Rhythm is Our Business, by Mike Fiorito

Jul 02, 2019 259

While the African American impact on jazz is recognized and well established, the contribution of Italian immigrants on jazz is not. Italians arrived in America playing mandolin, violin, guitar and piano. They brought traditions of Southern-Italian marching bands, opera and folk histories. Whether Neapolitan, Sicilian or Calabrese, they understood passion and romanticism in music. And the Italian propensity for humor and style contributed to the theater of early jazz. In addition to outstanding musicianship, Italian performers were also entertaining.

So why do these facts go unmentioned in many mainstream jazz documentaries and literature? Ken Burns, for example, neglects to mention the impact of Italians on jazz in his popular “Jazz” documentary. He makes one mention of Nick LaRocca suggesting that LaRocca was one of the white musicians who got on the jazz bandwagon only when jazz became popular.

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SOURCE: http://www.star-revue.com

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