. Jazz music and instruments associated with it was seen as "one of the devil's playthings", and musicians were caught between practicing their art in brothels and communal ties to the church (112). Due to the African American community strong religious ties many musicians found a lack of acceptance from family members. Orgen points out that jazz music can be linked to gospel music, which was not viewed favorable by jazz opponents within the religious community. Jazz musicians also faced criticism from the intellectuals within the black community. Orgen states," ...
Harlem Renaissance leaders generally devalued blues and jazz... some leaders disdained jazz because of its identification with vice, crime, and migrant "backwardness." However, such leaders as W. E. B DuBois were able to appreciate its influence on the black identity and the broader American culture (119). Orgen states, there was a loose consensus on jazz among W. E.
B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, J. A. Rogers and Alain Locke, despite their preference for "high culture, they considered Afro-American music a repository of history and creativity, and a rich potential source of creative idioms for other music forms, ... each author acknowledge the power of musical performances to express and encourage emotions through spontaneity and audience participation (125)." Orgen then turns to look at white Americans role in the debate of jazz music. According to Orgen, writers has prose numerous explanations to the origins of jazz such as," ...
jazz was given exotic lineages, such as Siamese or Chinese origins, while others insisted jazz was part of Western classical music because it was merely a way of improvising, the music of Beethoven, Mozart, and Brahms (140)." Which can be seen as a move to devalue the role of the African American tradition of performance in music. Orgen refers to the Current Opinion of 1918 in it the writers states, "in the old plantation days when the slaves were having one of their rare holidays and the fun languished, some West Coast African would cry out 'jaz her up' and this would be the cue for fast and furious fun" (142). One sees that jazz music can be directly linked to African tendencies. White critics of jazz music, would compare it to the sounds of animals, fearing "that jazz would led to a degeneration of 'civilize' refinements to 'primitive' instincts, ... primitive meaning regressive" (158). Ms.
Orgen is a historian who has studied late 19 th and 20 th century social and cultural history of the U. S. , with an emphasis on jazz and American culture. Along with this work she has also written "Debating With Beethoven: Understanding the fear of Early Jazz" and "Jazz Isn't Just Me." Ms. Orgen has done extensive research in this work in aims of clarifying the jazz controversy of the 1920 s.
She cites much primary sources gaining information from Alan P. Merriam, A Bibliography of Jazz and Donald Kennington and Danny Read, The Literature of Jazz. She uses articles from newspaper and magazines such as the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, and Baltimore Afro-American chronicles. Ms. Orgen also looked at journals: Current Opinion, Literary Digest, Atlantic Monthly, American Musician, Ladies Home Journals and the Journal of American History. She used two oral history collections; The Tulane Oral History of New Orleans Jazz Collection of the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive and the Jazz Oral History Project of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies and several other primary and secondary sources.
The bibliography and notes to this work is rather extensive using as much as fifty pages. The author provided pictures of jazz musicians involved in this time period. The author clearly set out to examine the controversy surrounding jazz music in the 1920 s. She was able to give the reader a clear view of the jazz community and musicians. Another aim that this reader felt was clearly satisfied was the way in which the author spent time in assessing the various issues surrounding jazz music in the black community and how the intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance view the impact of jazz music. Ms.
Orgen is an excellent writer in the views of this reader. Her language was very descriptive in defining and explaining the jazz controversy. This book has increased the reader's interest in jazz music. The reader found the book well written. I found more than what I expected in gaining information on jazz history..