Notes: Episode 34, The History Of Jazz (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


3:26 – There were times in the 18th and 19th centuries where alcohol consumption topped six gallons of alcohol (not alcoholic beverage, but pure ethanol) per person per year. That’s 23 liters, for the more civilized parts of the world. That would mean 15 gallons (57 liters) of vodka, at the standard 40% that it’s sold today. These rates had dropped massively by the time prohibition was enacted, but still, America had quite the love affair with alcohol before trying to go cold turkey.

4:01 – I did mix up my timelines a bit here – prohibition did pass before universal suffrage. That being said, women were extremely prominent in the temperance movement; the fact that they played such a strong part even without the franchise speaks that much more highly to the tenacity and dedication of those women.

7:48 – This is a gross over-simplification of the 1929 stock market crash, but I think it makes a pretty good one-sentence summary. Inaccurate, sure, but undoubtedly snappy.

9:26 – Wait what? That’s 35 years, not 25. This is why I went into the arts and not engineering or something. You don’t want to drive over a bridge I designed, that’s for sure.

13:26 – One aspect that I only touched on briefly in the show in regards to the “immorality” of jazz is its association with the black musicians who blazed its trails. There was an unfortunate misconception at the time about the relative intelligence, both academically and morally, of various people based on the colour of their skin. It was believed by many that not only were black people less intelligent, but that they were also more prone to both crime and lustful behaviour. It was also believed that the music they made could seduce white people to behave in a similarly depraved manner. A shocking number of very well regarded people believed wholeheartedly in this falsehood, including many anthropologists and psychologists. Sometimes the things we learn about the past make us feel really bad, and this makes the list for me.

17:26 – “Rhapsody in Blue”, written by George Gershwin and recorded by him in 1924. This recording is in the public domain due to its age.

19:13 – The version we listened to while recording for discussion purposes was far newer, and therefore not as appropriate for including in the podcast – or as interesting, for that matter. If I’d known there was a recording of Gershwin available at the time, we probably would have used it, but I only discovered it after the fact.

19:42 – It was “Fantasia 2000”.

24:23 – “In The Mood”, written by Wingy Manone, Andy Razaf, and Joe Garland and performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1939 on the Bluebird Records recording B-10416-A. Used for educational and review purposes.

38:54 – “Take The ‘A’ Train”, written by Billy Strayhorn in 1939 and recorded in 1951 by Duke Ellington for the Columbia Records recording “Hi-Fi Ellington Uptown”. The singer on this track is the great Betty Roche. Used for educational and review purposes.

44:47 – You’ll notice in my previous line item that Billy Strayhorn is listed as the writer of “Take The ‘A’ Train”, and that’s because of a problem with attribution that’s likely bigger in music than most people are aware of. People familiar with the song would likely consider it a Duke Ellington song because his performance of the song made it popular and relatively few people have heard of the guy that actually wrote it. I’ve fallen into the same trap here. That being said, social history can be kind of cruel in terms of being written by the victor – the truth tends to be a lot less objective, and because it’s made up of a diffuse common experience, as long as enough people think of something the wrong way, it can be considered right, and all of a sudden it’s Duke Ellington’s song whether it really was or not. Either way, it was certainly his performance of it that had the impact on the music scene. This is just a long way to say that I need to be more careful about noting that these are the performers, not necessarily the writers.

45:12 – “Round Midnight”, written and recorded by Thelonious Monk on the Riverside Records album “Thelonious Monk At The Blackhawk” in 1960. The song was first published by Monk in 1944, but was likely being performed as early as 1941. This recording is being used for educational and review purposes.

53:29 – The pianist I’m thinking of here is Franz Lizst, who was so popular that he inspired what was known as “Lisztomania” among young women during the Victorian era. Scandalous.

57:30 – There are seven scales in the notation widely used today – that is, scales based on the octave system containing 12 semitones. We mainly use two – Ionian (major) and Aeolian (minor). Modal jazz played with the five other modes that are possible, challenging the expectations set when the body of your musical experience is defined by a much smaller set of the potential combinations. In other words, they sound really weird. Oh, and incidentally I believe I said “Iambic” in the show, which is not one of the seven modes; rather, it is a rhythm pattern used to describe meter, such as Shakespeare’s famous iambic pentameter. I feel like there was a moment there where my brain went “hey that word is Greek, good enough!”. Nope, not good enough.

2 thoughts on “Notes: Episode 34, The History Of Jazz (Part 2)”

  1. Max Mingus says:

    Unfortunately, there is a major mistake in this episode. You stayed several times that John Coltrane played jazz fusion. Coltrane recorded hard bop, modal, free, and spiritual jazz, but was sadly an ancestor by the time jazz fusion came on the scene. Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew brought jazz fusion two wider audiences, but it was really bands in the 1970s like Weather Report, Return to Forever, Jeff Beck, Jean-Luc Ponty, Billy Cobham, and many others that are the heart of the jazz fusion sound.

    I appreciate your taking on jazz history. As you know in the show, it is a nebulous topic.

    1. Adam says:

      Thanks for this correction! This episode is ages ago so I have no idea whether that was something I misspoke on several times or if I just had a bad note, but either way well worth pointing out.

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