The familiar history of jazz music in the United States begins with its birth in New Orleans, moves upstream along the Mississippi River to Chicago, then by rail into New York before exploding across the globe. That telling of history, however, overlooks the pivotal role the nation's capital has played for jazz for a century. Some of the most important clubs in the jazz world have opened and closed their doors in Washington, DC, some of its greatest players and promoters were born there and continue to reside in the area, and some of the institutions so critical to national support of this uniquely American form of music, including Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., are rooted in the city. Closer to the ground, a network of local schools like the Duke Ellington High School for the Performing Arts, jazz programs at the University of the District of Columbia and Howard University, churches, informal associations, locally focused media, and clubs keeps the music alive to this day.
Noted historians Maurice Jackson and Blair Ruble, editors of this book, present a collection of original and fascinating stories about the DC jazz scene throughout its history, including a portrait of the cultural hotbed of Seventh and U Streets, the role of jazz in desegregating the city, a portrait of the great Edward "Duke" Ellington's time in DC, notable women in DC jazz, and the seminal contributions of the University of District of Columbia and Howard University to the scene. The book also includes three jazz poems by celebrated Washington, DC, poet E. Ethelbert Miller. Collectively, these stories and poems underscore the deep connection between creativity and place. A copublishing initiative with the Historical Society of Washington, DC, the book includes over thirty museum-quality photographs and a guide to resources for learning more about DC jazz.
Publisher: Georgetown University Press
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 590 g
Dimensions: 254 x 178 mm
The book is as digestible as it is illuminating. . . . As DC Jazz functions as an essential scholarly anchor, it succeeds at illustrating the resilience of the city's jazz landscape amid sometimes challenging social climate. * DownBeat *
Takes readers on a relaxing stroll through D.C., visiting venues that first featured jazz musicians to welcoming audiences: The Crystal Caverns, later renamed the Bohemian Caverns, One Step Down and Blues Alley would become legendary hotspots within their own rights. Some artists would go on to perform at much larger, prestigious venues in the District like the Kennedy Center, whose jazz program, currently under the direction of musician/composer Jason Moran, owes its roots to pianist and composer Dr. Billy Taylor. * The Washington Informer *
[The authors] give the reader an excellent survey of the extent of jazz activity and its impact on the national and international scenes. . . . It's a wonderful overview of a city known for many things, but whose imprint on jazz hasn't gotten anywhere near the attention it deserves until the publication of this outstanding book. * The Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society *
The book tells us much about the city beyond geography. It's as 'Official Washington' a book about jazz as one could imagine: wonky, think-tanky, visiting-scholar-y. It's jazz as White Paper. . . . If this sounds like a criticism, rest assured that it is not. The book is precisely what it aspires to be, and a success on its own terms is a success, period. Besides, who's to complain that historians and history nerds want to give more attention to jazz? . . . It is ultimately a cornerstone: an essential reference for more narrative, perhaps lively histories. * Washington City Paper *