[Dixielandjazz] jews and jazz, compilation (long one)
luis daniel flores
luda at arnet.com.ar
Mon Oct 10 14:41:42 PDT 2005
The Jewish contribution to Jazz
Between 1880 and 1924, 2.5 million Jews left their small-town "shtetls" in
Russia and Eastern Europe and emigrated to America. America would reshape
Jewish identity, and Jewish popular entertainment would change
20th-century American music.
Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Lorenz Hart, Benny Goodman, Al
Jolson, the Marx brothers, Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice, Molly Picon, Eddie
Cantor, Harold Arlen, Artie Shaw - these kids from New York's Lower East Side
all became cultural pioneers, shaking off their past yet taking full advantage
of their Yiddish musical heritage.
What emerged was a cross-pollination of Jewish and African American musical
influences - two traditions born out of exile and longing, charged with energy
and humor. From Shtetl to Swing reveals how these musical heritages blossomed
into a new, diverse musical lexicon that gave voice to the American melting
pot. Harvey Fierstein hosts.
The Jewish contribution to Jazz comes in many forms. There were Jewish
composers, performers, and also patrons of jazz. I am not as informed as I'd
like to be about the historical side of the music. But I can point you in the
One example of Jewish influence as patrons is a well to do Jewish family in
Orleans in the early 1900s who looked after Louis Armstrong as a youngster,
bought him his first cornet. I don't recall their names, but that info should
Jewish composers include the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Sammy Kahn, Leonard
Bernstein. Other names that sound Jewish but I'm not certain they were Jews:
Oscar Hammerstein, Dorothy Fields, Stephen Sondheim. I'm sure there were
of others in Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and throughout the jazz world.
Performers include Al Jolson, Eddy Cantor, Benny Goodman, Barbra Streisand,
the notorious convert to Judaism, Sammy Davis Jr.
It is early here and I have to leave soon for a gig. I seem to be blanking
I'm sure there are a lot more names I could give you.
An interesting connection to explore is to compare Yiddish Theater and Klezmer
music from New York in the 20s to 40s with Broadway and big band styles.
Gershwin took a lot of themes from the Yiddish theater and also from Jewish
liturgical music. Also Benny Goodman. And Al Jolson and I believe Eddy Cantor
were trained synagogue cantors. The theme from "It Ain't Necessarily So", for
example, is borrowed directly from the melody of the call to worship in the
Jewish morning prayer service, called "Barekhu et Adonai Hamevorakh".
To: jazzmin at actcom.net.il
Dr Jazz Delights Israel Festival Fans
This is certainly a BIG subject and I was a little taken-aback by its turning
up so clinically (pun intended) on DJML.
The whole matter of Middle Eastern influence on jazz is fascinating and, I
think, is best approached from the geographic and linguistic perspective.
Ie, it's "Semitic", rather than "Jewish" or "Arabic". Kletzmer is a simple
An interesting line of thought is the "Moorish" influence on jazz. The popular
idea of Africa being divided by the Sahara is simplistic and it's likely that
the west coast and savannah African slaves brought to the Americas not only
semitic influences, but also Spanish ones. What a cultural mixing pot the West
Indies and South America must have been in the 17th and 18th centuries.
More important than who was or was not Jewish in jazz is what music in jazz is
1. "Palesteena" was composed in 1920 by Con Conrad & J. Russell
Robinson, who I'm guessing were not Jewish. However, the melodic line of the
last 4 bars of the chorus with the lyric "She was fat but she got leaner,
Leaning on her concertina" comprise a Jewish or klezmer scale.
You could also say it's an Arabic scale but the composers would have been more
familiar with Jews than Arabs in 1920. The tune was recorded by the ODJB and
famously by the Bob Crosby Bob Cats. We played it just last night at the
2. Everyone knows that "And the Angels Sing" is a klezmer "freylakh",(Yiddish
word translating literally as "joyous" or "happy"). By the way, "klezmer" and
its plural "klezmorim" translate from Yiddish as "musician(s)." Goodman and
Elman recorded other klezmer examples.
3. Irving Berlin (Izzy Beilin) wrote "Russian Lullaby" which we also do in the
JCJB at the Landing. The melody is only vaguely Jewish, but more purely
Russian--the shape of the melody is very reminiscent of Tchaikowsky's opening
theme from "Swan Lake." But I know of no other Berlin hit song that is even
vaguely Jewish. In fact, remember that
Berlin wrote "White Christmas" and "Easter Parade."
4. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" by non-Jew Cole Porter contains a very Jewish
section in the major-key second strain. This was a conscious choice by Porter
when he wrote it, according to the biographies. He wanted to include Jewish
music in his songs because none of the other,Jewish songwriters did.
There's a point to be made here:
Yes, there were lots and lots of Jews active during the Golden Age between the
wars who were either hard-core jazz players, bandleaders, or important
composers/songwriters. In fact, in terms of songwriters one has to think hard
to come up with the non-Jewish exceptions like Cole Porter and Hoagy. And Jews
were also heavily involved in every other
aspect of the entertainment industry, especially Hollywood movie studios.
So then, why are there NOT more Jewish themes in films, songs, and
particularly pre-war jazz? The above examples are the only obvious four that
come to my mind. It is the ABSENCE of overt Jewish-ness in Classic American
culture of the Golden Age that jumps out at you.
The answer is that Jews of that era were very anxious to blend in the American
mainstream. With memories of brutal pogroms in Eastern Europe fresh in their
cultural consciousness, the last thing a Jew in the entertainment business
wanted to call attention to was his ethnic
identity. I can personally testify that Jews of my parents' generation whose
parents were born in the "old country" wanted very much to assimilate, to
appear just as American as other ethnic groups who had emigrated earlier like
the Irish, for example.
The fact that Goodman was able to counter this pressure to assimilate is a
testament to his grit and his sheer star power at the time, and also perhaps
to the "democratization" power that jazz had as a part of its rebelliousness.
I'm sure that Goodman's klezmer recordings pissed off the bobby soxers'
parents just as much as the African-American quality
of the music did (not to mention that Goodman insisted on using Teddy and Hamp
in public performances).
This theme has been written about in a book and public TV documentary on
American Jews' contribution to American culture, author and title escapes me
at the moment (perhaps one of you can come up with the info for our readers).
This is why Louis B. Mayer, ruler of MGM, banned the production of films on
Jewish themes during the '30s. The author wrote that Mayer wanted to avoid at
all costs the "Cossaks once again riding into town on horseback to burn the
shtetl down." And, famously, this was the reason for the establishment of the
Black List in the 1950s, an attempt by Mayer and other Jewish studio heads to
stave off McCarthy raising the old bugaboo of Jews being or sympathizing with
Communists, which guys of Mayer's
generation feared might have effectively merged red-baiting with "good
old-fashioned anti-semitism" (a phrase in use during the Third Reich).
And Hollywood was so very important to songwriting after the invention of
talkies. Guys like Gershwin and Arlen were in effect a part of the Hollywood
machinery after a certain point.
Don Mopsick, Riverwalk Webmaster
Judios y el jazz
Happy 5766 to them all.
Goodman, Harry & Irving Goodman, Arthur Jacob Arshawsky (Artie Shaw)?,Willie
"The Lion" Smith, art Hodes, Milton Mezzrow, Buddy Rich, Stan Getz, Paul
Desmond, Ruby Braff, Woody Allen, Mel Powell is Melvin Epstein , Max Kaminsky,
Bud Freeman, Ben Pollack, Elmer Schoebel (of the NORK), Herb Alpert, Kenny G,
Ted Lewis, Irving Prestopnik (Fazola), Andre Previn
Ziggy Elman's solo on "And the Angels Sing," is pure Klezmer inspired.
Sophie Tucker as one of the first white women singers to embrace Black music
Autores y compositores:
George and Ira Gershwin,Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome
(Blue Note) Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff.
Another super-giant contribution to the swing world was accomplished by Helen
Ward's husband, Albert Marx, who recorded Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall
jazz concert. Somehow, the world would have been smaller and more shriveled
and far less exciting if those recordings had not been made.
jazz writers Leonard Feather and Nat Hentoff
Al Jolson "The Jazz Singer!" (real name Asa Yoelson: October 6, 1927 was the
release date for the movie The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson. George Jessel
and Eddie Cantor had previously turned down the lead role." The first
successful talking picture"
A 1953 remake starred Danny Thomas. A 1980 remake starred Neil Diamond.
Sammy Davis, Jr! I will never forget Sammy singing and
dancing to "Mr Bojangles" Sammy was a great performer.
Johnny Mince (Muenzenberger), Al Cohn, , Red Rodney, John Birks,Shorty Rogers,
Terry Gibbs, Morey Samuel and Moe Zudecoff (BuddyMurrow), Herman Trigger
Alpert,Eddy Duchin, Ronny Scott, Barney Rapp, John Zorn. Helen Ward, Dick
Hyman, Hymie chertzer, Al Cohn, Joe Bushkin (I think), Norman Granz, Harry
Barris (of the Rhythm Boys), Mel Torme, Bobby Rosengarden, Eddie Shields,>
Andrea Previn, Shelly Manne, , George Wein, Steve Marcus, Mundell Lowe, Mel
Lewis (Melvin Sokoloff), Lou Levy, Bernie Leighton, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy,
Joshua Redman, Eddie Daniels, Harry Connick Jr, Herbie> Mann, John Zorn.
Ronny Scott (Ronald Schatt), Abe and Sam Most and Shelly Manne, Freddie
Goodman, Lennie Niehaus, Mike Vax, Stan Mark, Artie Shapiro, Jerry Jerome,
Helen Forrest, Fran Warren, Ben Bernie, Ben Selvin, Sid Weiss, Sol Hurok, Sol
Yaged, Milt Bernhart, Morty Korb, Ray herman, Steve and Edie Gorme, Richard
Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Sammy Cohn, Bernie Privin, Al Cohn, Herb Geller, Harry
Goldie and son Don Goldie, Manny Klein, Jack Lesberg, Irving 'Itzy',Riskin,
Dr. Luis Daniel Flores FRCOG
domingos/Sundays 9:30/12:30 GMT
More information about the Dixielandjazz