Vol. 8 No. 1 (2012)
Review Essays

Is Conventional Jazz History Distorted by Myths?

Published 2012-07-17

How to Cite

Sanchirico, A. (2012). Is Conventional Jazz History Distorted by Myths?. Journal of Jazz Studies, 8(1), 55–81. https://doi.org/10.14713/jjs.v8i1.30


A recent book by jazz musician Randall Sandke strongly criticizes jazz writers and scholars for presenting a biased and misleading picture of jazz history. His basic thesis is that, because of ideology, the standard jazz texts exaggerate the importance of African American culture in the development of jazz, thereby creating a mythology of jazz. This article examines one aspect of Sandke’s thesis: his assertion that the myths created by earlier jazz writers are being perpetuated by present day writers. A content analysis of jazz history books published since 1990 indicates that Sandke’s assertion is largely false. Only one of seven myths that he identified appears with any regularity in the current jazz history books.  The six other myths are rarely if ever found in the literature. After describing these findings, the article draws some conclusions.