Andrew S. Berish
Lonesome Roads and Streets of Dreams
Place, Mobility, and Race in Jazz of the 1930s and '40s
University of Chicago 2012
American history is all about movement: geographical, cultural, ideological. Economic depression and war make the 1930s and ’40s a dramatic example of this movement. In Lonesome Roads and Streets of Dreams: Place, Mobility, and Race in Jazz of the 1930s and ’40s (University of Chicago, 2012), Andrew S. Berish explores the flourishing big band dance music of these decades as it reflected and influenced movement with the United States. Conceptually, he examines the amorphous ideas of space and place, and the ways dance band jazz was defined by and helped create the places and spaces of mid-twentieth century America. Empirically, Berish’s focus is on the music of specific musicians and bands (Jan Garber, Charlie Barnet, Duke Ellington, Charlie Christian), the performances of their music (“Avalon,” “Make Believe Ballroom,” “Air-Conditioned Jungle”) and the places in which the performances took place (Casino Ballroom, Meadowbrook Inn, Chicago Civic Opera House, the road). America’s movement through war, depression, and racial integration are at the core of Berish’s analysis of big band jazz, and his detailed cultural and ethnomusicological analyses support his reasoning that music can tell us a lot about the social conditions of our times.
Andrew S. Berish is assistant professor in the Humanities and Cultural Studies Department at the University of South Florida.