WBGO Blog
  • Myths About Jazz: Part One

    April 28, 2011. Posted by Alex Rodriguez.

    Did jazz really come from work songs and field hollers?

    This is the third post in a new biweekly blog feature, You Don't Know Jazz! With Dr. Lewis Porter.

    Series Introduction

    Episode 1: A Blues Recording From the Congo -- In 1906!

    Episode 2: The Origins of the Word "Jazz"

    (PLEASE NOTE: If the reader uses any of the material from this series, no matter how brief, this article and its web address must be cited as the source. Thank you for respecting the intellectual property of Dr. Porter.)

    Debunking the myths: Can you really believe what you hear about jazz?

    This week, I begin a series that discusses common (mis-)statements about jazz and its history. These are so pervasive on the web, in books, and in interviews that I’m sure you’ve heard them before. (For some, I have included links to show how they are being used even in reputable sites.) Actually, as you’ll hear on the podcasts, not all are really “myths.” Some are totally wrong, but others are only partly wrong. In some cases they don't make logical sense; and when they do make sense, some are so misleading and simplistic that they might as well be completely false. Read more

  • The Origins of the Word "Jazz"

    April 14, 2011. Posted by Alex Rodriguez.

    ThatFunnyJasBandFromDixielandCover1916
    The first known recording that uses the word "Jazz"

    This is the second post in a new biweekly blog feature, You Don't Know Jazz! With Dr. Lewis Porter.

    Series Introduction

    Episode 1: A Blues Recording From the Congo -- In 1906!

    (PLEASE NOTE: If the reader uses any of the material from this series, no matter how brief, this article and its web address must be cited as the source. Thank you for respecting the intellectual property of Dr. Porter.)

    Where did your favorite four-letter-word "Jazz" come from? Not where you think!

    When it comes to the origin of the word “jazz,” it seems that each person simply believes what she or he wants to. Some people would like the word to come from Africa, so they firmly believe the stories that support that. Others want it to be an African American word, so they look for that. But professional linguists have been on the case for decades, and the real story is a lot less black and white.

    Read more

  • A Blues Recording From The Congo -- In 1906!

    March 31, 2011. Posted by Alex Rodriguez.

    The Congo River Basin: Birthplace of the Blues?

    This is the first post in a new biweekly blog feature, You Don't Know Jazz! With Dr. Lewis Porter. For the series introduction, click here.

    (PLEASE NOTE: If the reader uses any of the material from this series, no matter how brief, this article and its web address must be cited as the source. Thank you for respecting the intellectual property of Dr. Porter.)

    Finally--Proof that the MELODIC content of African American music (not just the rhythm) comes from Africa!

    In talking about the African origins of African American music, most people fall back on comparing African drumming troupes with jazz bands—and from that starting point, either they try desperately to show that African drums and jazz are similar (Gunther Schuller, Marshall Stearns, many others) or they argue that there is too little similarity (Randy Sandke, most recently). This recording shows that they are all on the wrong track: African MELODIES have survived in African American music--especially the blues--and this recording proves it! Read more