Peretti, Burton W. 1961–

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Peretti, Burton W. 1961–

(Burton William Peretti)

PERSONAL: Born January 6, 1961, in San Francisco, CA; son of William H. (a business consultant) and Giken G. (a homemaker; maiden name, Koerner) Peretti; married; children: one daughter. Education: Pomona College, B.A., 1982; University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1985, Ph.D., 1989. Politics:Independent. Religion: Episcopalian. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, skiing, playing violin.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of History and Non-Western Cultures, Western Connecticut State University, 181 White St., Danbury, CT 06810. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: University of Kansas, Lawrence, visiting assistant professor of history, 1989–92; University of California, Berkeley, visiting lecturer, 1992–93, 1994; Colorado College, Colorado Springs, visiting assistant professor of history, 1993–94; Middle Tennessee State University, Mufreesboro, TN, assistant professor, 1994–95; Pellissippi State Technical Community College, Knoxville, TN, professor, 1995–98; Western Connecticut State University, coordinator of history M.A. program and faculty advisor for the History Society, 1998–. Jazz scholar and writer; consultant for Storyville, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and the Bix Beiderbecke exhibit at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, IA.

MEMBER: American Studies Association, American Historical Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 1998.


The Creation of Jazz: Music, Race, and Culture in Urban America, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1992.

Jazz in American Culture, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1997.

Contributor to periodicals, including American Studies, Chicago History, Journal of American History, Journal of Urban History, and Popular Music.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Nightlife, Reform, and Modernity in Manhattan, 1925–1940.

SIDELIGHTS: Burton W. Peretti is an historian whose field of interest encompasses urban history, cultural and social history, and the history of jazz. He writes of his first book, The Creation of Jazz: Music, Race, and Culture in Urban America: "I seek to unite and redirect three major streams of jazz studies that have proven of limited use to cultural historians: musicology, social science fieldwork, and aficionado history." The book covers the history of jazz from the beginning of the twentieth century to the Second World War. Peretti draws on first-person accounts contained in published autobiographies and from oral histories, particularly the Hogan Archive at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the National Endowment for the Arts Oral History Project housed at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Peretti documents the cultural tension that existed in New Orleans between dark-skinned black musicians and lighter-skinned "Creoles of color," as well as between other racial and ethnic groups. He considers music's place in creating black urban communities, jazz and capitalism, and the role of white jazz musicians.

Scott DeVeaux noted in Mississippi Quarterly that "Peretti makes the useful distinction between patterns of segregation and discrimination above and below the Mason-Dixon line." Peretti studies the migration of black musicians from rural Louisiana to New Orleans and then from the South to the North. David Lee Joyner wrote in American Music that "Peretti emphasizes how the newly arrived rural musician was integrated into urban life, an emphasis heretofore more common to research of country music than to jazz research."

Jazz in American Culture is Peretti's study of how jazz has permeated American life. As with his first book, he does not study the music itself, but rather its impact and evolution, and responses to the form. "Because of Peretti's impressive command of so many pertinent topics in American history, the book makes an excellent primer for those interested in the important themes in American social history," wrote Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr. in American Music.

Peretti told CA: "My life is currently defined by my career as an academic gypsy. Despite a Ph.D. and an ambitious, fairly well-received book, I am still hopping from job to job. Many consider this the wave of the present and future in academic employment. Someday I would like to put my cross-country employment experiences into a memoir, stressing regional differences across the United States.

"A post-academic career in writing and, perhaps, fiction is quite possible at this time. In that case I would base myself in my native San Francisco and investigate a variety of historical, current, and fictional subjects. At present, however, I have more than enough to do working in jazz history and Manhattan social history."



Peretti, Burton W., The Creation of Jazz: Music, Race, and Culture in Urban America, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1992.


American Music, summer, 1994, David Lee Joyner, review of The Creation of Jazz, p. 214; summer, 1999, Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., review of Jazz in American Culture, p. 205.

Journal of American Ethnic History, summer, 1994, David W. Stowe, review of The Creation of Jazz, p. 70.

Journal of Urban History, January, 1998, John R. Gennari, review of The Creation of Jazz, p. 226.

Library Journal, April 15, 1997, Rick Anderson, review of Jazz in American Culture, p. 84.

Mississippi Quarterly, spring, 1994, Scott DeVeaux, review of The Creation of Jazz, p. 264.

Publishers Weekly, August 10, 1992, review of The Creation of Jazz, p. 60; April 7, 1997, review of Jazz in American Culture, p. 82.

Reviews in American History, December, 1993, Ronald M. Radano, review of The Creation of Jazz, p. 671.


WCPN Web site, (February 8, 2006), Bobby Jackson, interview with Peretti.

Western Connecticut State University Department of History Web site, (February 8, 2006).