JAZZ, JEWS, and AFRICAN AMERICANS:
Cultural Intersections in Newark and Beyond
unique exhibit explores the connections and interactions between Jews and African Americans in the performance, production
and promotion of Jazz music. Utilizing visual materials (photographs, documents, and text), it tells the story of how Jews
influences and were influenced by this African American art form as it has moved from the margins of society to occupy a central
place in the American musical and cultural landscape.
It chronicles the interactions between
Jews and African Americans, as well as prominent Newark institutions and musicians, throughout the history of jazz to the
present day. It highlights the many roles that Jews have assumed in jazz, from musicians, composers, and songwriters,
to record company executives and producers, to writers, critics, historians, photographers, and more.
Newarkers to be profiled include Wayne Shorter, Sarah Vaughan, Amiri Baraka, Lorraine Gordon, Rhoda Scott, James
Moody, James P. Johnson, Grachan Moncur III, Teddy Reig, Paul Bacon, Barbara
Kukla, Dan Morgenstern, Ed Berger, and others. The exhibit will also illuminate the state of jazz
in Newark today.
In addition, it will address longstanding and sensitive issues that arise when evaluating the contributions of other
groups, including Jews, to an essentially African American art form. These issues include the blackface tradition, most popularly
recalled by Al Jolson's performance in The Jazz Singer (1927), and the question of whether those non-African Americans were
guilty of appropriating jazz to succeed in the entertainment business.
Also examined will be the degradation of Jews, African Americans, and jazz through Nazi propaganda, which disparaged
jazz as "degenerate art," as well as the writings of automobile magnate Henry Ford, who railed against "Jewish
Jazz" and its creators for their allegedly insidious monopolization of American popular music.
"An exhibit that chronicles the relationship between Jews and African Americans as it relates to America's
only original contribution to world culture is long overdue," said Vincent Pelote, director of operations for the
Institute of Jazz Studies. "The finished project will be something that all the institutions involved in its
creation can take pride in."