THE COTTON CLUB by Jim Haskins


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The Cotton Club eliminated the need for conflict or guilt--all the performers were black and all the observers were white."" Such socio-cultural comments--along with deco-boxed lyricism from the likes of Langston Hughes and Ishmael Reed--bestows some vague sense of racial consciousness upon this otherwise straightforward chronological account of the Harlem nightspot (it thrived uptown through Prohibition, moved to Broadway in 1936) that specialized in light-brown chorines, loose-jointed dancers, and the very best music. Duke Ellington's band, the songs of white writers like Dorothy Fields and Harold Arlen (Ethel Waters called him ""the Negro-ist white man""), the vocal presences of Cab Calloway, Waters, and Lena Horne--Haskins gives us the Cinderella success stories and even some of the love affairs. But, despite generous quotes from those who were there and despite over 100 photos (the art-deco format grows wearisome), this eclectic history never quite catches the Hi-de-ho excitement that must have suffused the syndicate-owned swankery favored by such slummers as Babe Ruth and Jascha Heifetz.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1977
Publisher: Random House