DUKE ELLINGTON AND JELLY ROLL MORTON

THESIS: The jazz movement was a unifying topic in the 1920's because it united races through music.

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  • Edward "Duke" Ellington was born in 1899 in Washington, DC. He spent his childhood listening to and imitating local musicians, especially pianists. After playing gigs in clubs and cafes as a teenager, he realized his love for music, and launched what would be a tremendously successful career.
  • After a short but great career in Washington, he made the decision move to Harlem. He became one of the leading figures of the "Harlem Renaissance." The movement sparked dance crazes and other forms of art that were seen as revolutionary and different.
  • Ellington quickly became a pioneer of Jazz music, a genre rooted deep into African American history and culture.
  • Black musicians like Ellington were hired to perform in nightclubs, which caused the music to permeate into white culture as well

IMPACT/SIGNIFICANCE
  • Affected race relations at the time
  • Whites would venture into black areas (Cotton Club, etc) to hear the genius music
  • Some jazz groups were even integrated
  • Audiences, however, remained segregated
Jazz became viewed as a threat to white culture, and was seen as not sophisticated enough to be "music". Whites published articles undermining the genre, or totally igonring it.

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Jelly Roll Morton was another Jazz musician who was frequently ignored by white critics. He referred to himself as the inventor of jazz. The movement developed into other sub-groups like blues, swing and big band.


The jazz era of the 1920's is comparable to hip-hop today. The music of Duke Ellington and others was prevolent in the inner cities of place like Harlem, much like hip-hop. Also, hip-hop and rap are discouraged by older generous for its "malevolent" messages. This was also the case for jazz, as older generations believed that it was not appropriate.