This extensively researched text concerning the life and career of Liverpool-born Black jazz musician Gordon Stretton not only contributes to the important debate concerning the transoceanic pathways of jazz during the 20th century, but also suggests to the jazz fan and scholar alike that such pathways, reaching as they also did across the Atlantic from Europe, are actually part of a largely ignored therefore partially-hidden history of 20th century jazz performance, industry and influence. The work also exists to contribute to a more complete picture of the significance of diaspora studies across the spectrum of popular music performance, and to award to those Liverpool musicians who were not contributors to the city's musical visage post-rock 'n' roll, a place in popular music history.
Gordon Stretton was a jazz pioneer in several senses: he emerged from a poverty-stricken, racially marginalized upbringing in Liverpool to develop a popular music career emblematic of Black diasporan experience. He was a child dancer and singer in the Lancashire Lads (the troupe which was also part of a young Charlie Chaplin's development), a well-respected solo touring artist in the UK as 'The Natural Artistic Coon', a chorister and musical director with the Jamaican Choral Union and, having encountered syncopated music, a jazz percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist (not to mention a ground-breaking bandleader). All of these musical experiences took place through time on his own terms as he learnt his craft 'on the hoof' via many different encounters with musical genres from Liverpool to London, Paris, Brussels, Rio, and Buenos Aires. Gordon Stretton was truly a transoceanic jazz pioneer.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 744 g
Dimensions: 231 x 163 x 27 mm
A Liverpudlian of mixed Jamaican and Irish ancestry born in 1887, William Masters, who adopted the stage name Gordon Stretton in tribute to an Edwardian music-hall artist, provides a fascinating study of a member of the African diaspora seeking and finding an artistic identity. After working in a troupe of Lancashire clog-dancers as a child, and then connecting with his Jamaican heritage through membership of a touring choir, he learnt to be a jazz drummer under the tutelage of visiting African American musician Billy Dorsey. His career as a drummer and bandleader subsequently took him first to France and then to South America, where he settled in Argentina. He exemplifies the manner in which members of the African diaspora of very varied backgrounds were sucked into currently prestigious North American idioms and used them to develop their own individual modes of expression. Jeff Daniels is Gordon Stretton's great-nephew. His mother Veronica was the fourth daughter of Gordon's brother Henry and Helen nee Clemence. He has for many years been collecting information on Gordon from family and contemporary sources in an effort to restore Gordon to his rightful place in the history of Liverpool's multi-cultural melting pot. -- Howard Rye, co-author of "Black Europe"
By virtue of this publication, jazz pioneer Gordon Stretton's important role in the internationalization of jazz music is finally coming to the attention of music historians around the world. -- Lynn Abbott, Tulane University
This book about the musician Gordon Stretton reveals the story of one of the pioneers responsible for the internationalization of Jazz in the transatlantic cultural scene that occurred in South America in the early 1920s. Gordon Stretton performed in cities such as Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Rio de Janeiro, formed partnerships with Brazilian musicians, singers, and dancers, and promoted events and inaugurations. The Gordon Stretton Jazz Band unveiled unprecedented sonic and aesthetic perspectives in popular music from the places where they passed -- Marilia Giller, Parana State University