Book Review: Penny M. Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows up the World

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The creator gives a balanced perspective of the presidential politics as she explores the contradictory views by Eisenhower, in the superb role of jazz and the domestic race relations in the combat by America in the Cold War and Communism.
After Jazz music was prohibited in 1919, the Jazz artists had been often found in the speakeasies in the entire 1920’s. Jazz song was used to motivate other human beings to attend the speakeasies and gave them an opportunity to perform the whole night. Armstrong would play the track longer than expected and would create more improvisations as a way of keeping the humans interested. This technique helped him create a new style of jazz, which involved the use of solos more than it could be sung in the majority of his jazz music with “Hot Five”. The version of “Black and Blue”, there are many trumpet solos, which give a unique sound o the tune. Initially, the song was created to mean comedy and was used to encourage people to laugh at the African Americans, but Armstrong changed the whole meaning of the song entirely (Von Eschen, n.p). Armstrong’s version highlighted on the suffering taking place in the black community, and the way Jazz was an avenue to cool the hard times. Armstrong’s meaning is characterized by the humor he creates though it is directed in a different direction. In the closing lines of the song, he says, “My only skin is my skin” which is a way of mockery for him, as he laughs at the people laughing at him.

The first version of “Black and Blue” was produced in the demand for the release of an infamous gangster, Schultz. the simplistic forms were used in the composition of the song, as well as the rhythm, due to the short notice is given to Andy Razaf and Fats Weller in the original version. Edith Wilson gives a consistent rhythm as she performs the song, and has a little change for the attachment of the feelings for the music. The trumpets were played silently, with a repeated riff which is very easy to follow as the sound of the piano is heard from the distinct ending (Von Eschen, n.p). The piano is integrated with Wilson’s voice in a polyphony texture sound, which gives prominence and persistence to the song. In Armstrong’s version of “Black and Blue”, he appears to add more of his personality to the music, with the performance starting with a short piano solo. The song encompasses a miserable tale, with the sound being gloomy than the original version.

Armstrong’ tour by the state department makes various visits across Africa. In one of the stops, he is seen as an undeniable campaigner for slavery. He feels at home after being greeted with a warm welcome by the dancers, drummers, and musicians in the whole country. He sees women who remind him of his mother and his attachment to his background (Von Eschen, n.p). This makes him feel the connection between with the Ghanaian people as an appreciation of culture. As the people of Ghana get their independence, he starts to feel their pain and suffering even after independence.

Sources used by the author in basing the book.

The author has used the emerging issues which affected America during the eras of cold war and communism, with jazz music playing a critical role as an art. Dwight D. Eisenhower used the first presidential Emergency Fund to back Dizzy’s Gillespie racial integration of the jazz band in 1956. Dave Brubeck and Gillespie formed an integrated band, and with the greatest representative of the period, Lois Armstrong drawing the title from the jazz music. This was characterized by the celebrated African tour and the tensions in the cold war. Just like the Soviet Union or the Middle East during Kennedy’s administration, Africa was the main target in the battle of the superpowers as there was a disparity between capitalism and communism (Von Eschen, n.p). In order to get a consent to the tour, Eisenhower required intervening in the desegregation problem in school, for Armstrong, by sending the federal troops as a way of ensuring the safety of the fans.

How the author has succeeded in achieving her objective.

Penny M. Von Eschen has succeeded in studying the relationships between the leading jazz bands in the mid-twentieth century and the international and domestic politics in the United States. This is evident during the times of Jazz advocates play in the era of the cold war and the Satchmo Blow up the World. She has succeeded in using the characteristic play between the American domestic policy on race and the use of an international face of harmony as she examines the influence of jazz music over the world politics (Von Eschen, n.p). The main objective of the author was to balance the art between jazz music and the politics of racism, which she has achieved as she explains in the intervention of Eisenhower and Armstrong’s role in jazz music.

Work cited

Von Eschen, Penny. Satchmo blows up the world: jazz ambassadors play the Cold War. Harvard University Press, 2009.

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