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by Joshua Berrett

eBook Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz download ISBN: 0300103840
Author: Joshua Berrett
Publisher: Yale University Press (October 11, 2004)
Language: English
Pages: 256
ePub: 1613 kb
Fb2: 1913 kb
Rating: 4.3
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Category: Art and Photo
Subcategory: Music

In Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman the jazz scholar Joshua Berrett offers a provocative revision of the history of early jazz by focusing on two of its most notable an, legendary in his day, and Armstrong, a legend ever since.

In Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman the jazz scholar Joshua Berrett offers a provocative revision of the history of early jazz by focusing on two of its most notable an, legendary in his day, and Armstrong, a legend ever since. Paul Whiteman’s fame was unmatched throughout the twenties. Bix Beiderbecke, Bing Crosby, and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey honed their craft on his bandstand. Celebrated as the King of Jazz in 1930 in a Universal Studios feature film, Whiteman’s imperium has declined considerably since.

The legend of Louis Armstrong, in contrast, grows ever more lustrous: for decades it has been Armstrong, not Whiteman . Early jazz, Berrett argues, was not a story of black innovators and white usurpers.

The legend of Louis Armstrong, in contrast, grows ever more lustrous: for decades it has been Armstrong, not Whiteman, who has worn the king s crown. This dual biography explores these diverging legacies in the context of race, commerce, and the history of early jazz. In this book, a much richer, more complicated story emergesa story of cross-influences, sidemen, sundry movers and shakers who were all part of a collective experience that transcended the category of race.

Paul Whiteman and Louis Armstrong were both hugely popular performers in their day, but while Armstrong is still considered the king of jazz, Whiteman (feted as the "King of Jazz" in a 1930 movie) is now relatively unknown. In this slim but dense "dual biography," Berrett (The Louis Armstrong Companion) attempts to explain why Whiteman has been forgotten and why that is a mistake. History separated the two: Whiteman into staid, "symphonic" jazz and Armstrong into the wilder, "hot" jazz.

In Two Kings of Jazz, Joshua Berrett sets out to rescue Whiteman's reputation from the dustbin of history by comparing his life and career to Armstrong's in a sort of dual biography. It's a clumsy device but partly successful in highlighting Whiteman's important contributions in spreading the gospel of jazz to a broader audience. Whiteman was, indeed, one of the most popular jazz-associated artists of the 1920s in terms of record sales and income.

InLouis Armstrong and Paul Whitemanthe jazz scholar Joshua Berrett offers a provocative revision of the history of early jazz by focusing on two of its most notable an, legendary in his day, and Armstrong, a legend ever since. Paul Whiteman's fame was unmatched throughout the twenties. Celebrated as the "King of Jazz" in 1930 in a Universal Studios feature film, Whiteman's imperium has declined considerably since.

Berrett joins Jerry Jazz Musician publisher Joe Maita in an October 4, 2004 conversation. Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman. Armstrong’s supreme position in the jazz pantheon as the first great soloist has never been in doubt. JJM Your book revisits the world of early jazz and examines, compares and contrasts the work of Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman, who the cultural critic Gerald Early refers to as the twin father figures of American popular music…both heavy and both popular as personalities as much as for their musical abilities…two fathers, one black and one white.

A dual biography of two great innovators in the history of jazz. One was black, one was white-one is now legendary, the other nearly forgotten. In Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman thejazz scholar Joshua Berrett offers a provocative revision of the history of early jazz by focusing on two of its most notable an, legendary in his day, and Armstrong, a legend ever since.

In Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman the jazz scholar Joshua Berrett offers a provocative revision of the history of early jazz by focusing on two of its most notable practitioners―Whiteman, legendary in his day, and Armstrong, a legend ever since.Paul Whiteman’s fame was unmatched throughout the twenties. Bix Beiderbecke, Bing Crosby, and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey honed their craft on his bandstand. Celebrated as the “King of Jazz” in 1930 in a Universal Studios feature film, Whiteman’s imperium has declined considerably since. The legend of Louis Armstrong, in contrast, grows ever more lustrous: for decades it has been Armstrong, not Whiteman, who has worn the king’s crown.This dual biography explores these diverging legacies in the context of race, commerce, and the history of early jazz. Early jazz, Berrett argues, was not a story of black innovators and white usurpers. In this book, a much richer, more complicated story emerges―a story of cross-influences, sidemen, sundry movers and shakers who were all part of a collective experience that transcended the category of race. In the world of early jazz, Berrett contends, kingdoms had no borders.

Comments: (6)
Kison
Hey, look, I'm for the Post-Canonical approach to criticism and history as much as the next guy...MORE than the next guy. But this book is over the top. It is certainly well researched. But all of its scholarship only serves to conflate and confuse Cultural History and Musical History...not to speak of the beating it gives to poor Aesthetics. It talks about "relegating Whiteman to the position of a marginal figure". Well, Joshua, in terms of Cultural History, Whiteman is not a marginal figure. But musically he is!!! I'm sorry, but that's true!!! Bix is amazing and a genius, Challis' arrangements are incredible, even if often really, really dated. Trumbauer is certainly worth studying and and listening to, even if he's ultimately quite disappointing. Some of the things Whiteman commissioned (besides Rhapsody in Blue) are interesting and worth knowing. But none of this comes close to making a case for studying Whiteman as a parallel figure to Armstrong! Armstrong's MUSIC requires patience. I don't think it necessarily reveals itself IMMEDIATELY to the modern listener. But still!!! Once you get it, it requires no special pleading, no historical excuses. And this is just not not true of Whiteman. Some of the records are really special, and I do appreciate Berrett's analysis of the famous recording of Washboard Blues. There are a few of these moments, both in the book and in Whiteman's career, and certainly there needs to be recognition of such moments. Gunther Schuller certainly went a long way in his writings on Whiteman in his book Early Jazz. And I also agree that Armstrong's career situates itself within the general history of American Popular Music, and not in some rarefied realm of Afro - American Demotic Art Music. And that the more writing that explores that, the better. But Berrett's thinking is so messy and so unclear. He makes Richard Sudhalter look like a great Philosopher/Historian like George Steiner !!! At least you always know that Sudhalter's passions, even if lopsided, come out of a genuine and informed LOVE for the music he writes about. Here, I'm not always sure...And one more thing: this is the Worst - Edited Book I've seen in a long time!!!! Whole passages return, over and over, like some kind of incantation. It is so padded that it's unbelievable. Forget about Post-Modern critics - let's train some editors!
Gardall
Louis Armstrong is a master, but Whitman sucked. The book is well written though
Malodred
What a surprisingly interesting and densely textured musical detective story. It is the story of the not so silent fight for the heavyweight championship crown of the undisputed title of "King of Jazz" - as it was fought between the white, Paul Whiteman and the Negro, Louis Armstrong.

In one corner stands the first and last of Jazz music's "white hopes," the "syncopationally challenged" white band leader (it you can believe it, literally named) Paul Whiteman. And in the other corner stands the Negro Bugler from a New Orleans Waif home, named Louis Armstrong.

Rather than keep the reader in suspense, I should point out at the outset that history sat in the jury box and decided the contest as a knock out in the first round by Armstrong. However the white man's side has claimed foul and has muster a spirited but weak court case in defense of the white race's retaining the crown of King of Jazz. The defense, Armstrong's side, the black (or Negro) side, rests its case entirely on the intensity of the crowd and the judge's final ruling.

The first charge in the white man's legal brief was a most curious one: It was that Armstrong won the fight by a knock out punch called reverse racism: White patrons of the musical arts of that era it seems simply preferred black Jazz musicians to white ones.

Second, Whiteman's experience and impact on the field of music generally and the institution of Jazz in particular was not properly taken into account in the judging process. Paul Whiteman, for instance, as his court biography showed, was responsible for mentoring a whole generation of well-known white Jazz musicians all of whom went on to become famous in their own right. Thus, Whiteman's extensive body of musical work should have spoken as loudly for him, as the crowd, including Paul Whiteman's own sidemen and students, spoke for Armstrong. But somehow it didn't get the proper weight in the judging process.

Finally, Whiteman charged that Armstrong had fought dirty, introducing into the ring the dreaded punch of "Jazz syncopation," which Whiteman, who was known to have been syncopationally challenged, thought had long since been outlawed from the ring, and was seen to be to music what a sucker punch below the belt was to boxing. Whiteman further claimed that even though he and Armstrong had trained and studied together, despite being forbidden by American society to do so, that there is no way that Armstrong could have had a technical edge over him in the ring?

The Judge dismissed all charges against Armstrong. Noting that the white man's defense was primarily circumstantial, not based on blows actually traded in the ring of music, and thus itself leaned heavily on societal biases favoring whites. The judge further concluded that not only was the fight fair, but also that the white man's case was all sour grapes and amounted to special pleading for the white man's side in a society already rife with racial Apartheid.

The main problem as the presiding judge saw it, was that by introducing jazz syncopation into the music world (a perfectly legal punch by the way), Armstrong had radically changed the terms of the musical debate and made a paradigm shift in jazz music. That coupled with the new elements of style such as improvisation, lyrical improvements in phrasing and the soul that the harsh American Negro experience brought into the world of music, constituted decisive elements in the fight as the judge saw it.

In his closing statement, the presiding judge had likened the bout between Whiteman and Armstrong to the more recent Heavyweight Championship bout held in the world of science between the white, Sir Isaac Newton and the young Jewish upstart, Albert (don't call be German) Einstein.

Like Armstrong, Einstein too had made such radical refinements to the Newtonian model that they constituted a new paradigm of the scientific universe itself. Thus, Paul Whiteman was told by the court to do as Newton had done: "Suck it up and get used to it; case dismissed." Mr. Whiteman, would you please pay the Court costs on your way out? Five Stars.