One of my favorite sentiments to pull out when talking about our friends over on the other side of the world, is that “the Japanese do Americana far better than we ever could.” Of course, it’s a blanket statement holds about as much weight as a bag full of feathers, but nonetheless it sure is fun to say. I first came up with the line during a spur of the moment discussion with a few colleagues about the state of the Japanese vintage market, which by now is probably stocked with more U.S. made deadstock pieces then any of us could even begin to fathom. It’s a cheeky line and makes me seem much more well-versed on the topic than I am, so I’ve kept on saying it, but each time I repeat it, it becomes that much more evident to me just how much of a double-edged sword those ten words are.
Jazz is the untamable offspring from the turn of the twentieth century. Fueled by the ever-escalating emotions of Blues, Ragtime, Swing, and Dixieland all swirled together, Jazz erupted onto the scene throughout the Southern U.S., riding an uptempo whirlwind of inspiration and improvisation. It was birthed from all the sounds and songs that preceded it, but where Jazz really came from was the gut, a free-flowing genre that ebbed and flowed with the mercuriality of the artist. As volatile as it was beautiful, early Jazz gave a howling voice to those that had been silenced for far too long. America was in flux, and Jazz was the beast that ran wild across the ever-evolving streets of this country. As the Prohibition Era was ushered in, Jazz became the soundtrack for revelry and sheer joy in the face of suppression and flat out boredom. It was the music of the passionately misunderstood, and the understandably passionate, played by those who couldn’t find the words to express themselves, but could certainly find the notes.