Hot Best Seller

Blues People: Negro Music in White America PDF, ePub eBook

4.6 out of 5
30 review

Blues People: Negro Music in White America

Availability: Ready to download

File Name: Blues People: Negro Music in White America .pdf

How it works:

1. Register a free 1 month Trial Account.

2. Download as many books as you like (Personal use)

3. Cancel the membership at any time if not satisfied.


Blues People: Negro Music in White America PDF, ePub eBook "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 "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 history.

30 review for Blues People: Negro Music in White America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Reese

    After learning that Amiri Baraka had passed away (October 7, 1934 - January 9, 2014), I wanted to commemorate him by reading some of his work. Blues People was a book he published in 1963 back when he was still LeRoi Jones and African Americans were called Negroes. I didn’t purchase the book until sometime in the 1990s---at least 30 years after its initial publication. The book was too deep for me and I set it aside for another 20+ years. It’s still pretty deep but I wanted to wrap my mind aroun After learning that Amiri Baraka had passed away (October 7, 1934 - January 9, 2014), I wanted to commemorate him by reading some of his work. Blues People was a book he published in 1963 back when he was still LeRoi Jones and African Americans were called Negroes. I didn’t purchase the book until sometime in the 1990s---at least 30 years after its initial publication. The book was too deep for me and I set it aside for another 20+ years. It’s still pretty deep but I wanted to wrap my mind around this dense, yet, succinct text that traces how the blues developed NOT with enslaved Africans but from their enslaved descendants: American born and bred; disenfranchised, not accepted as full citizens with inalienable rights. Their earliest experiences, work songs, field hollers and spirituals incubated and invented the musical genres known as “blues” and “jazz.” When I was younger I remember people saying that black people had a natural talent for music and dancing and being emotionally “soulful” and sexually uninhibited. It was a dismissive shortcut that denied historical layers of injustice experienced by blacks in white america, while diminishing a people’s creative and intellectual power and cultural gifts. LeRoi Jones’ book restores some of the humanity and dignity absent from those old assumptions. While I found this text challenging to read, it was also illuminating, and shrewd; written by someone with a deep love and long memory for music, black people, and other folks. I tried to imagine how fresh and bracing it might have been to read it in 1963.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    While I have major reservations about a lot of Amiri Baraka's ideas and statements as expressed in his poetry and elsewhere, I have to acknowledge that Blues People is mostly excellent. It's not really a musical history of the jazz/blues, so anyone looking for lots of discussion of musical theory and the compositional development of those styles will probably need to look elsewhere. What it is, is a social history of how black music both responded to and developed in relation to black culture an While I have major reservations about a lot of Amiri Baraka's ideas and statements as expressed in his poetry and elsewhere, I have to acknowledge that Blues People is mostly excellent. It's not really a musical history of the jazz/blues, so anyone looking for lots of discussion of musical theory and the compositional development of those styles will probably need to look elsewhere. What it is, is a social history of how black music both responded to and developed in relation to black culture and black self-perception from a time of bondage into an era where there was a nascent black middle class. Baraka's perspective is necessarily insular and dated, he's not interested in ideas of cross cultural assimilation/appropriation or multicultural influences (which to be honest, are concepts that didn't really fully develop in these kinds of analysis until decades after this was written). He is only interested in black people as they relate to themselves and as their music relates to them. Of course it's more or less common knowledge now that rock and roll and by extension almost all popular music in America is traced right back to the blues and the R&B that came out of it, but this is one of the books that took the trouble to really exhaustively point out that connection and to trace back its genealogy. Beyond this, Baraka points out one of the most salient points of cultural musical analysis: a form or style is invented, disseminated, popularized, then at some point people get sick of it and change it into something new. That's a HUGE, brilliant observation. And with regards to popular music, its not a huge over-generalization to say that the people who are usually responsible for those transformations are almost always black. The ascendency of hip-hop/rap only bears that point out further. Someone really needs to write a version of Blues People for Hip-hop specifically and the musical sources and world it comes out of. To be honest, the excellence of Blues People's analysis just makes Amiri Baraka seem even more problematic to me. How could someone capable of such a brilliant, thoughtful examination not be able to see the vulgarity of his own prejudices? Baraka's bigotry wasn't just some fluke of ignorance or youth, he made it an unapologetic part of his creative aesthetic (thankfully, not in this work) over decades. This is an essential work by a deeply flawed person.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Strode

    "This book should be taken as a strictly theoretical endeavor. Theoretical, in that none of the questions it poses can be said to have been answered definitively or for all time, etc. In fact, the book proposes more questions than it will answer." ~ Amiri Baraka from the Introduction to "Blues People" There are some moments when I find myself reading a subject of historical analysis that I am filled with a desire to ask the author if they would provide a multimedia study guide to follow along wit "This book should be taken as a strictly theoretical endeavor. Theoretical, in that none of the questions it poses can be said to have been answered definitively or for all time, etc. In fact, the book proposes more questions than it will answer." ~ Amiri Baraka from the Introduction to "Blues People" There are some moments when I find myself reading a subject of historical analysis that I am filled with a desire to ask the author if they would provide a multimedia study guide to follow along with the text itself. One has the work citations and the bibliography, but what I am considering is a chapter matched outline of books, films, and albums that one should study in order to garner an even deeper understanding of the material that is being discussed within that chapter. Baraka's writing in this text has the flow of a great uncle who finds it particularly irresistible to not dispense forth a stream of history when he has access to even a single listening ear. At certain times, it has the language of a diatribe as Baraka decries the varying periods of blues and jazz innovation which inevitably lead to mainstream acceptance and the eventual commercialization which eliminates the emotional nuance of a formerly "negro music". At other times, it reads as a doctoral thesis with Baraka casting forth a jargon heavy exultation of the changes brought by the geniuses of strings, woodwinds, and keys that gave birth to blues and jazz movements in ragtime, dixieland, brass, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, avant garde and other musical forms of that ilk. When you are finished, you won't be an expert on the subject of blues or jazz music, but he does manage to fill you deeply with a sense of ownership and responsibility for holding and transmitting the history. I had an initial criticism of his coverage of "The Modern Scene" at the time of reading because the chapter was so voluminous compared to how neatly Baraka had broken down the other chapters, but I had merely to remind myself that when the book was composed, he was awash in the fresh memory of that modern musical movement whereas I am looking at the work of Coleman, Coltrane, and Rollins with an eye towards the past as one of the new antiquities of music. For lack of a film directly from Baraka himself, I would offer up for analysis the documentary series "Ken Burns' Jazz" though for a different reason than you might think. Ken Burns' perspective on jazz music and the criticism that his documentary received actually serves to highlight one of the issues that Baraka covers in the text. It stands to portray that where initially the newer innovations made in jazz music are derided and given little appreciation, they are in time shelved and then rediscovered to be given their glory in the future. In a sense, the present era keepers of jazz classify certain forms as "anti-jazz" and toss them aside only to have the future keepers of jazz say "Hey. That was genius." It is an exercise described throughout the book that I might classify in accordance with the title as "negro music navel gazing". Only the cool that was cool yesterday is acceptable to the mainstream when initial innovators have already moved on to something new. In that respect, the attention given by Burns to the swing era and more classical Dixieland styles, his lack of attention to more modern and progressive forms is symbolic of this sort of navel gazing in practice. That does not mean that the documentary is without historical merit, but one should always be aware that everyone has an angle and even when they are trying to be objective, they inevitably shine the prism brightest on the corner of the room which they like the best.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Before he became the voice of black nationalist poetry, a young man named Amiri Baraka wrote a book that, while still widely read, deserves to be a primer for understanding the evolution of pop music. Blues, jazz, soul, and funk have all fully entered the white American songbook, and hip-hop, while it's been slow getting there, is on its way. Despite the fact that it was written a full 15 years before a rapper first stepped into the studio, Baraka seems to have anticipated it with his analysis o Before he became the voice of black nationalist poetry, a young man named Amiri Baraka wrote a book that, while still widely read, deserves to be a primer for understanding the evolution of pop music. Blues, jazz, soul, and funk have all fully entered the white American songbook, and hip-hop, while it's been slow getting there, is on its way. Despite the fact that it was written a full 15 years before a rapper first stepped into the studio, Baraka seems to have anticipated it with his analysis of jazz. A music that terrifies white people, wrinkles the foreheads of the black bourgeoisie, and still has a rough, menacing edge, even in an era when you'll hear Q-Tip on NPR. And fuck, everything he says, Baraka's way ahead of his time. Henry Louis Gates employed a lot of the same ideas, African tradition feeding black America's art being subsumed by white America. Baraka used the example of black minstrels in blackface imitating white minstrels imitating black people imitating the white ruling class. At the end of the day, how different was late '90s Outkast? And when Baraka is talking about white performers feeling more comfortable with Bix Beiderbecke or Dave Brubeck due to some kind of intrinsic whiteness, how do we feel when we find that the only hip-hop in some suburban kid's library is Macklemore?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This book was NOT what I expected from reading the reviews. It is not "the definitive source of Blues history"! It is book about African American culture and history with music involved. The author said it best, "a theoretical work". It was his theories on how "Negroes" thought and felt to make them create the music. He uses a lot of excerpts from other peoples work and a lot of "because they felt this way" or "they thought that way" type writing. I am honestly having a hard time understanding m This book was NOT what I expected from reading the reviews. It is not "the definitive source of Blues history"! It is book about African American culture and history with music involved. The author said it best, "a theoretical work". It was his theories on how "Negroes" thought and felt to make them create the music. He uses a lot of excerpts from other peoples work and a lot of "because they felt this way" or "they thought that way" type writing. I am honestly having a hard time understanding most of these reviews. Did they read the same book? I don't even consider this book non fiction since so much is theory, so how can this be a "definitive book of blues history"? I have already read books about "Negro" history in America. I wanted to learn actual facts about the beginnings of the Blues. The reviews said this was.... It wasn't even close. I learned more from reading books about the lives of men like Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter and Blind Willie McTell about TRUE Blues history than anything I read in this book. This is a African American history lesson with a lot of theory and a bit of music. Want a book that will teach you actual historical facts about the Blues? Look elsewhere. I am a huge fan of ONLY pre 1940 Blues..... I was very disappointed in this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    Leroi Jones (a.k.a. Amiri Baraka) wrote his book "Blues People: Negro Music in White America" in 1963, and it is still one of the definitive texts about the blues. Jones approaches this musical genre from a sociological, historical, and political standpoint, starting with the early slave trade in America. He looks at the many African influences of the blues, as well as its opposition to more classical Western (as in Western Civilization) styles of music, and how it has evolved. Jones focuses mos Leroi Jones (a.k.a. Amiri Baraka) wrote his book "Blues People: Negro Music in White America" in 1963, and it is still one of the definitive texts about the blues. Jones approaches this musical genre from a sociological, historical, and political standpoint, starting with the early slave trade in America. He looks at the many African influences of the blues, as well as its opposition to more classical Western (as in Western Civilization) styles of music, and how it has evolved. Jones focuses most of his attention, in later chapters, on the birth of jazz, and how it (as well as country, folk, rock and roll) owe their creation to the blues. I'm not sure, but I think Jones followed up this book with a sequel, which would also be worth reading. My only real complaint with the book is that it focuses more on jazz than the blues, and it only gives a very brief and fleeting description of the many schools of blues: Mississippi Delta, Chicago, country. It also stops at around the time that blues music was taking off into some very interesting and different directions, especially in regards to the late-60s with Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Etta James, etc. Still, this is a must-read for die-hard blues fans.

  7. 5 out of 5

    East Bay J

    Great book! This is to blues and jazz history what Zinn’s People’s History is to U.S. history. It’s an overview, but it covers a lot of ground and there is no nonsense to be found. Blues People is great because it communicates so clearly the evolution of blues and jazz from the fields to the urban centers, from the 1800’s to 1960’s. Baraka’s writing is superb, never too wordy or too sparse. He has a nice economy to his writing, a concision that really speaks to the reader. There was one passage I Great book! This is to blues and jazz history what Zinn’s People’s History is to U.S. history. It’s an overview, but it covers a lot of ground and there is no nonsense to be found. Blues People is great because it communicates so clearly the evolution of blues and jazz from the fields to the urban centers, from the 1800’s to 1960’s. Baraka’s writing is superb, never too wordy or too sparse. He has a nice economy to his writing, a concision that really speaks to the reader. There was one passage I found particularly interesting, a discussion of relative originality among the very early recorded blues singers. “Though certain techniques and verses came to be standardized among blues singers, the singing itself remained arbitrary and personal as the shout. Each man sang a different blues: the Peatie Wheatstraw blues, the Blind Lemon blues, the Blind Willie Johnson blues, etc. The music remained personal because it began with the performers themselves and not with formalized notions of how it was to be performed.” This seems to be a general truth that can be applied to any music when comparing those who did it first with those who came later. That it is a truth, I have no doubt. Another one that stood out: “Rock ‘n’ roll is the blues form of the classes of Americans who lack the “sophistication” to be middle brows, or are too naïve to get in on the mainstream American taste; those who think that somehow Melachrino, Kostelanetz, etc., are too lifeless.” Melachrino (George) and Kostelanetz (Andre) were classical musicians and composers, so it seems like Baraka is saying rock ‘n’ roll is for those who are incapable of appreciating jazz and find little excitement in modern, mainstream orchestral music. I disagree with what he’s saying, though there is truth in it. I think he’s fallen into the same easy trap many jazz heads fall into, considering jazz (or whatever music) superior to rock ‘n’ roll (or whatever other music) because of a perceived complexity or lack of. I agree Charlie Christian was a more technically advanced and skilled player than, say, Johnny Ramone, but let’s face facts; Charlie Christian could no more have played Johnny Ramone’s parts than Johnny Ramone could have played Charlie Christian’s. I have to admit that my ignorance of jazz and jazz players meant some of this book was lost on me. I understood the points Baraka made but it would have communicated more if I was familiar with the recordings he referenced. What was really interesting is, there was no mention of Robert Johnson. I thought this was strange until I gave it some thought. Blue People was first published in 1963, just two years after the Johnson collection King Of The Delta Blues Singers was released. It seems likely Baraka (and probably most people) were more or less unaware of Robert Johnson in 1963. Imagine; a time when Robert Johnson was not immediately understood to be the best and greatest of the bluesmen. Elijah Wald would say, “I told you so.” Blues People is an important read for anyone interested in blues and jazz or in the people who created them.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mlhoganjr

    I picked up the 1963 first edition of Blues People in a used bookstore. Many of the themes running through Baraka's book still feel relevant in the 21st century as we face down renewed crises of racism and a stifling capitalistic focus in our culture. Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) traces the musical ancestry of jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music back to the first slave ships to land in North America. In doing so, he also weaves into the narrative an examination of black Americans' history f I picked up the 1963 first edition of Blues People in a used bookstore. Many of the themes running through Baraka's book still feel relevant in the 21st century as we face down renewed crises of racism and a stifling capitalistic focus in our culture. Amiri Baraka (then Leroi Jones) traces the musical ancestry of jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock music back to the first slave ships to land in North America. In doing so, he also weaves into the narrative an examination of black Americans' history from "day one" as being a history set apart from the cultural, social, and value norms of mainstream American culture. Early in Blues People, Baraka wrote about what distinguished many black slaves in America from their enslaved counterparts throughout history (west Africa, Rome, Greece, Babylon, etc.) was that the black slave in America wasn't even considered human in the ways that whites understood the word. They were thought of as a a piece of property, a sub-species, certainly not "equal" to the white man in any way. As such, they could never blend into society through time and exposure the way Italians or the Irish quickly did. With this mindset, acculturation and assimilation of slaves and ex-slaves into American society was impossible. In turn, that dominant society paradoxically expressed extreme hostility that assimilation did not occur and on the other hand used any manner of coercion to ensure it couldn't happen. Baraka writes: "It is absurd to assume, as has been the tendency, among a great many Western anthropologists and sociologists, that all traces of Africa were erased from the Negro's mind because he learned English." The resulting cultural, social, and value differences, claims Baraka, persist in white and in black communities to this day. Those differences can be seen in the evolution of one of America's greatest artistic contributions to the world: jazz and rock n' roll music. The notion of being a permanent outsider is a theme that runs from Baraka's discussion of early conceptions of black society in America up until the end of the book where he discusses art, artists, and bohemian lifestyles being in direct opposition to America's pervasive money-minded "economic sensibility." Though he was talking about the late 1950s and early 1960s, it's not hard to superimpose the themes and history examined in this book onto the world today.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Blues People is an alternate history of American music. There's times when it deviates so far from the accepted story that it feels like a transmission from another planet. And that's the best thing about it - sometimes there's nothing better than learning that everything you know is wrong. The second best is the vitriol Baraka has for just about every facet of 200 years of popular American culture. In this history, music doesn't reach mainstream ears until it has been corrupted, diluted and str Blues People is an alternate history of American music. There's times when it deviates so far from the accepted story that it feels like a transmission from another planet. And that's the best thing about it - sometimes there's nothing better than learning that everything you know is wrong. The second best is the vitriol Baraka has for just about every facet of 200 years of popular American culture. In this history, music doesn't reach mainstream ears until it has been corrupted, diluted and stripped of meaning. Most of the book is about jazz, rather than blues - although the distinction becomes less clear in his telling. I don't know as much about jazz, but this turned out to be to my benefit. According to Baraka, most of the accepted canon is bullshit anyways. Ragtime is an embarrassment, Swing is a bland and timid adulteration, BeBop is serious music but Hard Bop is a failed experiment. Cool Jazz is boring, middlebrow dinner party music. Chet Baker goes down in a mere two sentences. Dave Brubeck gets more space, but doesn't fare any better. Even Miles Davis gets some side-eye. Like I said, everything you know is wrong. It's fascinating that this book is from 1963 - coming in just before the entire mainstream culture took a hard turn towards the underground, or at least the illusion of it. I get the impression that Amiri Baraka could already see 'The Man Can't Bust Our Music' coming and was trying to throw the first brick back.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sean A.

    A fascinating, thorough, and exhilarating social document of the development of black music in America. A must read, I would say. BONUS: When I was 19 I saw Baraka speak at the University of Missouri. It was such a critical and ecstatic speech that afterwords my buddies and I met him. I literally told him I thought he was a God.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cy

    Simply one of the greatest pieces of musical criticism I have ever read. Steeped in cultural and economic critique, history, and an astounding talent of keen observation into human nature and how it demands that art be created under unimaginable oppression. A must read for anyone interested in music or US history.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Though he sometimes gets weighed down in his own words, the author's style is unique as is his perspective. Definitely recommend for any music educators or blues enthusiasts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Evan Crane

    In his book Blues People, LeRoi Jones claims that this dual nature of bebop music was only possible because of the separation of blacks within American society and the continuity of the authentic expression of the blues. Beginning with the first Africans brought to North America, Jones argues that there has been a division in the black community. This division is between the “blues people” and the assimilationists. Jones defines blues people by quoting Ralph Ellison: “those who accepted and li In his book Blues People, LeRoi Jones claims that this dual nature of bebop music was only possible because of the separation of blacks within American society and the continuity of the authentic expression of the blues. Beginning with the first Africans brought to North America, Jones argues that there has been a division in the black community. This division is between the “blues people” and the assimilationists. Jones defines blues people by quoting Ralph Ellison: “those who accepted and lived close to their folk experience” (176). The assimilationists, in contrast, wanted only to become fully incorporated into mainstream American society and “wanted to erase; then, the early history of the Negro in America” (124). Following emancipation, these assimilationists adopted the mores of white America and began pursuing material wealth. This was the beginning of the African American bourgeois. The blues people were thereby separated from mainstream America by racism and from their fellow African Americans through class stratification and the divergence of cultural values. Jones claims that this separation is clearly evident in the various styles of music that became popular with each group. The blues people listened to all forms of the blues in their everyday life. Primitive blues, classic blues, blues-oriented dance bands, country blues, and urban blues were all simultaneously present within the musical zeitgeist, reproduced through recordings and transmitted through radio forming what Jones refers to as the “blues continuum.” Rhythm and blues extended this continuum and revived the demand for other forms of the blues in the late thirties as blues singers began to shout over loud percussion sections and amplified instruments. Rhythm and blues became popular, but only amongst the black working class. Jones argues that the black middle-class did not listen to the blues because it was a reminder of slavery; an ugly fact that needs to be forgotten in order to assimilate into American culture. Blues is an artifact of a past time when the black bourgeois did not hold a higher socio-economic status over other African Americans. The music of the black middle-class was the music of white America. However, this music was frequently whitewashed caricatures of more authentic African American styles. White bands were the first to record their attempts at emulating of Jazz. Ragtime incorporated rhythmic characteristics from black music. Swing bands took components of Jazz to create a commercialized product that became the popular music of mainstream America. This commodification of the music led to the development of a litany of carbon-copy big-bands that churned out music devoid of artistic merit and cultural relevance. Jones writes that “swing had no meaning for blues people” (181). The music of bebop grew out of the sociological and historical milieu of the 1940s and as a rebellion against this passionless swing music. African Americans fought during World War II in greater numbers than any previous war. Even though there were still segregated troops this participation moved many blacks towards the mainstream of society as they began to identify as American citizens. Concomitantly, African Americans worked for various defense plants earning relatively high salaries allowing them to enter the middle-class. This growth of the middle-class accompanied huge growth in blacks attaining high school education and college diplomas. Leveling forces within American society were increasing the amount of interaction between blacks and whites at schools, movie theaters, sporting events, and on the job. Yet, at the same time African Americans were still treated as subhumans by white America. African Americans had adopted the American dream and had succeeded but were still marginalized through the bigotry of the majority. This bred a discontent and anger that led to bloody riots and to the creation of organizations that lobbied for civil rights. Many African American college graduates accepted that their degree was not worth the same as a white man's and opted to perform Jazz music instead of a “traditional career”. War time stresses made smaller jazz troupes a more economical choice for venues rather than the large swing bands. These smaller bands allowed each musician greater autonomy and personal expression. Young jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker in New York City began innovating and expanding upon the continuous tradition of the blues. They began improvising solos based on harmonic progression instead of variations on the melody, creating complex polyrhythms. These musicians started to view themselves as artists as opposed to mere entertainers. Jones argues that the emergence of bebop “abruptly lifted jazz completely out of the middle-class Negro's life” (199). This new music was more popular amongst young white intellectuals than the black middle-class. These young people were rebelling against the very norms and mores that the black middle-class were so eager to adopt. The critical reception to bebop was similar to the reaction of the black bourgeois and of the majority of white America. The popular music associated with African Americans at this point in time is swing. Swing music and bebop operated within entirely different aesthetics. Swing music was a carefree diversion that emphasized arranged music with very clean sounds. In contrast, bebop was a politically charged and serious-minded music. Emphasis was placed on improvisation and the creation of unique sounds and harmonic colors. The negative reaction of the critics to early bebop could have been predicted. The critics were employing the aesthetic standards of other musical styles to a music that was so innovative that it needed to be evaluated on its own terms. The beboppers did not want to be appreciated by the mainstream critics. They were intentionally making a music that was a counterpoint to the diluted popular styles. This type of artistic integrity can fly in the face of the values of the majority. People started fist-fights in the audience when The Rite of Spring was first performed in Paris. The crucial element that facilitated the incredibly innovative artistic outpouring of many African Americans was the extent of their marginalization within American society. The existence of a separate subculture allowed for the music to develop in a direction that was in stark opposition to the commercialized popular music. Jones argues that there was a cultural lag between the white and black communities so that whites would be influenced by music much after its creation in the black community.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bob Newman

    gone where the Southern cross the yella dog The other day a friend rashly claimed that art and music were equally hard to describe in words. I asked him to tell me about a certain painting of Picasso's. He did, but claimed it wasn't accurate. "OK," I said, "you're right, but now tell me about Mozart's Jupiter Symphony." He opened his mouth, closed it, looked at me, and said, "Yeah, I see what you mean." Writing a book about the blues would be equally hard, it seems to me. So, LeRoi Jones did what gone where the Southern cross the yella dog The other day a friend rashly claimed that art and music were equally hard to describe in words. I asked him to tell me about a certain painting of Picasso's. He did, but claimed it wasn't accurate. "OK," I said, "you're right, but now tell me about Mozart's Jupiter Symphony." He opened his mouth, closed it, looked at me, and said, "Yeah, I see what you mean." Writing a book about the blues would be equally hard, it seems to me. So, LeRoi Jones did what he could, back in 1963, to tie the indescribable to the more concrete. He wrote a social history of African-Americans in the USA through the prism of music or---maybe on the principle of red and yellow tile floors (are they red with yellow designs or yellow with red designs ?)---he wrote a book on African-American music through the prism of social history. It is one of the most important books on American music (and American society) that you can find. It has stood the test of time. He begins from the Africans who came to North America as slaves bearing very different cultures, confronted by an absolutely different view of the world emanating from their new masters. Here he tries to show how African music became transformed into African-AMERICAN music and then American. He continues then up through the generations of slavery, to Emancipation, migration to the cities, World War I, the Depression, World War II and the bebop age of the Fifties. The book is pre-Civil Rights movement, pre-Martin Luther King. Jones may have looked down on the NAACP and its allies as "white liberal supported organizations", I'm not sure, but they don't appear. The times are symbolized by the use of "Negro" throughout. I agree, the tome is dated, but don't reject it, don't pooh-pooh the man. This is a very intelligent, very worthwhile book. Anyone, particularly from outside the USA, who wants to know the history of African-American music within its social environment ought still to read BLUES PEOPLE. He writes, "If Negro music can be seen to be the result of certain attitudes, certain specific ways of thinking about the world (and only ultimately about the ways in which music can be made), then the basic hypothesis of this book is understood." [p.153] Jones goes to great lengths to get to the bottom of those attitudes and thoughts. My main criticism, apart from the fact that history dictates that we must be left over a half century behind contemporary realities, is that though Jones obviously knew and loved the blues and jazz and all the various styles ( if not swing), his approach is coldly academic, highly dispassionate. He may criticize people who tried to make money, he may downplay all those who "abandoned" their roots, but my disappointment is that there is nothing of himself in the work barring a few mentions of his family. He does not share his enthusiasm. Music is beauty after all. I am sure he wanted the book to be taken as a serious essay, which it is. But in keeping himself removed from the discussion, being so analytic and professional in the style of the day, he has robbed us "readers of the future" of many insights. African-American experience in the USA expressed itself most particularly in the blues, only later did that musical mode become part of the general American culture, often watered down, sometimes imitated by those who didn't wish to fit in or who wished to cash in. When conditions have changed, when the black middle class has entered mainstream America, and the urban underclass is wrapped up in hip-hop, gangsta rap culture, which is relentlessly commercialized by the powerful media, talking about the blues may seem a matter for historians or ethnomusicologists. Still, BLUES PEOPLE resonates strongly if we try to understand where we have been. As for where we are going---that old line sums it up---we're goin where the Southern cross the yella dog.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    This is a case of a book being important in its time but whose claims have become outdated. Or so it seems to me. Granted, I come from a knowledge base primarily focused on Brazil, Afro-Brazilian culture, and the African diaspora as experienced there. So the overlap is obviously imperfect, and I am unfamiliar with the debates concerning blues/jazz and the U.S. historical context of their development. Having said that, some of the claims in this book are problematic--Baraka essentializes Africa as This is a case of a book being important in its time but whose claims have become outdated. Or so it seems to me. Granted, I come from a knowledge base primarily focused on Brazil, Afro-Brazilian culture, and the African diaspora as experienced there. So the overlap is obviously imperfect, and I am unfamiliar with the debates concerning blues/jazz and the U.S. historical context of their development. Having said that, some of the claims in this book are problematic--Baraka essentializes Africa as, well, first a cohesive whole with a single cultural and musical tradition. "African" music could mean a lot of things. He treats it as a place with a certain unchanging history and sense of tradition--Africa has been and always will be a place of certain traditions. This ignores the existence of change, innovation, creativity, and individual distinctions in favor of a nostalgic celebration of AFRICA. This book is politically important--pointing out the contributions of African American artists and drawing in the legacy of slavery and ongoing prejudice and discrimination in music-making. But because of its sweeping declarations (which HAVE to be made, which deserve hearing) its political slant takes over its historical rigor. I mean that the point of this book IS political, IS to make broad statements that generate discussion and to serve a larger purpose, rather than to be an esoteric study designed to strip the music under discussion of any life, meaning, or ongoing political significance. He's at his best describing the historical setting. But again, this is an extended, genre-bending essay, so he draws on a lot of inference, sympathy, and supposition to make emotional claims alongside the historical ones. I found the discussion of bebop and jazz, the last chapter on "The Modern Scene" to be more of a music critic's rant about other critics as well as musicians piggybacking on others' work and the loss of meaning apparent in some of their works. At a certain point, whether or not something is "authentic" merely implies a particular set of criteria meaningful to the author, not necessarily something that everyone would agree on or even based in verifiable historical conditions. Same for whether it's "moving." An interesting side note: he claims that the phrase "The Devil is beating his wife" (used to described the meteorological condition when it rains while the sun is out) is of African origin. He says this without a reference, although in the same paragraph he provides a note for a different phrase. My grandmother said this phrase to me in German when I was growing up, so if it has an African origin, it has a WAY more complicated derivation. These are my problems: I want to know more, I want to see the support. Sometimes he leaves a quotation to speak for itself, and I'm not always sure what he expects me to get out of it, to support his argument. His most important claim, to me (the one I got the most out of), was the idea that certain white artists and musicians as well as white audiences identify and identify with the alienation coming out of blues and jazz--they adopt these positions of nonconformity that are forced upon the black population. This is a really important point and suggests all the others: the ideas of appropriation and expression and historical relationships projected into the present. The idea that patronage of a musical form is not devoid of a variety of political positions: as much as those white artists/audiences may want to reject racism and discrimination, they do so from a very different position that black artists/audiences. It's worthwhile to recognize this, to inject power relations into a discussion of music, commercial success, consumerism and all of that.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm

    Blues People is one of the best novels I've read pertaining to the history of Black music. Amiri Baraka does an excellent job giving the reader the prime beginning of information of the birth of Black music and the journey from Africa to the Americas. The influence the African people had on the new world, and how they tried to survive and keep their African roots throughout the struggle of slavery. Baraka talks about how slaves were brought into slavery in terms of purely philosophical correlati Blues People is one of the best novels I've read pertaining to the history of Black music. Amiri Baraka does an excellent job giving the reader the prime beginning of information of the birth of Black music and the journey from Africa to the Americas. The influence the African people had on the new world, and how they tried to survive and keep their African roots throughout the struggle of slavery. Baraka talks about how slaves were brought into slavery in terms of purely philosophical correlatives. How the African man was a man with no soul but to obey and live in a foreign world. I learned that the African slave was very different than the Afro-American slave, the African slave who sang field songs in their dialect of wanting to go back to their land, to be free, to see their home again wanting to be free to escape the foreign land. Compare to the American born African who didn't have the knowledge of what Africa was, but only to know what it’s like being a born slave. They still retained the Africanism because of their elders and oral traditions, but the Afro-American slave had a new way of thinking about freedom. They sang about strength, but not about going back to their home. America was their new home. The book gave information about Christianity. The impact on the slave was very important; it had a big influence on the new African slave. Baraka explained that there wasn’t any more singing about wanting to be free and returning home but about dealing with slavery and preparing for the promise land. i.e Gospel music. The information Amiri Baraka gave was so important to understand how blues and jazz started and importantly how Baptist gospel music derived, singing about their struggle, the pain, hope, death, and love. Black music came from pain; it came from oral traditions and from call and response that was new to the west. It created a story a pattern of some sort. It was new to the white man and was new to the society that had no culture or a unique culture unlike Black people/ African people. So many things that people dance to, or sing along to today have an African influence. But to ignore or ignorantly disregard its origin is a prime example of exploitation of Black music and the impact Black lives has in America, which Baraka explained fairly well in Blues People. To know or identify with the origin of music of today Blues People would be the book to read. It is the sole introduction and history of music, and the music of the people. Baraka explains American history and the emotional history. I would highly recommend this fresh incisively instructive book if you are unfamiliar with American music, and or the origin of Black music. As he would explain this books is the Negro guide in White America.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This is a tough book to get a bead on and I can't say I am moving on with a full understanding of all the arguments. Despite the clarity of writing, some of the points were obscure to me. Thesis:"The Negro as slave is one thing. The Negro as American is quite another. But 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 This is a tough book to get a bead on and I can't say I am moving on with a full understanding of all the arguments. Despite the clarity of writing, some of the points were obscure to me. Thesis:"The Negro as slave is one thing. The Negro as American is quite another. But 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. And it seems to me that 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." Using music as a window into larger social and cultural issues in America...seems ok to me. It is also hard to argue against his other main point here, that the best American music results from the miscegeny of white and black music. However, along the way he throws in some value judgments that are questionable and probably offensive to some people. First off authenticity and legitimacy are not the sole province of one person, group, race etc. But more importantly, they aren't even real. There is no such thing as authenticity or legitimacy, and they are not objectively identifiable factors, especially in music. Given his argument the benefit of the doubt, I choose to read it this way: African American music is a social, emotional and intellectual stance to American society. To the extent the music stays true to this stance, through changed circumstances and musical forms, it remains an emotionally and intellectually engaging music ("legitimate"). To the extent it moves away from this positioning, it begins to reflect the hollowness and vapidity of America's middlebrow. Jones also spends some time discussing how quickly African Americans rejected blues during the great migration to northern cities-it was the mark of Cain and presented a past people were trying to forget as they searched for assimilation. Which I guess answers the question why most people who write about blues are white. Basically a good and challenging book. Although I think he completely underestimates the universality of the blues, mostly because his argument centers on a belief that Jazz was the first universal American music made by African Americans due to the fact that African Americans had become citizens (and not just slaves or freedmen). Also RIP.

  18. 4 out of 5

    bfred

    Amiri Baraka poses a compelling theory about the telling ways that black music has developed in reaction to the unique experiences of African-Americans. He illustrates how traditional European music has been appropriated and transformed by black America by combining it with important aesthetic themes that can be traced back to African culture, and conversely how mainstream white America has repeatedly appropriated black music as a way to reinvigorate its popular music. The general theory here is Amiri Baraka poses a compelling theory about the telling ways that black music has developed in reaction to the unique experiences of African-Americans. He illustrates how traditional European music has been appropriated and transformed by black America by combining it with important aesthetic themes that can be traced back to African culture, and conversely how mainstream white America has repeatedly appropriated black music as a way to reinvigorate its popular music. The general theory here is nothing earth-shattering, but it's worth reading to hear his theories on the specific ways that music developed in reaction to formative experiences like slavery, emancipation, Jim Crow, minstrel show mockery, the great northern migration, and both World Wars. The book portrays itself as some kind of complete history of black music, and in this sense, the book is mostly a failure. Baraka does not do a good job of clearly describing the sounds of various musics, and often glosses over the details in favor of large generalizations. The final section of the book devolves into a long, rambling defense of modern (in 1962, anyway) jazz forms. So much time is spent convincing us that hard bop is the pinnacle of black artistic evolution, that I can't help but think the entire book was an excuse to make this argument. Frankly, this last section undermines all the good bits that come before it. It's also worth noting that rock n' roll and rhythm & blues are basically glossed over in a few paragraphs—this struck me as odd, given the fact that this book was written in the thick of Motown and Elvis's popularity. As vigorously as Mr. Baraka argues that "artistic progress" is a strictly European idea that kept black music in a cultural ghetto for most of its development, it's ironic that he seems to putting modern jazz up on a pedestal while simultaneously dismissing the popularization of R&B music as artistically irrelevant. In the 50 years since this book was written, it's interesting to note the artistic and cultural nose-dive that jazz has taken, compared to the lasting relevance of R&B music. But hey, hindsight is 20/20. There's still plenty of thought-provoking historical analysis in Blues People to more than make up for some of the questionable choices Mr. Baraka made.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maya Man

    This book was assigned for my History of Jazz class I took this semester taught by the pretty legendary trumpet player Bobby Bradford. Bobby always emphasized the way in which music made him feel and how it was difficult to articulate certain aspects of music because it was more of an emotion than the type of thing that could be written out in a textbook. And hearing him tell stories and speak with first-hand knowledge about these influential jazz musicians made me feel the same way about the de This book was assigned for my History of Jazz class I took this semester taught by the pretty legendary trumpet player Bobby Bradford. Bobby always emphasized the way in which music made him feel and how it was difficult to articulate certain aspects of music because it was more of an emotion than the type of thing that could be written out in a textbook. And hearing him tell stories and speak with first-hand knowledge about these influential jazz musicians made me feel the same way about the development of Blues/Jazz music. I always thought such nuance, the experience of being black in 20th century America, combined with the cultural divide between white and black participation in Jazz music was so difficult to actually put into words that did it all justice. But this book does it! It’s amazing. I really enjoyed reading it especially because my reading had been supplemented by listening to these famous musicians songs and the class’s lectures. If anybody is interested in Blues/Jazz music and how it came to be this truly is the book to read. Jones is able to explain how and why this music is so closely tied to the American black experience, how white musicians roles so often fit somewhere between appropriation and misunderstanding, and how each new style of Blues/Jazz music grew out of both the styles before it as well as the current events in America at the time. I’m really glad I read this because I definitely wouldn’t have if it had not been for the class, but I feel like I have such a deeper appreciation and understanding of this music now. Also Jones’ writing actually often made me stop reading to say wow and underline certain sentences that said things I thought nobody could ever have words to explain. Five stars for all that it is.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    you will never be able to think about blues or jazz the same way again after encountering this mind-blower of a book. a MUST for anyone interested in those musical forms; NOT a history of them, tho that is included, but rather a history of "the negro experience in white america and the music that developed from it," which is a COMPLETELY different thing! the emphasis is on that experience and how it expressed itself in the uniquely african-american art form of music, the only art form that someh you will never be able to think about blues or jazz the same way again after encountering this mind-blower of a book. a MUST for anyone interested in those musical forms; NOT a history of them, tho that is included, but rather a history of "the negro experience in white america and the music that developed from it," which is a COMPLETELY different thing! the emphasis is on that experience and how it expressed itself in the uniquely african-american art form of music, the only art form that somehow survived the rigors & horrors of slavery by constantly changing & adapting. viewed in this light, the more common jazz narrative people like me are somewhat familiar with is not quite blown to pieces, but shown to be a pale (pun intended!) reflection of reality. tho at times the barrage of five-dollar words threatens to drag things down, the author's energy, humor & bursts of outrage & disdain keep things lively, & the revelations come fast & furiously: the origin of an african-american social hierarchy post-slavery, the fact that the first jazz bands had the same instrumentation as marching bands of the time subverted to their own purposes, the ugly fact that at every turn the music was watered down & popularized by white america & white artists, and the sobering fact that every real revolutionary development of the music was in response to this deadening popularization and served to return the music to its beginnings as outsider art. written in the early '60s, it makes me hungry to read more of what LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka) thought & felt about all the crazy things that have happened since.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book was part of my reading for an elective core class called Youth Culture, though in practice it quickly become a Music Appreciation class, courtesy of our jazz critic professor. (That's cool, though; discovered lots of cool old films and music.) I decided to read it again after a gap of 10 years and in a more relaxed, reflective headspace than the hectic college environment. My impression is of one of learned, cogently-argued socio-musical history of black (and white) America, antebellum This book was part of my reading for an elective core class called Youth Culture, though in practice it quickly become a Music Appreciation class, courtesy of our jazz critic professor. (That's cool, though; discovered lots of cool old films and music.) I decided to read it again after a gap of 10 years and in a more relaxed, reflective headspace than the hectic college environment. My impression is of one of learned, cogently-argued socio-musical history of black (and white) America, antebellum to the 60s. I'm (much) less interested in the mechanics than the theory of musical (and social) development, but Baraka managed to blend his analysis of all aspects in a fluid and edifying way. He managed to sustain my attention and even pique my interest in chord structures, 2/4 bars, beats, fills, rhythm v. melody, etc. which previously had little meaning for me. But the most powerful takeaway was a deeper appreciation of the intertwined relationship between black and white culture, as exemplified in the synthesis of numerous and powerfully American musical forms, from slave-era field hollers to post-Emancipation blues, from which were descended the various pure (and impure) forms of jazz, as well as the various "dilutions" (popular music for whites) of black music--ragtime, swing, hard bop, etc. I think I'll go get myself a hi-fi record player and scour flea markets for blues and jazz standards...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Lennon

    Although a long time fan of the blues, I had no historical knowledge about its evolution, but instead vague and incomplete perceptions of its roots. This book provided insights about the connections and disconnections that came about as slaves were brought to America and then over 250 years became Negro Americans, Afro Americans, and citizens. Although the book is written pragmatically, the path through the ages taken by Negroes and the music that both sustained and propelled them is still diffic Although a long time fan of the blues, I had no historical knowledge about its evolution, but instead vague and incomplete perceptions of its roots. This book provided insights about the connections and disconnections that came about as slaves were brought to America and then over 250 years became Negro Americans, Afro Americans, and citizens. Although the book is written pragmatically, the path through the ages taken by Negroes and the music that both sustained and propelled them is still difficult to read. There's a sorrow in it that never seemed to lift for this reader although the music has been that ever-present bridge to Jordan. It's a bit of a cumbersome read, pedantic and at times the writing gets tangled up in itself. For musicians, there are interesting insights into the technicalities of Negro music as it grows through the musicianship and experimentation of its players. There are wonderful references to the musical greats and what happened when white and black musicians collaborated. Yes, it was a business in the early days too. As it turns out, Baraka was himself controversial figure in his day who, as poet,academic and activist, was part of many political (some questionable), educational, and artistic circles. He had lots to say on a lot of topics including this brief history.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    The central argument of this book - all American popular music is stolen from blacks by whites - seems reasonable enough. But every time I read this book, the magnitude of the Baraka's argument seems more preposterous. But man, does he argue it well. Baraka is so passionate - angry even - that in my younger days, I was actually afraid to argue against him. But his research is full of holes. When empirical evidence falters, Baraka resorts to - to paraphrase and take great liberty with the text - " The central argument of this book - all American popular music is stolen from blacks by whites - seems reasonable enough. But every time I read this book, the magnitude of the Baraka's argument seems more preposterous. But man, does he argue it well. Baraka is so passionate - angry even - that in my younger days, I was actually afraid to argue against him. But his research is full of holes. When empirical evidence falters, Baraka resorts to - to paraphrase and take great liberty with the text - "it's a black thing" and "you wouldn't understand" (addressing the predominantly white audience which he is presumably writing for). His concepts of rhythm, soul and racial memory intentionally exclude whites, making his evidence of their existence impossible for whites to know. Therefore, Baraka is correct and you'll just have to take his word for it. Blues People and Black Music set a new standard for scholarship, and opened new doors for exploring the ideas of racial essentialim as a positive thing, instead of a negative. When it was written, this was a breakthrough work. No black scholar had dared fly in the face of the establishment like this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    Take it with some grains of salt, and it's a hearty meal. I came looking for a book to inform me about blues (and to a lesser extent, jazz), and boy, did I get it. Starting from the time of slavery and moving all the way through cool jazz, the author covers everything in great historical detail. There's analysis of individual musicians, styles, cultural movements, historical events, migrations, etc. Baraka weaves everything together quite well, whether it is talking about one musician's direct in Take it with some grains of salt, and it's a hearty meal. I came looking for a book to inform me about blues (and to a lesser extent, jazz), and boy, did I get it. Starting from the time of slavery and moving all the way through cool jazz, the author covers everything in great historical detail. There's analysis of individual musicians, styles, cultural movements, historical events, migrations, etc. Baraka weaves everything together quite well, whether it is talking about one musician's direct influence on another, or drawing comparisons to earlier events. If you have never read books on blues, it's hard to beat starting with this one. It is true that the author colors the book with his opinion. In my opinion, this is necessary. I do not read just to be informed; I want to have my ideas challenged, to argue or agree with the author in my head, and find out what his thoughts are, rather than mere historical facts. I don't think his opinions skew the facts that much, and it is easy to separate the facts from the thoughts. Essentially, in my opinion you can't write a good history on blues without some bias.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rob the Obscure

    This book is essential to anyone who loves blues, jazz, R&B, or even roots rock n' roll, and desires to understand the contribution of the Negro culture to these music forms and, thereby, to American culture. It also reveals the little understood reciprocal impact on Black culture in this country. While doing so, Baraka also provides a deepened understanding of American history, economics, and culture. The book is extremely well written and well researched. Because it was published in 1963, This book is essential to anyone who loves blues, jazz, R&B, or even roots rock n' roll, and desires to understand the contribution of the Negro culture to these music forms and, thereby, to American culture. It also reveals the little understood reciprocal impact on Black culture in this country. While doing so, Baraka also provides a deepened understanding of American history, economics, and culture. The book is extremely well written and well researched. Because it was published in 1963, it traces the history of Negro music from its African roots, through early "field hollers" and "gospel" in the days of slavery, and then through what Baraka refers to as "the so-called Emancipation", to early jazz as a formalization of the blues, and on to New Orleans style jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, and hard bop, ending with the avant garde of the early 60s, and innovators such as John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, and Ornette Coleman. Fascinating and important book in the history of American culture and the arts.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cary Miller

    A really crucial (and short) read. I'm sure it helped that I have a fairly thorough knowledge of the basic timeline of the major jazz styles and players. Anyway, some of the great things I took away from this book were an attempt to situate blues and jazz musicians within their racial, class, and cultural context and think about how this affected the social/communal act of making (and hearing) music - as opposed to the very typical practice of venerating unique musical "geniuses". Another point A really crucial (and short) read. I'm sure it helped that I have a fairly thorough knowledge of the basic timeline of the major jazz styles and players. Anyway, some of the great things I took away from this book were an attempt to situate blues and jazz musicians within their racial, class, and cultural context and think about how this affected the social/communal act of making (and hearing) music - as opposed to the very typical practice of venerating unique musical "geniuses". Another point that I found really fascinating (and that I think many other reviewers here have missed) has to do with Baraka's acknowledgement that early African-American music took as much from white-American music as the other way around. I remember European instruments and French/creole quadrilles as examples. This book just gave me a whole different way of understanding American music. Highly recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    This book started with what can only be considered a thesis of galactic proportions. To provide a cohesive, detailed analysis of the social and music development of the "Negro experience in white America" in two hundred and thirty odd pages? Ambitious. I would be lying if I said that I found the book very readable - it was difficult to get through all the obscure one-off references to people, places, and things, sometimes using slang that isn't easily cross-referenced. That said, it's a really in This book started with what can only be considered a thesis of galactic proportions. To provide a cohesive, detailed analysis of the social and music development of the "Negro experience in white America" in two hundred and thirty odd pages? Ambitious. I would be lying if I said that I found the book very readable - it was difficult to get through all the obscure one-off references to people, places, and things, sometimes using slang that isn't easily cross-referenced. That said, it's a really interesting read. To say that I learned a lot about the social context of different musical movements in blues and jazz would an understatement and disservice to the book. Going back to listen to my Lester Young, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Miles Davis LPs has whole new meaning. I got a lot out of the book. As a cursory examination of all this, it is more than adequate. I just wish I had been able to read it a little easier.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Adelaide Mcginnity

    This is worth reading if only to see how the zeitgeist has changed on the ideas of racial versus class privilege. Of course, Blues People has no love for the Jim Crow White South, but what is very intriguing is how much contempt and dislike Baraka has for the Black Bourgeoisie. One can definitely read a certain amount of Marxist influence in Baraka's Weltanshauung that is absent from the contemporary Black Lives Matter worldview, and I think it makes for an interesting contrast. My only real issu This is worth reading if only to see how the zeitgeist has changed on the ideas of racial versus class privilege. Of course, Blues People has no love for the Jim Crow White South, but what is very intriguing is how much contempt and dislike Baraka has for the Black Bourgeoisie. One can definitely read a certain amount of Marxist influence in Baraka's Weltanshauung that is absent from the contemporary Black Lives Matter worldview, and I think it makes for an interesting contrast. My only real issue with this book is that, after castigating white/bourgeois black America for not immediately embracing the aesthetic of Bebop (while of course not acknowledging the benefit of hindsight/having grown up with the aesthetic of Bird and Monk), he goes on to castigate hard bop for lacking authenticity. Come now, Mr. Baraka; I challenge you to come up with any recording more perfectly beautiful than Cannonball Adderley's rendition of "Autumn Leaves" on the album Somthin' Else!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    When I hear a blues song I listen to the simple lyrics that convey emotion. Unlike a blues song this book wasn't simply written. Jones filled the book with academic text that I found myself mentally translating. Although it wasn't difficult at all I felt it did take away from the experience I was expecting. I wanted to read the book to better understand the significance of jazz. I knew he was a Jazz buff so I expected it'll tell me what Jazz was about. The book does tell about the cultural roll When I hear a blues song I listen to the simple lyrics that convey emotion. Unlike a blues song this book wasn't simply written. Jones filled the book with academic text that I found myself mentally translating. Although it wasn't difficult at all I felt it did take away from the experience I was expecting. I wanted to read the book to better understand the significance of jazz. I knew he was a Jazz buff so I expected it'll tell me what Jazz was about. The book does tell about the cultural roll that is in the heart of black music and its many forms. I enjoyed reading this book but like many good books it only left me with more questions on the subject. I'm unsure who the book was intended to be read by. I felt as if he was trying to point out significant details to someone. The book was written early in his career. I believe that it predates the assassination of Malcom and Martin which changed his writing style.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Curt Bozif

    For the most part I found Baraka's insights and observations about black folk and black music in America informative and very interesting especially when discussing how the legacy of slavery affected the evolution of the music. New readers should be aware that only about half of the book focuses on what we now understand to be the blues, or blues music, to be precise. The later half of the book deals with jazz to greater extent. Finally, I'll simply mentioned an observation: this book was writte For the most part I found Baraka's insights and observations about black folk and black music in America informative and very interesting especially when discussing how the legacy of slavery affected the evolution of the music. New readers should be aware that only about half of the book focuses on what we now understand to be the blues, or blues music, to be precise. The later half of the book deals with jazz to greater extent. Finally, I'll simply mentioned an observation: this book was written at the beginning of the civil rights movement and what we know as the black power movements of the 60s. Baraka's language at times in the book sounds militant and dogmatic. He often writes of "legitimate blues." After finishing Blues People I think I understood less what "legitimate blues" meant than I did before reading it.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.