[Excerpts from The Social Effects of Jazz by Zola Philipp]
“In response to the statement that whites stole the music, Jim Hall says, “I’ve always felt that the music started out as black but that it’s as much mine now as anyone else’s. I haven’t stolen the music from anybody—I just bring something different to it” (Gerard, 1998, p. 90). Hall is indeed acknowledging that blacks invented jazz, but he does not feel that whites have stolen it, even if whites imitated the various jazz styles created by blacks and became wealthy as a result.”
Hall’s statement above is true. Jazz music is the next commodity used by white men to accrue wealth since cotton. Their entitlement means that they do not have to steal something to make it theirs. They have a right to it and that’s all there is to it.
Meanwhile, “Malcolm X said that whites simply replicate what they heard in the past, whereas blacks could spontaneously invent. He stated “Black musicians at a jam session with white musicians—a whole lot of difference. The white musician can jam with sheet music in front of him. But that black musician picks up his horn and blows sounds he never thought of before. He improvises, he creates (Gerard, 1998, p. 78).”
“Mackey (1992) believed that there was the containment of black mobility on the political level and that the social and economic progress blacks might have accumulated because of their artistic innovation was blocked by whites.”
Although jazz music permeates the planet in clubs and festivals, “Jazz became so commercialized that the industry was less dependent on black innovation, but rather produced a music that was lacking the essence of jazz—its improvisation.” Kofsky (1998) “believed that this refusal of whites to credit blacks is because they refused to equate anything valuable with African Americans. According to Miles Davis, this is the case because “The white man likes to win everything. White people like to see other white people win and they can’t win when it comes to jazz because black people created this” (Gerard, 1998, p.16).
While whites in the jazz music industry got rich, black musicians did not reap equal benefits. The industry caused a great deal of exploitation and discrimination by whites against blacks. Rex Stewart said, “Where the control is, the money is. Do you see any of us running any record companies, booking agencies, radio stations, music magazines?” (Kofsky, 1998, p. 19).
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