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Paper Session
Nov 21, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211121T1100 20211121T1150 America/Chicago Jazz and the Archive AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
"Trouble is, we don’t make the rules": Proactive Public Archiving and the Las Vegas Years of Violinist Ginger Smock
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 17:50:00 UTC

"I got tired of so many 'doors' being closed in my face, so now, I'm making myself content to be an orchestral musician," wrote jazz and classical violinist Ginger Smock (1920-1995) to Canadian jazz violin collector John Reeves in May 1974. This letter, penned backstage between shows at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, marks the early months of a correspondence that would last for two decades. Smock was not merely a Vegas showroom musician, however; she had been a popular stage, radio, and television performer in Los Angeles in the mid-century, was the first African American woman to record hot jazz on the violin, and was one of the first African American women bandleaders on television (Barnett 2005; Cox 1996). When she joined the Antonio Morrelli Orchestra at The Sands as a full member in 1972, one year after moving to Las Vegas, the _Los Angeles Sentinel_ hailed another "first," suggesting that Smock may have broken the color line in showroom orchestras (May 18, 1972, p. B3A). In this paper, I draw on historical Black newspapers and recently unearthed archival sources, including home recordings and over 100 letters from Smock to Reeves, to map Smock's career in Las Vegas from the 1950s until the Musicians' Union strike of 1989-90, and to document her struggles - made more challenging by gender, race, and age (Tucker 1996/1997) - for increased recognition.


Archives are "where law and singularity intersect in _privilege_," notes Derrida (1995, p. 10; italics in original). Given that the contents of public archives delimit the narratives that may be told about the associated body politic (Stöler 2009), building out public archives is one means of claiming space to script the future (Phu and Brown 2018). To do so in such a way as to foreground underrepresented voices is therefore an inherently political move (Campbell 2020). This paper documents the transfer of the aforementioned archival sources from private hands to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and considers the role of proactive public archiving (Brinkhurst 2012) in working toward a more equitable musicology.

Presenters
LR
Laura Risk
University Of Toronto Scarborough
Archival Silence in the Collections of Dietrich Schulz-Köhn
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 17:50:00 UTC

In my search to find the identities of the "four unnamed black musicians" in the infamous photograph of Django Reinhardt, Henri Battut, and Dietrich Schulz-Köhn, taken in late 1942 at the Place Pigalle in Paris, many of the logics of early jazz collectors were unveiled. In the Dietrich Schulz-Köhn Archive in Graz, evidence of early twentieth century fascist logics become entangled with fantasies of blackness and American celebrity. However, black musicians who were not famous nor American, faced very dire fates, and were scrubbed from every account of the history of Django Reinhardt's group in Paris in 1942. 

Instead of seeking these audible traces, I have spent my time in the archive looking for silences. While conducting my research in the archives in Graz, what caught my attention was not the expansive collection of early records or the personal library of Schulz-Köhn, but instead the uncatalogued portion of the archive that consists of thousands of candid personal photographs, trinkets, and intimate letters tucked inside books. Given that most of the photographs were inscribed with lengthy and detailed descriptions of musicians and performances, I had hoped to locate the names of all of the black musicians photographed alongside Schulz-Köhn in late 1942, in order to recover narratives that the regime deemed unworthy of memorialization. Unfortunately, only one of these musicians' identities could be found, and his story leaves numerous questions to be asked. This lack of documentation leads us to question not only the circumstances surrounding original accumulation and the validity of nontraditional primary source material, but also demands an examination of how these erasures in documentary practices have impacted contemporary jazz historiography. Schulz-Köhn's archive propagates damaging assumptions and stereotypes which continue to influence the study of early transatlantic jazz, as it places the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of marginalized and effectively expunged musicians.

Presenters
KD
Kira Dralle
University Of California Santa Cruz
The Sonic Common Wind: tracing the Afterlives of the Haitian Revolution in New Orleans Jazz
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 17:50:00 UTC

In 1958, the jazz archivist William Russel recorded New Orleans resident Alice Zeno singing what she described as a "song from Haiti," more specifically "from the [Haitian] Revolution." This song has largely flown under the radar of jazz historians today, but the fact that Zeno, the mother of a prominent New Orleans clarinetist, was still familiar with aural culture from Western Hispaniola in 1958 suggests a deeper connection between Caribbean currents and the Haitian Revolution to New Orleans jazz than has been commonly recognized. In this paper, I trace its genealogy by placing this song within a larger repertoire of Haitian culture in Louisiana. I argue that the "song from Haiti" reflects three powerful forces that lend depth to what I call Afro-Atlantic jazz. As an expression of Haitian current events and political consciousness, it belongs to what Julius Scott has called "the common wind." As a piece of aural culture, derived from Haitian subsistence farmers resisting a President obsessed with export agriculture, it belongs to a regional movement referred to by Jean Casimir as the "counter-plantation." And finally, it speaks to Sidney Bechet's notion of the "The Long Song," a space where healing, creolization, and political agency come together in the creation of new music. With these three frameworks, I propose a methodology I call "music history from below." I outline the activist currents of this common wind by highlighting several Haitian-Louisianan musicians: the trumpet player and freedom-rider Daniel Desdunes; his sister Mamie Desdunes, a mentor to Jelly Roll Morton who wrote the first 12-bar blues which fused Afro-Latin rhythms with a critique of gendered oppression; the Tio family, a lineage of Creole of Color clarinetists who fled the increasingly racist climate of 1850s New Orleans and established an agriculture commune in Mexico. These jazz artists advanced a counter-plantation agenda that was part of a larger challenge of racial capitalism at the dawn of Jim Crow and American Empire in the Caribbean.

Presenters
BB
Benjamin Barson
University Of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
University of California Santa Cruz
University of Toronto Scarborough
University of North Texas
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