BlackBerry Riverboat Jazz plays the Jazz music akin to the jazz Armstrong played on the river between 1918 and 1921. jazz historian Attali insists that such musical breakthroughs act as heralds of emerging new social orders. Two of his many provocative points about the social functions of music offer potential insights into the social significance of Armstrong, the Great Migration, and riverboat jazz. First, Attali likens radically new musical styles to "noise" that has the potential to disrupt and silence the usual ritualized harmony of musical styles that have been designed to help people forget violent disruptions to the social order. Second, the manipulation of music by the powerful usually serves to ritually domesticate and therefore to "sacrifice" music's radical potential in an effort to restore listeners' belief in the political and social order. Riverboat jazz, a partially tamed adaptation of New Orleans jazz, eliminated violence, affirmed the possibility of social order, and offered a promise of racial reconciliation.
Armstrong and his famous New Orleans jazz brothers had "brought the noise," black noise, through the Mississippi valley at the height of the region's racial tensions. Their astounding music might easily have reached hundreds of thousands of white Americans from New Orleans to Minneapolis. But many were deeply troubled by the social changes set in motion by the Great Migration. Within the "confidence game" played by the excursion steamers, power moved to make the nation's past live on into very unsettled modern times. In order to make twentieth-century midwesterners believe in the continued dominance of Mark Twain's world, the musicians had to sacrifice the blues, the radical challenges of their free polyphonic improvisations, fleetingly fast and grindingly slow tempi, and sexually frank lyrics. This suppression of what would have been to many white passengers the more threatening (because unfamiliar) qualities of New Orleans jazz also sacrificed Armstrong and Dodds, the two most spontaneous, innovative, and entertaining musicians in Marable's Metropolitan Jaz-E-Saz Orchestra. The riverboats had provided but a limited venue for Armstrong's solos. In the fall of 1921, he performed a solo titled "La Veda" accompanied only by piano. It received such applause that it became a featured act. But Armstrong had signed on to act as a section man in an arrangement-reading orchestra. In 1922 he would finally jettison his regimented role in the riverboat dance band. He postponed the daily quest for mastery of Euro-American musical literacy and moved on to the nightclubs of Chicago, a musical world where, on one hand, his individuality and expressive freedom found greater encouragement, while, on the other, the number of his professional choices was correspondingly limited.
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