Jazz, Democracy, and the Creation of a New American Mythology

Sometimes a jam session includes trading fours, where each member of the band takes four measures to solo. If someone forgets to play his four, there is a flagrant void of sound. If you play one measure extra, you’re not respecting the form. In the jam session of a Jazzocracy, Americans trade fours with each other. Talk and listen. In the 1950s, jazz musicians became the literal embodiment of American democracy. Through one of the largest ever funded cultural projects, premier jazz musicians traveled to places beyond the Iron Curtain, and throughout the Third World in an effort to promulgate ideals of democracy.

Now, from a new generation, we have a new challenge. It s the challenge to see the evolution of jazz and democracy as forming our next set of mythologies, ones that cast beyond the tired legacy of Billy the Kid, or the degraded trends of popular music. This young author asks the big question are we forgetting the very spirit that inspired jazz in the first place? Kabir Sehgal shows us how jazz can help us recapture America s rightful soul.



Kabir Sehgal brilliantly shows us how both jazz and democracy require an environment of free exchange and collective ingenuity.

--Jimmy Carter

It’s often said that art is prescient. Jazzocracy is a clarion work about the future of American culture. As a jazz enthusiast, I am excited to see a fresh, cogent, and stirring paradigm for the music. Maestro Sehgal picks you up on the first page and propels you through the rest with dazzling intellect and wit. Bravo.

--Jude Law

Kabir Sehgal knows whereof he speaks when he writes on the impact of jazz and democracy on America. He has participated at the highest level in both. A jazz artist extraordinaire and a political junkie like me, he hits the nail on the head when he writes that these two powerful influences in America have combined to define our unique culture. A must read for anyone interested in how this country got to be what it is.

--Max Cleland