5 fifth it incorporated new roles for the musicians

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Unformatted text preview: istics of African and African American music. European and European American music is based on the entirely different values inherent in the tradition of composition.16 The fact that it was white groups imitating the black jazz groups that first introduced mainstream culture to jazz and became commercially successful is merely the predicable result of the social conditions that prevented black groups from being offered recording or television contracts in the first place. Even here, however, the white groups would frequently hire African American arrangers (such as Benny Goodman’s hiring of the brothers Fletcher and Horace Henderson, as well as Jimmy Mundy, Edgar Sampson, and Benny Carter) and a few would hire black musicians who helped their bands acquire a true “jazz” sound. Although white musicians who play jazz are numerous and often truly excellent musicians, every major stage of jazz stylistic evolution has been initiated by the innovations of African American musicians, often as a result of trying to re- claim as their own a style which they felt had been appropriated by white mainstream culture. A list of African American jazz musicians includes Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, James P. Johnson, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Art Tatum, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, and Cassandra Wilson. When one further understands how several of these individuals have done the essential shaping of jazz in all stages of its development, there can be no honest dispute that jazz is fundamentally an African American musical tradition. 16It is true that at different times in European classical music there has been improvisation, and some of the greatest composers such as J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart were well respected for their ability to improvise. And there are isolated examples of improvisation within Classical forms, such as the ornaments in Baroque music and the cadenzas in Classical concertos. But this improvisation was fundamentally different from African- based improvisation. The improvisations of European...
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