The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles

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"Epic in scope, dazzling in detail and sensual as any Coltrane solo, this rare book - informative, intimate, lyrical, scholarly, nuanced, and essential - reads like no history book you've read before." - Chris Abani, author of GraceLand and Becoming Abigail"

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While he was still in his twenties, Horace Tapscott gave up a successful career in Lionel Hampton's band and returned to his home in Los Angeles to found the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a community arts group that focused on providing affordable, community-oriented jazz and jazz training. Over the course of almost forty years, the Arkestra, together with the related Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA) Foundation, were at the forefront of the vital community-based arts movements in black Los Angeles. Some three hundred artists - musicians, vocalists, poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, and graphic artists - passed through these organizations, many ultimately remaining within the community and others moving on to achieve international fame. Based primarily on one hundred in-depth interviews with current and former participants, "The Dark Tree" is the first history of the important and largely overlooked community arts movement of African American Los Angeles. Brought to life by the passionate voices of the men and women who worked to make the arts integral to everyday community life, this engrossing book completes the account began in the highly acclaimed "Central Avenue Sounds", which documented the secular music history of the first half of the twentieth century and which the San Francisco Examiner called 'one of the best jazz books ever compiled'.

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