Oral Histories

Interview of Horace Tapscott

Jazz trombone player and bandleader. Leader of the Pan-Afrikan People's Arkestra.
Central Avenue Sounds: Horace Tapscott
Central Avenue Sounds Oral History Project
African American History
Biographical Note:
Jazz trombone player and bandleader. Leader of the Pan-Afrikan People's Arkestra.
Isoardi, Steven L.
Tapscott, Horace
Persons Present:
Tapscott and Isoardi.
Place Conducted:
Tapscott's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Steven L. Isoardi, UCLA Oral History Program; B.A., Government, University of San Francisco; M.A., Government, University of San Francisco; M.A., Political Science, UCLA; Ph.D., Political Science, UCLA.Isoardi consulted jazz histories, autobiographies, oral histories, relevant jazz periodicals, documentary films, and back issues of the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel.
Processing of Interview:
Alex Cline, editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Whenever possible, the proper names of the nightclubs were checked against articles and advertisements in back issues of the California Eagle. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Tapscott reviewed the transcript. He verified proper names and made minor corrections and additions.Susan E. Douglass, editor, prepared the table of contents and interview history. Cline assembled the biographical summary. Peter Limbrick, editorial assistant, compiled the index.
12.6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Interviews in this series preserve the spoken memories of individuals, mainly musicians, who were raised near and/or performed on Los Angeles's Central Avenue from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s.
Meets wife, Cecilia Payne Tapscott--Plays in Lafayette Junior High School band--Junior high school band performs with professional musicians--Leaves Lionel Hampton's band in order to stay in Los Angeles--Lives on aunt and uncle's farm in Fresno, California--Attends racially mixed school--More on living with aunt and uncle--More on reasons for leaving Hampton's band--Lafayette Junior High School--Competing on the track team at Jefferson High School.
Jefferson High School--Jobs that were closed to African Americans in the forties and fifties--Develops fear of traveling on airplanes--Classes at Jefferson High School.
Travels in Montana in the 1950s--Performs with the group the Nu-tones in segregated Las Vegas--Reaction of people in Wyoming to seeing African Americans for the first time--Racial conflict at air force social events--Friends Tapscott met in the air force--Changes in jazz music during the 1950s--More on racism in American society--The racism Tapscott experienced in the service--Raising children in a racist society.
Early musical influences--Reasons for Central Avenue's decline.
How the amalgamation of Locals 47 and 767 of the American Federation of Musicians affected African American musicians--Tapscott works as a studio musician--More on the effects of the amalgamation--Takes music courses at Los Angeles City College in 1952--Instructor's lack of respect for jazz leads Tapscott to quit college--Challenges Local 47 to support performances in black communities--Plays piano for the Supremes--Exploitation of studio musicians--Desire to affirm African American music.
The Pan-Afrikan People's Arkestra is organized in 1961--The Arkestra gains acceptance in the African American community--Federal Bureau of Investigation harassment of Arkestra members during the sixties--Confrontations with the police rise as political activism increases among blacks--The Arkestra's performances in the community--Reverend Edgar Edwards of the Immanuel United Church of Christ and his support of the Arkestra--The Arkestra's contributions--Changes in the African American community over time--The current generation of young African American males.