Chicago Jazz

Chicago Jazz : A Cultural History, 1904-1930

4.06 (15 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$25.00

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


This is a study of how Chicago became the major centre of jazz in the 1920s - one of the most vital periods in the history of the music. By exploring the social and racial background of Chicago, Kenney is able to present compelling evidence of why Chicago became such a crucial place for the development of jazz. Kenney knows jazz, but as a historian he can put it into a wider social context. This book should be of great interest to anyone fascinated with jazz more

Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 154.94 x 238.76 x 22.86mm | 635.03g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195064534
  • 9780195064537

About W. Howland Kenney

About the Author William Howland Kenney is a jazz clarinetist and Associate Professor of History and American Studies at Kent State University. He is the coeditor with Scott Deveaux of The Music of James more

Review Text

Cultural history of early Chicago jazz, less anecdotal than social, told in an impersonal voice that distances the reader from the music but strives to dig beneath an "isolated world of instrumental mastery, chord progressions, and orchestral formations and disintegrations." A rousing history of Chicago jazz that buries its nose in the fumes and funk of the cafes and dance halls, in other words, is not what one gets here - or, rather, is what one gets only when Kenney (American Studies/Kent State) quotes leading figures in their own voices. Instead of that, though, the author gives us mainly a richly researched overview of the social forces that brought about and then supported Chicago jazz. A huge prewar and postwar emigration of blacks from the South to the greater freedoms of Chicago created a market for the music they brought with them. The story becomes a survey of South Side theaters, black newspapers, and cafes, cabarets, and dance halls with ever-changing names, the most famous being the Dreamland, the Royal Garden, and the Sunset Cafe. With the more commercialized and technically more arranged new hands, recording companies sprang up: Kenney scans the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and Bix Beiderbecke's Wolverines on Gennett Records, Coon Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra on Victor, Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens on Okeh and Columbia, and so on through dozens of lesser bands. In 1927, Armstrong broke the color barrier in the Loop by leading a band at the Blackhawk Restaurant, though at that time black jazz-players were still fighting to get into the musicians' union. Kenney follows the evolution of black South Side jazz through the influx of the tough but joyous freedom of white jazz into the early 30's and the "syncopated threnody" he terms the end of Chicago's jazz age. A worthy bringing-back of Chicago's Roaring Twenties, with the jazz history layered like beds of coal beneath the phonograph recordings. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

15 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 33% (5)
4 40% (6)
3 27% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X