Essay PreviewMore ↓
What is jazz music? A single definition cannot be found. Many writers have attempted to define jazz music only to regress to trying to define what it does. Even this approach is difficult. Writers have only been able to find broad areas to agree up, such as agreeing that jazz is music. But alas, even this is a shortcoming in the eyes of some. Jazz has been so many things throughout it long and illustrious history that it's even hard to point out its origins, which stem from many places, many styles of music, and many people. However there is an ongoing debate as to its precise origins. It is known to have evolved out of New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century and from there spread to the north and Midwest. Based in blues and ragtime, jazz was seen to have geographical "hot spots" throughout the country; New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and Kansas City. Each "hot spot" has its own history containing significant events and people that helped shape the musical style of that culture center. Kansas City is no exception. There are innumerable persons that helped make Kansas City jazz what it has become.
Jazz emerged in a time that one might think that something new, such as the jazz movement, would not succeed. Jazz began to gain notoriety in the midst of The Great Depression. Kansas City's ability to sustain throughout such a horrible time can only be accredited to one thing; the administration of Thomas J. Pendergast, "boss" of Kansas City (and much of Missouri) from 1911 until his arrest for tax evasion in 1938. His methods, however, where not of the most reputable morals. Pendergast openly tolerated a "wide-open town" in Kansas City in exchange for political and financial benefits. Pendergast's tolerance of such laws as Prohibition were so extreme that from the year 1920 to 1933 there was not a single felony conviction for violation of that law. This is seen as more unusual when one realizes that there were over 300 bars in the city that employed live musical entertainment (Pearson, Political 181).
Pendergast and his followers were not avid supporters of black music, in fact, "he scarcely listened to music at all. Throughout his life he made it a rule to be in bed no later than nine o'clock, an hour at which musical happenings in the nightclubs of Kansas City were barely getting started (Russel 6).
How to Cite this Page
"Kansas City Jazz: Influential Persons." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Sep 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Jazz Age For many years, African Americans were a part of the American culture. African Americans were not free until the end of the Civil war. The abolishment of slavery was settled in the United States after the north won the war. Therefore, African Americans dispersed all over the United States; however, many of them dispersed to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Jazz is American music developed from ragtime and blues, created by rhythms and ensembles; followed by African traditions. Jazz not only gave its name to an era, but also it was a unifying social force and a powerful movement in the cultural identity of blacks and whites.... [tags: Jazz, African American, New York City]
1404 words (4 pages)
- Jazz is consider one of the most influential types of music an America History. Some of the greatest artist in the world have contribute to the success jazz have had not only on America History but throughout the world. This paper will explain the history of jazz, where it all came from and the effect it has had on the America Culture. Meltingpot.fortuecity.com states the in the 1930’s and 1940’s jazz was at it all time highest. Although it is unclear when jazz first started some believe jazz started in New Orleans.... [tags: Jazz, music, USA, ]
843 words (2.4 pages)
- The event I attended was “An Evening of Jazz” concert held at the Fine Arts Hall on November 17 at 7:30 p.m. The performing groups were The Santa Fe Rhythm and Blues Review, The Santa Fe Jazz Combo, and Santa Fe Big Band. The event was to for me to understand, experience Jazz music and know the instruments used. Jazz is referred as “America’s classical music,” and is one of North America’s and most celebrated genres. The history of Jazz can be traced back to the early era of the 20th century of the U.S.... [tags: Jazz, Blues, Music, Musical notation]
777 words (2.2 pages)
- To understand the genesis of Jazz one must also understand the setting of its origin, New Orleans. The city was founded by the French in 1718, then in 1763 the city ceded to Spain and remained under Spanish control until later being returned to the French in 1803, and then was immediately sold to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase. New Orleans was also heavily populated by African slaves making up 30% of the total population of the city at this time; so New Orleans was experiencing a lot of cultural diversity and was being shaped and molded by the many different fashions of people who lived in the city.... [tags: Jazz, Blues, Music, African American]
1811 words (5.2 pages)
- Throughout my lifetime I’ve been exposed to many different styles of music. One of the most emotionally connected music styles I’ve encountered would definitely be instrumental jazz. When I was younger I mostly listened to blues and smooth jazz, but more recently I’ve been attracted to faster tracks and harder beats like those you hear in the Swing era of the 1920’s. On Tuesday, October 27th I attended the performance of the jazz band: Sylvan Street, as a part of the University of Miami’s music festival (Festival Miami).... [tags: Jazz, Music, Jazz fusion, Smooth jazz]
1274 words (3.6 pages)
- ... She was supported by the Federated Women’s Institute and National Council of Women. Also, over 500 000 people wrote letters and signed petitions to support Murphy being appointed as a senator (Alberta Online Encyclopedia, 2004). However, Robert Borden, the Prime Minister during that time, refused to appoint Murphy into the Senate as women weren’t “persons”. Two other prime ministers, Meighen and Mackenzie both promised to make changes to the British North American Act to include women as persons, but both failed to do so.... [tags: women, persons, senate, rights]
796 words (2.3 pages)
- In her sixth novel Jazz, Toni Morrison "makes use of an unusual storytelling device: an unnamed, intrusive, and unreliable narrator" ("Toni Morrison" 13). From the onset of the novel, many readers question the reliability of the narrator due to the fact that this "person" seems to know too many intimate personal details, inner thoughts, and the history of so many characters. Although as readers we understand an omniscient narrator to be someone intimately close with the character(s), the narrator of Jazz is intrusive, moving in and out of far too many of the characters' lives to be reliable. No one person could possibly know and give as much information as this narrator does. ... [tags: Toni Morrison, Jazz Essays]
2133 words (6.1 pages)
- Deceptive First Impressions in Morrison's Jazz The novel Jazz by Toni Morrison is an extremely well written account of black life during the mid 1850's to the late 1920's. Morrison manipulates the three main character's personas while analyzing their lives to show the effect that a person's history has on their present day life. The most interesting thing I found concerning this novel has the way in which Toni Morrison was able to present you with a first impression of the characters, then proceed through history, to give you a new conception of their character.... [tags: Toni Morrison Jazz Essays]
1758 words (5 pages)
- Jazz and It's History Jazz started when World War I had just ended and a social revolution was on it's way. Customs and values of previous were rejected. Life was to be lived to the fullest. This was also known as the era of the "lost generations," and the "flapper" with her rolled stockings, short skirts, and straight up-and-down look. They disturbed their elders in the casino, night clubs, and speakeasies that replaced the ballrooms of prewar days. Dancing became more informal - close of the nineteenth century in the unpleasant dance halls and whorehouses of the South and Midwest where the word Jazz commonly meant sexual intercourse.... [tags: Music Art Jazz History]
1259 words (3.6 pages)
- The rapid development of jazz in both the United States and Europe generated a number of diverse musical expressions, including musics that most listeners today would not recognize as “jazz” music. In order to remedy this situation, jazz musicians and critics after 1930 began to codify what “real” jazz encompassed, and more importantly, what “real” jazz did not encompass. This construction of authenticity, often demarcated along racial lines, served to relegate several artists and styles (those outside a “mainstream” to the margins of historiography.... [tags: American Culture, Music]
788 words (2.3 pages)
Kansas City was a center of commerce that brought in many starry-eyed American men to the "heavenly place." "When a cattleman sold his beef, he did so at the Kansas City fattening pens and slaughterhouses lying between the older and poorer sections of the city and the Missouri River". In the same sense, raisers of hogs and sheep, growers of wheat and barley, and many other items made their way to the alluring Kansas City market and night life. The lure of the good food, good beer and liquor, dancing, exciting women, and dice rolling, all accompanied by the sauce of lively music was irresistible to many men (Russel 4).
Since jazz emerged during the "Roaring Twenties" and it was not out of the ordinary for it to be associated with gangsters and their kind. "There was no Depression for the gangsters," says pianist Sammy Price, who was there during the heart of the era. Due to the wide-open town the gangsters did well and therefore, because of their lavish lifestyles and the lurid nightlife that they indulged in, the jazz bands of the day didn't lack for employment. This influence spread as far as Texas Negro dance bands (Stearns 187).
There were a few influential people in Kansas City that stood out above the rest of the countless musicians to have graced the stage with their gifts. One such person was Bennie Moten. There was no jazz in Kansas City at the end of World War I and this was the time that Moten started his first trio Called the BB&D trio named after its principle members; Bennie Moten, Bailey Handcock, and Duke Lankford. After abandoning the trio Moten had the idea that, "instead of staking his career in ragtime piano, which he played fairly well, he wanted to try to project ragtime style by means of other instruments." Moten became the leader of a band named The Blue Devils who, in 1921, opened at the Panama Club, in the Afro-American district of Kansas City, one of the first cabarets in the area (Russel 88-89). They began as a six piece playing adapted versions of piano ragtime (Russel 15). In September 1923, The Blue Devils, along with blues singers Ada Brown and Mary H. Bradford became one of the first local bands to record an album. However, the band's true influence did not come about until after Moten died and the band was taken over by the piano player, William Basie (Ostransky 195).
William "Count" Basie, born in Red Bank, New Jersey, literally learned the piano at the feet of Fats Waller, was stranded in Kansas City in the late twenties, where in 1928 he joined Walter Page's Blue Devils, later led by Bennie Moten, in Oklahoma. "Aside from his considerable keyboard skill Basie was blessed with good organizational instincts, an even temper, and an uncanny rhythmic sense." After Moten's death in 1935, Basie and a group of several members of The Blue Devils began to play together and formed the best renown and longest lasting big band to emerge from Kansas City. Instead of continuing with Moten's big band and the "flabbiness" that Basie thought was inescapable with a band of that size he focused on having tighter group by having fewer performers and having them all be stars (Pearson, Goin' 135-136). After hearing Basie's nine-piece Reno Club band on the radio, "record producer John Hammond was drawn to Kansas City and engineered the enlargement of Basie's band to full big-band scale and booked them on tour leading to New York (Pearson, Goin' 135)."
One cannot list influential jazzmen of Kansas City and go without saying the name Charlie Parker. Parker did not have a background in jazz to shape him and had not heard much of any of the early jazz greats. Parker had incredible technique and improvisational ability that seemed rootless and partly unexplainable (Ostransky 268). Parker is also remembered as possibly the most tragic figure to come out of the Kansas City jazz scene. After only picking up the saxophone at age 11 and finishing school at age 15, Parker tried to jam his way into the jazz world by gigging the city all around and playing with anyone and everyone that would let him ("Charlie Parker").
"He could play something and make is sound just pretty. He knew what to do; he would pick the right notes. But when he first started playing, nobody wanted to hear him. They did not understand what he was doing." (Pearson, Goin' 205)
Having not had great luck with this approach, Parker found solace in heroin that some less upstanding individuals taught him how to use (Ostransky 269). Charlie Parker was pawning off his instrument nearly every day to get enough money to pay for his heroin addiction. John Tumino would have to get the money, get his horn back, and put him to work the next night with the promise that he would not pawn it the next day (Pearson, Goin' 208). Charlie Parker was the saddest character to come out of the early jazz scene.
Though the jazz scene greatly declined rapidly in the late 1830s, the nightclubs that used to overflow with the jazzmen of the age continued to be active through the 1960s. Though there are multiple factors that can be pointed out as the death of the jazz age in Kansas City (i.e. early closing hours of 1 a.m. in the forties), racial conflict stands out above the rest, due to the fact that the black downtown was the center of the jazz scene. Kansas City would not have been the same if it had not been for it being the commercial center it was for buying, selling, and trading of cattle, wheat, barley, and other items from the plains that brought the cattlemen and farmers to the nightlife of the city. In the same way, if it had not been for people such as Bennie Moten and Count Basie for their orchestras, Charlie Parker and his innovative techniques, and Thomas J. Pendergast and his tolerance for a wide-open town, the jazz scene in Kansas City would not have existed at all. It is to these occurrences, these people and countless more, and innumerable more influences on the music scene that it is owed gratitude that jazz has become what it is and that it has survived so long.
"Charlie Parker." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Mar 2006, 21:37 UTC. 27 Mar 2006, 09:20 .
"Count Basie." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16 Mar 2006, 19:34 UTC. 27 Mar 2006, 09:36 .
Fleming, Beverly. "Black History." Presevation Issues, Vol. 2. No. 1. (1995)
Merriam, Allan P. "A Short Bibliography of Jazz." Notes, 2nd Ser., Vol. 10, No. 2. (Mar., 1953): pp. 202-210.
Ostransky, Leroy. The Anatomy of Jazz. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1960.
Pearson, Nathan W. Goin' to Kansas City. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987.
Pearson, Nathan W. "Political and Musical Forces that Influenced the development of Kansas City Jazz." Black Music Research Journal. (1989): pp. 181-192.
Russel, Ross. Jazz Style in Kansas City and the Southwest. Berkely and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1971.
Stearns, Marshall W. The Story of Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956.
"Tom Pendergast." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Mar 2006, 20:14 UTC. 27 Mar 2006, 09:21 .