Jazz in American Culture by Burton Peretti
(American Ways Series)

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This history of jazz, spanning the twentieth century, is the first to place it within the broad context of American culture. Burton Peretti argues persuasively that this distinctive American music has been a key thread in the tapestry of the nation’s culture. The music itself, its players and its audience, and the critical debates it has prompted, tell us much about changes in American life since 1910. Mr. Peretti traces the emergence of jazz out of ragtime during a time of tumultuous growth of cites and industries. In the 1920s jazz flourished and symbolized the cultural struggle between modernists and traditionalists. As American sought reassurance and self-esteem during the Great Depression, jazz reached new levels of sophistication in the Swing Era. World War II encouraged rapid changes in popular tastes, and in the postwar decades jazz became both a voice of a globally dominant America and an avant-garde music reflecting social and political turmoil. Today, Mr. Peretti concludes, jazz symbolizes important cultural trends and enjoys a new prestige in a complex musical scene. Jazz in American Culture tells a peculiarly American story, evaluating the music as well as those who created it, and opening new perspectives on our cultural history.

About Burton Peretti

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Burton W. Peretti is Professor of History at Western Connecticut State University and the author of Jazz in American Culture.
Published February 1, 1998 by Ivan R. Dee. 208 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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In this well-researched, important sociocultural study of the development of jazz between 1900 and 1940, Peretti argues that jazz--an urban music--was essentially ``created'' between 1915 and 1930 when Southern blacks migrated north to places like Kansas City and Chicago.

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If the quick pace of Peretti's historical discourse leaves genre didacts and obscurantists grousing about the lack of finer definition in many details, novice fans will find that Jazz in American Culture offers a proper accounting for the music's cultural import.

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