Book review Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet: Race |
Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet tackles a controversial question: Is jazz the product of an insulated African-American environment, shut off from the rest. Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet: Race and the Mythology, Politics, and Business of Jazz: by Randall Sandke: The Scarecrow Press. Reviewed by: Where the Dark and So in some ways, Randall Sandke's Where the Dark and Light Folks Meet is just another book on race in jazz. In other ways.
This is where we learn that he intends to challenge some of the most long-treasured jazz ideas, including its connection with traditional African music, its status as an emblem of African American ideals, and the detrimental effects of Jim Crow laws on jazz musicians.
Where The Dark & Light Folks Meet
These three chapters present the most coherent of Sandke's narratives, and along with his next three chapters, which are about racial radicalism "The Road to Radicalism"revival music "Radical Ideas and Retro Music"and interracial cooperation "The Biggest Myth of All"they provide the bulk of his work.
His next three chapters are about jazz and business "It's Strictly Business," "Copyrights: The final five chapters are each much shorter than the first seven; as a result, they feel like an afterthought, and the narrative is less cohesive than in the earlier ones.
Sandke's agenda emerges in many places in this work. In his previous book, he extolled the virtues of metatonality, his own theory on jazz composition.
His disappointment about the lack of impact of his concept of metatonality is clear in the new book when he writes that "to date, not one article has been written about metatonal music, even though I have recorded several examples since and written a book on the subject" p.
In the passage and others, he plainly wants jazz musicians and scholars to prioritize innovation over nostalgia, insinuating detrimental effects of revivalist Wynton Marsalis and his followers in the first chapter and implicating them outright in chapter 5, in which he wonders how jazz went "from a dynamically evolving art form to a music in which the importance of blazing new trails was widely and openly discounted" p.
In chapter 3, "Good Intentions and Bad History," he invokes jazz's links with modernism as the reason why it should be progressive, but he strangely questions why audiences do not flock to see modern jazz performers, missing one of the key effects of modernism: And even though Sandke seems to think that racial cooperation in jazz is roundly overlooked, one can clearly see its effects in much of the jazz literature from the past thirty years, including many of the books that he himself cites.
Sandke's work is not easily If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'. Instead, jazz is demonstrably a product of black-white cooperation, beginning in its prehistory in nineteenth-century blackface minstrel shows, which Sandke represents as a major venue for antislavery sentiment before the Civil War and which turned viciously racist only with the rise of Jim Crow in the s.
In the s and '30s, when jazz became synonymous with popular music, the top black and white bands were comparably well compensated. If jazz composers were often cheated out of royalties and copyrights, the culprits were black as well as white; sometimes they were musicians preying on other musicians. Bad history is to blame for the belief that jazz is sharply racially divided. This amateur historian's book, more lucid and straightforward than most professional jazz critic-chroniclers could dream of producing, deserves every history-minded jazz fan's attention.
Sandke takes a strong position on issues ranging from the political agendas of many jazz historians from the early days to the present to the more recent narrow redefinitions of jazz, largely by the more conservative and influential wing of jazz represented by Wynton Marsalis and writer Stanley Crouch.
Book Review: 'Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet' by Randall Sandke
And, he asks, what myths continue to cloud understanding of jazz? Does the fact that jazz sprang from a black environment make white jazz musicians "inauthentic"?
Sandke also explores who the winners and losers have been in the business of jazz, and who the audience has been. In contrast to some works about race and jazz, Sandke's is thoroughly researched and documented.
He loves the music deeply and is frustrated that it may be compromised by politics, internal and external. His positions will likely draw fire—and praise.
This is an important addition to the literature of jazz. All readers — CHOICE, August In Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet, musician and author Randall Sandke tackles the stubborn and controversial question of whether jazz is the product of an insulated African-American environment, shut off from the rest of society by strictures of segregation and discrimination; or whether it is more properly understood as the juncture of a wide variety of influences under the broader umbrella of American culture.
Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet
His book takes the latter course and shows how the widely accepted exclusionary view has led to decades of misunderstanding surrounding the true history and nature of jazz.
It is not a jazz history but an essential commentary on it. Open-minded jazz fans of all ages and interests should find it instructive and stimulating and a joy to read. It may make you angry; it may go to great lengths to demonstrate a point