jazz Community as an embodiment of black history

No matter what he’s playing, it’s the long song that started back there in the South. It’s the remembering song. There’s so much to remember.
— Sidney Bechet
For Bechet, African-American music (...) was expressive of cultural memory, and black-music making was the translation of the memory into sound and sound into memory. And it is so for many black musicians for they have always been highly sensitive to the efficacy, powers, and imperatives of the cultural memory (...) which goes back beyond the slave experience in America to Africa.
— Samuel Floyd Jr, The Power of Black Music
Once he demonstrated some gospel music for me. . . . His left foot was going and these octaves and the bass with these gospel chords. . . . I think he played ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand’ and I almost imagined him getting ready to sing.
— Lem Martinez-Carroll about Thelonious Monk
While still in my teens, I went on the road with a group that played church music for an evangelist. Rock and roll or rhythm and blues. (...) She preached and healed and we played. We had trumpet, saxophone, piano, and drums. (...) I always did play jazz. I mean, I was playing church music the same way.
— Thelonious Monk

The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall Concert (1959)


Thelonious Monk — piano
Donald Byrd — trumpet
Eddie Bert — trombone
Robert Northern — French horn
Jay McAllister — tuba
Phil Woods — alto saxophone
Charlie Rouse — tenor saxophone
Pepper Adams — baritone saxophone
Sam Jones — bass
Art Taylor — drums

"Most jazz critics have been white Americans, but most important jazz musicians have not been.... Most jazz critics were (and are) not only white middle-class Americans, but middle-brows as well. The irony here is that because the majority of jazz critics are white middlebrows, most jazz criticism tends to enforce white middle-brow standards of excellence as criteria for performance of a music that in its most profound manifestations is completely antithetical to such standards; in fact, quite often is in direct reaction against them.... And of the bop pioneers, only Thelonious Monk has managed to maintain without question the vicious creativity with which he first entered the jazz scene back in the '40s."

Amiri Baraka, Jazz and the White Critic, 1960


Memory, History, and african american music

"When is memory a part of history? In what sense are the things remembered a crucial part of what is passed on to future generations? What is the true relationship between art and history or between history and memory? Indeed, the meaning of music lies somewhere in the mix and jumble of the past."

Guthrie Ramsey, Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop, 2003