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Jazzmen

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Dec 15, 2021

Jazzmen is a book on the history of jazz. It was edited by Frederic Ramsey, Jr. and Charles Edward Smith, and was published by Harcourt, Brace & Company in 1939. It was the first jazz history book published in the United States, and helped establish a story of early jazz as well as renewing interest in those forms of music and their players.

Jazzmen
Editors Frederic Ramsey, Jr., Charles Edward Smith
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Harcourt, Brace & Company
Publication date
1939
Media type Print

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Frederic Ramsey, Jr. was employed by Harcourt, Brace & Company, and in 1937 was asked to read a manuscript that been submitted by the musician Ted Lewis.[1] Unimpressed by Lewis’s claim to have been a jazz pioneer, the young editor reported to his superior that he could write a better history of the music than Lewis had.[1] The senior editor then suggested that he do so.[1]

“In the spring of 1939, the jazz writer Charles Edward Smith spent several weeks in New Orleans, as part of the research he and other writers were doing for the book Jazzmen. He found the inspiration for his writing not only by talking with the veteran musicians who could take him back to the old days, but also by hanging out in the clubs that still were open”.[2]

“Nine writers contributed chapters to the book – Charles Edward Smith, Frederic Ramsey Jr., William Russell, Stephen W. Smith, E. Sims Campbell, Edward J. Nichols, Wilder Hobson, Otis Ferguson, and Roger Pryor Dodge“.[1] The book was edited by Charles Edward Smith and Ramsey.[1]

The topics of the chapters included: Bix Beiderbecke; boogie woogie; and jazz played by white musicians in Chicago.[1] Charles Edward Smith wrote “the highly charged romantic evocations of the scene for each of the four settings of the book: New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and the jazz environment everywhere in the United States.”[1] The first section of the book – “Callin’ Our Chillun’ Home” – “created what has become the legendary account of the development of early jazz”.[1] There are no footnotes giving sources.[3]

Jazzmen was published by Harcourt, Brace & Company in 1939.[1] It was the first book on jazz history to be published in the United States.[4]

. . . Jazzmen . . .

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