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Brassroots Democracy (Hardback)

Maroon Ecologies and the Jazz Commons

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Music

Imprint: Wesleyan University Press
Series: Music/Culture
Pages: 424
Illustrations: 25 b&w photos
ISBN: 9780819501127
Published: 3rd September 2024
Casemate UK Academic



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A new understanding of the birth of jazz through a fine-grained social history of early African American musicians
/>Brassroots Democracy recasts the birth of jazz, unearthing vibrant narratives of New Orleans musicians to reveal how early jazz was inextricably tied to the mass mobilization of freedpeople during Reconstruction and the decades that followed. Benjamin Barson presents a "music history from below," following the musicians as they built communes, performed at Civil Rights rallies, and participated in general strikes. Perhaps most importantly, Barson locates the first emancipatory revolution in the Americas—Haiti—as a nexus for cultural and political change in nineteenth-century Louisiana. In dialogue with the work of recent historians who have inverted traditional histories of Latin American and Caribbean independence by centering the influence of Haitian activists abroad, this work traces the impact of Haitian culture in New Orleans and its legacy in movements for liberation.
/>Brassroots Democracy demonstrates how Black musicians infused participatory music practice with innovative forms of grassroots democracy. Late nineteenth-century Black brass bands and activists rehearsed these participatory models through collective performance that embodied the democratic ethos of Black Reconstruction. Termed 'Brassroots Democracy,' this fusion of political and musical spheres revolutionized both. Brassroots Democracy illuminates the Black Atlantic struggles that informed music-as-world-making from the Haitian Revolution through Reconstruction to the jazz revolution. The work theorizes the roots of the New Orleans brass band tradition in the social relations grown in maroon ecologies across the Americas. Their fruits contributed to the socio-sonic commons of the music we call jazz today.

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