Publisher description for Subversive sounds : race and the birth of jazz in New Orleans / Charles Hersch.


Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog


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Hurricane Katrina threatened to wash away the history of an incomparable, culturally vibrant American city, while the aftermath exposed New Orleans’ ugly, deeply rooted racial divisions. Subversive Sounds, Charles Hersch’s study of the role of race in the origins of jazz, probes both sides of the city’s heritage, uncovering a web of racial interconnections and animosities that was instrumental to the creation of a vital art form.

Drawing on oral histories, police reports, newspaper accounts, and vintage recordings, Hersch brings to vivid life the neighborhoods and nightspots where jazz was born. He shows how musicians such as Jelly Roll Morton, Nick La Rocca, and Louis Armstrong negotiated New Orleans’ complex racial rules to pursue their craft and how, in order to widen their audiences, they became fluent in a variety of musical traditions from diverse ethnic sources. These encounters with other music and other races subverted their own racial identities and changed the way they played—a musical miscegenation that, in the shadow of Jim Crow, undermined the pursuit of racial purity and indelibly transformed American culture.



Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Jazz -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History and criticism.
Music -- Social aspects -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History.
Music and race.