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and drummed out of the jazz regiment. Realistically, it is doubtful that any one city in the U.S. can take full credit for the birth of jazz — the seeds were scattered and flourished outstandingly in such cities as Memphis, Kansas City, Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and then came the "Big Apple" — New York City. Equally in dispute is agreement on a definition for jazz. This opens a real can of worms. Try on some of these definitions for size: "Jazz is a man telling the truth about himself"; "Jazz is a fallen god remembering heaven"; "It is the act of singing through an instrument - singing the way a Negro sings." One of the first serious definitions set down in print came from a French author Hughes Panassie. It was solid and elaborate but he had to include the one most favored by everyone - Louis Armstrong's: "If you got to ask what it is, you ain't got it." It comes as no surprise that the most creative forces in jazz are overwhelmingly Black. It comes as a surprise, though, that Black jazz musicians are somewhat diffident about their music. Dr. Billy Taylor, brilliant pianist, composer, author, college professor and lecturer on jazz, wrote a few years ago: "Strange as it sounds, American Negroes who created jazz music, today hardly know anything about it. You'll find this just as true among the musicians who play jazz in order to earn a living as you will among those who play just for kicks. Only a handful are well enough informed on the subject to discuss it intelligently with anyone except other musicians in their own narrow circles. It is just amazing how uninformed many top performers are about the historical background of the music they use as a medium of expression." Today, Dr. Taylor is a leader in correcting this negligence not only by teaching in schools and colleges but most effectively via "Jazzmobile" he has taken free jazz to people on the streets where they live. Jazz has received additional educational support from the many jazz societies which have been organized here and abroad to perpetuate jazz as an art form. There are also many books published on jazz since World War II despite the reluctance of publishers to consider the subject of serious significance. Selecting the most creative Black forces in jazz is not unlike walking against the traffic lights in the middle of Times Square. You take your life in your own hands. Since jazz appeals almost exclusively to the emotions, the listener is bound to set his own standards as to what turns him on or off, and his own jazz experience and personal knowledge entitle him to determine his heroes. Like them or not, there are a number of artists who have achieved internationally famous reputations. Tragically, there are many unsung heroes. It is a great loss many of the latter have passed away and we are the less for not knowing their personal histories. America's lack of pride in jazz must shoulder some of the blame for this misfortune along with promoters, booking agents and self-styled critics. The "Star" syndrome continues to obscure not only veterans of jazz but talented professionals of the younger generation. If and when those tired, tattered and beleaguered "Saints Come Marching In" it is doubtful even they will agree on the angels of jazz. [[image - black and white photograph of Jelly Roll Morton, wearing blazer and white slacks, standing with widespread legs and holding conductor's baton]] [[caption]] JELLY ROLL MORTON [[/caption]] [[image - black and white photograph of Johnny Hodges and Earl Hines]] [[caption]] JOHNNY HODGES AND EARL HINES [[/caption]] [[image - black and white photograph of Fats Waller playing piano]] [[caption]] FATS WALLER [[/caption]] [[image - black and white photograph of Eubie Blake playing piano]] [[caption]] EUBIE BLAKE [[/caption]] [[image - black and white photograph of a jazz band; continuation of photo of Sam Wooding and the Chocolate Kiddies on previous page]] [[caption]] abroad in the Twenties. They even mushed through the snows to play jazz first in Russia in 1926. [[/caption]]
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