Jazz @ the Library - River City Swing: Memphis Jazz in the Post-WWII Era


Thad & Mel

and the Fresno County Public Libraries host (free and open to the public) Jazz @ the Library, Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Woodward Park Regional County Library located at 944 E. Perrin Ave. (Champlain & Perrin).

Dr. Ray Briggs, ethnomusicologist and Assistant Director of Jazz Studies at California State University, Long Beach, will speak on the topic “River City Swing: Memphis Jazz in the Post-WWII Era,” drawn from his book on the history of jazz in Memphis (forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press). Often seen as the quintessential southern music city, Memphis, Tennessee has been celebrated as “Home of the Blues,” “The Birthplace of Rock and Roll” and a major source par excellence for soul music. This southern metropolis has stood historically as a mecca of musical innovation and creativity in the mid-south region. The jazz tradition in the city, however, has received scant attention. So impressed with the city’s prolific output of talented instrumentalists during its golden age of jazz (1940s-1950s), modern jazz icon Miles Davis once asked, “What were they doing down there when all them guys came through…?”

In response to this pressing question, this presentation will offer a brief overview of Memphis’ jazz legacy, with particular emphasis on the post-WWII era. In addition to highlighting significant individuals and their contributions to the local and national/international jazz scene, the session will uncover key connections between the jazz community and the city’s social and political infrastructure.