Dave Brubeck and the performance of whiteness

Publication Type:



Oxford University Press,, New York, NY, United States, p.xi, 301 pages : (2023)

Call Number:



(OCoLC)fst00982165, (OCoLC)fst01030486, 20th century., fast, History, History and criticism., Jazz, Jazz., Music and race, Music and race., United States


Includes bibliographical references and index.Introduction. Buying the Myth -- "Any Jackass Can Swing" : Sounds in Black and White -- Professors, Housewives, and Playboys : The Jazz Converts -- (In)Visible Men : White Recognition and Trust -- "We Want to Play in the South" : Brubeck's Southern Strategy -- Negotiating Jewish Identity in The Gates of Justice -- Conclusion. Evading Whiteness."How can we-historians, writers, musicians, audiences-understand the legacy and impact of a musician like Dave Brubeck? It is undeniable that Brubeck leveraged his fame as a jazz musician and status as a composer for social justice causes, and in doing so, held to a belief system that, during the civil rights movement, modeled a progressive approach to race and race relations. It is also true that it took Brubeck, like others, some time to understand the full spectrum of racial power dynamics at play in post-WWII, early Cold War, and civil rights America. Dave Brubeck and the Performance of Whiteness uses Brubeck's mid-century performances of whiteness across his professional, private, and political lives as a starting point to understand mid-century whiteness, privilege, and white supremacy more fully. How is whiteness performed, and re-performed? How do particular traits become inscribed with whiteness, and further, how do those traits, now racialized in a listener's mind, filter the sounds a listener hears? To what extent was Brubeck's whiteness made by others? How did audiences and critics use Brubeck to craft their own identities centered in whiteness? Drawing on archival records, recordings, and previously conducted interviews, Dave Brubeck and the Performance of Whiteness listens closely for the complex and shifting frames of mid-century whiteness, and how they shaped the experiences of Brubeck, his critics, and his audiences. Throughout, author Kelsey Klotz asks what happens when a musician tries to intervene, using his white privilege as a tool with which to disrupt structures of white supremacy, even as whiteness continues to retain its hold on its beneficiaries"--