Tension and Release:<br />
A History of Jazz and Sex<br />

Tension and Release:
A History of Jazz and Sex

Herina Ayot takes a look at the sensual (and controversial) history of America's "original art form"

by Herina Ayot, February 27, 2013

Tension and Release:<br />
A History of Jazz and Sex<br />

Duke Ellington

jazz was “ruining girls”:

"Moral disaster is coming to hundreds of young American girls through the pathological, nerve-irritating, sex-exciting music of jazz orchestras."

"In Chicago alone, the association's representatives have traced the fall of 1,000 girls in the last two years to jazz music."

"Girls in small towns, as well as the big cities, in poor homes and rich homes, are victims of the weird, insidious, neurotic music that accompanies modern dancing."

"The vigilance society has no desire to abolish dancing, but seeks to awaken the public conscience to the present danger and future consequences of jazz music."

Later years saw a change in the genre’s shadow and the very word “jazz” took on a new connotation.  With the introduction of European influences and Duke Ellington’s term “American music” jazz earned its favor and made its way to respected venues like Carnegie Hall and the world renown Lincoln center where it can be enjoyed publicly by all races, colors, and creeds.  It is yet another example of a persisting phenomenon in American culture that screams “if it’s Black, its whack, but if it’s white, it’s alright.”

U.S. poet and playwright, Imamu Amiri Baraka, may have captured the lost essence of jazz in its purest and unadulterated form when he said, “The further jazz moves away from the stark blue continuum and the collective realities of Afro-American and American life, the more it moves into academic concert-hall lifelessness, which can be replicated by any middle class showing off its music lessons.” 

Herina Ayot is a freelance writer in the New York Metropolitan area. Follow her on Twitter @ReeExperience.

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