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Jazz InternationalismLiterary Afro-Modernism and the Cultural Politics of Black Music$
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John Lowney

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041334

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041334.001.0001

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“A Silent Beat in Between the Drums”

“A Silent Beat in Between the Drums”

Bebop, Post-Bop, and the Black Beat Poetics of Bob Kaufman

(p.131) 5 “A Silent Beat in Between the Drums”
Jazz Internationalism

John Lowney

University of Illinois Press

No writer exemplifies the importance of bebop for African American poetry more than Bob Kaufman. And no writer aside from Hughes has had a greater impact on subsequent jazz poetry than Kaufman. Because Kaufman is identified primarily with the Beat movement, it is easy to overlook the impact of his early affiliation with the Popular Front, manifested in his left internationalist historical consciousness and his hybrid poetic forms, which allude as much to popular culture as to European and American modernisms. This chapter discusses the social and political implications of his most influential jazz poems, especially poems that translate the performance and legendary significance of Charlie Parker into explorations of black internationalism. Kaufman’s rendering of jazz history more generally, from his invocation of earlier musicians such as Duke Ellington through his poetic enactment of bop and hard bop performance, insists on the power of jazz as an internationalist discourse of radical resistance.

Keywords:   Kaufman, Bob, jazz poetry, Beat movement, bebop, hard bop, Parker, Charlie, Popular Front, Ellington, Duke, black internationalism

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