"Jazz," the Critics, and American Art Music in the 1920's...

"Jazz," the Critics, and American Art Music in the 1920's...

Debbie White
Debbie White

September 8th, 2015, 3:43 pm #1

I ran across this essay by Mary Herron Dupree over the weekend while searching for something else and thought it might be of great interest to many here. It first appeared in 1986 in "American Music," Vol. 4, No. 3.

http://baresmusic.com/wp-content/upload ... in-the.pdf
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Alberta
Alberta

September 8th, 2015, 6:22 pm #2

I guess all those blow-hard critics had to make their living somehow. Heaven forbid we should expect their nonsense to rise to the level of "literature" in the same way they expect the compositions of Gershwin et al. to rise to the level of their definition of "art." I suspect that, while the author of this piece makes it clear that jazz had a wider meaning then than it does now, the critics she quotes were referring to the pop-culture dance music of the day when they spoke of jazz, which often was not art and didn't wish to be.
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alex revell
alex revell

September 10th, 2015, 8:31 am #3

I ran across this essay by Mary Herron Dupree over the weekend while searching for something else and thought it might be of great interest to many here. It first appeared in 1986 in "American Music," Vol. 4, No. 3.

http://baresmusic.com/wp-content/upload ... in-the.pdf
Surely, what they were talking/arguing about was from a false premise. None of the examples they gave in their piece had anything to do with jazz at all. I only read through it quickly, but didn't see the name of a single jazz musician mentioned.
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Alberta
Alberta

September 10th, 2015, 3:18 pm #4

but since they're of the time and we're not, they get to define it. It occurred to me that maybe the critics were just trying to attack Copeland and Gershwin. It seems like the dumbest possible kind of "gate-keeping".
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alex revell
alex revell

September 10th, 2015, 4:32 pm #5

'but since they're of the time and we're not, they get to define it.' Sorry Alberta, I'm afraid I don't understand the logic of that.
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Coscannon
Coscannon

September 10th, 2015, 11:31 pm #6

I ran across this essay by Mary Herron Dupree over the weekend while searching for something else and thought it might be of great interest to many here. It first appeared in 1986 in "American Music," Vol. 4, No. 3.

http://baresmusic.com/wp-content/upload ... in-the.pdf
Mary Herron Dupree has written three essays, more or less on the same subject. I find each of them low on focus and interpretation. I'd read the one you cite in THE GEORGE GERSHWIN READER and saw limited worth in what mostly amounted to a random list. But within the READER's vast cornucopia, I suppose Dupree's collection of sightings has some curiosity value despite its rudderlessness.

I find no fault in the critics. Each was assimilating a word and attempting to apply it. In my view, Dupree errs in failing to provide historical perspective and context. Had she declared the word "jazz" was being freely explored symbolically and sociologically in a period of change and discovery -- and then systematically demonstrated that truth -- she could have used the same material to much greater effect. Perhaps a smidge of that sensibility lurks in her piece but I'm disinclined to re-read it now.

On a more useful note: If the topic interests you, I'd recommend two books. THE RISE OF A JAZZ ART WORLD by Paul Lopes has a stronger focus on later developments, but the early chapters set up and explore the 1920s. Kathy J. Ogren's THE JAZZ REVOLUTION: TWENTIES AMERICA AND THE MEANING OF JAZZ is another source, especially the chapter PRUDES AND PRIMITIVES: WHITE AMERICANS DEBATE JAZZ. Several Gershwin biographies might also do the trick. Howard Pollack's GEORGE GERSHWIN: HIS LIFE AND WORK, loooooong but generally excellent, is the first that comes to mind.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 11th, 2015, 3:06 pm #7

I ran across this essay by Mary Herron Dupree over the weekend while searching for something else and thought it might be of great interest to many here. It first appeared in 1986 in "American Music," Vol. 4, No. 3.

http://baresmusic.com/wp-content/upload ... in-the.pdf
The question posed by Mary Herron Dupree is: did jazz become a lady (e.g., "Art Music")in the 1920s? Basically all she does is go through a bunch of examples that could qualify. No real insights or substance and, what is gravest, wrong conclusion. The last sentence in the essay is a quote: "Jazz art" was "soon created, soon liked, and soon forgotten." Forgotten? Give me a break. Gershwin's "serious" pieces are performed all the time. Just a few examples.

"An American in Paris" forgotten? What about Gene Kelly's movie?

"Rhapsody in Blue" forgotten? See NPR: "On June 23rd, 1959, Leonard Bernstein and the Columbia Symphony took their places at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y. and made a landmark recording of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue.'

See my posting about Vince's next month concert (Gershwin night, sold out) at the 92Y.

And who cares if some compositions in the 1920s could be viewed as being "serious" jazz music? As long as it is good music (in my opinion, of course) I don't care what it is called. And Gerswhin's compositions (both "serious" and "pop") are terrific music!

Albert
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 11th, 2015, 3:21 pm #8

Oct 13, 2015 at Carnegie Hall. Right, forgotten.

Recognized as one of the finest university orchestras in the US, Brown University Orchestra will open Manhattan Concert Productions’ 2015 concert season when they perform at world renowned Carnegie Hall, Monday, October 13 at 7:30pm. With over 100 members, Brown University Orchestra will present works by Phillips and Burgess, as well as a sensational presentation of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

https://www.facebook.com/events/547733071998502/

Albert

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 11th, 2015, 4:13 pm #9

I ran across this essay by Mary Herron Dupree over the weekend while searching for something else and thought it might be of great interest to many here. It first appeared in 1986 in "American Music," Vol. 4, No. 3.

http://baresmusic.com/wp-content/upload ... in-the.pdf
Here is a short reference to Bix and "Art Music." From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Apr 14, 1953.



Albert
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Coscannon
Coscannon

September 12th, 2015, 5:53 am #10

The question posed by Mary Herron Dupree is: did jazz become a lady (e.g., "Art Music")in the 1920s? Basically all she does is go through a bunch of examples that could qualify. No real insights or substance and, what is gravest, wrong conclusion. The last sentence in the essay is a quote: "Jazz art" was "soon created, soon liked, and soon forgotten." Forgotten? Give me a break. Gershwin's "serious" pieces are performed all the time. Just a few examples.

"An American in Paris" forgotten? What about Gene Kelly's movie?

"Rhapsody in Blue" forgotten? See NPR: "On June 23rd, 1959, Leonard Bernstein and the Columbia Symphony took their places at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y. and made a landmark recording of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue.'

See my posting about Vince's next month concert (Gershwin night, sold out) at the 92Y.

And who cares if some compositions in the 1920s could be viewed as being "serious" jazz music? As long as it is good music (in my opinion, of course) I don't care what it is called. And Gerswhin's compositions (both "serious" and "pop") are terrific music!

Albert
Mary Herron DuPree is Emerita Professor of Music History and Musicology at the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho.

In my book, she's simply not an effective writer in this and related essays.
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