Jazz and Baha'i History: Historical Synchronicity


Mar 30, 2007
George Town Tasmania Australia

While the Baha’i Faith was evolving, according to Horace Holley in a letter he wrote in 1944, from a small, informal network of groups "to a national unit of a global society"(1) the jazz age began to flourish. The greatest bands, both black and white, and the greatest musicians arrived on the scene in the 1920s: Benny Goodman, Jean Goldket, Louis Armstrong, Bix Biderbeck, Bessie Smith, Paul Whiteman, Duke Ellington were all part of an age that put pleasure before everything. They introduced society to a world of new sounds and a new spirit. It was also the age, the period of time, when Shoghi Effendi began to build the Administrative Order, an order which had been established in theory in the writings of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha. It was an age of swing, of radio and segregation. -Ron Price with thanks to Loni Bramson-Lerche," Some Aspects of the Development of the Baha’i Administrative Order in America: 1922-1936," Studies in Baha'i and Baha’i History, Vol.1, Kalimat Press, 1982, pp.255-257; and "Jazz: Our Language," ABC TV 9:30-10:30 pm, 13 December 2001.

By the time The Duke was playing

Jungle Music at the Cotton Club,

Benny Goodman was feeding his family

with his clarinet and Louis Armstrong

was developing the swing,

a modern-time music of improvisation……

At the same time

Shoghi Effendi was spearheading

a loosely connected movement

into a fully organized one

through the mechanism

of the Assembly, a word,

that had finally arrived in the lexicon

and a tool of the Covenant.1

When jazz finally went live

on CBS Radio in 1927

with Duke Ellington

at the Cotton Club,

the epithets ‘modern’ and ‘new’

seemed the passport

to a luminous future2

and a new Order was developing

the framework for

international teaching programs

that would take a new Faith

around the world.3

1 This was done by 1925, ibid., p.258. 2 Rob Stout, "Dancing in the Dark," The Weekend Australian, February 10th, 2001. 3 1937

Ron Price

14 December 2001