Blues People: Negro Music in White America (英語) ペーパーバック – 1999/1/20
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"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.
This extremely pertinent work will make a valuable addition to the musical and sociological collections of public and academic libraries.
This October the Schomburg Center will host the symposium: Blues People: 50 Years Later with Amiri Baraka, Ingrid Monson and John Szwed. check it out on the First Thursday series in Harlem.
As Baraka concentrates on the process, he does not put any emphasis on names and details of the musicians. The book is not in any way a list of "who's who in Blues or Jazz".
The book is critical of American mainstream culture, describing it as shallow and un-creative. Baraka observes that Blacks who have tried to belong to the mainstream (white) society have not been able to produce any music of value. He believes that their rejection of their Blues (slavery) roots made them too as shallow and un-creative as the society they wanted to join.
Baraka is most knowledgeable of Bebop and its developments up to free Jazz, as they are the closest to his generation. He is admittedly less connected to country blues, which for him expresses the first stage in the post slavery black society.
The book is magnificent in its originality and boldness. I think it is essential reading for anyone interested in African American music and/or culture.