Tenors and Organs
This chapter dwells on the ways with which the players of the time approached jazz. Some of them, like Jimmy Rushing, generated sounds big enough “to be heard over seventeen wailing musicians.” These musicians were sometimes called honkers or screamers, and are the main focus of this chapter. Honkers and screamers literally caused riots. In fact, Paul Williams managed to close down “every dance hall in Baltimore,” further adding that “there wasn't one that closed without a riot.” This elemental, raw energy, was characteristic of jazz during the period, as exhibited by the many names and incidents narrated throughout this chapter. In the end, Rosenthal wraps up his discussion of the uncompromising honkers and screamers with, “not only musical basics but also emotional ones can be found in their work: the joy, tenderness, and pain of existence, and the hard battle to wrench transcendence out of daunting circumstances.”
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