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Jazz and the Magic City: An Alabama Diaspora

Jazz and the Magic City: An Alabama Diaspora <p>Abstract:</p><p>For much of the twentieth century, Birmingham, Alabama, was home to a thriving and unique jazz tradition, one whose influence on American music has been long overlooked. In the decades before the Civil Rights Movement, African American teachers in Birmingham&apos;s segregated schools pioneered an instrumental music program that trained generations of professional jazz players, composers, and arrangers. Applying Booker T. Washington&apos;s principles of industrial education to the high school band room, instructor John T. "Fess" Whatley launched a far-reaching local tradition that spanned most of the twentieth century. Birmingham musicians helped shape the sound of swing nationwide and played key roles in the birth of bebop. The city&apos;s influence can even be heard in the "otherworldly" experiments of Sun Ra, a musician who claimed to have come from outer space but whose music was steeped in Birmingham tradition. This article examines Birmingham&apos;s contributions to making the world of jazz—and the ways in which jazz, in turn, shaped the culture of Birmingham.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Southern Cultures University of North Carolina Press

Jazz and the Magic City: An Alabama Diaspora

Southern Cultures , Volume 25 (4) – Nov 27, 2019

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Center for the Study of the American South
ISSN
1534-1488

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>For much of the twentieth century, Birmingham, Alabama, was home to a thriving and unique jazz tradition, one whose influence on American music has been long overlooked. In the decades before the Civil Rights Movement, African American teachers in Birmingham&apos;s segregated schools pioneered an instrumental music program that trained generations of professional jazz players, composers, and arrangers. Applying Booker T. Washington&apos;s principles of industrial education to the high school band room, instructor John T. "Fess" Whatley launched a far-reaching local tradition that spanned most of the twentieth century. Birmingham musicians helped shape the sound of swing nationwide and played key roles in the birth of bebop. The city&apos;s influence can even be heard in the "otherworldly" experiments of Sun Ra, a musician who claimed to have come from outer space but whose music was steeped in Birmingham tradition. This article examines Birmingham&apos;s contributions to making the world of jazz—and the ways in which jazz, in turn, shaped the culture of Birmingham.</p>

Journal

Southern CulturesUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Nov 27, 2019

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