""Reading the Black Jazz Writers" by Ethan Iverson.
Dear Mr. Iverson:
There is much I disagree with in your article "Reading the Black Jazz Writers." At this point, I will mention only one of many sentences that seems to bother me the most.
"However, as a white musician who plays jazz piano, I presume Sudhalter would want his book to make me feel empowered. Instead, Sudhalter makes me feel ashamed."
Of course, I cannot argue as to how you feel about Sudhalter's book. Feelings are personal and, often, not subject to rational discourse. However, I can argue about the first part of the sentence, "I presume Sudhalter would want his book to make me feel empowered."
You use the word "presume." Indeed, it is a presumption on your part what Richard Sudhalter wanted people to feel after reading his book. We should take Sudhalter's aim, in his own words, at writing the book, rather than make assumptions,
"I have attempted, using available evidence, an accurate portrait of the white contribution to jazz." "Such a study is anything but an exercise in one-upmanship or retaliation: any attempt to look at the music without regard to such seminal igures as Armstrong, Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Henry Allen, Sid Catlett, Benny Carter and the rest would be folly."
Simple and direct: Sudhalter does not attempt to make white people feel empowered, nor does he try to diminish the seminal contributions of black musicians to jazz. The book is an objective account of the contributions of white musicians to jazz, "biography, reminiscence, commentary ... and ... music scholarship." It is an intellectual and rational analysis of the music created by white musicians during the period 1915-1945. It is not a treatise on how to make white musicians "feel empowered."
Since I did not have an address for Iverson, I sent the message to the MySpace BadPlus web page. Iverson is one of three members of the BadPlus group. Another member is David "Sonny" King, grandson of Victor record director when Goldkette with Bix recorded for Victor. I had an excahange of mails with Sonny. They are in the MySpace BadPlus web page.
My message to Sonny King,
Date: Aug 16, 2006 12:15 PM
This message is for Sonny King.
I am Albert Haim, jazz historian. I am researching Eddie King in connection with my website about Bix Beiderbecke
Do you have biographical information about your grandfather? When and where was he born, his principal activities. Was he a musician as well as a recording supervisor for Victor?
Do you have any photographs and/or diaries? Do you know anything about his interactions with Bix Beiderbecke?
You may want to read a thread of postings on your grrandfather beginning with
Hope you will answer.
"Aug 28, 2006 7:49 PM
Subject: RE: Eddie King
We have a lot of information on Eddie - photos as well. I'm pretty sure he didn't have anything against Bix - at least not that I'm aware of. My father knows more but as far as I know in the session that everyone is referring to he just made a business decision that probably had may factors, the little flub, the need to record as efficiently as possible (no protools in those days) and possibly the musical direction.
Honestly, I don't think he ever really thought about it. He moved to Atlanta in 41' had my father in 44. My Father worked with him in his instrument repair business for a good 15 years or so - my father still operates King Band Instrument Repair to this day.
I can also say that if he disliked someone personally there would be no mistaking it. He grew up on the street as an orphan after the murder of his father, very hard life that he made the best of.
Many stories to share if interested:
His father was a contortionist in Ringling Bros. Circus.
He played drums in the Dixieland Jazz Band.
Toured the country with Will Rogers.
Had a WSM radio show.
Many many more....