Jazz is the one area of American social life that embraced freedom, equality and excellence

Posted on July 27th, 2014 | 0

Jazz is the one area of American social life that embraced freedom, equality and excellence through diversity and integration throughout the 20th century.

Thanks to the pioneering efforts of so many people (on the stage and in the audience or in the dance floor) culminating in the triumphs of Benny Goodman with the assistance of Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa, and Lionel Hampton, the world of Jazz provided the first example of open social integration in our country. Goodman courageously defeated racist traditions by providing opportunities that led to acceptance and integration in American public life ELEVEN YEARS before baseball.

If my memory serves me, one of his tuxedos auctioned in 2005 for only $800 (give or take a few hundred) a few years ago. I was suprised by the lack of recognition of his importance to our culture.

That a simple observation on the unusually robust attendance of black people in a given audience could provoke so much controversy and diversity of passionate feelings lets me know that this issue and all of us are still very much alive. My father was always against all forms of segregation and hated any type of reducing people to a given tribe or physical characteristic. In no way did my comment imply any dissatisfaction with the audience we do have or attack black folks or anyone for not supporting this music. I am always grateful to play for WHOEVER WANTS TO LISTEN. We all are. Every night.