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Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz, 1942-1957


Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz, 1942-1957 Cover

ISBN13: 9780870711145
ISBN10: 0870711148
Condition: Standard
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Publisher Comments:

A fascinating blend of music, politics, and social history, Jumptown sheds light on a time and place overlooked by histories of Portland and jazz. For a golden decade following World War II, jazz talent and musical activity flourished in Portland. A thriving African American neighborhood--that would soon be bulldozed for urban renewal--spawned a jazz heyday rarely rivaled on the West Coast. Such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, and Wardell Gray headlined Portland clubs and traded chops with the up-and-coming local talent. The Dude Ranch. Lil' Sandy's McClendon's Rhythm Room. The Frat Hall. The Chicken Coop. The Uptown Ballroom. Jazz historian Bob Dietsche leads a guided tour of the main jazz spots--from supper club to dance hall--capturing the emotion, excitement, and energy of an evening on the town. His book for the first time collects hundreds of pieces of local jazz history--photographs, personal recollections, reviews, maps, handbills--to create "an anatomy of a jazz village." Dietsche's compendium of stories and moments brings to life the citizens of the jazz village--the musicians and dancers, the disc jockeys and promoters, the critics and music teachers, the club owners and patrons. Jumptown celebrates and preserves this rich cultural past and showcases its continuing influence. In an afterword, Lynn Darroch recaps the highlights in Portland jazz since 1968 and shows how "Portland's twenty-first-century jazz scene reflects the city's original golden age, and the spirit of the Avenue remains in the sounds of today."

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Alexander Craghead, January 29, 2008 (view all comments by Alexander Craghead)
A visitor to Portland today might not realize that the city has a rich history in jazz. Fueled by the shipbuilding boom of World War Two, the city's black population grew rapidly throughout the 40's, creating a vibrant community on the east bank of the Willamette. This was a land of wild nightclubs, neighborhood bars, shady speakeasies that were open all night. Big names came to play, artists like Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong, but the city also produced a number of local talents, like Wardell Gray and Doc Severinsen. It was not, however, to last; the construction of the Memorial Coliseum wiped out much of the jazz scene, and much of its history was lost. Dietsche's Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz sets out to record that lost history.

Jumptown is by-and-large a narrative prose history. The story of the Portland jazz scene flows generally in a chronological line from the 1940s through to the 1980s, with each chapter focusing on a particular location that was key to the jazz of the time. The text relies heavily on direct research, consisting primarily of interviews with direct participants; many quotes and extended passages are included verbatim. Supporting this are numerous photos, many culled from those individuals. There are also reproductions of numerous LPs including recordings of local talents.

This work contains a wealth of information on the history of Portland music and Portland's black neighborhoods. The book is not written for jazz neophytes however; many portions seem to be a stream of name-dropping, as if the book is a bop version of the Chronicles in the King James' Bible. Without this context, many passages will feel confusing or dense, and even with it, it seems to be more a who's who list than a story. The book does yield up some gems of local history, however, including the locations of most of the big clubs and some entertaining anecdotes in the words of witnesses and participants themselves.

The book is printed in the dimensions of a typical hardbound book, but is in a softcover trade paperback binding. Paper weight is smooth and the photos are reproduced adequately. The back of the book contains a discography of Portland-related music that proves handy.

Though a bit thin, the book is the only work I am aware of dedicated specifically to Portland jazz culture. Jazz lovers will no doubt understand the laundry list of names better than the average reader, and there is enough obscure history of the city that it will prove a worthy edition for Portland historians wishing for a truly broad library.
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Product Details

Swenson, Jim
Darroch, Lynn
Jim Swenson
Swenson, Jim
Dietsche, Robert
Darroch, Lynn
Lynn Darroch
Oregon State University Press
Jazz musicians
History & Criticism - General
United States - State & Local - Pacific Northwest
Genres & Styles - Jazz
Jazz - Oregon - Portland -
Jazz musicians - Oregon - Portland
Music - Jazz
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
October 2005
9.9 x 6.9 x 0.6 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Jazz
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Jazz » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » History and Criticism
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Oregon » Portland » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

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Product details 229 pages Oregon State University Press - English 9780870711145 Reviews:
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