Dr. Michael White, Traditional New Orleans Jazz as a Metaphor for American Life

ForeseeableFutures #9

Position Papers from Imagining America

In this essay, originally presented as the keynote address for Imagining America’s 2009 conference in New Orleans, jazz musician and scholar Michael G. White weaves a profound understanding of the meaning of traditional New Orleans jazz with the ideals of democratic life. Through his own words and live music from his four-piece ensemble, White explores the way traditional jazz foregrounds ideas about cultural and racial identity; the centrality of cultural practice as a medium for personal and political response to political realities; and the harmonies and tensions between virtuosic and collaborative invention. In this interactive Foreseeable Futures, we provide online musical clips from Dr. White’s keynote address, and invite the reader to experience the impact of what is typically the ephemerality of live performance.