2016 Nicholl Fellowship Finalist

As racial tensions rise on the wartime American homefront, two women β€” one black, one white β€” must make a dangerous journey into the violent heart of the Kansas City jazz underworld to correct mistakes from their pasts and ensure the future safety of their children.

β€œThe American Federation of Musicians recording ban of 1942/43 is a convenient watershed in the history of jazz. On one side is the Swing Era, with the record catalogs dominated by the large dance orchestras. With the resumption of recording in 1944 comes a new age and a new sensibility. For those interested in tracing the continuity of jazz throughout this period, the recording ban is a source of deep frustration. It is a black box through which the music passes and is transformed by unseen forces before it emerges on the other side. Somewhere in that enforced period of silence were the first elusive traces of the Bebop movement, now lost to posterity. The recording ban falls like a curtain in the middle of the most interesting part of a play. By the time the curtain rises, the plot has taken an unexpected and inexplicable turn, and the characters are speaking a new language.”
- Scott DeVeaux, The Birth of Bebop