Jazz and the Magic City

An Alabama Diaspora

Record label for Sun Ra's album The Magic City. Courtesy of the Alton Abraham Collection of Sun Ra, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

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Jazz and the Magic City

An Alabama Diaspora

by Burgin Mathews
Southern Cultures, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Here/Away)

“From the heyday of swing through the dawn of bop, wherever there was jazz, there was some piece of Birmingham.”

This is the story of jazz in Birmingham, and of Birmingham in jazz—of how Alabama’s “Magic City” helped create some of the nation’s most swinging and celestial sounds, and of how that city, in the process, came to create itself.