I note that in 2009 someone noted that "discussion of jazz is finally
coming out from under the shadow of Ken Burns' 'Jazz.'" One direction the
discussion is now taking is the idea that the word
'jazz' itself is inappropriate to identify the central core of the music,
as it is shackled to a milieu of colonialism and slavery. The term "Black
American Music," or BAM, or #BAM has been suggested
as an alternative by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, who cites that musicians
such as Duke Ellington disliked the term "jazz" and Louis Armstrong stated
that in New Orleans in the early days the term
was not used.

I've met Nicholas Payton, a long time ago, and I liked him very much
personally. But even he has said that he is not the same person that he was
15 years ago when we met, and in all fairness, neither am I.
I will not link directly to his manifesto of thinking on this topic because
I think the foul language and content of the piece would tend only to
enrage many of the people here. Below my sig I have a link to a
(mostly negative) article about it, which does contain a further link
to Payton's statement, for those who dare. You've been warned.

I do understand how such a designation, or one like it, might help to
separate out the desirable core from music that was either already around,
or also evolving, circa 1916-22 that is either distantly,
or not, related to it, all of which is called "jazz" in historical
advertising and other sources. But if you look at its history, what we
commonly call jazz covers a lot of territory that develops swiftly and
In just the years 1945-50 alone, we have bebop, progressive, the decline of
swing, sweet things like Marjorie Hughes vocal on Frankie Carle's "Oh! What
it Seemed to Be," Buddy Clark's last recordings,
Frank Sinatra's first solo outings, the rise of Latin Jazz. All different
things -- some may say Marjorie Hughes doesn't fit, but what she did is not
far off what we regard as jazz singing from other singers
who have reputations for that sort of thing. So you take BAM out of that,
and all of the other stuff goes flying off into other directions
category-wise. And there's a bit of a problem in separating the
Latin Jazz and the bebop, as they are clearly related in this period. And
most listeners at the time couldn't tell the difference between bebop and
progressive; it was all modern jazz, and many people then hated it.
Which brings up the question as to how important historically derived
categories are; it appears that we adopt some and reject others with no
traceable lineage as to why we determine that some are not

So my main question is; are we all ready to redesignate such individual,
past styles into microcategories, much as has been done with popular music
of the last two decades? I do not know the difference
between Darkwave, Screamo or Slowcore, but they are all out there and are
recent. If we have to develop new authorities, who's going to make the
call? Are there folks on this list who already have devised such
smaller categories in their own systems? I can see at the library/archival
level where the idea might be desirable. But I do not see how we would rid
ourselves of the word 'jazz" in regard to the past,
and I can't say that getting rid of it altogether because "it is holding on
to an oppressive idea" is reason enough. If you want to be rid of it in
regard to what you are playing now, then I guess I don't
have a problem with that.

Uncle Dave Lewis
Lebanon, OH