chapter  7
16 Pages

District Storyville

Everywhere I went on my world journey, from the very first night in Tokyo, I heard jazz. It had started me thinking. I realized that jazz music was America’s real ambassador. The State Department had sent us out as cultural attachés to the world, but jazz without the benefit of any ex-officio

title, had beat us to the punch. It was already there. What was there about this music that made it so communicative to people everywhere, no matter how alien it seemed at first? Its joy was infectious and natural, with the pulse, rhythm, and sounds of human laughter. Its sorrow plumbed the depths of genuine pathos, its song the sound of weeping, moans, and deep sighs. It demanded continuous creativity. Improvisation was marrow to the bone of its being, and, like great storytelling everywhere, it was immediately accessible. It had roots that were deep and tenacious, reaching across continents and oceans and, nourished with blood and with tears, had flowered into this ubiquitous and beautiful weed.