By Charles B. Hersch

ISBN-10: 0226328678

ISBN-13: 9780226328676

Subversive Sounds probes New Orleans’s heritage, uncovering an online of racial interconnections and animosities that used to be instrumental to the construction of an important American artwork form—jazz. Drawing on oral histories, police studies, newspaper money owed, and classic recordings, Charles Hersch brings to vibrant lifestyles the neighborhoods and nightspots the place jazz used to be born.

This quantity exhibits how musicians resembling Jelly Roll Morton, Nick l. a. Rocca, and Louis Armstrong negotiated New Orleans’s advanced racial ideas to pursue their craft and the way, as a way to widen their audiences, they turned fluent in numerous musical traditions from assorted ethnic resources. those encounters with different track and races subverted their very own racial identities and adjusted the best way they played—a musical miscegenation that, within the shadow of Jim Crow, undermined the pursuit of racial purity and indelibly remodeled American culture.


“More than well timed . . . Hersch orchestrates voices of musicians on each side of the racial divide in underscoring how porous the song made the bounds of race and class.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune



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Additional info for Subversive Sounds: Race and the Birth of Jazz in New Orleans

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From its founding, Louisiana was a place where “racial lines were blurred, and intimate relations among peoples of all three races flourished. . ”66 Louisiana was a “colony of deserters”— many of the whites who came there were “undesirables” who had been deported or hired as indentured servants. ” The French allied with various Indian tribes against others, blacks and Indians intermarried, and such interracial couples at one point formed a network to help slaves escape. 67 This tradition of interracial relations continued into the late nineteenth century, when jazz was beginning to develop.

Portia Maultsby speaks of the “performer-audience” as one unit, a concept that can be seen in many African American musical performances today. Slave religion and spirituals kept this emphasis on the collectively evoked, 28 PLACES immanent, in-this-world nature of the divine spirit. 46 Disrespectable Spaces Other black counterinstitutions, also centered around music, existed in opposition to the respectability of the church. Nonchurchgoing New Orleanians of color also used music to create their own spaces, but with a very different set of values.

39 26 PLACES A central African feature of the black church was the ring shout, an ecstatic movement of individuals joined in a circle moving counterclockwise to the accompaniment of a song leader in dialogue with a chorus. 40 Observed in New Orleans black church services in the 1850s, the ring shout has roots in West and Central African burial ceremonies and other rituals honoring ancestors. ” In lieu of drums, worshipers accompanied ring shouts by stamping their feet. ” Yet the ring shout had an influence beyond the black church, in the movements central to New Orleans festive culture.

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Subversive Sounds: Race and the Birth of Jazz in New Orleans by Charles B. Hersch

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