Cover image for Jazz on the road : Don Albert's musical life
Title:
Jazz on the road : Don Albert's musical life
Author:
Wilkinson, Christopher, 1946-
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press ; [Chicago] : Center for Black Music Research Columbia College, Chicago, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xvi, 290 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
ISBN:
9780520225404

9780520229839
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library ML422.A35 W55 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Christopher Wilkinson uncovers a fascinating and unexplored side of American musical and social history in this richly detailed account of Don Albert's musical career and the multicultural forces that influenced it. Albert was born Albert Dominque in New Orleans in 1908. Wilkinson discusses his musical education in the Creole community of New Orleans and the fusion of New Orleans jazz and the Texas blues styles in the later 1920s during his tenure with Troy Floyd's Orchestra of Gold. He documents the founding of Albert's own band in San Antonio, its tours through twenty-four states during the 1930s, its recordings, and its significant reputation within the African American community. In addition to providing a vivid account of life on the road and imparting new insight into the daily existence of working musicians, this book illustrates how the fundamental issue of race influenced Albert's life, as well as the music of the era.

Albert's years as a San Antonio nightclub owner in the 1940s and 1950s saw the rise in popularity of rhythm and blues and the decline of interest in jazz. There was also increasing racial animosity, which Albert resisted by the successful legal defense of his right to operate an integrated establishment in 1951. In the two decades before his death in 1980, his performances in Dixieland jazz bands and interviews with oral historians concerning his own career were the fitting climax to a multifaceted musical life. Albert's voice and personality, his feelings and opinions about the music he loved, and the obstacles he faced in performing and promoting it, are artfully conveyed in Wilkinson's fluid, accessible, and erudite narrative. Jazz on the Road shows the importance of live performance in bringing jazz to America, and succeeds brilliantly in depicting an era, a locale, and a way of life.


Summary

Christopher Wilkinson uncovers a fascinating and unexplored side of American musical and social history in this richly detailed account of Don Albert's musical career and the multicultural forces that influenced it. Albert was born Albert Dominque in New Orleans in 1908. Wilkinson discusses his musical education in the Creole community of New Orleans and the fusion of New Orleans jazz and the Texas blues styles in the later 1920s during his tenure with Troy Floyd's Orchestra of Gold. He documents the founding of Albert's own band in San Antonio, its tours through twenty-four states during the 1930s, its recordings, and its significant reputation within the African American community. In addition to providing a vivid account of life on the road and imparting new insight into the daily existence of working musicians, this book illustrates how the fundamental issue of race influenced Albert's life, as well as the music of the era.

Albert's years as a San Antonio nightclub owner in the 1940s and 1950s saw the rise in popularity of rhythm and blues and the decline of interest in jazz. There was also increasing racial animosity, which Albert resisted by the successful legal defense of his right to operate an integrated establishment in 1951. In the two decades before his death in 1980, his performances in Dixieland jazz bands and interviews with oral historians concerning his own career were the fitting climax to a multifaceted musical life. Albert's voice and personality, his feelings and opinions about the music he loved, and the obstacles he faced in performing and promoting it, are artfully conveyed in Wilkinson's fluid, accessible, and erudite narrative. Jazz on the Road shows the importance of live performance in bringing jazz to America, and succeeds brilliantly in depicting an era, a locale, and a way of life.


Author Notes

Christopher Wilkinson is Associate Professor in the Division of Music at the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University.


Christopher Wilkinson is Associate Professor in the Division of Music at the College of Creative Arts at West Virginia University.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

A joy to read and a model of what jazz historiography very much needs, this book treats a New Orleans-born musician who (like the vast majority of working jazz professionals) has been relegated largely to the periphery of jazz history--a history organized around innovators and commercially successful recording artists. Albert (1908-80) sought national fame and, as Wilkinson (West Virginia Univ.) demonstrates, achieved something close to that, but largely on the territorial fringes (Texas, New Orleans) in African American venues unnoticed by most mainstream jazz publications. Wilkinson's fascinating study is clearly organized and fluently written. To accommodate readers more interested in Albert's life than in the technicalities of his style, the author limits analytical discussion of Albert's recordings primarily to two chapters (with musical examples). Here, as elsewhere, he takes full account of previous scholarship (e.g., Gunther Schuller's Early Jazz, CH, Jul'68) and convincingly supports his arguments. Amply documented--personal interviews, archives both local and national (Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier)--this book limns the life of a "working stiff" and reminds readers that these musicians, like more famous ones, are the men and women with whom the majority of audiences were familiar and who defined the territory from which the greatest musicians arose. Highly recommended; all levels. J. McCalla Bowdoin College


Choice Review

A joy to read and a model of what jazz historiography very much needs, this book treats a New Orleans-born musician who (like the vast majority of working jazz professionals) has been relegated largely to the periphery of jazz history--a history organized around innovators and commercially successful recording artists. Albert (1908-80) sought national fame and, as Wilkinson (West Virginia Univ.) demonstrates, achieved something close to that, but largely on the territorial fringes (Texas, New Orleans) in African American venues unnoticed by most mainstream jazz publications. Wilkinson's fascinating study is clearly organized and fluently written. To accommodate readers more interested in Albert's life than in the technicalities of his style, the author limits analytical discussion of Albert's recordings primarily to two chapters (with musical examples). Here, as elsewhere, he takes full account of previous scholarship (e.g., Gunther Schuller's Early Jazz, CH, Jul'68) and convincingly supports his arguments. Amply documented--personal interviews, archives both local and national (Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier)--this book limns the life of a "working stiff" and reminds readers that these musicians, like more famous ones, are the men and women with whom the majority of audiences were familiar and who defined the territory from which the greatest musicians arose. Highly recommended; all levels. J. McCalla Bowdoin College


Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 A Musical Education in Creole New Orleansp. 1
2 West to Texas, the Southwest Frontier of Jazz: 1926-29p. 23
3 Recording for Okeh and Brunswick: 1928-29p. 43
4 Don Albert, Southwest Territory Bandleader: 1929-33p. 67
5 Expanding the Territory: 1933-34p. 95
6 To New York City and Back: 1935-36p. 107
7 "America's Greatest Swing Band" Records for Vocalion: 1936p. 139
8 A National Band from the Southwest: 1937-39p. 167
9 The Band's Final Year: 1940p. 203
10 From Bandleader to Businessman: 1940-48p. 211
11 The Second Keyhole, and a Fight for Social Justice: 1949-60p. 231
12 Closing the Circle: 1960-80p. 245
Essay on Sourcesp. 273
Works Citedp. 275
Indexp. 281

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