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One O'Clock Jump: The Unforgettable History of the Oklahoma City Blue Devils PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 31 August 2008 20:25

By Douglas Henry Daniels, Beacon Press, 2007, in print.

Reviews: Daniels chronicles a little-known but hugely influential jazz band: the Oklahoma City Blue Devils, which counted among its members Count Basie, Oran Page, Buster Smith and Lester Young. Touring from 1923 to 1933, the band had an appeal that crossed color and class lines, although it usually performed in segregated arenas.

Most of the musicians - some of whom were college-educated - became meaningful symbols of black musicians determined to satisfy their artistic needs, despite the odds. Their very existence, given racism and the Depression, symbolized "the vitality of a people," claims Daniels, a professor of black studies and history at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Whether playing in nightclubs or movie houses, the Blue Devils, with their masterful command of early swing, left their mark on the next generation of jazz and swing musicians, whose Kansas City and Chicago sounds often eclipsed the singular Oklahoma City strain.

To explore the Devils' enormous impact and their unique spirit of brotherhood, Daniels minutely records the lives of several key members, including Basie, Page, Smith and the famous blues singer Jimmy Rushing. He also illuminates the vibrant community of black Oklahomans, completing this important chronicle in American music history.


Publishers Weekly


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Last Updated on Sunday, 22 November 2009 04:30