The spread of African-based “ratty” music beyond seedy nightclubs represented a kind of racial mixing, in effect bringing black culture to Creoles and whites. The music's popularity catapulted it beyond the few whites and Creole musicians who would venture into disrespectable neighborhoods to hear it. Yet audience enthusiasm only partly explains the creation and dissemination of the impure music called jazz. To get a fuller picture, this chapter looks at the lives of New Orleans musicians themselves, focusing on their role in facilitating the circulation of the music across racial lines. It discusses songsters, roustabouts, and brass bands as well as black church, racism, the Creole struggle to embrace jazz and how they learned black music, and white musicians.
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