ON JAZZING IT UP

According to James A. Munch, who worked closely with Harry Anslinger for many years, Anslinger worked so diligently to try to arrest leading jazz musicians in the 1940s because he felt that they were “role models” for young people. But beyond that, he didn’t like jazz and considered it degenerate. He once wrote in a memorandum that swing had been invented by a pot-using musician, and he didn’t like swing. In Munch’s words, the effect that the musicians were after from marijuana was a lengthening of their sense of time, so that they would be able to put more grace notes into their music than if they simply followed the written score. Munch complained that a regular musician would just play a piece of music the way it was written, but that a musician ‘who used marijuana would work in about twice as many notes, would “jazz” it up.

Found in Marijuana and Civilization,  from: Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft by Dale Pendell, Gary Snyder. 1995.

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