Black American Music and the Jazz Tradition

No Jazz?

Nicholas Payton

There is no such thing as jazz, and any idea of what that might be is false. It’s impossible to build a tradition upon something that was never a designed to be a true expression of a community. The very existence of jazz is predicated upon a lie, just like racism.

To speak of “jazz tradition” is like to speak of “racial justice.” It’s not possible to have justice within the confines of race because race was specifically designed to subjugate certain people to an underclass so that the “majority” thrives. Injustice is inherently built within the racial construct. There has never be any any tradition within jazz other than to ensure Black cultural expression is depreciated and undervalued.

What’s made clear from the very first recorded jazz, à la The Original Dixieland Jass Band, is that it doesn’t have to adhere to the common standards that makes Black music what…

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