home arrow OPINIONS arrow Why do blacks let jazz music fade?

AP Political Videos

Login Form

Lost Password?
No account yet? Register
Why do blacks let jazz music fade? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Al Calloway   
Saturday, 16 February 2013

al_calloway_web.jpgI was probably born listening to jazz music. It was the dominant sounds of my Harlem upbringing.  Its roots of work songs, blues and gospel were ever eminent and the saxophone riffs and trumpet wails of be-bop and the always present shout wafted with collard greens, fried fish and chicken and apple cobbler cooking.

So kids grew up understanding that being smooth, being cool in dress, speech and manner came with the sounds and smells. We knew it as our culture. They came to Harlem from all over the country and out of them sprang Pops, Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Prez and on and on. And the big bands, small groups and great male and female jazz singers took the music, our African-American creation, and spread it over Planet Earth.

Fort Lauderdale, where I now live, is a premier destination for tourism, boating and business. It boasts beaches, entertainment, good restaurants and shopping. The predominant music enjoyed is country-and-western and rock-and-roll. Jazz- lovers go to Blue Jean Blues, which is an intimate club a block from the beach in up-scale Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Most club patrons are upscale over-40 whites, with a sprinkling of blacks.

Many jazz musicians in South Florida are white and have played with top black musicians around the world. Some also teach jazz music at local colleges and universities. Blue Jean Blues always has the best musicians around, white and black. I have never witnessed a public instance where a white jazz musician does not credit a black songwriter or stylist whose work he or she plays.      
Jazz music can be found in other predominately white venues along Florida’s Gold Coast. For years, a wealthy white church in Coral Gables was internationally known for bringing in world-renowned jazz artists for concerts at the church. Many white people love jazz and are the music genre’s important collectors.

Thankfully, from what is happening at Dillard High School in black Fort Lauderdale, with its national award-winning teenage jazz ensemble and a feeder jazz program at mostly black Parkway Middle School, and like efforts elsewhere, there is hope for our continued inclusion in jazz music. What an anomaly, fear of African Americans turning away from a music genre created by our black forbears.    

Do blacks let jazz music fade in a way that black family and community life has faded? The only growth institution in black communities is the church. As blacks become more poor and desperate, new churches pop up. Church is a profitable business in the black community. Church folks’ attention is focused on scripture, tithing and preacher-man. There is scant focus on or recognition of black culture.

Since its coming, jazz music had no other outlet save saloons and dancehalls where liquor was served and good times were had. Blues sprang from pain and jazz from hope eternal and they intertwine in a way like tears and laughter, something just about everybody can feel.

So jazz became mainly untouchable, immoral — like Eve biting the apple — if you partake,  yet loosely tolerated as long as folks made church Sunday morning and tithed. Recordings brought jazz into homes and the genre prospered then later mixed with rhythm-and-blues in  popularity. But America’s enormous numbers of 30-something’s down to pre-teen tweens and changes such as the Internet have loudly proclaimed rap and rhythm-and-blues as their music.

Far too many don’t even know what jazz is; they just don’t hear it. It’s a shame, though, because blacks in these age groups are estranged from this aspect of their culture.

Now we have an additional problem of a historical misnomer in that rhythm-and-blues is being referred to as jazz music. Miami Gardens is basically a black city with substantial poverty and crime. In March, black city leaders will produce their eight annual “Jazz In The Gardens” two-day music affair. Except for at least two jazz acts, all other entertainment will be rhythm-and-blues.

Jazz music cannot fade unless blacks find ways to help it do so.

Al Calloway is a longtime journalist who began his career with the Atlanta Inquirer during the early 1960s civil rights struggle. He may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by rebeKah, February 19, 2013
Thank you, Mr. Calloway, for capturing the essence of jazz and how it played a role in many aspects of your life. It reminds me of my father reminiscing as a child growing up in Memphis-I've always understood that. You hit the nail on the head and are 100% right. If my r&b/rap generation doesn't do more to appreciate and preserve our own cultural institutions like jazz, then they will become unrecognizable and untraceable to so much of what historically begins in the heart of our black community.
written by Alain, February 19, 2013
I completely disagree with most of this. The black community sparked an art form that was so infectious and expressive that no race or creed could do without. It's been all around the world and back. Meaning... the one's responsible is everyone. I can understand that the majority of black music now is rap. But can't we hear the phrasing...the expression in the lyrics and rhythms?They're still there, just not in the way the hardcore "jazz" "swing" Be-Boppers like it. The main thing is that the black community created a monster. An art form that would evolve and take on whatever identity was relevant for the times. I think that's beautiful and i wouldn't have it any other way.

Write comment
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comments.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 February 2013 )
< Prev   Next >
Microsoft reveals Siri-like Windows Phone featureMicrosoft reveals Siri-like Windows Phone feature
NEW YORK — Microsoft unveiled a new virtual assistant for Windows Phone devices last Wednesday as it seeks to gain tra...
Google Glass, good for cooking, needs InternetGoogle Glass, good for cooking, needs Internet
NEW YORK — Google Glass is like a fickle friend. Surprises await, such as the time it took a photo of my ceiling while...
FTC says operators of jerk.com deceived consumersFTC says operators of jerk.com deceived consumers
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Trade Commission says the operators of a website called Jerk.com are the ones behaving badl...
‘Rio 2’ dazzling but overloaded ‘Rio 2’ dazzling but overloaded
A vivid and delightful animated spectacle, Rio 2 is chock-full of colorful 3-D wonder and jubilant musical numbers set ...

News Article Comments

NRA-backed ‘warning-shot’ law on Scott’s desk
The proposed law changes deal with threatening to use deadly force, warning shots are the use of deadly force. The changes will actually water down the SYG law a bit like suggested by Taryvon Martin ...
Miami Gardens chief from North Miami
Congratulations and welcome to the City of Miami Gardens!
Doctors say prepare kids for summer camp
As a camp Director of Swift Nature Camp , I understand and see all the benefits of camp each and every summer. However, it is important to pick the right camp, especially in Fla. At this time they a...
Minority Groups defend Florida's Gay marriage ban
The kettle once called the pan black, the ignorance and arrogance of this group is mind blowing
National Civil Rights Museum reopens at site of King shooting
So happy to see this important museum reopen. Let's hope the politics stay out of the way of success.
Minority Groups defend Florida's Gay marriage ban
Can these groups not see the foolishness of their stance? Ignorance is not always bliss when you're so concerned with what other humans lives. Don't like gay marriage? Don't get gay married. DuH!
Workers to mark MLK assassination anniversary with rally
We cannot forget this important anniversary. Dr. King was murdered partly because of this strike.
Washington Park in need of improvement: OIC offering assistance
thanks for sharing this buon gi bay gio | may tinh de ban | tri ho |
Broward mayor’s success a tribute to late father
What a Great story! I stopped reading the article to say, "This is news that is Current, Local, about Living Legends and their descendants contributing to the African Diaspora. Keep Telling The Stor...
Minority Groups defend Florida's Gay marriage ban
Oh the shear hypocrisy of Blacks and Hispanics not supporting equal rights for all. We should be ashamed for using the same techniques used on us to deny rights to others which are guaranteed by the c...
Mall project a big break for 2 women
Congratulations are in Order! You BOTH Work Hard and Smart, and know how to have Fun while doing it. Your Intelligence and Hearts of Gold Will Pay off....GOD'S ABUNDANT BLESSINGS
Mall project a big break for 2 women
Your enthusiasm, drive and insight is truly inspiring. I wish you bot! many years of great achievements! Keep up the great work!
Mall project a big break for 2 women
What an awesome job ladies! This is the type is professionalism and success that motivates me and my business venture. I'm truly proud of you both. Keep up the fantastic work!
Broward mayor’s success a tribute to late father
Good story, anyone should be applauded for turning around their situation. But sometimes people don't act like they know where they came from and have not done anything for their community except to a...
Mall project a big break for 2 women
Congrats Ladies! Job well done!
Mall project a big break for 2 women
Congratulations Ann Marie!!! I'm so proud of you!!! Way to go! Keep your passion, and God will do the rest! Love you!
Mall project a big break for 2 women
I am so proud of both of you ladies! What a great example and a great job! I am most proud of Ann for defying the stereotypes and proving awesome things do come from the muck! Much continued success!
Miami Gardens: Don’t cut us out
If I were Ross I would move the team and dump the stadium. It is obvious Miami Gardens no longer appreciates what the Dolphins bring to the area but rather collect that guaranteed check. Great example...
Clinton says she's still considering future plans
Mushtaq Dean In this interview session, a woman showed her desire that Hillary should try to win the highest position and represent female population. She was single in her physical appearance but was...
The young are trapped by obsession with wealth
This is a well-conceived and well-written article and does, indeed, express my observations as well as my sentiments. In July, I will be on a panel at The Futurist Conference in Orlando discussing the...

The most influential African American weekly newspaper in South Florida

Beatty Media LLC