This should not imply that Japan lives up to its reputation as jazz heaven, laurels conferred by American and European commentators who bemoan the musics status in the land of its birth. To read some accounts, one would assume that everyone in the East Asian archipelago not only knows who Charles Mingus, Billie Holiday, and Bill Evans are, but give a damn. It is a seductive myth, though, which seems quite tenable when one observes firsthand the sophistication and enthusiasm of jazz aficionados. Yet it is all too easily disabused when one steps out of their warm company. The jazz presence on radio is minuscule, on television virtually nonexistent.
Pop-rock and sentimental enka ballads rule; even rock-derived musics have been more successfully incorporated as native vernacular music than jazz has. Granted, the nostalgic evocations of best-selling author Murakami Haruki, who relies on jazz and American popular music to transport readers on a sentimental journey to an innocent age before economic Godzilladom, only work because his audience is savvy to the musical references.
Murakamis fiction reverberates with song: All of his works somehow embody that ballad-like quality that marked the jazz music of the early s. And, through that quality, he has captured part of what it meant to be a young Japanese during that time. The eectiveness of Murakamis musical sentimentality among his urban readership indicates that modern Japan shares a 4. Signboard for Chigusa, Japans oldest jazu kissa, located in Noge-cho, Yokohama. The original building was destroyed in Allied air raids in , but proprietor Yoshida Mamoru rebuilt on the same lot in the late s, when Noge-cho was a major black market site.
Yoshida died in ; as of his sister Takako and a small group of regulars were keeping Chigusa open. Photo taken by the author in Nonetheless, jazz remains foreign to most Japanese, and thus the jazz community represents a bizarre alien at best, hybrid subculture virtually unintelligible to the masses.
Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan by E. Taylor Atkins
The Hip and the Square I believe that Hemingway, in depicting the attitudes of athletes, expatriates, bullfighters, traumatized soldiers, and impotent idealists, told us quite a lot about what was happening to that most representative group of Negro Americans, the jazz musicianswho also lived by an extreme code of withdrawal, technical and artistic excellence, rejection of the values of respectable society.
They replaced the abstract and much-betrayed ideals of that society with the more physical values of eating, drinking, copulating, loyalty to friends, and dedication to the discipline and values of their art. Ralph Ellison, Going to the Territory. Jazz community is a term coined by Alan Merriam and Raymond Mack in to include audiences as well as performers in jazz sociology, to demystify jazz subcultures, and to critique the famed alienation and hostility of musicians toward outsiders: The specific character which sets the jazz community apart from all other occupational groups, then, is that not only do the professionals constitute a group, but their public is included in it.
In later incarnations the jazz community has been defined as a subculture or a mode of being in the worldwith its own ideologies, rituals, aesthetic principles, linguistic practices, symbolic meanings, and social, racial, and economic hierarchieswhose very identity is premised either on de facto racial segregation or on the uniqueness of the music itself.
Broadly speaking, Japans jazz community bears strong resemblance to the sociological profiles of other national jazz communities. Most musicians in the early part of the century came from working-class backgrounds and were trained in bands-for-hire or the military. A significant few came from Japanese societys upper crust, cutting their teeth in college bands. The jazz audience in the golden age of the dance halls, the s and s, by and large represented the educated, urban professional class. Dance halls were not inexpensive entertainment venues, so the fan with little money relied on recordings and the occasional movie theater attraction band for a jazz fix.
The sociological profiles and class backgrounds of jazz musicians, and perhaps to a lesser degree those of audiences, changed substantially in the postwar era. As the American publics valuation of jazz as a serious musical form increased, recruitment into the occupation from a middleclass base increased, as did the musicians level of musical and extramusical education. As jazzs aesthetic status shifted from popular entertainment to art music, the socioeconomic profile of jazz aficionados was also elevated. In their original theory, Merriam and Mack acknowledged generational, stylistic, and regional cliques and inner circles that essentially fractured the jazz community.
ET Atkins--Blue Nippon, Authenticating Jazz in Japan
Generally speaking, Japans jazz community is simply mad about stylistic and racial categorization, which guarantees its own fragmentation. While the average fan prefers the hard bop of the s and s, or contemporary music that sounds similar, there are connoisseurs who care only for Dixieland, for the white, West Coast sound, or for African American pianists. The markers of dierence between specializations may seem inconsequential to anyone but the connoisseursbut that is what makes them connoisseurs. Japans culture industry makes it easy for consumers to cultivate iconoclastic identities by providing ever more specialized niches that satiate increasingly specialized tastes.
Fan clubs, newsletters, chat rooms, and even jazu kissa facilitate the jazz communitys frag6. The overwhelming majority of jazz aficionados have always resided in. Most were socialized as jazz bus in college. Although they represent prosperous strata of Japanese society, members of the jazz community revel in their own real or imagined marginality.
So strongly do so many jazz aficionados identify with their heroeswho, as blues people, Amiri Baraka noted, were doomed to perpetual marginality within American societythat cultivating an image as an eccentric oddball kawatta hito is analogous to finding ones own distinctive voice, bag, or grove, an infinitely more rewarding path than slumming with the squares. The irony of any nonconformist ethos, of course, is that self-styled iconoclasts inevitably conform to some alternative mode established by someone else, often a media-manufactured superstar.
But because the very historical marginality of African Americans in most political and social contexts has become a defining element of their aesthetic systems and cultural practices, one must acknowledge the hegemony of the marginal in those systems and practices. Marginality, though conferring authenticity, also implies a lack of the economic, political, and educational resources necessary for participation, or exercise of roles, in either a general or a specific area or in given spheres of human activity.
This clearly does not characterize Japans jazz audience en masse, for it comprises some of Japans most elite people: the urban salaried worker, the educated professional, the selfstyled cosmopolitan. The jazz communitys presumed marginality can be used to obscure its involvement in the construction and diusion of nationalistic ideologies, an involvement which I argue is quite deep. We assume that subcultures exist in unambiguous opposition to everything for which the dominant or hegemonic culture stands, that they challenge the principle of unity and cohesion and contradict the myth of consensus.
Dick Hebdige warns against emphasizing integration and coherence at the expense of dissonance and discontinuity, but it is just as dangerous to understate a subcultures extensive economic, cultural, political, and social stakes and connections in the power structure. Some people are clearly more marginal than others, finding in something like jazz a vehicle for personal liberation from the rigid hierarchies and expressive constraints that modern capitalist society imposes.
The individPrelude. The collector who pours most of his or her salary into hi-fi stereo equipment, cover charges, and jazz albums often sacrifices more common leisure activities such as travel or pachinko a pinball game. The musician who spends hours a day practicing, who performs for less than transportation expenses, and who will be lucky to record for a small independent label, is as distant from the secure corporate salaryman ideal as one can be. In cocktail conversation, four young professional women told me that it may be kind of cool kakko ii for women their age to hang out and smoke at jazz bars, but that in general there is a dark kurai image of people going to these places alone and listening seriously to the music in a trancelike state.
In spite of the fact that most of the jazz folk I met were very sociable, they do seem to have a reputation as being socially awkward lonersotaku, in contemporary parlanceobsessed with an allconsuming and alien hobby. The Japanese jazz community is distinctive enough to have its own peculiar rituals for burying its dead. On a blistering afternoon in June , I attended what can only be described as a Buddhist jazz funeral for jazz writer Noguchi Hisamitsu at Tokyos Gansenji.
The Christian hymn Just a Closer Walk with Thee wafted over the overflow crowd of grievers sweltering in their black mourning garb, giving way to the more jubilant When the Saints Go Marching In. It was admittedly a surreal spectacle for someone who had grown up singing these hymns in a Southern Baptist church; I could just hear the deacons at Puryear Tennessee Baptist Church hollering sacrilege.
But the blending of two established funeral traditions was an appropriate farewell for an artist and music critic who spent his life promoting American popular culture in Japan. Rooted in West African secret societies, French martial processions, and African American fraternal organizations, the jazz funeral in Japan was transformed into a paean to a life lived between two nations. According to musician and historian Danny Barker, the jazz funeral was a custom among the black working class, a diehard cult of some of the musicians and a few of their followers whose social relationships centered in Bourbon Street bars.
The collective eort by the bar membership to send their deceased comrade o with music reinforced solidarity and collective identity within the small community. In like manner, the incorporation of the jazz funeral into a Buddhist mourning ritual signified the Japanese jazz communitys collective identity and its destiny as a bridge between two worlds. Of course, artists in general and musicians in particular occupy ambiva-. The artist, particularly the poet, is both cursed and blessed, Sarah Spence remarks. Inhabiting a place between earth and sky, man and God, the artists axial coordinates are both the most sacred and the most profane.
In his classic Anthropology of Music, Alan Merriam described a cross-cultural pattern of low status and high importance, coupled with deviant behavior allowed by the society and capitalized upon by the musician. But if the musician is distinguished by certain kinds of social behavior, so is his audience. The devoted aficionado may try to pass in the straight world, or may publicize membership in the jazz community with berets, facial hair, or T-shirts with jazz faces, challenging social compulsions toward conformism obliquely, in style.
Of course, such challenges often go ignored: having spent several months immersed in a community of people for whom there is no god but jazz, I was sobered to that communitys invisibility when my former host family,. This is perhaps true enough in contemporary Japan, where jazz is but one of a staggering number of cultural products from which consumers may choose to entertain themselves.
But the historical evidence presented in the following chapters indicates that for most of this century jazz has hardly been of peripheral concern. On the contrary, the raucous sounds of jazz reverberated within a nation that many envisioned as a virtuously self-contained household, threatening to explode the walls, bust out the windows, and tear the roof o the sucker. The Theme. Since the early twentieth century, American music has enjoyed immense popularity and sparked much controversy in Japan. There is ample historical evidence testifying to the prominence of jazz in Japanese urban cultural life, for nearly as many years as the music is old.
As in America, jazz has been both loved and reviled in Japan, but rarely has it been regarded as insignificant. This book explores the reasons for the Japanese fascination. It challenges some of our most inveterate myths about Japan, about the evolution and universality of jazz, and about the relationship between race, cultural authenticity, and creativity. It provides a model for understanding the motivations and frustrations, the behavior and artistic development, and the social roles of creative artists in modern Japanese history.
Finally, it enters the contemporary debate about race and authenticity that has rendered the jazz world yet another battleground in the culture wars. Scholars are increasingly aware of the value of historical and ethnographic studies of Japans popular culture.
In recent years there have been numerous collections of essays on various aspects of Japanese pop culture, not to mention increasingly copious fan-oriented publications on topics such as Japanimation. But there are far fewer focused, scholarly, and in-depth treatments of particular topics within this new field.
In contrast to cinema or advertising, music in particular remains one of the most underutilized sources for and subjects of broader historical inquiry. Historians would do well to borrow one of the basic premises of ethnomusicological research: that one can understand a given society or culture through the study of musical sounds, performance, aesthetics, training, and instrumentation. Jazz provides an ideal and fascinating case study for the importation, assimilation, adaptation, and rejection of American popular culture and the identity anxieties such processes provoke.
Unlike the handful of previous histories of jazz in Japan, my study recontextualizes the music within that countrys contentious modern history. I portray jazz not as a benign art that simply captivated the popular consciousness, but rather as a site of contestation where competing aesthetic and social values, definitions of modernity and of self, and standards of artistic originality vied. I argue that the Japanese fascination with jazz throughout the century has been precisely because the music encapsulated and represented these struggles over identity and creativity in a way no other single art has.
My theoretical base is a conception of popular culture as a realm of contestation and negotiation, where producers and consumers, artists and audiences confer and dispute identities, aesthetics, and social mores. This approach provides not only new perspectives on major themes in modern Japanese history, but also a conceptual framework for the study of jazz in other non-American contexts. It is my hope that the result will be a new outlook on Japans seemingly incessant debates on modernity and identity as well as a better understanding of how jazz transformed global culture. Identity politics and resurgent ethnic nationalism as if it ever went away have profoundly shaped contemporary conceptualizations of jazz, aecting everything from the racial composition of bands to our narratives of jazz history.
There is an obsession with identifying and filtering the pure or authentic core of the music from the eclectic and multiracial contexts in which it was actually created. More often than not, the lines drawn between authentic and inauthentic correspond closely with markers of ethnic dierence. The irony is that such racialist conceptualizations of authenticity undermine the musics pretensions as a universal language, rendering it yet another marker of insurmountable ethnic dierence.
Here I challenge these widespread notions by highlighting the contributions of individual Japanese jazz artists to the idiom, and by recounting the historical, racial, and commercial obstacles and pressures they have had to surmount to do so. There is much cultural capital, racial pride, and national prestige invested in jazz: the music has been an integral part of the image that the United States projects of itself abroad, and of the image that African Americans in particular promote among themselves and others in their legitimate efforts to redress erasure of their contributions from history.
Though many nineteenth-century Americans despaired of ever making a significant national contribution to world culture, late-twentieth-century Americans are convinced that the music created by descendants of Africans on American soil represents a unique gift to the world.
Jazz has thus become an integral element in a self-aggrandizing narrative of American ingenuity, dynamism, and creativity. This means that throughout its history Japans jazz community has had to locate itself in an aesthetic hierarchy that explicitly reflects and reinforces asymmetries of power and cultural prestige in the Japan-U. Because the essentially American character of jazz is regarded as so incontestable, aesthetic distinctions between authentic and inauthentic practitioners are made to seem natural, even by Japans own culture industry: the commercial marketing and presentation of jazz performance by the indigenous entertainment industry reinscribes Japans artistic and cultural subordination.
Exceptional artists motivated by an explicit cultural nationalism, by purely artistic interests, or most often by bothhave protested this situation, in the process creating highly original music. The model I present here for understanding jazz in Japan is rooted in the most salient characteristic of that countrys jazz community, a consistent ambivalence about the authenticity of its own jazz expressions an ambivalence similar in nature to that with which several generations of white Prelude. American and European jazz musicians have grappled. Based on racialist conceptualizations of authenticity, this ambivalence motivated some prominent jazz artists to develop what I call strategies of authentication to legitimate jazz performed by Japanese.
These include interpreting and attempting to replicate the exact sounds of American jazz as well as the social and cultural contexts e. The authenticating strategies described in this book were developed to counter powerful psychological, institutional, and sociocultural forces that have continually cast doubt on the authenticity of the art of Japanese jazzers, as jazz and as Japanese. The product of archival research and fieldwork in Japan and the United States, including interviews conducted in the mids with musicians and aficionados representing each generation and occupation within Japans jazz community, Blue Nippon makes use of oral, documentary, literary, pictorial, cinematic, and musical source materials from Japan, the United States, and Europe to reconstruct the social, artistic, and intellectual history of jazz as a mass and subcultural phenomenon in Japan.
It tells the story of jazz in Japan through the voices of the people who created it and responded to it. Chapter 1 introduces the concepts of authenticity, jazz in Japan, and Japanese jazz. The second chapter discusses the role of jazz in the transformation of Japans modern entertainment industry, arguing that the music enabled Japanese to have an authentic modern experience comparable to that of other cultured nations, taking the reader into the neon-lit world of modern boys and modern girls, and reproducing sensationalistic eyewitness accounts of the dance halls and cafes that kept modernites entertained and incited debate in the decades before World War II.
Chapter 3 follows up with an analysis of the debates that jazz sparked and conceptualizations of jazz as the aural expression of modernism, which many believed threatened existing social and aesthetic mores. I go on to describe how those conceptualizations manifested themselves in forms of social control that aected all of Japans entertainment industry. Chapter 4 diverges from existing portrayals of the wartime jazz community as a besieged dissident group whose art was ocially proscribed as enemy music; it reconstructs the hidden history of how jazz musicians survived this ban by playing jazz for the countrys sake, crafting a nationalistically correct jazz in an attempt to preserve their avocation and assimilate within a The fifth chapter explores the attractions of jazz for a generation of rebellious postwar youth whose inherited value system had been discredited by the war and Occupation reforms.
In the context of national reconstruction and expanding entertainment and leisure pursuits, jazz appealed to a generation whose inherited value system had been shattered, yet jazz remained beholden to American-defined standards of artistic originality and authenticity.
Shop Blue Nippon Authenticating Jazz In Japan
Chapter 6 discovers the roots of Japans emergence as a significant source of jazz artistry in the s and s in a second push for an identifiable national style of jazz. In the neonationalist cultural eorescence inspired by student-led protests against U. In the Postlude, I explore how tensions over authenticity, creativity, and identity persist in a contemporary scene sorely divided between a neo-bop revival movement and a tenacious avant-garde dedicated to irreverent exploration.
Keeping Time: Studying Jazz in Japan. Burton Peretti, author of two cultural histories of jazz in the United States, has recently written what few in the field of jazz studies have been willing to admit: Jazz historiography has long been a pleasurable, vaguely discursive enterprise, disconnected from the highly empirical project of the academy, perhaps more interested in a good story than in uncovering the past as it essentially was. Interviews by journalists, critics, and fans, while often irresistibly entertaining, have also been adulatory and superficial. In book form, many interviews and sketches are often called jazz history, but they are designed mainly to present uncritically the words of jazzs creators and admirers, as if this task alone resulted in the writing of history.
Of course, academic historians share the blame, since they have ignored jazz for decades and have deprived jazz history of their empirical expertise.
Academic scholars with an interest in jazz have most likely read recreationally in what one of my mentors derisively refers to as the jazz bu literature, struggling with varying degrees of success to overcome its mythic excesses and hagiographic tendencies. In a essay Phillip S. Hughes attempted to draw a distinction between jazz critics and historians, whose primary interest was jazzmen of artistic importance, and sociologists of jazz, who are not interested in the artistic merit of the Prelude. But Hughes conceded a lingering influence of the appreciative or normative attitude among sociologists.
It seems that even when we aim for detachment, it is dicult to shake o the legacy of our socialization into the mythologies and mystique of jazz, which for most of us precedes our professional socialization. Let us secularize jazzmen, Hughes beseeches. It will surely not detract from our enjoyment of their artistic product to do so.
Sociologists should be students of the jazz myth, not its bearers. Such calls for methodological eclecticism and demystification have led to a handful of important studies, which have been particularly instructive on social receptions of jazz, musical communities, cultural and musical hybridity, and the improvisational process, but which are only beginning to dislodge prevailing practices and perspectives that privilege hagiography and canon building, discographical ephemera, racial politics, stylistic evolution, and national mythmaking.
Notably absent from such reform eorts are exhortations for the systematic investigation of a world of jazz activity beyond U. With a handful of exceptions, jazz historiography has consistently failed to look overseas for jams of consequence. Those studies of jazz in non-American contexts which do exist tend to be almost purely descriptive, though S. Both, however, choose to focus more on the relationship between jazz and state ideology than on aestheticized authenticity. I mentioned earlier that most of my informants were dumbstruck by the notion of anyone, let alone an American, studying jazz history in Japan, but there indeed have been moments, however brief and fleeting, at which Japanese acknowledged that jazz music actually had a history in their country.
Although a couple of jazz pioneers composed brief overviews or autobiographies as early as the s, the s and s witnessed a relative flood of oral histories, memoirs, nostalgia concerts, and compilations of vintage recordings, apparently surprising many who were convinced that native jazz could be no older than the Occupation era. The leading jazz monthly Swing Journal occasionally published photographic retrospectives and commemorative essays prior to the late sixties, but it was a new quarterly, Jazz Critique Jazu hihyo, founded in , which first published oral history projects and rap sessions about the musics origins and significance in Japan.
Since the mids, there has been another surge of interest in history, of which this study is most certainly a beneficiary. Both reflective moments can be characterized as periods in which pride in the domestic product is unusually high, thus contributing to regenerated interest in its historical roots. The first major boom in the study of domestic jazz history occurred in the mid-seventies, most certainly tied to a more general nostalgia for the preWorld War II era.
Veteran jazz musicians who had long since retired or retreated to the security of Ginza cabarets or studio orchestras capitalized on this Japanese jazz renaissance, producing numerous comeback concerts and albums. Neophytes were taken aback by the flood of historical recordings that confirmed the nations jazz heritage. Toshio, as well as musicians Uchida Koichi and Omori Seitaro wrote popular histories and produced massive reissue projects that brought prewar and early postwar jazz recordings back into circulation.
Since the s there have been a plethora of jazz coeehouse memoirs, elegies to the jazz cafe that document the personal conversion experiences or jazz epiphanies of individual aficionados as well as the joys of hi fi audio. Saito Rens Kishida Prize-winning play The Shanghai Advance Kings Shanhai bansukingu, , loosely based on the experiences of trumpeter Nanri Fumio and other Japanese jazzers in s Shanghai, brought jazz history to an even wider public and led to the publication of another oral history in There are also a handful of biographies of well-known jazz artists, of which Ueda Sakaes painstakingly researched biography of legendary pianist Moriyasu Shotaro is the most eloquent and evocative portrait of the first postwar decades jazz scene yet composed.
Written primarily for a specialized audience of jazz converts, these early histories are rich in detail and the frequently titillating lore of jazz folk, but neither maintain pretensions to scholarly distance nor oer ethnographic, musicological, or sociological analysis. The pioneering Western scholar of jazz in Japan is Professor Sidney Brown of the University of Oklahoma, a scholar of Meiji-era political history who used the Japanese jazz histories and his own interviews with musicians such as Sera Yuzuru, Moriyama Hisashi, and Shimizu Jun to write a series of conference papers and produce a documentary film on the subject.
Two masters theses, composed by Elizabeth Sesler-Beckman and Larry Richards respectively, explore the problem of Japanese creativity in the jazz idiom, and the gap between prewar conceptualizations of jazz and the music itself. In writing this book, to my knowledge the most comprehensive history published in any language thus far, I have drawn from and synthesized elements from prior studies, collected and analyzed many previously un- or under-utilized sources, and introduced a conceptual framework that makes the topic immediately relevant to Japanese cultural studies, ethnomusicology, and jazz studies.
The search for authenticity is but one dimension of the jazz experience in Japan, not to mention one whose importance has Prelude. Nevertheless, discourses of authenticity are crucial to Japanese conceptualizations of jazz, to the social positioning and artistic development of creative people, and to the cultural identity crises that mark Japans twentieth-century experience.
I get paid to be a teacher and scholar of Japanese history, so one of my interests is the impact of jazz, as a symbol ascribed with aective or cultural meaning, on Japanese self-conceptions, social values, and cultural preoccupations and amusements. As a longtime collector, student, disc jockey, and underachieving player of jazz music, I bring my interest in the actual creation of musical sound and the construction of aesthetic systems to the table as well. In crafting what is inherently an interdisciplinary work with many potential audiences, I must ask the readers indulgence.
Readers from the respective fields of Japanese history, ethnomusicology, or jazz studies will approach this book with varying expectations, which I have tried to anticipate and accommodate to the best of my ability, but there are doubtless points on which some specialists will crave elaboration. I expect, for instance, that scholars of music will desire more musicological analysis or biographical information, while historians of Japan will wish for rather less. I am likewise more interested in the specific artistic behaviors and aesthetic values of Japans jazz musicians and fans than in the larger processes of industrial cultural production or theories of globalization, though I do not deny the relevance of such lines of inquiry and make frequent mention of the impact of cultural hybridization and commercial considerations on artistic behavior.
I hope that I have found a middle ground that best serves the interests of all potential audiences. I have attempted to balance good storytelling with sophisticated analysis, both of which I believe to be crucial elements to the finest historical writing. When academic history omits or diminishes the lore and real-life experiences of its human subjects it loses not only its capacity to attract, fascinate, and instruct its audience, but also its soul. While abstract concepts such as authenticity and identity enhance our comprehension, this book is also a collection of stories about people moved by musical sound to do extraordinary things, often against the conventional wisdom or accepted values of their society.
Here I use these stories to tell another: a tragic success story, if you will, of underacknowledged artistic accomplishments achieved in spite of considerable social and ideological obstacles. In crafting this story I have inevitably been compelled to be selective, and many readers will no doubt be disappointed to find little information here on well-known and important artists such as guitarist Watanabe Kazumi, pianist Ozone Makoto, trumpeter Tiger Okoshi, clarinetist Kitamura Eiji, saxophonist Abe Kaoru, and.
That suggests to me that there are still many stories remaining to be told and much more music left to be heard. Whenever I think I may have overstated the prejudice against jazz made in Japan, someone makes a remark that convinces me that such sentiments are alive and well. At the April meeting of the Midwest Japan Seminar at the University of Toronto, at which Sidney Brown debuted his documentary, one participant claimed that, based on his experience walking into a bar or two in Tokyo, the Japanese havent got it.
My retort is that he walked into the wrong bar. One can just as easily find jazz musicians in the United Statessome with major label recording contractswho havent got it. Conversely, there are Japanese who have got it and have had it for a long time. They may not be typical, but neither were John Coltrane or Sidney Bechet, and that is why we remember them.
It should be clear that I am extremely critical of ethnonational notions of authenticity and the unequal power relations that determine and confer authenticity. However unintentionally, uniform, self-contained categories such as black jazz, white jazz, or Japanese jazz are socially constructed concepts that inevitably diminish the accomplishments of individual artists who through imagination and discipline transform their personal experiences and visions into musical sound.
Anyone who seriously listens to and studies jazz music must realize that these racialized categories hold no water: for instance, Stan Getz, regarded as exemplary of a white style, was influenced most profoundly by African American swing artist Lester Young, and then in turn inspired Eddie Harris, progenitor of the supposedly black style known as soul jazz.
Still, I realize that these racialized categories merit study rather than outright dismissal. They exist for a reason, and their persistence at a time when identities are increasingly fluid suggests that there is still much to ponder regarding the aesthetics and culture of jazz, for which the study of jazz beyond U. I realize, however, that some readers will find my own credibility for this venture lacking: some will ask, what right does a white academic have to confer authenticity on Japanese jazz artists, to argue that they can be the real thing? Many would no doubt consider my case stronger if I were black, and neither postmodernist posturing nor earnest wishing are likely to dissipate such skepticism.
Americans of European descent are rarely welcome weighing in on authenticity in cultural categories associated with Americans of African descent, as ethnomusicologist Ingrid Monson acknowledges in her book Saying Something:. Since whiteness tends to be a sign of inauthenticity within the world of jazz, the appeals of white musicians [or writers] to universalistic rhetoric can be perceived as a power play rather than genuine expressions of universal brotherhood.
If jazz is one of the few cultural categories in which being African American is evaluated as better or more authentic than being non-African American, a white musicians appeal to a colorblind rhetoric might cloak a move to minimize the black cultural advantage by lowering an assertive African American musician from his or her pedestal to a more equal playing field. It is this rhetoric that provokes African Americans to take more extreme positions on ethnic particularity. To charges that I am diminishing the importance of African Americans as creators of jazz music by seeking acknowledgment of Japanese and other non-American contributions to the art and validation of the meanings they have found in it, I can only respond that it is out of respect for my own African American musical heroes that I do so.
It seems to me a magnificent accomplishment to create an art and a culture so potentially inclusive and open to revision that anyone can contribute authentically to it, if its performers and advocates will only allow it be so. How can I learn to play them so authentically? Do I have to go to the United States to get it? If you have the feeling, you could eat Skippy peanut butter and play the blues right.
And if you dont have that feeling, you could eat collard greens and all that so-called Negro food all the time and sound corny. So in my alto performances, I must somehow surpass Eric Dolphy. That is my duty. While touring Japan in , some members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago made the following indelicate if not ungracious remarks: We have listened to performances by Japanese groups, but they are making music that stands atop Afro-American traditions.
So it is not original. Only black peoples music has progressed with the times, the aec musicians continued. In the past we black people made music in Africa. We were making music in times of slavery. With the times it has progressed in dierent forms. Our black music moved with the world. If you Japanese dont start from this, youll never create original work.
It takes five hundred years.
Now, while many Japanese jazz fans. A similar response met saxophonist Branford Marsalis nearly two decades later when he made the following remark in the December issue of Playboy, in reply to a query regarding his bands popularity in Japan: The Japanese, for whatever reason, are astute in terms of [jazzs] history and legacy. Unlike many other people, they have identified jazz as part of the American experience.
But I dont think they understand it most times, especially at my shows. They just stare at us, like, What the hell are they playing? But they come to hear me anyway. Its almost like classical music: Somebody told them its necessary and that were good. So they come and scratch their heads and clap and they leave. The audiences are strange when you play those big concert halls. The clubs are much hipper and the club owners are great. Theyll take care of you. They take you out to eat, and theyll even get a great-looking girl for you if you want one. Ive declined. While the Art Ensembles statement questioned the authenticity of jazz performed by Japanese, Marsaliss remarks challenged the much-heralded Japanese understanding and appreciation of jazz, arguing that they are superficial at best.
Coming as they did in the wake of a torrent of American invective against Japan Japan bashing , Marsaliss comments and similar remarks made later by saxophonist Kenny Garrett wounded a substantial number of devoted jazz fans, who recognize that Japan has done more than its part to keep this art alive and viable in the merciless s marketplace. Who made the statements was as important as what was said. The Art Ensemble is the product of s black militancy in the arts; Marsalis and Garrett are major figures in a new generation of African American jazz artists with a somewhat politicized view of jazz, its history, and its future.
It is unfair to portray the predominantly black Young Lion movement of which the Marsalis brothers and Garrett are leading lights as a monolith, but it nevertheless has acquired a reputation for obsessing about authenticity and for equating that virtue with African American ethnicity. Thus to many Japanese jazz fans, who by virtue of their chosen hobby are for the most part unusually well-informed and sensitive to racial injustice in the United States, Branford Marsalis and Kenny Garretts statements sounded uncomfortably like the popular T-shirt slogan Its a black thing, you wouldnt understand.
Some responded angrily: The reason that audiences are cheerless at your [Marsaliss] concerts is because they know this guys not putting him To Garrett, who had criticized Japanese fans for being too conservative in their tastes, Terajima said mockingly: He says, its strange that records with standards sell better [in Japan] than our personal originals.
Its because we understand jazz that we buy records with standards on them. What is so personal? You write boring originals with stupid melodies. Try to write a melody better than a standard. Were all waiting for that. Other responses were more coolly analytical. In an essay in the intellectual journal Gendai, Murakami Haruki argued that, given Marsaliss base of support within a militant, aggressive black middle class for whom racial pride is paramount, the saxophonists remarks were to be expected: If Branford Marsalis had said in an American interview that Japanese are a wonderful audience who understand jazz as well as we black people do, he probably would have been booed down harshly by his supporters in his home country.
But Murakami conceded that Marsalis may have had a point: he urged Japanese who listen to jazz, rap, or blues to appreciate them as more than music, and to pay a bit more attention to the totality of the history and culture of black people in America. Certainly there are many American jazz artists who vociferously dispute the opinions of Marsalis and Garrett. The liner notes to Cannonball Adderleys lp Nippon Soul noted a special quality that Japanese fans bring to adulation of their heroes, an intensity of feeling that many jazz artists have said they often experience as a physical sensation when they perform for Japanese audiences.
They know, they really know about jazz. They knew more about me than I knew about myself. In his liner notes to the live album Pick Hits, guitarist John Scofield complimented Japanese fans for their understanding and appreciation: When we play in Tokyo we always think the audience is a little more sophisticated than in other places, a little more in tune with what were trying to do. Expatriate pianist Tom Pierson also rejects Marsaliss statement: with a sense of wonderment that years of experience have yet to erase, he tells of Japanese fans who treat him like a soccer star and kiss his hands in gratitude for his music.
In his autobiography, Miles Davis remembered warmly the reception he received on his first visit to Japan in , in spite of his rather inauspicious entrance: Flying to Japan is a long-ass flight. So I brought coke and sleeping pills with me and I took both. Then I couldnt go to sleep so I was drinking, too. When we landed there were all these people to meet us at the. Were getting o the plane and theyre saying, Welcome to Japan, Miles Davis, and I threw up all over everything.
But they didnt miss a beat. They got me some medicine and got me straight and treated me like a king. Man, I had a ball, and I have respected and loved the Japanese people ever since. Beautiful people. Ultimately the accuracy of Marsaliss and Garretts allegations about audiences is less important than the assumptions that produced them and the reactions they elicited. The angst that the Marsalis-Garrett controversy engendered in many Japanese jazz devotees was rooted in their historical ambivalence or complex about the authenticity of their own jazz culture.
The implication that jazz, a music that has touched them deeply, was not really theirs but someone elses was understandably frustrating, for not only were the remarks made in the wearisome context of Japan bashing, but they also forced many Japanese to rethink the various attempts they had made to authenticate or legitimate the meanings jazz held for them and the music they produced themselves.
Many had grown comfortable with the idea that jazz was a universal language, and that ones appreciation of jazz was as unique as an artists voice. Many felt that their very obvious preference for the music of black American artists showed that they were down, that they understood. Now they were being told that they had missed something, that the meanings they found in jazz were not real, and that their eorts to study, collect, and support the music had amounted to no more than a superficial comprehension. We might regard the aec and Marsalis-Garrett controversies as nothing more than examples of the dissonance between artists and audiences expectations: artists, the conventional wisdom goes, want to press forward into hitherto unknown realms of expression, while audiences want to hear what they already know they like.
On the other hand, we might view them as additional manifestations of the contemporary Japanese obsession with their image abroad. One can scarcely watch the television news in Japan without seeing the results of some poll taken among people in foreign countries, which asks them to sum up their impressions of Japan in ridiculously simplistic terms.
But these controversies were also the product of particular historical experiences. The respective uproars were products of the Japanese jazz communitys special history of negotiating and defining its own identity in relation to Japan and America. They challenged the dominant narrative of the jazz communitys history, which traced a linear development of artistic progress from imitation of American models to innovation of original, Japanese music. In sum, the controversies seemed to invalidate, or at best render ineectual, a consistent, century-long campaign to authenticate jazz in Japan.
If we think of jazz not only as a music but as a relatively self-contained and identifiable culture, we are unlikely to discover other cultures as consumed with the idea of authenticity. It is an obsession that potentially undermines the rhetorical universality of jazz, as expressed here by Down Beat contributor Michael Bourne in Jazz, more than ever before, is a universal language.
Around the world, more than the classics, more than rock and roll, jazz has become a universal language, what all music is supposed to be, especially among the young. The spirit of jazz has endured even when outlawed. Though authenticity by definition favors the particular over the universal, it is interesting to note, as have Ingrid Monson and Charley Gerard, that universalist and particularist rhetorics coexist in jazz discourse, often in the same person.
An individual speaking to an interlocutor who underplays the role of African American culture in the music. In a context in which something closer to racial harmony prevails, a musician might choose to invoke a more universalistic rhetoric. What does authenticity mean? It appears that there is no authentic definition of authenticity: it is so malleable a trope that each author can and does construct a plausible definition appropriate to virtually any historical or artistic subject.
While there seems to be general agreement that the idea of authenticity was invented as a peculiarly modern response to the perceived erosion of particularized heritages and identities in an era of globalization, there is otherwise a considerable diversity of definitions and applications. Anthropologists investigating how authentic Third World cultures represent themselves to First World tourists, or how historical sites and artifacts are presented to the public, have defined the concept as verisimilitude, credibility, originality as opposed to a copy , or authoritativeness.
For ethnomusicologists, authenticity means preserving the social contexts of performances, original performance practices, and the spiritual and cultural meanings of musicin other words, accurately representing unfamiliar world musics in a manner faithful to their original contexts. Edward Bruner adds that authenticity implies that someone has the power or authority to authenticate a representation; the concept of authenticity thus privileges one voice as more legitimate than another.
Musicologist Peter Kivys analysis of authenticity as an aesthetic standard in music suggests roughly two conceptions: historical authenticity authorial intention, contemporary sound, and contemporary performance practicethe kind of authenticity valued by practitioners of early music ; and personal auThe Authenticity Complex. Kivy acknowledges that one kind of authenticity necessarily entails sacrifice of the other: Personal authenticity comes into conflict with a composers performing intention or wish, even though the composer may have intended personal authenticity as well.
Philosopher Joel Rudinow oers yet another aesthetic definition of the term as a species of the genus credibility. More broadly, less precisely, but in an essentially similar way, authenticity is applicable to the artifacts and rituals which are a cultures currency, conferring value on those acceptably derived from original sources. In such applications authenticity admits of degrees. In keeping with established practice, here I adapt and refine the term authenticity to reflect its meaning s in the jazz culture. Authenticity in jazz, as in other folk arts, implies that an artist must possess specific qualities educational background, life experience, ethnic heritage, motivations, or artistic visionwhich confer upon the artist the right not only to work unchallenged in a particular medium, but to establish the standard by which all others working in that medium will be judged.
Those who are influenced by such work may be deemed authentic or inauthentic depending either on how closely they adhere to the aesthetic standards enshrined in the original, or how closely their personal profiles match the specific experiential, ethnic, or motivational qualities of the originals creator.
The standards for determining authenticity may change or be contested, yet some such standard is always in operation and its power is significant. Authenticity, in this sense, is aestheticized as a criterion in the judgment of taste. Conceptualized thusly, it rather resembles what Pierre Bourdieu has called the aesthetic disposition in the reception of art: Any legitimate work tends in fact to impose the norms of its own perception and tacitly defines as the only legitimate mode of perception the one which brings into play a certain disposition and a certain competence.
But whereas Bourdieu with reference to Jos Ortega y Gasset describes an aestheticism in the legitimate arts that actively distances itself from human emotions and realitiesfavoring form over functionjazz and other folk or black expressive forms value precisely those human qualities that constitute lived experience: earthiness, funk bodily odor , pain, anger, carnality, and joy. Neither an aristocracy nor a bourgeoisie with aristocratic pretensions establishes these aesthetic norms, but rather a historically despised underclasswhose aesthetic values are then interpreted, translated, codified, and These aesthetic values, ideally rooted in real life experience, represent a standard of authenticity that holds for all who would dare engage in the creative activity in question.
Authenticity and originality are paramount in the aesthetics of jazz, and charges of imitativeness, insincerity or inauthenticity are the most devastating that a jazz artist can suer. There are a number of standards by which jazz performers are judged for authenticity: they are expected to defy commercial pressures, revere the tradition, and pay dues as a journeyman or scuing musician.
Theoretically, every jazz aficionado would agree that Kivys notion of personal authenticity is the major criterion for superlative jazz performance. In the real world, however, preoccupied as it is with issues of race and power, what we might call national authenticity and ethnic authenticity often have more operational power, perhaps because they are easier to determine objectively than personal authenticity.
In any case, jazz is regarded as an authentic folk expression of quintessentially American values although since many regard American values to be universally acceptable, that fact does not necessarily disqualify jazz as a universal language. In pianist and educator Billy Taylors racially neutral language, jazz is Americas classical music. The equation of jazz and America is easy enough to figure, Robert G.
OMeally writes: Jazz is freedom music, the play of sounds that prizes individual assertion and group coordination, voices soloing and then at their best swinging together, the one-and-many e pluribus unum with a laid-back beat. For all its abstruseness, jazz is an insistently democratic music, one that aims to sound like citizens in a barbershop or grocery line, talking stu, trading remarks. Yet OMeally concedes that while some hear in jazz these broad American themes, others hear in it the essence of black particularity, mystery, and memory: blackness traced in rhythm and tune back to the Old World of Africa.
The racial or ethnic element to the virtue of authenticity has held strong currency ever since the days when French critics such as Hughes Panassi held up Louis Armstrong as an instinctive musical genius, a musical noble savage. Simply put, it is no mystery that many regard African American ethnicity as a basic precondition of authentic jazz expression. Musicians and critics of diverse ethnic backgrounds concur with The Authenticity Complex. Ralph Gleasons famous assertion that the blues is black mans music, and whites diminish it at best or steal it at worst.
In any case they have no moral right to it. The black music ideology first articulated in the s by Amiri Baraka, Frank Kofsky, Stanley Crouch, and others contends that the blues, the root of jazz and other musical genres, is not an idiom made up of rules that can be taught and transmitted like any other musical form.
The blues is not something that African Americans do but how they live. They are blues people. Even though the blues has perhaps been dislodged in contemporary music by funk and dance music, the ideology continues to resonate in the work of hip-hop critics and authors like Rickey Uhuru Maggot Vincent, whose Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One asserts that Funk is the means by which black folks confirm identity through rhythm, dance, bodily fluids, and attitude.
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The idea and the importance of funk comes from the depths of black American life, particularly that aspect of black America which never got around to integrating. Du Bois. One might even claim that it is the funky nature of black Americans that is the salvation of this nation. Rudinow reflects that in the age of political correctness such assertions of racial essentialism and cultural ownership seem paradoxically to be both progressive and reactionary.
The jazz culture is usually regarded as relatively exemplary in terms of race relations, and veteran musicians such as the late Doc Cheatham who once said I dont know what they mean by black music. I have never seen any black music. Ive seen black notes on white paper are appalled by the racial polarization of the jazz world at the end of the twentieth century. But today that world has become another battleground in the culture wars, prized turf to be secured and defended in the seemingly unending struggle to define and preserve essentialist notions of culture and identity.
Working bands voluntarily segregate themselves; young black musicians have become marketable emblems of racial pride; and even institutions such as the National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Masters Fellowships and Jazz at Lincoln Center are accused of Crow Jim or reverse racist tendencies.
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