What Randy Sandke has to say in these pages is bound to make you think anew about jazz—agree with him or not. And he speaks from the heart.
— Dan Morgenstern, director, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University; dean of jazz historians; editor, Studies in Jazz series
With a much-needed blend of careful research, common sense, passion, insight, and (at times) indignation, Randy Sandke sets the record straight about how the divisive racial mythology of jazz's origins and nature came to be. One hopes that Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet will do as much good as it deserves to do.
— Larry Kart, author of Jazz In Search of Itself
In this compelling adduction of new evidence and analysis, Sandke forensically dissects jazz history and shows it, to paraphrase Ralph Ellison, to be 'ever a tall tale told by inattentive idealists' where myth and legend frequently obscure a less prosaic truth. It is a book that needed to be written and seems sure to inspire countless lines of fresh academic enquiry.
— Stuart Nicholson, author of Is Jazz Dead?: Or has It Moved to a New Address
Randy Sandke's research and documentation are thorough. His insights and opinions are forthright. His book will infuriate its targets, those in the music world who place myth, race, nationality, sociology, politics and commerce above music itself. Everyone else will find it revealing, thought-provoking and helpful.
— Doug Ramsey, author of Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers
Genuine research involves the discovery of unknown or neglected materials and their analysis in ways that yield fresh insights. Randy Sandke's book meets this standard and therefore warrants careful attention. It is neither the first nor last book on the subject, but an important and serious contribution to our deeper understanding of the music we love.
— S. Frederick Starr, author of Red and Hot: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union, 1917-91, and Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Randy Sandke brings his wide range of experience as a jazz musician and composer to a discussion of jazz history and jazz criticism that is must reading for anyone interested in the elements—and the people—that have created the canons and contradictions of this endlessly fascinating art form.
— George Avakian, record producer and jazz historian
The common belief that racial conflict characterizes jazz history is false, jazz trumpeter Sandke says. Instead, jazz is demonstrably a product of black-white cooperation, beginning in its prehistory in nineteenth-century blackface minstrel shows, which Sandke represents as a major venue for antislavery sentiment before the Civil War and which turned viciously racist only with the rise of Jim Crow in the 1890s. In the 1920s and '30s, when jazz became synonymous with popular music, the top black and white bands were comparably well compensated. If jazz composers were often cheated out of royalties and copyrights, the culprits were black as well as white; sometimes they were musicians preying on other musicians. Bad history is to blame for the belief that jazz is sharply racially divided. Sandke scores such 1930s leftist-activist promoters as Vanderbilt scion John Hammond and field musicologist Alan Lomax for starting the racial-strife myths, activist and poet Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka for exacerbating them, and-ruefully, for they are fellow players-jazz spokesmen such as Wynton Marsalis (whom Sandke recognizes as mellowing with age and wisdom) for perpetuating them. This amateur historian's book, more lucid and straightforward than most professional jazz critic-chroniclers could dream of producing, deserves every history-minded jazz fan's attention.
— Booklist, Starred Review
A long-time jazz player and writer, Sandke here broaches a troublesome area of jazz, not to mention American life—race....Sandke takes a strong position on issues ranging from the political agendas of many jazz historians (from the early days to the present) to the more recent narrow redefinitions of jazz, largely by the more conservative (and influential) wing of jazz represented by Wynton Marsalis and writer Stanley Crouch. And, he asks, what myths continue to cloud understanding of jazz? Does the fact that jazz sprang from a black environment make white jazz musicians "inauthentic"? Sandke also explores who the winners and losers have been in the business of jazz, and who the audience has been. In contrast to some works about race and jazz, Sandke's is thoroughly researched and documented. He loves the music deeply and is frustrated that it may be compromised by politics, internal and external. His positions will likely draw fire—and praise. This is an important addition to the literature of jazz. Summing Up: Essential. All readers
— Choice Reviews
In Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet, musician and author Randall Sandke tackles the stubborn and controversial question of whether jazz is the product of an insulated African-American environment, shut off from the rest of society by strictures of segregation and discrimination; or whether it is more properly understood as the juncture of a wide variety of influences under the broader umbrella of American culture. His book takes the latter course and shows how the widely accepted exclusionary view has led to decades of misunderstanding surrounding the true history and nature of jazz.
— All About Jazz
This important book is both brave and provocative, challenging the reader to rethink flimsily-based, partisan assumptions. It is not a jazz history but an essential commentary on it. Open-minded jazz fans of all ages and interests should find it instructive and stimulating and a joy to read.
— Jazz Journal
Trumpeter Randy Sandke's new book, Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet clearly and courageously explores race and the mythology, politics and business of jazz.
— Jaz Fax
Sandke's book is quite important and should be read by anyone who does Jazz history or practices in the Jazz community today, or even just listens to Jazz. It may make you angry; it may go to great lengths to demonstrate a point...but it should be taken seriously.
— Cadence Magazine
A provocative, exhaustively researched and ambitiously analytical book about a significant and endlessly complicated topic: race and jazz.
— Jazz Journalist Association’S Jja News
Jazz trumpeter Sandke is also a music history scholar, and this carefully developed volume explores the origins and realities of debates about the development jazz in the context of race and culture.
— Jazz Police
Subtitled Race and the Mythology, Politics, and Business of Jazz, the book challenges the born-in-Africa jazz storyline....The book is hardly one-sided. It chronicles the long history of discrimination black musicians experienced, a practice extending from infamous bookings in the Jim Crow South to recording studios in major cities. It explores the sometimes-exploitive business relationships between white managers and celebrated 20th-century musicians, notably Irving Mills and Ellington and also Joe Glaser and Armstrong.
— DownBeat Magazine
Sandke has a strong independent streak, vouchsafed by the development of his own metatonal approach to music. Ten years in the writing, Sandke brings that same individual perspective to bear in his new book, his meticulous research amassing a wealth of facts unavailable in other accounts….Fascinating.
— The New York City Jazz Record
Randall Sandke’s book may have a mouthful of a title, but it very succinctly describes what the book is all about. In the space of 275 pages (counting the index), Sandke essentially tells us that everything (well, very many things) we’ve been taught about jazz history is bunk. Of course, he states it more elegantly than that, but the overall effect is that of pure revisionism....If jazz history means anything at all to you, you MUST read this book.
— General Eclectic