This unique exhibit explores the connections and interactions between Jews and African Americans
in the performance, production and promotion of Jazz music. Utilizing visual materials (photographs, documents, and text),
it tells the story of how Jews influences and were influenced by this African American art form as it has moved from the margins
of society to occupy a central place in the American musical and cultural landscape.
chronicles the interactions between Jews and African Americans, as well as prominent Newark institutions and musicians, throughout
the history of jazz to the present day. It highlights the many roles that Jews have assumed in jazz, from musicians,
composers, and songwriters, to record company executives and producers, to writers, critics, historians, photographers, and
Newarkers to be profiled include Wayne Shorter, Sarah Vaughan, Amiri Baraka, Lorraine
Gordon, Rhoda Scott, James Moody, James P. Johnson, Grachan Moncur III, Teddy
Reig, Paul Bacon, Barbara Kukla, Dan Morgenstern, Ed Berger, and others. The exhibit will also
illuminate the state of jazz in Newark today.
In addition, it will address longstanding and sensitive issues that arise when evaluating
the contributions of other groups, including Jews, to an essentially African American art form. These issues include the blackface
tradition, most popularly recalled by Al Jolson's performance in The Jazz Singer (1927), and the question of whether those
non-African Americans were guilty of appropriating jazz to succeed in the entertainment business.
Also examined will be the degradation of Jews, African Americans, and jazz through Nazi
propaganda, which disparaged jazz as "degenerate art," as well as the writings of automobile magnate Henry Ford,
who railed against "Jewish Jazz" and its creators for their allegedly insidious monopolization of American popular
"An exhibit that chronicles the relationship between
Jews and African Americans as it relates to America's only original contribution to world culture is long overdue,"
said Vincent Pelote, director of operations for the Institute of Jazz Studies. "The finished project will be
something that all the institutions involved in its creation can take pride in."