REVIEWS FROM DECEMBER 2000
of the latest books, audio,
video, and software.
AND PERFORMING ARTS
Constance Valis. Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing
of the Nicholas Brothers. New York: Oxford Univ. Press,
2000. 320 pp. Foreword by Gregory Hines. ISBN 0-19-513166-5, $30.00.
readers are invited into the world of twentieth-century jazz tap
through the lives and careers of one of our national treasures,
the celebrated Nicholas Brothers. Born to a family of jazz musicians,
the two brothers are historically woven through a time capsule
of Diaspora-driven American art innovations in Brotherhood
in Rhythm. It is hard to believe author Hill was not present
in Harlem’s Cotton Club in the 1920s as she recalls every step,
blow by blow, recorded on film, in oral interview, on home movies,
and in arts reviews.
classical virtuosity of Fayard and Harold Nicholas is unmistakable
in Hollywood’s collective consciousness as we are reminded of
these flying acrobats who always landed on their feet to display
exquisitely precise jazz tap dance sequences. Every artist they
touched, including Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, George Balanchine,
and Josephine Baker, helped to provide a glamorous setting for
the racial intolerance the Nicholas Brothers continually endured.
Rarely displayed photographs and a vernacular glossary support
Hill’s story-like progression of the Nicholas Brothers’ careers
as they charmed and stunned audiences at every well-known performance
venue of their time. Hill’s caring fastidious research has created
a mirror for American dance.
Pirkko and Diamond, Beverley, eds. Music and Gender.
Champaign: Univ. of Illinois Press, 2000. 376 pp. ISBN 0-252-02544-X,
$55.00 (cl); 0-252-06865-3, $24.95 (pb).
foreword in this impressive work was written by New York ethnomusicologist
Ellen Koskoff; the general editors are music professors in Canada
and Finland. This collection of essays seeks to define the relationships
of gender, music, and society.
considerations include poetry, performance, imagery, technology,
and general acoustics. Geographic areas of study encompass Estonia,
Ethiopia, Croatia, Prince Edward Island, Europe, Turkey, Finland,
the United States, and a rain forest.
detailed index and biographical sketches of the several author
contributors are included in this fine work. Notes and bibliographies
appear with the essays, and some incorporate organized data such
as music examples, tables, and direct quotes.
typescript is easy to read, and the cover photographs are enjoyable
to view. Emphasis is placed on the field of women’s studies, with
an ethnomusicological perspective. However, the book is not over
the head of the general reader. It includes many anecdotes and
is highly recommended.
Andrew. Dark Midnight When I Rise: The Story of the Jubilee
Singers Who Introduced the World to the Music of Black America.
New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000. 493 pp. ISBN 0-374-18771-1,
examines the life of the legendary Jubilee Singers. After the
Civil War, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, established
itself as one of the most prestigious black colleges in America.
Unable to collect tuition from a predominantly impoverished student
body, school treasurer George White organized the Jubilee Singers
in 1871 to raise funds. At first, the group toured nationwide
with little financial success. Exploited and manipulated by unscrupulous
managers, the singers were worn out by the demands of touring
and racism. Just as they were ready to give up, the singers were
invited to perform before an influential Brooklyn congregation.
This single performance catapulted the singers into success. From
there they traveled throughout the United States and Europe to
earn nearly $150,000 (approximately $2.5 million in today’s money).
During their seven-year tour, the singers won world acclaim and
earned audiences with Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, and
Mark Twain. The Jubilee Singers influenced music legends Duke
Ellington, George Gershwin, and Benny Goodman.
provides a fascinating tribute to a group of intelligent and gracious
men and women whose dignity and courage were always tested. Ward’s
extensive research from letters, memoirs, and historical archives
reinforces for readers the singers’ influence on music.