Black British Jazz: Routes, Ownership and Performance edited by Jason Toynbee (OU Sociology), Catherine Tackley (OU Music) and Mark Doffman (a former OU PhD student now at the University of Oxford) will be published on 8 September. The volume was put together as a result of the AHRC-funded ‘What is Black British Jazz?’ project, based at the OU between 2009-2011. The OU’s Byron Dueck is also a contributor.
Black British musicians have been making jazz since around 1920 when the genre first arrived in Britain. This groundbreaking book reveals their hidden history and major contribution to the development of jazz in the UK. More than this, though, the chapters show the importance of black British jazz in terms of musical hybridity and the cultural significance of race. Decades before Steel Pulse, Soul II Soul, or Dizzee Rascal pushed their way into the mainstream, black British musicians were playing jazz in venues up and down the country from dance halls to tiny clubs. In an important sense, then, black British jazz demonstrates the crucial importance of musical migration in the musical history of the nation, and the links between popular and avant-garde forms. But the volume also provides a case study in how music of the African diaspora reverberates around the world, beyond the shores of the USA – the engine-house of global black music. As such it will engage scholars of music and cultural studies not only in Britain, but across the world.