Past Event

Doing the "Huckle-Buck": Jazz and the Long-Playing Record, 1949 to 1955

March 24, 2023
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
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2960 Broadway, 701C Dodge Hall, New York, NY 10027

March 24, 4–5:30 PM
The Center for Ethnomusicology, Dodge 701C
2960 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

The Center for Jazz Studies invites you to a talk by Darren Mueller, Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music, titled "Doing the 'Huckle-Buck': Jazz and the Long-Playing Record, 1949 to 1955."

This talk revisits, retells, and attempts to revise the history of jazz between 1949 and 1955. To do so, Mueller traces the circulation of “The Huckle-Buck,” a 1949 R&B hit by Paul Williams that would inspire jazz versions by Louis Armstrong, Buck Clayton, and Frank Sinatra (among others). The song’s movement through the record industry occurred in tandem with the adoption of the long-playing record (LP) as a consequential medium for popular music. As the contours of the music industry dramatically shifted, jazz became the only music played by Black musicians to appear on LP despite the genre’s comparatively small market share. Mueller asserts that the repackaging of Black artistry onto a new, prestige format is best understood as a contemporaneous form of cultural repackaging as well. With jazz’s rising popularity, LPs began to circulate racially coded language about the music’s social and economic value. His analysis of “The Huckle-Buck” explores how postwar ideologies of race, class, and gender came to be encoded on the hardware of circulation. He argues the sound of 1950s jazz cannot be separated from its material history. The six-year journey of “The Huckle-Buck” makes clear that recording format remains an under-recognized force on jazz history.


For more information and info on future events, visit the Center for Jazz Studies website.