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The Diasporic Imagination of Wynton Marsalis

  • David Stowe
Chapter

Abstract

African American musics have long found themselves straddling diaspora and nation. Musical hybrids like spirituals or jazz have often been explained as cultural forms that could have arisen only in the United States. In this view, black music becomes a sonic figure for the American creed, a metonymy for America’s distinctive racial-ethnic composition and self-image. On the other hand, American musicians and composers at least since Duke Ellington have explored the cultural continuities and ruptures between Africa and America. These artists have very consciously looked for the Old World in the New, or moving aside for the New. Even a film like Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer (1927), which has little to do with what most of us mean by “jazz” even as it helped shape the early image of the music, was a thoroughly diasporic story—Jewish rather than African. One of the more illuminating ways of conceiving the history of jazz is to understand it as an ongoing effort to comprehend and articulate the relationship between African and American.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998) 13–14.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a useful overview of Marsalis’s career, see Leslie Gourse, Wynton Marsalis: Skain’s Domain: A Biography (New York: Schirmer, 2000).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Mark Tucker, ed., The Duke Ellington Reader (New York: Oxford, 1993), 155–204Google Scholar
  4. Graham Lock, Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra, Duke Ellington, and Anthony Braxton (Durham, NC: Duke, 1999) 106–13.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    George Lipsitz, Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Politics of Place (New York: Verso, 1994) 72Google Scholar
  6. Reid Mitchell, All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of New Orleans Carnival (Cambridge: Harvard, 1995) 113–30.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Gary Giddins, Visions of Jazz: The First Century (New York: Oxford, 1998) 452–53.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    John Edward Hasse, Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993) 261–62.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Ingrid Monson, “Art Blakey’s African Diaspora,” in The African Diaspora in Musical Perspective, edited by Ingrid Monson (New York: Garland, 2000) 338Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gayle T. Tate and Lewis A. Randolph 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Stowe

There are no affiliations available

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