Jazz Styles, Masks, and Race
This chapter introduces Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy and establishes how their recordings represent a usefully troublesome body of work for illuminating prevailing conceptions of jazz that articulate notions of race with those of musical style. A survey of the extant literature which has previously considered the band’s records, together with that which has broached the entwined topics of race and jazz, suggests the value of the study in reflecting the vital role of the recordings of such interwar black jazz musicians in shaping jazz as a practice and conception. The notion of manipulating stylistic masks, which are donned by the musicians to Signify on racialized styles and identities in creative and often subversive ways, is introduced as the central means for illuminating the records and their musical-racial discourse. That approach is contextualized with reference to Andy Kirk’s upbringing and musical background before the materials, method, and structure for the study are outlined.
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