Jazz and Justice:
Racism and the Political Economy of Music
$27 paper / 456 pages / 978-1-58367-785-8
By Gerald Horne
Reviewed by Martin Hall
Martin Hall of Counterfire writes a solidly written review of Jazz and Justice: “…there is a gap in the scholarship which this book fills. Horne uses a huge amount of primary and secondary sources and interweaves these mostly oral accounts with an analysis that understands the relationship of oppression to exploitation, as gangster capitalism exploited the structural apartheid of US society during the period in question.
The chapters are loosely chronological and take the reader from the world of Jelly Roll Morton and Kid Ory through to that of the Marsalis family, with the common thread being New Orleans, often cited as the birthplace of the music. What this comprises is an anatomy of resistance; at every stage, despite Jim Crow, gangsters and extreme violence, jazz developed and bloomed.
Horne takes us through that development via an exhaustive amount of research, with a particular focus on oral histories. This makes sense, given the fact that so much of the history of the music was not documented via primary written stories. However, it does make for a tiring read at times, and there is the sense on occasion that Horne is only just keeping narrative control over the flurry of anecdotal material and assorted mini-histories.”
You can read the rest of Hall’s interesting review at Counterfire
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