Voices of Minnesota

Jazz in the Twin Cities Oral History Project


DATE: 1987-1991

INTERVIEWERS: Carl Warmington and Margaret A. Roberston

The Jazz in the Twin Cities Oral History Project documents the lively jazz scene which has existed in Minneapolis and St. Paul since the early part of the 20th century. The heyday of jazz in Minnesota was perhaps in the 20s and 30s, helped in part by St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald's glamorous descriptions of flappers and speakeasies. The Arcade and the Marigold Ballrooms in Minneapolis and the Coliseum and Oxford Ballrooms in St. Paul were popular dance spots. Many walk-a-flight Chinese-American restaurants offered small combos for dancing, while jazz became the rage at the University of Minnesota. Although black artists were not welcome as members of the powerful Musicians Union during this era, the Musician's Rest in Minneapolis offered integrated jam sessions.

Jazz in the Twin Cities has reflected national music trends, as Dixieland gave way to big band and swing, then to New Orleans and Chicago style jazz, and later to fusion. Although the musical styles have continued to evolve, jazz has remained an important force in the Twin Cities' music scene. The Jazz in the Twin Cities Oral History Project seeks to document the roles of some Minnesotans who have participated in this uniquely American art form.

LENGTH OF INTERVIEWS: 7 hours 27 minutes

TRANSCRIPTS: 157 pages