Cultural inferiority complex of jazz critics


According to Terry Teachout

Why, then, did it take so long for Calloway to win recognition as a figure of more than passing importance in the history of jazz? The reason, I think, is because many jazz critics suffer from a kind of cultural inferiority complex. Chronically unsure of the ultimate worth of the music they love, they are unable to freely acknowledge the unique contributions of performers who, like Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Fats Waller, presented themselves as popular entertainers, leaving it to others to sort out the larger significance of their music. Such critics are made acutely uncomfortable by the willingness of these performers to engage with the public on its own terms, and thus find it all but impossible to admit the artistic merits of a record like, say, Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!” or Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher.”

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