Too many white interlopers in jazz?

Thomas Lifson
Angry accusations of racism are being hurled at none other than Berkeley, California.  Not "enough" black jazz musicians have been invited to the city's Downtown Jazz Festival, you see, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Even worse, the famous local jazz club Yoshi's has issued a 10th anniversary compilation jazz CD and there is not a single African American jazz musician on it.

Let's face the truth, folks. There are many more people celebrating the cultural contribution of African Americans inventing jazz than there are people actually listening to jazz, either in clubs or on CDs.  Nobody disputes that jazz was originally a black art form, and that white musicians owe a historic debt to these inventors and master craftsmen. I dare you to find a government school textbook on American history or culture that does not make a big deal of the role of blacks inventing jazz.

For heaven's sake, you whiners, grow up! It is mark of achievement that jazz is now a world art form, and in fact is a lot more popular in Europe and Japan than it is in its homeland. Can you imagine white people rising up protesting a festival of black musicians playing classical music? "Racism" would be the word properly applied. In both cases.

If there is one field in which affirmative action is completely beside the point, it is jazz. These protests are as irrelevant and racist as a protest against too many blacks playing in the NBA, because basketball was invented by white people in Springfield, Mass.

Can't we please allow black people to escape the infantilization that the Left forces on them? Do we have to be bean counters about everything? Isn't it a good thing that other races and nations recognize the cultural achievement that jazz represents and excel at it?

Needless to say, it would help black jazz musicians no end if more people of every race eschewed rap music in favor of jazz. But fashions are fickle in music, as with every other art. If jazz survives thanks to European and Asian audiences (and musicians), so be it.

Update: Matt May writes:

What a disgrace. Jazz is one of my favorite musical arts and I have studied enough of its history to know that the true jazz musician judges not by the color of one's skin but by only one question: "Can you play?"
Angry accusations of racism are being hurled at none other than Berkeley, California.  Not "enough" black jazz musicians have been invited to the city's Downtown Jazz Festival, you see, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Even worse, the famous local jazz club Yoshi's has issued a 10th anniversary compilation jazz CD and there is not a single African American jazz musician on it.

Let's face the truth, folks. There are many more people celebrating the cultural contribution of African Americans inventing jazz than there are people actually listening to jazz, either in clubs or on CDs.  Nobody disputes that jazz was originally a black art form, and that white musicians owe a historic debt to these inventors and master craftsmen. I dare you to find a government school textbook on American history or culture that does not make a big deal of the role of blacks inventing jazz.

For heaven's sake, you whiners, grow up! It is mark of achievement that jazz is now a world art form, and in fact is a lot more popular in Europe and Japan than it is in its homeland. Can you imagine white people rising up protesting a festival of black musicians playing classical music? "Racism" would be the word properly applied. In both cases.

If there is one field in which affirmative action is completely beside the point, it is jazz. These protests are as irrelevant and racist as a protest against too many blacks playing in the NBA, because basketball was invented by white people in Springfield, Mass.

Can't we please allow black people to escape the infantilization that the Left forces on them? Do we have to be bean counters about everything? Isn't it a good thing that other races and nations recognize the cultural achievement that jazz represents and excel at it?

Needless to say, it would help black jazz musicians no end if more people of every race eschewed rap music in favor of jazz. But fashions are fickle in music, as with every other art. If jazz survives thanks to European and Asian audiences (and musicians), so be it.

Update: Matt May writes:

What a disgrace. Jazz is one of my favorite musical arts and I have studied enough of its history to know that the true jazz musician judges not by the color of one's skin but by only one question: "Can you play?"