History of Jazz Midterm

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History of Jazz Midterm
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was an American jazz composer, pianist, and bandleader who has been one of the most influential musicians in jazz. The Duke has released countless albums and songs, but not many know of his triumph as a musical theatre composer. Duke Ellington’s 1941 Jump For Joy was the first theatre show to openly discard the African- American stereotypes which prevailed in the arts at the time. In fact Jump for Joy openly discussed these stereotypes and praised African- American stereotypes. Ellington composed all of the songs in the musical and his own orchestra played during the show in the pit. The title song “Jump For Joy” uses coded language as a way to inspire social thought. The theme of the song was an explicit statement of social justice that “pulled no punches”. In the words of Jazz Historian Graham Lock, What Jump for Joy made particularly clear was the contempt that blacks felt for various white representations of blackness, not least the figure of Uncle Tom and the notion that blacks belonged – and were happy – in the South (Lock 1999:95) The song opens with a joyous celebration of the end of the Jim Crow laws, (Fare thee well land of cotton {Farewell south!} Cotton isle is out of style {The land of cotton, basically slavery, is no longer needed.}. The song then goes onto to say Honey chile Jump for Joy. Ellington had said that one of the inspirations for creating this show was the lack of authenticity in other artistic depictions of African Americans. Therefore ‘Honey Chile Jump for Joy’ is showing the most authentic way a “colored” person would speak. The next section says to not be worried about leaving the south (Don’t you grieve little Eve) because all of the plantation owners have been killed (All the hounds I do believe have been killed). Ain’t ‘cha thrilled? Jump for Joy {Aren’t you happy? Jump for Joy!!} The song then switch’s gears and begins to take a jab at Hollywood for its depiction of African Americans as a childlike naïve “Lawd” worshipping people in the 1936 classic The Green Pastures. Then points out that it’s just a stupid façade and just a movie and couldn’t be farther from the truth. (Have you seen pastures groovy? Green pastures was just a Technicolor movie.) The next line says when you go to heaven and meet Saint Peter tell him to “jump for joy”, or that all those who died for the cause of slavery didn’t die in vain (When you stomp up to heaven and you meet old Saint Pete Tell that boy "Jump for joy") The song ends with a joyous note telling the freed slaves to (Step right in give Pete some skin and jump for joy) to step into heaven and give Saint Peter some skin, which is a pretty basic social exchange among musicians especially colored musicians today, and to jump for joy as they have reached freedom or “heaven”. Jump for Joy was "hip." People gave skin. They were, upon occasion, dressed in "zoot" suits. As a matter of fact, the first extensive treatment of the "zoot suit with a drape shape and a reet pleat" was in this revue. [Graham Lock’s Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra.]

[Barry Ulanov’s Duke Ellington( 1946, Pgs. 242-243/ Creative press inc./ New york )]


Billie Holiday- “Played her voice as if it was a horn” horizontal style of singing because she could hit in one register(lester young)

Ella Fitzgerald- Wide ranged singer, she could hit all the notes on the scale while doing it smoothly and skillfully (Hawkins style of singing)
Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald are the names you think of when you hear swing era jazz singing, but also in all of jazz history. Both singers have a very distinct approach to vocal jazz and rightly so contributed to it in a very unique way. Billie Holiday was seen as one of the greatest revelations to hit the vocal jazz world in the 1930’s. She had a pretty limited vocal range of just over an octave, but her prowess was seen in the...
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