from Combat: 4 April 1948
The problem is the following: black music is increasingly encumbered by sometimes harmonious but always superfluous and usually avoidable white elements. Should we contiunue to congratulate and encourage the whites in question, should we criticize them or simply tell them to go take their suspenders and hang themselves?
We heard one of them, Jack Teagarden, in Louis Armstrong’s band—Teagarden’s place is in the cloakroom. We saw two with Mezzrow—Mezzrow and Bob Wilber would have lost nothing but glory (and money) had they been replaced by Albert Nicholas or Bechet. We see the same problem every time there is a mixed band. Not to say that racial mixture is bad, but because in every case (example: Artie Shaw’s ‘Little Jazz’ featuring Roy Eldridge) it would do absolutely no damage to do away with the white part of the band.
I used to be all in favor of racial integration in principle. But I have been obliged to rethink my position. Sure, it’s fun to play with black musicians. But who profits from it? Surely not the blacks.
The only meaningful credential of Benny Goodman, who has found a privileged place in the record collection of a certain number of fans ( we won’t bother to seperate those who collect even his big-band records), is to have started the irst truly multi-racial combo. All other such attempts served only to accentuate the contrast.
We are all of us too sentimental. Why accept Teagarden even though Armstrong appreciates him? Surely even Armstrong can make a mistake. For his own good, we should oblige him to hire James Archey.
But, alas, the blacks are as sentimental as we are. Everybody likes to play with their friends and Teagarden is a really nice guy.
Should we bayonet all the white jazz musicians? Certainly not. But if only they’d all just drop dead…
Translated by Mike Zwerin