Robert Fulford: Jazz, on the record
One evening in the early 1950s Jack Teagarden took a few moments between sets at the Colonial Tavern in Toronto and tried to explain the troubles besetting his jazz band.
When he explained what went wrong, almost the first word he used was “barbecue.” The new, post-war Los Angeles had become a series of distantly related suburbs. People entertained at home, mostly. They were happy to barbecue. They didn’t need jazz bands, or downtown clubs.
That’s the sort of accident that changes the history of an art form, though it’s hard to understand what it means while it’s happening.
Marc Myers, who writes for the Wall Street Journal and blogs at JazzWax.com, shrewdly
explains this process in his new book, Why Jazz Happened (University of California Press). He describes how events ranging from city planning to inventions in sound technology altered the nature of jazz during three decades beginning in 1942. In those 30 years jazz changed from an accompaniment to dancing and drinking to a concert-based performance art directed at careful, even scholarly listeners. Myers can give at least half a dozen reasons why this happened, beginning with the suburbs. READ MORE: natpo.st/140BYqF