Outside and Inside
Race and Identity in White Jazz Autobiography
A unique, insider perspective on race relations in a great American music
Outside and Inside: Representations of Race and Identity in White Jazz Autobiography is the first full-length study of key autobiographies of white jazz musicians. White musicians from a wide range of musical, social, and economic backgrounds looked to black music and culture as the model on which to form their personal identities and their identities as professional musicians. Their accounts illustrate the triumphs and failures of jazz interracialism. As they describe their relationships with black musicians who are their teachers and peers, white jazz autobiographers display the contradictory attitudes of reverence and entitlement, and deference and insensitivity that remain part of the white response to black culture to the present day.
Outside and Inside features insights into the development of jazz styles and culture in the urban meccas of twentieth-century jazz in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Reva Marin considers the autobiographies of sixteen white male jazz instrumentalists, including renowned swing-era bandleaders Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Charlie Barnet; reed instrumentalists Mezz Mezzrow, Bob Wilber, and Bud Freeman; trumpeters Max Kaminsky and Wingy Manone; guitarist Steve Jordan; pianists Art Hodes and Don Asher; saxophonist Art Pepper; guitarist and bandleader Eddie Condon; and New Orleans–style clarinetist Tom Sancton.
While critical race theory informs this work, Marin argues that viewing these texts simply through the lens of white privilege does not do justice to the kind of sustained relationships with black music and culture described in the accounts of white jazz autobiographers. She both insists upon the value of insider perspectives and holds the texts to rigorous scrutiny, while embracing an expansive interpretation of white involvement in black culture. Marin opens new paths for study of race relations and racial, ethnic, and gender identity formation in jazz studies.