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AINT MISBEHAVIN
The FATS WALLER Musical Show

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Based on an idea by Murray Horwitz


and Richard Maltby, Jr.
Directed and choreographed by
Marcia Milgrom Dodge

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jazz
STUDY GUIDE
Compiled by M. Christine Benner

PITTSBURGH PUBLIC THEATERS STUDY GUIDE TO


Aint Misbehavin: The FATS WALLER Musical Show
based on an idea by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr.
January 20 - February 20, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS
About the Show
Falling in Love With Fats
This Time Around
What is a Revue?
Songs of Aint Misbehavin
Contemporary Connections

3
4
5
7
9

About the Man


Fats Waller: Giant of Jazz
Harlem Stride Piano

10
13

About the Time


Harlem: History and Rebirth
What is a Rent Party?
Dancing in Harlem
Are You Hep to the Jive?
Additional Terms

15
18
23
24
26

Resources and Suggested Readings


Fats Waller
Harlem Renaissance
Jazz

27
27
29

Falling in Love With Fats


How Aint Misbehavin came to Broadway
by M. Christine Benner
Fats Wallers song Aint Misbehavin rose to fame in a
Broadway show. Fats Waller himself was one of the greatest performers America has ever seen. It is therefore no
surprise that the show dedicated to Fats Wallers music won
the love of the American public on the Broadway stage. But
there were those who were amazed.
Broadway is known for its musicals--big productions, immense casts, flashy costumes, and intricately choreographed
Fats Waller directing his band.
songs. When a show with little or no plot, five actors, and a
few songs by Fats Waller won the New York Drama Circle
Best Musical Award in 1978, many were astonished. The
original production of Aint Misbehavin ran through the seventies and into the eighties--1,604 performances in all. Fats Waller, more than thirty years after his death, was again a sensation.
Years before Aint Misbehavin became the sweetheart show of New York City, a teenaged boy by the
name of Murray Horwitz was searching through the music of Dayton, Ohios Public Library. He found
an album entitled Valentine Stomp and checked it out. Interested in both comedy and jazz, the
teenager fell instantly in love with the music he heard. For the next ten years, he pursued and collected
the music of the jazz comedian, Fats Waller. Partnered with lyricist and director Richard Maltby, Jr.,
Horwitz helped to create Aint Misbehavin. The energy and warmth that Horwitz had sensed in Fats
Wallers music as a teenager began to spread to every person that saw the show.
Nell Carter, Ken Page, Andre De
Shields, Charlaine Woodard, and
Armelia McQueen starred in the
original production. Luther
Henderson, a lengendary figure in
Broadway music, played the piano-the symbol of Fats Wallers music.
Arthur Faria, an expert on 1930s
dance, choreographed the show. Six
years after the show left Broadway,
Carter, Page, and Henderson
brought it back for another 184 performances.

The original cast of Aint Misbehavin

Today, Aint Misbehavin retains its


popularity as an energetic, musically rich show. In January and February of this year alone, over eight
theaters in the United States and Canada are producing Aint Misbehavin. Over sixty years after Fats
Wallers last performance, new audiences are meeting and falling in love with him again.
3

This Time Around

Our production of Aint Misbehavin


looks a little different than it did in 1978:

A traditional revue is a group of singers and dancers reviewing popular songs.


There is no pretense of setting or plot.
Our performers will be performing as if they were at a 1930s Harlem rent party.
Performers in a revue generally do not change costume.
Our actors will change costumes a number of times during the show. Watch for themes
or trends in costuming.
Bands for revues are there to back up the singers. They are usually off to one side
or unseen.
The six members of our band will be visible on stage. They, like the singers, are a part of
the production.
The original cast consisted of five performers using their actual names--Andre,
Armelia, Charlaine, Ken, and Nell--as character names.
Our cast (the standard five with three extras) have been given character names typical of
Harlem in the 1930s.

How could these choices change the production? Why might a


director choose to do the show one way or the other?
4

What is a Revue?
by Gary Cadwallader
Seaside Music Theater
A revue is a topical show consisting of a series of scenes and episodes, usually having a
central theme but not a dramatic plot, often with spoken verse and prose, sketches, songs,
dances, ballet and specialty acts. Revues developed in France in the 19th century, and were
taken up by other countries including Britain and the USA, and enjoyed their greatest acclaim
and significance between the world wars. In a revue there are elements of other stage forms
such as cabaret, variety show, vaudeville, pantomime, burlesque and musical comedy.
In the US a revue developed mostly from extravagant burlesques and vaudeville in New York
during the late 19th century. John Brougham wrote one of the first, The Dramatic Review for
1868 (1869), a piece burlesquing the previous years popular theater, but the show was
unsuccessful and prompted no imitations. The first popular revue came in 1894 with The
Passing Show (music by Ludwig Englander), which, like Broughams piece, was a satire on
theatrical productions but which incorporated some topical songs in the style of Tin Pan Alley.
Soon there were many revues on the New York stage. Those starring Joe Weber and Lew
Fields (1896-1904) had vaudeville-like farce and pantomime, humorous songs, dances and
more travesties on theatrical productions.
The real establishment
of American revue came
with the Follies of 1907,
a musical review of the
New York sensations of
the

past

season.

Produced by Florenz
Ziegfeld,

Jr.,

it

appropriated the name


and style of Frances
Folies-Bergere, though

Performers from the Ziegfeld Follies of 1915

the female chorus had to


5

attract more by sheer beauty than mere nakedness. It became the first of an annual series of
Ziegfeld Follies that became progressively more spectacular. Ziegfeld set the standard with
very large casts, an emphasis on female glamour, grand costumes and sets, fast-paced scenes
and star performers like Fanny Brice, W.C. Fields, Ed Cantor and Marilyn Miller. The shows
remained a leading form of Americanstage entertainment into the 1920s and produced many
imitations; notably the Shubert brothers The Passing Show series from 1912, the Greenwich
Village Follies from 1919, Irving Berlins four Music Box Revues (1921-1924) and the Earl
Carroll Vanities from 1922.
The team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart collaborated on a series of shows in which
simplicity and economy replaced elaborateness of setting and costume. Smaller-scale, but
still lavish revues were also given in rooftop theatres and nightclubs, notably the Cotton Club
in Harlem. From the 1920s the more serious, intimate revue came to the fore as lavish
productions waned during the economic depression. In addition, the departure of the leading
composers for Hollywood hastened the decline of the genre, although giving opportunities to
newer songwriters. After World War II revues were performed less frequently at large Broadway
theatres. While the song-and-dance revue found new life on television, satirical intimate
revue was fostered by repertory companies throughout the country in the 1960s. The
productions more often favored improvised sketches and topical commentary on American
society, abandoning the complex choreography and elaborate sets. The music increasingly
used rock and electronic idioms.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s revues became popular for looking back at music from the
past. Along with Aint Misbehavin, popular revues included Eubie!, the music of Eubie Blake,
Sophisticated Ladies, the music of Duke Ellington, Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill, the
music of Kurt Weill, Closer Than Ever, the music of Richard Maltby, Jr. (director of Aint
Misbehavin) and David Shire, and Tintypes, the music of the turn of the 19th century.

Songs of Aint Misbehavin


All songs were written or recorded by Fats Waller

ACT I
How Ya Baby (1938)
Lyrics by J.C. Johnson

Aint Misbehavin (1929)


Music by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks
Lyrics by Andy Razaf

The Jitterbug Waltz (1942)


Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Vocal arrangement by William Elliott

Lookin Good But Feelin Bad (1929)


Lyrics by Lester A. Santly
T Aint Nobodys Biz-ness If I Do (1922)
(The first song recorded by Fats Waller)
Music and Lyrics by Porter Grainger and
Everett Robbins
Additional Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and
Murray Horwitz

The Ladies Who Sing With the Band (1943)


Lyrics by George Marion, Jr.

Honeysuckle Rose (1929)


Lyrics by Andy Razaf

When the Nylons Bloom Again (1943)


Lyrics by George Marion, Jr.

Squeeze Me (1925)
Lyrics by Clarence Williams

Cash for Your Trash (1942)


Lyrics by Ed Kirkeby

Handful of Keys (1933)


Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Murray
Horwitz (based on an idea by Marty Grosz)
Vocal arrangement by William Elliott

Off-Time (1929)
Music by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks
Lyrics by Andy Razaf

Yacht Club Swing (1938)


Music by Fats Waller and Herman Autry
Lyrics by J.C. Johnson

The Joint is Jumpin (1938)


Lyrics by Andy Razaf and J.C. Johnson

Ive Got a Feeling Im Falling (1929)


Music by Fats Waller and Harry Link
Lyrics by Billy Rose

ACT II

FINALE: Fats Waller Hits

Spreadin Rhythm Around (1935)


Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Ted Koehler
Additional Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.

Im Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself


a Letter (1933)
Music by Fred E. Ahlert
Lyrics by Joe Young

Lounging at the Waldorf (1936)


Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr.
Vocal arrangement by William Elliott

Two Sleepy People (1938)


Music by Hoagy Carmichael
Lyrics by Frank Loesser

The Vipers Drag (1934)


The Reefer Song (traditional)

Ive Got My Fingers Crossed (1935)


Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Ted Koehler

Mean to Me (1929)
Music and Lyrics by Roy Turk and
Fred E. Ahlert

I Cant Give You Anything But Love (1928)


Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields

Your Feets Too Big (1936)


Music and Lyrics by Ada Benson and
Fred Fisher

Its a Sin to Tell a Lie (1933)


Music and Lyrics by Billy Mayhew

That Aint Right (1943)


Music and Lyrics by Nat King Cole
Additional Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and
Murray Horwitz

Honeysuckle Rose (reprise)

Keepin Out of Mischief Now (1932)


Lyrics by Andy Razaf
Find Out What They Like (1929)
Lyrics by Andy Razaf
Fat and Greasy (1936)
Music and Lyrics by Porter Grainger and
Charlie Johnson
Black and Blue (1929)
Music by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks
Lyrics by Andy Razaf
Vocal arrangement by William Elliott

Contemporary Connections
Reprinted, with permission, from
CENTERSTAGE; The Next Stage; January, 2003
Rhonda Robbins, Editor
Rap, a musical poetic expression, evolved
from African people in general and black
people born in the United States in particular. Its origins can be traced to West Africa
where tribesmen held men of words in high
regard. When slaves were brought to the
New World, they integrated American music
with the beats they remembered from Africa.

Jazz, Rap, and Hip Hop

are particular forms of black expressive


culture. They are part of a continuum of
African aesthetic expressiveness. Like
many traditional African art forms, they are at
once communal and competitive.
Competition, especially what we now call
trash talking, is a component of traditional
African culture. However, in traditional African
culture, competition is holistic (unifying) rather
than dualistic (isolating).
African
communalism, a belief system that places the
community before the individual, embraces
competitiveness but not selfishness. There
is not a conflict between competitiveness and
communalism in the African performance
tradition, because the communal essence
counterbalances the aggression of
competitiveness.

Another origin of rap is a form of


Jamaican folk stories called
toasts. These are narrative poems that tell stories in rhyme.

Early raps included boastful tales and


playful put-downs intended to taunt rival
rappers. Today, rappers openly challenge
their opponents to improvise clever and
flawless raps on the spot in Freestyle Battling competitions such as seen in the hit
television show Making the Band.

Z
Z
A
J CALL AND RES

Jazz cutting contests are forums in which two musicians duel to see
who is the best. Yet, even as they duel, they do so in a collective
context, playing with their bandmates, or, in the case of piano cutting contests, drawing on a common repertoire.

PONSE

Traditional African praise songs allow performers to interact


with the audience through call and response as well as to
showcase their superior abilities.

Fats Waller: Giant of Jazz


By Richard S. Ginell, All Music Guide
Courtesy of allmusic.com

Not only was Fats Waller one of the greatest pianists jazz has ever known, he was also one of its
most exuberantly funny entertainers and as so often happens, one facet tends to obscure the other.
His extraordinarily light and flexible touch belied his ample physical girth; he could swing as hard as
any pianist alive or dead in his classic James P. Johnson-derived stride manner, with a powerful left
hand delivering the octaves and tenths in a tireless, rapid, seamless stream. Waller also pioneered the
use of the pipe organ and Hammond organ in jazz he called the pipe organ the God box
adapting his irresistible sense of swing to the pedals and a staccato right hand while making imaginative
changes of the registration. As a composer and improviser, his melodic invention rarely flagged, and he
contributed fistfuls of joyous yet paradoxically winsome songs like Honeysuckle Rose, Aint
Misbehavin, Keepin Out of Mischief Now, Blue Turning Grey Over You and the extraordinary
Jitterbug Waltz to the jazz repertoire.
During his lifetime and afterwards, though, Fats Waller was
best known to the world for his outsized comic personality and sly
vocals, where he would send up trashy tunes that Victor Records made
him record with his nifty combo, Fats Waller and his Rhythm. Yet on
virtually any of his records, whether the song is an evergreen standard
or the most trite bit of doggerel that a Tin Pan Alley hack could serve
up, you will hear a winning combination of good knockabout humor,
foot-tapping rhythm and fantastic piano playing. Today, almost all of
Fats Wallers studio recordings can be found on RCAs on-again-offagain series The Complete Fats Waller, which commenced on LPs in
1975 and was still in progress during the 1990s.
Thomas Fats Waller came from a Harlem household where his father was a Baptist lay preacher
and his mother played piano and organ. Waller took up the piano at age six, playing in a school orchestra
10

led by Edgar Sampson (of Chick Webb fame). After his mother died when he was 14, Waller moved
into the home of pianist Russell Brooks, where he met and studied with James P. Johnson. Later, Waller
also received classical lessons from Carl Bohm and the famous pianist Leopold Godowsky. After making
his first record at age 18 for Okeh in 1922, Birmingham Blues and Muscle Shoals Blues, he backed
various blues singers and worked as house pianist and organist at rent parties and in movie theatres and
clubs. He began to attract attention as a composer during the early and mid-1920s, forming a most
fruitful alliance with lyricist Andy Razaf that resulted in three
Broadway shows in the late 20s, Keep Shufflin, Load of Coal,
and Hot Chocolates.
Waller started making records for Victor in 1926; his
most significant early records for that label were a series of
brilliant 1929 solo piano sides of his own compositions like
Handful of Keys and Smashing Thirds. After finally
signing an exclusive Victor contract in 1934, he began the
long-running, prolific series of records with his Rhythm, which
won him great fame and produced several hits, including Your
Feets Too Big, The Joint Is Jumpin and Im Gonna Sit
Right Down and Write Myself a Letter. He began to appear
in films like Hooray for Love and King of Burlesque in 1935 while continuing regular appearances on
radio that dated back to 1923. He toured Europe in 1938, made organ recordings in London for HMV
and appeared on one of the first television broadcasts. He returned to London the following spring to
record his most extensive composition, London Suite for piano and percussion, and embark on an
extensive continental tour (which, alas, was cancelled by fears of impending war with Germany). Well
aware of the popularity of big bands in the 30s, Waller tried to form his own, but they were short-lived.
Into the 1940s, Wallers touring schedule of the U.S. escalated, he contributed music to another
musical, Early to Bed, the film appearances kept coming (including a memorable stretch of Stormy
Weather where he led an all-star band that included Benny Carter, Slam Stewart and Zutty Singleton),
the recordings continued to flow, and he continued to eat and drink in extremely heavy quantities. Years
of draining alimony squabbles, plus overindulgence and, no doubt, frustration over not being taken
11

more seriously as an artist, began to wear the pianist down. Finally,


after becoming ill during a gig at the Zanzibar Room in Hollywood
in December 1943, Waller boarded the Santa Fe Chief train for
the long trip back to New York. He never made it, dying of
pneumonia aboard the train during a stop at Union Station in
Kansas City.
While every clown longs to play Hamlet as per the clich
and Waller did have so-called serious musical pretensions,
longing to follow in George Gershwins footsteps and compose
concert music it probably was not in the cards anyway due to
the racial barriers of the first half of the 20th century. Besides,
given the fact that Waller influenced a long line of pianists of and
after his time, including Count Basie (who studied with Fats),
Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and
countless others, his impact has been truly profound.

12

Harlem Stride Piano


By Mike Lipskin
Reprinted with permission of the author
Stride is a jazz piano style originating in early 20th Century, a vibrant and rich jazz idiom with a unique
place in American keyboard music. Unfortunately more and more jazz commentators and self-anointed
jazz scholars have propagated an inaccurate characterization of the idiom.
Special and separate from other formative jazz piano styles; stride is one of the most classical- European
oriented. It also draws on the rich traditions of American pop music, as well as impressionist composers
and Chopin. Stride influenced 20th Century pop music and was influenced by it. You can hear George
Gershwin and Cole Porter in stride and you can hear strides influence in them. Duke Ellington was a
fine stride pianist, and his 1920s recordings sometimes sound like orchestrated James P. Johnson and
Willie The Lion Smith. Art Tatum was a stride pianist, as was Count
Basie, and early on, Thelonious Monk and Errol Garner.
Its most accomplished practitioners, Fats Waller, Willie The Lion Smith,
Donald Lambert, and above all, James P. Johnson, respected European
musical tradition and had some formal training. Consequently they were
concerned with pianistic dynamics, tone, and tension and release, more
so than those who worked in other primary styles: boogie woogie, trumpet style, New Orleans
sound and the swing sound of Jess Stacy or Joe Sullivan (not to denigrate these other great jazz piano
sounds). Waller and Johnson also were song writers with many pop tunes to their credit and hit Broadway
shows.
Unfortunately as time passes there is less and less understanding of what stride is, with fewer pianists
able to play it although they claim to. Misguided jazz history teachers bunch much pre-bop piano
together, with little scholarly analysis or understanding of this music. The confusion is compounded by
their labeling as stride other styles where the left hand alternates between the lower bass notes and the
middle ones on the keyboard. Some think that Teddy Wilson, Jess Stacey and Jelly Roll Morton are
playing stride. As great and innovative as these giants are, they were not stride pianists.

13

Ragtime, a simple three theme written non-jazz music is sometimes mistaken for stride because it
preceded the form, and has the alternating left hand. Often those who want to sound knowledgeable call
ragtime stride. The harmonics and rhythms of ragtime are much simpler, more repeated, and it derives
from fewer sources.
I am often asked if stride is where the left hand plays a single note or a tenth on the first and third beats,
and a chord on the second and fourth or when the tempo is fast. This is a small facet of so many styles,
not just stride, and does nothing to musically explain what it is. Yes, stride is so called because the left
hand strides or alternates sometimes between low octaves or tenths (if you can play tenth intervals as
Waller and Tatum did, not broken) and chords toward middle C of the keyboard. But it is a musical
language using many idioms, varied harmonics and rhythms, such as 2 against 3. It must be studied
over a period of years so that the performer no longer has to think about each left hand alternation but
can program ahead several bars. As
all jazz, it is impossible to play
properly by simply reading sheet
music, and when younger pianists
try to play a Waller or Johnson piece
note for note from a written
transcription, the special swing and
feeling of the style are completely
lost. They often sound mechanical,
like piano rolls or someone at a
Disneyland Pizza joint.
A good stride pianist will also
respect the song being played,
subtly reminding the listener of the

A player piano. Fats Waller learned to play his first


stride piano piece on such an insturment.

melodic line creating variations in harmonic context to what the composer asked for. A real stride
pianist also plays a whole song with variations on a theme for several minutes, not just two or four bars
of imitative stride between whatever other style (usually post bop) the pianist is conversant with. There
must be varying of the dynamics, with minute retard and anticipation between right and left hands. The
sense of order underlying improvisation is sonic craftsmanship supreme.

14

Harlem: History and Rebirth


by M. Christine Benner
Harlem began as a farming village,
became a resort town, an upper-class
neighborhood, a slum, and
eventually was born as the idol of
black innovation. The artists,
writers, and entertainers of Harlem
in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s were
men and women of strength and
creativity. They created works that
changed American culture; they
were the Harlem Renaissance.
When the Dutch came to America
in the mid-1600s, they were in the
A sunset view of Harlem
midst of their greatest span of power,
sending ships from New Zealand to
Indonesia, to the New World. During the fifty years of Dutch occupation, the New Netherlands was
focused on a long, narrow island. A barricaded wall protected the capital city, New Amsterdam, from
any potential attack. The north part of the islandbest reached by following an old Indian trail that ran
north to southwas flat and lush, ideal for farming. New Haarlem, named for a city in Holland, was
built as a farming village for the settlers.
Harlem kept its name long after its Dutch founders were gone. (The trail became known as Broadway,
the barricade as Wall Street, and New Amsterdam as New York City.) The considerable distance from
New York City made Harlem an ideal location for the country estates of the wealthy upper class. In the
late 19th century, as improved transportation made commuting from the northern part of Manhattan
possible, well-to-do white New Yorkers were seeking apartments in Harlem, away from the exploding
immigrant population further downtown. Housing prices were inflated; demand was highHarlem
real estate was ballooning out of
control. When the bottom fell out of
the market in the early 1900s, building
owners in Harlem were desperate to
rent their property. An expanding black
population soon filled and overfilled the
empty apartments.
New York had become a major
destination for the hundreds of
thousands of black Americans escaping
the intolerant, abusive environment of
the South. The black parts of New
York CityThe Tenderloin, Hells
Kitchen, and San Juan Hillwere full
to bursting; the African-American

Harlem row houses


15

population in New York needed housing. In 1911, the Metropolitan Baptist Church became the first
black church to move its meeting place to Harlem. Other churches and social institutions were soon to
follow. Immigrants from both Africa and the West Indies were also pouring into the port city. By 1930,
two-thirds of the black population of New York were living in Harlem. Given the tensions between
North and South, foreign- and native-born, black New Yorkers had anything but a unified front. But the
growing in numbers and influence, the power of the group as a whole was unmistakable.
Organizations like Marcus Garveys Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and W.E.B.
DuBois National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) found Harlem the
perfect place to begin their work. While both Garvey and DuBois taught pride and self-reliance for
their people, DuBois encouraged participation in American institutions (such as the military); Garvey
urged blacks to form their own
independent nation.
The culture of Harlem began to form
under the increasing push for unity.
Black artists observed their neighbors
from the South, the North, from Africa,
and from the West Indies. In the crucible
of Harlem, creative energy surged
between minds. The black communities
of the world were finding inspiration in
each other.

Langston Hughes
Of the many writers of the Harlem
Renaissance, Langston Hughes is
perhaps the best known and the
most influential. Hughes took the
sounds and rhythms of jazz and the
blues and translated them into poetry. In his forty years of writing,
Hughes produced sixteen books of
poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, twenty plays,
childrens poetry, various musicals, operas, autobiographies
and more.

The Roaring Twenties, a time of


youthful exuberance nationwide, was
especially dynamic in Harlem. Black
artists, writers, and musicians were
extraordinarily prolific. The nightclubs,
dance halls, and theaters of Harlem were
mythically famous. Curious white New
Yorkers wandered up to Harlem to see
for themselves the talented young
16

artists. Black culture, brutally suppressed by the establishment of slavery, was experiencing rebirth.
The Harlem Renaissance had begun.
Fine artists, poets, writers and intellectuals were amazing the world with their skill. Writers like Langston
Hughes, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, and Zora Neale Hurston would gather and encourage
each others creative ventures. Their writing is still considered some of the finest American work
produced. Claude McKay, writing from oversees, expressed the passionate injustice of black America
in a perfect sonnet form. Painters and sculptors like Aaron Douglas, Palmer Hayden, Augusta Savage,
Laura Waring, Betsy Reyneau, William H. Johnson captured the movement and color of Harlem in
their work. New styles were emerging in both fields, drawing attention to these rising stars.

ALelia Walker

Heiress to great fortune from her mothers hair


product company (one branch located in Pittsburgh), ALelia Walker was one of the most generous benefactors of Harlem artists. Her home,
dubbed the Dark
Tower by Countee
Cullen, provided a
meeting place for
black writers and
poets. Langston
Hughes, upon her
death, wrote of her
as the joy goddess
of
Harlems
1920s.

17

But it was the musicians and


entertainers that really shone to the
world. Louis Armstrong, Bill
Bojangles Robinson, Fats Waller,
Ethel Waters, Duke Ellington, Bessie
Smiththese are the legends of
Harlem. Once discovered, Harlem
entertainers were demanded from
coast to coast. In Europe, the sounds
of American jazz were passionately
celebrated. Through the Depression,
jazz music and dance remained as the
mysterious joy of a downtrodden
nation. Decades before the Civil
Rights Movement championed the
rights of the African-American
population, the people of Harlem
were creating an identity and a pride
that would never be forgotten.

What is a Rent Party?


This essay is a firsthand account of the Harlem rent parties of the 20s and 30s. Fats
Waller was known for playing stride piano at rent parties. Sometimes, he would compete
with other musicians like James P. Johnson or Willie the Lion Smith. Although seemingly
lighthearted, rent parties were really a means of survival for the people of Harlem. Rent
parties embodied both the exuberance and the struggle of Harlem.

NAME OF WORKER: Frank Byrd


ADDRESS: 224 W. 135th St. New York City
DATE: August 23, 1938
SUBJECT: HARLEM RENT PARTIES
Reprinted from the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers
Project Collection.

The history of the Harlem house-rent party dates back as far as the World War [I].
To understand what gave such an impetus and community wide significance to
this institution, it is necessary to get a picture of living conditions as they were in
Harlem at that time.
During the early nineteen twenties it is estimated that more than 200,000 Negroes
migrated to Harlem: West Indians, Africans and American Negroes from the cotton
fields and cane brakes of the Deep South. They were all segregated in a small
section of Manhattan about fifty blocks long and seven or eight blocks wide; an
area teeming with life and activity. Housing experts have estimated that,
sometimes, as many as five to seven thousand people have been known to live in a
single block.
Needless to say, living conditions under such circumstances were anything but
wholesome and pleasant. It was a typical slum and tenement area little different
from many others in New York except for the fact that in Harlem rents were
higher; always have been, in fact, since the great war-time migratory influx of
colored labor. Despite these exorbitant rents, apartments and furnished rooms,
however dingy; were in great demand. Harlem property owners, for the most part
Jews, began to live in comparative ease on the fantastic profits yielded by their
antiquated dwellings. Before Negroes inhabited them, they could be let for
virtually a song. Afterwards, however, they brought handsome incomes. The
tenants, by hook or crook, managed to barely scrape together the rents. In turn
they stuck their roomers for enough profit to yield themselves a meager living.
A four or five room apartment was (and still is) often crowded to capacity with
roomers. In many instances, two entire families occupy space intended for only
18

one. When bedtime comes, there is the feverish activity of moving furniture about,
making down cots or preparing floor-space as sleeping quarters. The same
practice of overcrowding is followed by owners or lesees of private houses. Large
rooms are converted into two or three small ones by the simple process of
strategically placing beaverboard partitions. These same cubby holes are rented at
the price of full sized rooms. In many houses, dining and living rooms are
transformed into bed rooms soon after, if not before, midnight. Even shiftsleeping is not unknown in many places. During the night, a day-worker uses the
room and soon after dawn a night-worker moves in. Seldom does the bed have an
opportunity to get cold.
In lower Harlem, sometimes referred to as the Latin Quarter and populated mostly
by Cubans, Puerto Ricans and West Indians, accommodations are worse. The
Spanish seen to require even less privacy than their American cousins. A three or
four room apartment often houses ten or twelve people. Parents invariably have
the two or three youngest children bedded down in the same room with
themselves. The dining room, kitchen and hallway are utilized as sleeping
quarters by relatives or friends.
Negroes constitute the bulk of the Harlem population, however, and have (as was
aforementioned) since the War. At that time, there was a great demand for cheap
industrial labor. Strong backed, physically capable Negroes from the South were
the answer to this demand. They came North in droves, beginning what turned
out to be the greatest migration of Negroes in the history of the United States. The
good news about jobs spread like wildfire throughout the Southlands. There was
money, good money, to be made in the North, especially New York. New York; the
wonder, the magic city. The name alone implied glamour and adventure. It was a
picture to definitely catch the fancy of restless, over-worked sharecroppers and
farmhands. And so, it was on to New York, the mecca of the New Negro, the
modern Promised Land.
Not only Southern, but thousands of West Indian Negroes heeded the call. That
was the beginning of housing conditions that have been a headache to a
succession of political administrations and a thorn in the side of community and
civic organizations that have struggled valiantly, but vainly, to improve them.
With the sudden influx of so many Negroes, who apparently instinctively headed
for Harlem, property that had been a white elephant on the hands of many
landlords immediately took an upward swing. The majority of landlords were
delighted but those white property owners who made their homes in Harlem were
panic-stricken. At first, there were only rumblings of protest against this
unwanted dark invasion but as the tide of color continued to rise, threatening to
completely envelop the Caucasian brethren, they quickly abandoned their fight
and fled to more remote parts; Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Westchester. As soon
as one or two Negro families moved into a block, the whites began moving out.
Then the rents were raised. In spite of this, Negroes continued to pour in until
there was a solid mass of color in every direction.
19

Harlemites soon discovered that meeting these doubled, and sometimes tripled,
rents was not so easy. They began to think of someway to meet their ever
increasing deficits. Someone evidently got the idea of having a few friends in as
paying party guests a few days before the landlords scheduled monthly visit. It
was a happy; timely thought. The guests had a good time and entered
wholeheartedly into the spirit of the party. Besides, it cost each individual very
little, probably much less than he would have spent in some public amusement
place. Besides, it was a cheap way to help a friend in need. It was such a good,
easy way out of ones difficulties that others decided to make use of it. Thus was
the Harlem rent-party born.
Like the Charleston and Black Bottom, it became an overnight rage. Here at last,
was a partial solution to the problem of excessive rents and dreadfully subnormal
incomes. Family after family and hundreds of apartment tenants opened wide
their doors, went the originators of the idea one better, in fact, by having a party
every Saturday night instead of once a month prior to the landlords call. The
accepted admission price became twenty five cents. It was also expected that the
guests would partake freely of the fried chicken, pork chops, pigs feet and potato
salad (not to mention homemade cawn) that was for sale in the kitchen or at a
makeshift bar in the hallway.
Saturday night became the gala night in Harlem. Some parties even ran well into
Sunday morning, calling a halt only after seven or eight oclock. Parties were
eventually held on other nights also. Thursday particularly became a favorite in
view of the fact that sleep in domestic workers had a day off and were free to
kick up their heels without restraint. Not that any other week-day offered
Saturday any serious competition. It always retained its popularity because of its
all round convenience as a party day. To begin with, the majority of working class
Negroes, maids, porters, elevator operators and the like, were paid on Saturday
and, more important than that, were not required to report to work on Sunday.
Saturday, therefore, became the logical night to pitch and carry on, which
these pleasure-hungry children did with abandon.
The Saturday night party, like any other universally popular diversion, soon fell
into the hands of the racketeers. Many small-time pimps and madames who, up to
that time, had operated under-cover buffet flats, came out into the open and
staged nightly so-called Rent Parties. This, of course, was merely a blind for
more illegitimate activities that catered primarily to the desire of travelling
salesmen, pullman porters, inter-state truck drivers other transients, for some
place to stop and amuse themselves. Additional business could always be
promoted from that large army of single or unattatched males and females who
prowled the streets at night in search of adventure in preference to remaining in
their small, dingy rooms in some ill-ventilated flat. There were hundreds of young
men and women, fresh from the hinterlands, unknown in New York and eager for
the opportunity of meeting people. And so, they would stroll the Avenue until they
saw some flat with a red, pink or blue light in the window, the plunk of a tinpanny piano and sounds of half-tipsy merry making fleeting out into the night air;
then they would venture in, be greeted volubly by the hostess, introduced around
20

and eventually steered to the kitchen where refreshments were for sale.
Afterwards, there was probably a night full with continuous drinking, wild,
grotesque dancing and crude love-making. But it was, at least, a temporary
escape from humdrum loneliness and boredom.
The party givers were fully aware of the conditions under which the majority of
these boys and girls lived and decided to commercialize on it as much as possible.
They began advertising their get-togethers on little business cards that were naive
attempts at poetic jingles. The following is a typical sample:
Therell be brown skin mammas
High yallers too
And if you aint got nothin to do
Come on up to ROY and SADIES
228 West 126 St. Sat. Night, May 12th.
Therell be plenty of pig feet
An lots of gin
Jus ring the bell
An come on in.

They were careful, however, to give these cards to only the right people.
Prohibition was still in effect and the police were more diligent about raiding
questionable apartments than they were about known gin mills that flourished
on almost every corner.
Despite this fact, the number of personal Saturday night responses, in answer to
the undercover advertising, was amazing. The party hostess, eager and glowing
with freshly straightened hair, would roll back the living room carpets, dim the
lights, seat the musicians, (usually drummer, piano and saxophone player) and,
with the appearance of the first cash customer, give the signal that would officially
get the rug-cutting under way. Soon afterwards she would disappear into the
kitchen in order to give a final, last minute inspection to the refreshment counter:
a table piled high with pig-feet, fried chicken, fish and potato salad.
The musicians, fortified with a drink or two of King Kong (home made corn
whiskey) begin beating out the rhythm on their battered instruments while the
dancers keep time with gleeful whoops, fantastic body-gyrations and convulsions
that appear to be a cross between the itch and a primitive mating-dance.
After some John buys a couple of rounds of drinks, things begin to hum in
earnest. The musicians instinctively improvise as they go along, finding it difficult,
perhaps, to express the full intensity of their emotions through a mere
arrangement, no matter how well written.

21

But the thing that makes the house-rent party (even now) so colorful and
fascinating is the unequalled picture created by the dancers themselves. When the
band gets hot, the dancers get hotter. They stir, throw or bounce themselves
about with complete abandon; their wild, grotesque movements silhouetted in the
semi-darkness like flashes from some ancient tribal ceremony. They apparently
work themselves up into a frenzy but never lose time with the music despite their
frantic acrobatics. Theirs is a coordination absolutely unexcelled. It is simple,
primitive, inspired. As far as dancing is concerned, there are no conventions. You
do what you like, express what you feel, take the lid off if you happen to be in the
mood. In short, anything goes.
About one oclock in the morning; hilarity reaches its peak. The Boys, most of
whom are hard-working hard-drinking truck drivers, long-shoremen, moving men,
porters or laborers, settle down to the serious business of enjoying themselves.
They spin, tug, and fling their buxom, amiable partners in all directions. When the
music finally stops, they are soaked and steaming with perspiration. The Girls,
the majority of whom are cooks, laundresses, maids or hair-dressers, set their
hats at a jaunty angle and kick up their heels with glee. Their tantalizing grins
and the uniformly wicked gleam in their eyes dare the full blooded young bucks to
do their darndest. They may have been utter strangers during the early part of the
evening but before the night is over, they are all happily sweating and laughing
together in the beat of spirits.
Everything they do is free and easy; typical of that group of hard-working Negroes
who have little or no inhibitions and the fertility of imagination so necessary to the
invention and unrestrained expression of new dance-steps and rhythms.
The dancers organize little impromptu contests among themselves and this
competition is often responsible for the birth of many new and original dancesteps. The house-rent party takes credit for the innovation of the Lindy-Hop that
was subsequently improved upon at the Savoy Ballroom. For years, it has been a
great favorite with the regular rug-cutting crowd. Nothing has been able to
supplant it, not ever the Boogie-Woogie that has recently enjoyed a great wave of
popularity in Uptown New York.
Such unexpected delights as these made the house-rent party, during its infancy,
a success with more than one social set. Once in awhile a stray ofay or a small
party of pseudo-artistic young Negroes, the upper-crust, the creme-de-la-creme of
Black Manhattan society, would wander into one of these parties and gasp or
titter (with cultured restraint, of course) at the primitive, untutored Negroes who
apparently had so much fun wriggling their bodies about to the accompaniment of
such mad, riotously abandoned music. Seldom, however, did these outsiders seem
to catch the real spirit of the party, and as far as the rug-cutters were concerned,
they simply did not belong.
With the advent of Repeal, the rent-party went out, became definitely a thing of
the past. It was too dangerous to try to sell whiskey after it became legal. With its
passing went one of the most colorful eras that Harlem has ever known.
22

DANCING IN
HARLEM
The Savoy Ballroom, covering an entire city block, was
Harlems most popular ballroom and the first to be completely integrated. The Savoy would always hire two bands
a night; there was never a lull in the dancing. Due to
such constant use, the wooden floor had to be
replaced every three years. Other prominent
entertainment locations were the
Cotton Club and the
Apollo Theatre.

Lindy
Hop

Two dances, the Breakaway and the Charleston, combined to form the Lindy Hop. Named
in honor of Charles Lindberghs flight across
the Atlantic, the dance is an athletic series of
smooth moves and air-steps. Later, the dance
became known as the Jitterbug.

23

Originating in its South Carolina namesake city, the Charleston first came to
Harlem stages in 1913. By the early
1920s, it had become a dance sensation. The dance
was so popular
that waiters and
waitresses were
expected to perform it for customers upon request. The birdlike steps and
movements remain the trademark dance of the
1920s.

Are You Hep to the Jive?


A GUIDE TO 1920S

AND

30S SLANG

By Ilana M. Brownstein, Literary Manager, Huntington Theatre Company


Originally published in Huntington Theatre Companys Spotlight subscriber newsletter
Bust Ones Conk to work hard
Ballin having a ball
Cut doing something well
Daddy; Papa sweetheart, lover, or husband
Dickty - swell, grand
Dig understand
Dog it to show off
Fungshun a crowded dance
Gum Beater braggart or gossiper
Gut-Bucket a sleazy cabaret; a type of music played in low dives
High-Hattin pretensions; dressing/acting above ones station
Hincty snooty
Hep cool, as in Hep Cat
Jive slangy words, language, jokes

?
y
d
Jooking playing music or dancing in the manner seen in Jook joints
d
a
Juice liquor
D
July Jam something really hot
it,
g
Jumpin lively
i
d
Killer-Diller real nice
a
y
Liver Lips big thick lips (an insult)
o
D
Mama sweetheart, lover, or wife
Jook a pleasure house, in the class of a gut-bucket (see above)

Mesh nylons
Now Youre Cookin With Gas now youre talking!
Peeping Through my Likkers carrying on while drunk
Pilch house or apartment
Playing the Dozens a verbal sparring game of insulting an opponents relatives and
ancestors
Reefer; Drag marijuana cigarette
24

Th
is j
oin
Rug-Cutter a person frequenting rent parties; a good dancer
t is
Riff to improvise

Righteous Rags elegant and stylish clothing; zoot suits


Scrap Iron cheap liquor

Shin-Dig an extremely packed party, often in relation to overcrowded


rent parties where shins are gouged during the dancing
Solid perfect
Too Bad! wonderful, marvelous
Viper drug dealer
Woofing aimless talk
Care to Dance, or . . . ?
Cut a Rug
Dog
Hoof
Jitterbug
Scronch

!
s
a
G
h
t
i
W
n
i
k
o
o
C
e
r

Now You

Shake Your Chassis

25

jum
pin
!

Additional Terms
Reprinted, with permission, from
CENTERSTAGE; The Next Stage; January, 2003
Rhonda Robbins, Editor
Chassis: The structural framework of a car or
truck, satirized here into meaning the portion of
the body below the waist.
Dowager: A widow who holds a title or property
inherited from her deceased husband, or an
elderly woman of high social station.
Duses: Pretty, natural women; after the Italian
actress Eleonora Duse, who was known for her
realistic portrayals of down-to-earth characters,
particularly in the plays of Gabriele dAnnunzio.
Jitterbug: A strenuous dance performed to quicktempo swing or jazz music, consisting of various
two-step patterns embellished with twirls and
sometimes acrobatic maneuvers. Also one who
performs this dance.

Tin Pan Alley: Genre of U.S. popular music that


started in New York in the late 19th century. The
name was coined by the songwriter Monroe
Rosenfeld and acted as a nickname for the street
where the industry was centered. Tin pan
referred to the sound of pianos furiously pounded
by song pluggers demonstrating tunes to
publishers. The name eventually became
synonymous with U.S. popular music until Rock
and Roll was born in the 1950s.
Turtle-Dovin: Romantic snuggling, which mimics
the action sand low purring of the monogamous
turtledoves.
V-Disc: Recordings made exclusively for
members of the US Armed Forces stationed
abroad during World War II.

Mose: Slang term for an African American:


Floridas Fort Mose was the first free black
settlement in America.

WACS: The Womens Army Corps. 150,000


female soldiers belonged to the US Army during
World War II.

Old Ned: Mythologized beloved slave character


immortalized in Stephen Fosters 1848
composition Uncle Ned.

Wagon: The paddy wagon is the name for the


vehicle used to cart a large number of people to
jail; often associated with those picked up for being
drunk in public.

Raggin: Partying; plays of ragtime, the musical


ancestor of jazz and swing.

Waldorf: The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, long considered one of Manhattans finest.

Reet: Slang for right.


Schism: A separation or division into factions;
disunion; discord.
Sutton: A high-end residential hotel on
Manhattans east side known for housing artists,
musicians, and intellectuals in the 1930s and 40s.
Or Sutton Place, a street known for its multiple
high-rises.
Three-Quarter Rhythm: The meter of music that
characterizes a waltz.
Thrombosis: a blood clotting disorder that can
lead to heart attacks, hemorrhages, and strokes.

26

Waldorf Cake: A red velvet cake, thought to have


originated at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Also
known as $100 Cake; legend has it that a patron
bought the secret recipe from the hotel chef for
$100.
Mr. Wallace: Henry Agard Wallace (1888-1965)
was elected Vice President in 1940 and served
during President Franklin Delano Roosevelts third
term.
Waltz: A ballroom dance in triple time with a strong
accent on the first beat; an instrumental or vocal
composition in triple time. Informally, something
that is easy and can be accomplished with little
effort.

Resources and Suggested Readings


FATS WALLER
Aint Misbehavin: The Story of Fats Waller. W.T. Kirkeby. Da Capo Press, 1975.

W.T. Kirkeby, Fats Wallers manager, gives an account of Fats professional life. The book
examines Fats as a musician and performer.

Fats Waller. Maurice Waller and Anthony Calabrese. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1977.

Fats Wallers son, Maurice Waller, tells the story of his fathers life. The story follows his
musical developments, acquaintances, troubled marriages, etc. Recommended reading.

Fats Waller Forever Digital Exhibit. Rutgers University.


<http://newarkwww.rutgers.edu/ijs/fw/fatsmain.htm>

Rutgers has assembled a collection of information and reflections on the life of Fats Waller.
Letters from Fats, touring accounts, beautiful photos, etc. His entire career and life history
can be found within these pages. Excellent resource. Readings and recordings available.

A story of Fats Waller.


<http://perso.wanadoo.fr/jcarl.simonetti/fats_life.htm>

This site contains a biography of Fats Waller. It is an example of the continued European
interest in Fats work; it is based in France. Well-researched and interesting. 4 pages,
printed.
On the left-hand side of the page, a link to Harlem and the kings of Stride is available. It
is a succinct overview of the careers of James P. Johnson, Willie The Lion Smith, and Fats
Waller.

Movies with Fats Waller:


Hooray for Love (1935). Ann Sothern, Gene Raymond. Directed by Walter Lang.
King of Burlesque (1935). Warner Baxter, Alice Faye. Directed by Sidney Langfield.
Stormy Weather (1943). Lena Horne, Bill Bojangles Robinson. Directed by Andrew L.
Stone.

HARLEM RENAISSACE: its time and people


American Memory from the Library of Congress.
<http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/>

27

The Library of Congress has innumerable resources available regarding American history.
Search for topics related to jazz, Harlem, the Harlem Renaissance, etc. Photos, newspaper
articles, first-hand accounts, and more available.
Suggested title: Race in Harlem are at Wits End for Houses.

American Life Histories.


<http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wpaintro/wpahome.html>

The Federal Writers Project of the Work Project Administration (WPA) collected and
recorded the life histories of thousands of Americans from 1936-1940. Search function
available. Suggested titles: Eddies Bar, Buffet Flat, Dancing Girls, Amateur Night, Cocktail
Party, The Whites Invade Harlem, Savoy Ballroom, Harlem, Slick Reynolds, Bernice, Betty
(if not found, see next resource). Suggested topics: New York City, Harlem, and Jazz.
Note: not all stories are recommended for young children, as they contain accounts of
serious drug and alcohol use and prostitution.

A Renaissance in Harlem: Lost Essays of the WPA. Edited by Lionel C. Bascom. Amistad,
2001.

This book is a collection of Harlem-related WPA Life Histories. See above resource for
recommended titles.

Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1940: How Americans Lived Through the Roaring
Twenties and the Great Depression. David E. Kyvig. Ivan R. Dee, 2004.

This book is a detailed account of everyday life in a post World War I United States. Subjects
include the advent of electricity and radio, diet, housing, culture and crime. An in-depth
period study.

Drop Me Off in Harlem. The Kennedy Center


<http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/exploring/harlem/artsedge.html>

The Kennedy Centers Education Department has created a wonderful site for the
exploration of Harlem culture. Audiovisual resources, Renaissance figures, Harlem history,
and classroom connections are all available on the main page. Educational, thorough, and
easy to explore. Highly recommended!

Extraordinary people of the Harlem Renaissance. P. Stephen Hardy & Sheila Jackson Hardy.
Childrens Press, 2000.

This book, designed for children, is full of excellent pictures from the Harlem Renaissance
and informative essays on key figures in literature, music, art, and politics. Highlighted
people include: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ethel Waters, Henry Ossawa Tanner,
Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Jean Toomer, W.E.B. Du Bois,
Marcus Garvey, and Alain Leroy Locke.

28

James P. Johnson. Scott E. Brown and Robert Hilbert. Rowan & Littlefield, 1992.

James P. Johnsons musical career and recordings are accounted for in this book. Photos,
bibliography, discography, biography included.

James P. Johnson: A Composer Rescued. Leslie Stifelman.


<www.columbia.edu/cu/cjas/11/12.html>

Stifelman writes about her journey to recover the symphonic works of James P. Johnson.
Manhattans Concordia Chamber Symphony orchestra performed the pieces, for the first time
since Johnsons lifetime, in 1992. This is the story of the quest for and recovery of Johnsons
landmark orchestral arrangements.

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain. Modern American Poetry.
<www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/hughes/mountain.htm>

Langston Hughess 1926 essay on racial struggle is reprinted here. Hughes writes to black
intellectuals and artists to refuse the standards of white expectation and rise to a unique
success including the jazz culture of the time. 3 pages, printed.

The Power of Pride: stylemakers and rule breakers of the Harlem Renaissance. Carole Marks
and Diana Edkins. Crown Publishers, 1999.

This book examines, through essays and marvelous photos, seventeen important people from
the Harlem Renaissance: Josephine Baker, Walter White, Zora Neale Hurston, ALelia
Walker, James Weldon Johnson, Ethel Waters, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Alberta
Hunter, Jessie Fauset, Nella Larsen, Florence Mills, Duke Ellington, Bill Bojangles
Robinson, Carl Van Vechten, Langston Hughes, and Dorothy West.
A Nightclub map of Harlem, E. Simms Campbells stunning caricature of 1932 Harlem, is
included in this book.

JAZZ: music and dance


Dance History Archives. StreetSwing.com
<www.streetswing.com/histmain/d5index.htm>

This page contains tabs for dancers, dance halls (including the Savoy), dance terms, dance
timelines, etc. A search function is available. Suggested topics: Charleston, Lindy Hop,
Savoy Ballroom, Black Bottom, Cotton Club, and Rent Parties.
Each entry has a list of cross-references referencing contemporary dances, music, etc.

29

Fats Waller-Great Solos, 1929-1941. Hal Leonard, publisher.

If your students are interested in playing Fats Waller piano pieces, this book of sheet music is
a transcription of his stride piano solos. Songs include: Aint Misbehavin, Alligator Crawl,
Handful of Keys, Honeysuckle Rose, Smashing Thirds, etc.

JAZZ: A Film By Ken Burns. PBS


<www.pbs.org/jazz>

Explore this website for a full history of jazz, its musicians, and its influence. Artist
biographies, classroom applications, and various links are provided. There is also a section
for younger children under Jazz Kids.
There is an accompanying book (by the same name), found at local libraries, authored by
Ken Burns and Geoffrey Ward.
The film is excellent. Produced by PBS Home Video Studios, it was released in 2001 on
DVD. Check local libraries. 10 episodes, less than two hours each. Episodes 1-7 focus on
the history and events of the time in which Aint Misbehavin is set.

A Passion for Jazz!


<www.apassion4jazz.net/>

With two main categories on the main siteJazz History and Jazz Educationthis site is
ideal for students focusing on jazz. Timelines, lingo, photos of important events, and other
instructions and explanations surrounding jazz are available.

Pittsburgh Jazz: Book & Music Lists. Carnegie Library.


<www.clpgh.org/locations/musicart/lists/pittsburghjazz.html>

Carnegie Library has a list of resources found in their collection relating to jazz history in
Pittsburgh. Listed are books about Pittsburgh jazz musicians and recordings from Pittsburgh
jazz artists.

Pittsburgh Jazz Society.


<www.pitsburghjazz.org>

The Pittsburgh Jazz Society website has links to local jazz artists, information about local
events, and opportunities for participation in jazz.

The Red Hot Jazz Archive.


<www.redhotjazz.com>

This website provides a history of pre-1930 jazz. Tabs for musicians, films, essays, and other
information are provided with cross-references. A search function is available. Suggested
names: Fats Waller (and his Rhythm), James P. Johnson, and Langston Hughes.
Fats Wallers brief biography is accompanied by an extensive list of songs he recorded or
wrote. The songs can be played, with good sound quality, through the computer.
30

Rent Party Jazz. William Miller and Charlotte Riley-Webb. Lee & Low Books, 2001.

Written for children ages 9-12, this novel tells the story of a New Orleans familys experience
with jazz. Set in the 1930s, a young boy throws a rent party to help his mother pay for their
apartment after she loses her job.

Steppin on the Blues: The Visible Rhythms of African American Dance. Jacqui Malone.
University of Illinois Press, 1996.

A complete look at jazz dance, its history and contemporary applications.

Stride! John L. Fell. Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

John Fell traces the history of stride piano from ragtime to the present. Both the musicians
and the nature of the music itself are discussed.

Swingin at the Savoy: The Memoir of a Jazz Dancer. Norma Miller and Evette Jensen. Temple
University Press, 1996.

Norma Miller, comedian, dancer, and choreographer, tells her story of growing up in Harlem
near the Savoy. She recounts her interactions with the legends of jazz and traces the
influence of dance on culture.

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