One More Under the Wire, on the White House Jazz Show

Following this and this item, a Western reader in northern China writes:

>>It seems to me that the intended subtext of the jazz presentation at the White House was much deeper than simply "America ... still had some zip". Indeed the immediate thought that came to mind when I heard about the musical line-up was that jazz has become all that it is by relying on the US traits of individual liberty and spontaneous collaboration. And I think this is very well highlighted in Mr. Bouloukos experience: "... I was often asked by serious Chinese classical musicians how I could improvise at great length on the piano without having any music in front of me. When I responded that I was playing jazz..."

Moreover, it has occurred to me in reviewing your two columns that the well-recognized prominence of an excluded minority of Americans in inventing and furthering jazz has a similar significance internationally. And if one is looking for another intended subtext in the Obama White House, this would have to be suspected.<<

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On the last point, yes, indeed. The performers included the two featured African-American singers, plus Herbie Hancock and a bassist and (I think) sax player who were black; a number of white musicians, on trumpet (x2), drums, piano; and then Shenyang-born, Philadelphia-trained, proudly-Chinese, but currently NYC-based Lang Lang. If you were looking for an e pluribus unum tableau, you could do worse. 
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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