Performing Authenticity “In Your Own Sweet Way”

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Kelsey A.K. Klotz

Abstract

(Opening paragraph): "

In a 2001 interview for a PBS documentary titled Rediscovering Dave Brubeck, jazz critic Ira Gitler volunteered that the songs “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke,” both Dave Brubeck originals, became jazz standards “when Miles Davis played them, that gave them the official stamp of approval.” When interviewer Hedrick Smith asked Gitler why Davis could give the songs a stamp approval that Brubeck himself could not, Gitler responded, “Well because Miles Davis, in giving his stamp of approval to these Brubeck compositions by recording them, here was a black jazz man who was respected in both the black and white circles, and when he did it black people had to say, you know, ‘that’s cool.’” Put simply, Davis’s versions were “cool”—were somehow authentic—while Brubeck’s versions were not, despite being considered by most critics and audiences to be part of the cool jazz genre. In distinguishing between these uses of the term “cool,” Gitler rooted Davis’s authenticity and jazz authority in his blackness, implying that Brubeck’s whiteness kept him from achieving the same status.

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Author Biography

Kelsey A.K. Klotz

Kelsey A.K. Klotz is a lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She holds a Ph.D. in Musicology and a doctoral certificate in American Culture Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. She has published articles in Dædalus and Jazz Perspectives. Klotz is currently working on a book manuscript that examines the ways in which white “cool” jazz pianist Dave Brubeck represented American whiteness for audiences and critics in sound and image in the 1950s and 1960s.