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The evolution of jazz is. A survey of American art form from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan. The evolution of jazz is a tape recorded feature presented under the auspices of Northeastern University by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council. Nat Hentoff associate editor of Downbeat Magazine discusses the growth of jazz from its roots in Europe and Africa. And considers the musical as well as the sociological forces that shaped it. Mr Hentoff last week we began to examine some of the earliest examples of pre-Civil War Afro American folk music in the south tracing with caution some of the surviving elements of African music contained in them. We covered the field calls and hollers and some of the children's ring
games and songs. Here is another children's song recorded for the Library of Congress in the south. And note again the rhythmic nature of these song gains. The offbeat melodic accents the overlapping in places call and response patterns. If there are. There are. A. Great amount. Of bearing. With the way. You do it. If. I wanted. To get. Rid of. That and then. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I want that out. There. I'm a. Fan of. Mine. For the. Fear.
That. I would have found. Out. That. I'm a. Family affair. There for the. Report. Tomorrow. The mile. For mile. Marker. On the phone. And. Another song from the south another kind of song is this recorded by John and Ruby Lomax in Livingston Alabama sung by Harriet McClintock. On Harriet McClintock is now well over 80 years old. She was born a slave on an Alabama plantation. And on this record she sings some songs that she sang as a young girl on the plantation. All three undoubtedly date from the period of the Civil War and earlier on Harriet said that this one poor little Johnny was sung as a cotton picking song Little Johnny is picking in the wet river
bottom field where the cotton has been rotted by exposure to damp. Therefore he won't be able to pick a hundred pounds of cotton in a day. One hundred and fifty to one hundred and seventy pounds a day is considered good picking for a strong woman. Two hundred up to five hundred for a man. Oh no. Good God. You're real. Proud. Oh are you. Good God the world of the arts. Yeah. Why did that I want to do to try to get this off my mama life get me out all of those I
don't know talking about yet but I did. Did you have a prick in a cotton mill yard stuff I want to duplicate the. Thing about hard in the neck and how to kind of. Here's another song sung by Harriet McClinton a Lullaby lullaby is quieted. Rest those babies throughout the whole cell for at least a hundred years and probably more. Writes Alan Lomax. Where other lullabies are generally localized. This one pops up everywhere. Let's go to sleep. And in innumerable forms on hand his version is not particularly full but her rendition of it taken as she rocked her own great grandchild asleep in front of the microphone is completely authentic. Oh. Thank you. Her outfit for you go for a very little brain. You do not go away again. I don't. Know. Who grew up dude who. Grew out after you.
Grew out of three. Here's another. Recorded in Alabama another example of how even the lullabies are syncopated and sung with non European intonation. One final children song this is another version of the Sally Walker we played last week
Sally Walker in its original form was an old English place on. This is what happened when it became Afro-American for. Was. What. Was. It. Also traceable possibly to West African beginnings.
I keep infusing this note of caution because of the fact that as aforementioned really not enough research has been done to make any of these linkages more than speculative. I include them because on the basis of what I've read and heard I think that they do exist. And then it is also possibly traceable to West African beginnings or the animal stories that used to be told to the Negro children remarkably similar animal tales by the way can be found in collections of African folklore. Listen in this tale told by rich Emerson at Livingston Alabama. To the really musical nature of the speech the rhythm the constant changing of pitch and Tambor of the voice. How to get that cold and I would have rather you know that have made a plot I was out of Haiti. I'll give that in a chill laid back and watch it come down to talk with you the moment I came to talk with Libby.
He would rather we give a big you know we hear you but when you go have you had more who are going to say you know this rainbow or ghost thing be to take a little gamble with a cool guy who will take a guy Yelp now and it's part of going to stain the wood part of heathy father and mother boarded to look really hard today but her yeah yeah yeah. ALL OF YOU SAVE YOU CAN GET ME TO DO A bird all of yours will be all new it will be all my good day is then used to park I'm gonna be peaceful. Mr. Coon gonna ruin straight out then back and forth to the center to far gone around and around and with the alligator say I want to be in there and see if we're going to fit convenient for your sleeve is always going to be a low handed Bradby stroll pray don't go troll routine hiding out in the old time is if you want to fix you in a ring now leave table yell again you say WE WILL WE WILL WE WILL
quad it was very close to the preacher you just talked at instead. Me going with Dan would kill you on the radical day of my you know turn don't post almost if you give your mind a dame is a myth the part I'm going to follow petion over rock you know he rang and said Mr. Coon going to ruin and I would doll Kabaka Howard out I would put him in with them boys going to be of over and at the y d 30 going cap of my state going to rock n walkin top floor of the dead he held his music is a listen if you don't have a grandstand all alone will come out of the water mist I would you don't love me you'll just head around will give you print I will young lady Neil the thing is a year I'll give say I'm calling out in our little gang on call at the water just roll around and the rabbit got the dancin and stayed another thing we're going to have from you is feed me sanity. There you go before on foot and don't work 12 alone lay.
They did come I don't get it when I holler out one of you the heart of whom you say you look around clone you go must be the Dover trial and we got the damned booze that we rattled on TV an alligator got people coming if he'd known that one of them rabbits you die around and killed a man. The thought of what must all feel upon a ring all around able thing and how do you to find out your boys that disappeared out of more often gone into and out of wild and argued a hollow box but a revel hollow own love in the heart of follow Revel how all of those were troubled taking plea that Baba Rabbit says oh I didn't run and run round the uncertified your rabbit hole of double trouble.
This most of the guard dog in the farm about to get to about a gate after a fall guy pulls the rabbit gone through is today all booked out of use the human need of my young as a die your double trouble. Good by you the fun you can get him out of you is bone popping in that and I've read big bundle plenty of one of the revenue to fool with for that bent double trouble. Now out of the spirituals and ring shots. So far our examination of pre-Civil War Afro-American music has been concerned with secular songs. First the social background for the religious African music. The plantation owners generally look with favor upon the growing Christianisation of the slaves. Some because of religious principles either because of a feeling that the slaves would be less likely to revolt if more of their energies and hopes were focused on a celebration of their new religion. In connection with this it's also pregnant that the religion emphasize the joys
of the world to come. And in describing this world as a stopping place. It is a place where afflictions have to be endured as a preparation for the better life after death. The religion would tend to diminish the ideology of revolt among the slaves. But there was another aspect to the way the negroes adapted Christianity to their own needs. And here again I turn to Ernest Borneman Christianity since it included much of Jewish lore was in any ology of protest against centuries of political and economic oppression. Palestine was under almost constant domination from bellicose neighbors each one of whom suppressed the mosaic religion and carried its believers into slavery. The negro saw their own fate reflected in these chronicles of faith and patience in exile. And as the slaves of Roma turned to Judaism and Christianity so the slaves of America now turned to Christianity. But in the process of assimilating Christianity the Africans infused it with memories and ceremonial ism of their homelands at least in the very beginning. That's the Domi River of God. Ceremony may have been incorporated into baptism. Spirit possession became possession by the
Holy Ghost. The gods of West Africa became fused with the Trinity and the college of saints. The bad spirits merged with Lucifer and the snake gods of West Africa survived in the snake of Eden and the beasts of the apocalypse. This again is so far at least mostly conjecture. As James Weldon Johnson the late poet and essayist explained it at the psychic moment there was at hand the precise religion for the condition in which the Negro found himself thrust far from his native land and customs despised by those among whom he lived experiencing the pang of the separation of loved ones on the auction block. Knowing the hard taskmaster of feeling the lash the negro seized Christianity the religion of compensations and the life to come for the ills suffered in the present existence. The religion which implied the hope that in the next world there would be a reversal of conditions of rich and poor a man of proud and meek of master and slave. The result was a body of songs voicing all the cardinal virtues of Christianity patience forbearance Love
Faith and Hope. Also important was the sustaining influence that the story of the trials and tribulations of the Jews as related in the Old Testament exerted upon the negro. The stories seize the imagination of the negroes as they sang the hope that just as God delivered Israel out of bondage in Egypt. So he would the negro. We.
Have. No money and you got. To go to you know me don't you.
Then to return to Boardman as the negro's infuse their master's religion with meanings of their
own so they infuse their masters religious music with African structural alterations. The Anglican hymnal Wesleyan sources. John Backus Dykes all furnish the raw material for a new ecclesiastical music which preserved little more than a few bars of tune a basic pattern of harmony and a vague similarity of wording. Again the negro had adapted to the European tradition and also had adapted elements of the European tradition to his own African patterns as a musicologist still phrased it. These were not imitations nor were they African songs influenced by the white man but rather songs made by the Negro in European style trends fused with African isms have the negro slaves been taken to China instead of to America they would have developed folk songs in Chinese style. This facility for adaptation is by no means a sign of inferiority only a race so highly gifted for music could do this. That is gifted by means of cultural tradition.
Again an emphasis on the fact that music and other cultural attributes are not handed down biologically it's a matter of habit and tradition patterns they create of the original nature of the Negro spiritual and other religious songs has at times been obscured by the fact that most Americans are familiar with the spiritual as sung let's say by Marian Anderson or a university choir one of the radio gospel quartets. This kind of spiritual singing is actually far removed from the original Negro spiritual. It has been polished and refined and completely Europeanized almost completely Europeanized for a wide audience so that when Marian Anderson sings the spiritual She is more accurately singing an art song instead of a rhythmically functional spiritual with its offbeat rhythms and irregular intonation. But someone like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Ray Knight has commercialized as even they might sing.
You. Know. You're. There. Yes. In the.
Heat. Can we. Eat you. Yes. I only was there. As an approximation of what spiritual singing in the Southern churches of a
century ago may have sounded like. Here is a recording made by the Rev. Kelsey in the congregation of Temple Church of God and Christ Washington DC. The trombone was hardly likely to be present a century ago but its presence here brings all the closer the relationship between these spirituals and later jazz. But. Yeah but yeah but. You know no. Thank you. To. Us. Yeah I am. Yeah but.
Yeah but yeah the book yeah but. The bowl with the beer.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Southern African-American Influence, Part One
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, explores the impact of Southern African-American folk music from the 19th and early 20th century upon jazz music.
Series Description
Jazz historian Nat Hentoff presents a series that traces the history of jazz, from its musical and cultural roots to its contemporary forms. "The Evolution of Jazz" was originally broadcast from WGBH in 1953-1954, and was re-broadcast by the National Educational Radio Network in 1964.
Broadcast Date
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African Americans--Music--20th century--History and criticism.
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:55
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 3; Southern African-American Influence, Part One,” 1953-11-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 26, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 3; Southern African-American Influence, Part One.” 1953-11-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 26, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 3; Southern African-American Influence, Part One. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from