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The Recordings of Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy$
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George Burrows

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199335589

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199335589.001.0001

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‘Sweet and Hot’

‘Sweet and Hot’

Learning to Signify with Style, 1929–1931

(p.27) Chapter 1 ‘Sweet and Hot’
The Recordings of Andy Kirk and his Clouds of Joy

George Burrows

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the earliest recordings of Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy that were made during the period 1929–1931. The chapter shows how Kirk inherited the Clouds of Joy from the Texan trumpeter Terrence ‘T.’ Holder and how he worked hard to develop the band to become a versatile and appealing ensemble that played music suited to the tastes of white audiences. When they came to record, however, the Clouds of Joy did not use much of the repertoire that they played for white social dancers in the Southwestern Territories but they offered hotter styled jazz that better fitted racist expectations of what a black band should sound like. Thus, the chapter argues that Kirk’s band effectively donned a stylistic mask of black-sounding jazz that was at odds with the dance-band character that can also be heard in their first records. Recording thereby engaged them in a musical form of masked performance that played with and on prevailing racist stereotypes of blackness and whiteness in jazz.

Keywords:   Andy Kirk, Clouds of Joy, jitney dances, hot jazz, blackface, minstrelsy, ‘Blue Clarinet Stomp’, ‘Mess-a-Stomp’, ‘Mary’s Idea’, ‘Casey Jones Special’

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