The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
ROBERT CHRISTGAU ON MINSTRELSY AND MEMORY:
It's hard to grasp this music's reality, as in [Robert] Winans's underwhelming attempt to re-create it on an album called The Early Minstrel Show--the ensemble precision recalls the neat simulacra of jazz repertory, and you can hear the singers wince whenever they pronounce the word "nigger." But for all we can really know, Winans's band of ethnomusicologists on a spree may have every inflection just right. It's impossible to be sure from this side of the divide that minstrel music opened up--impossible to adjust our ears back to before blue notes, gospel melismas, ragtime, bebop, railroad trains, gramophone records, saxophones, electric guitars, Chick Webb, James Brown, punk, hip hop, the sandpaper musicality of uncounted rough baritones, and the omnipresence of more noise than can be comprehended by a Monday morning or a Saturday night.
(from "
In Search of Jim Crow," The Believer, February 2004)


posted by Jesse 2:15 PM
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