Blues People

Blues People

4.1 (1,509 ratings by Goodreads)
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"The path the slave took to 'citizenship' is what I want to look at. And I make my analogy through the slave citizen's music -- through the music that is most closely associated with him: blues and a later, but parallel development, jazz... [If] the Negro represents, or is symbolic of, something in and about the nature of American culture, this certainly should be revealed by his characteristic music."So says Amiri Baraka in the Introduction to Blues People, his classic work on the place of jazz and blues in American social, musical, economic, and cultural history. From the music of African slaves in the United States through the music scene of the 1960's, Baraka traces the influence of what he calls "negro music" on white America -- not only in the context of music and pop culture but also in terms of the values and perspectives passed on through the music. In tracing the music, he brilliantly illuminates the influence of African Americans on American culture and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 134.62 x 208.28 x 22.86mm | 340.19g
  • HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 068818474X
  • 9780688184742
  • 84,599

Review quote

""Blues People "is not only a fresh, incisively instructive reinterpretation of Negro music in America, but it is also curcially relevant to Negro-White relationships today."--Nat Hentoff""Blues People "is American musical history; it is also American cultural, economic, and even emotional history. It traces not only the development of the Negro music which affected white America, but also the Negro values which affected white America."--"Library Journal"show more

Review Text

This is as much a tracing and interpretation of the Negro experience in America as it is a history of Negro music as it has developed and ranged from that experience. LeRoi Jones describes and defines the music that Negroes have produced or ??evolved from the time they came, Africans to America, as captives, through the period when they became Americans, taking on the values of the predominant cultures, thinking of themselves in relation to it rather than to the past of another continent's life, to the increasing identification with the American middle class, and - in the sixties - a growing alienation from the vapidity of main stream American culture, which has its stark overtones. Thus the author raises hard questions and gives hard answers as he traces the route Negro music has taken from pre-Emancipation functional songs on to the "primitive" blues, ("the beginning of blues (was) one beginning of the American Negroes"), ironic blackface minstrelsy, classic blues, boogie woogie, swing, bebop, jazz "cool" to "third stream". He sees a continuous re-emergence of strong Negro influences to revitalize American popular music, "a deliberately changing, constantly self-refining folk expression" that has extended its influence until it affects the total popular-art American experience. The actual music itself is analyzed in this light. An interesting if at times diffusely presented thesis with musicological and social pertinence. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

1,509 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 41% (614)
4 36% (537)
3 18% (279)
2 4% (57)
1 1% (22)
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