Since the emergence of jazz in the late 19th century, Jews have helped shape the art form as musicians, bandleaders, songwriters, promoters, record label managers and more. Working alongside African Americans but often with fewer barriers to success, Jews helped jazz gain recognition as a uniquely American art form, symbolic of the melting pot’s potential.
Stories of Music
Learners will consider how jazz has been an important platform through which Jews have helped shape the pluralistic nature of American society. While Jews have been involved in jazz through virtually all phases of its development, they have used it to express Jewishness in a relatively small number of outward ways.
Learners will be asked to think about questions such as:
- Why have Jews been drawn to jazz?
- In what ways is Jews’ involvement in jazz similar to or different from Jews’ involvement in other genres of music?
- How has jazz facilitated the interaction between Jewish and non-Jewish cultures?
- How have Jews’ relationships to jazz changed (or not changed) over time?