The jazz essays of Theodor W. Adorno are irritating. On the face of it, Adorno seems more intent on securing a ringing indictment of jazz though inflammatory language and rhetorical sleights of hand than through anything like a careful engagement with the music. This has left him open to charges of lacking adequate technical knowledge of the music, of being Eurocentric and elitist, and of being insensitive to issues of race, especially as they play out in an American context. Even his supporters often resort to apologia when forced to defend this body of his work. J. Bradford Robinson, for instance, declares that Adorno could not have had “real” jazz in mind when he formulated his critique since little, if any, of this music was available in Germany in the early 1930s; the target of Adorno’s jazz essays, Robinson argues, was therefore really commercial dance music, the music of such bands as Paul Whiteman’s, when it was American at all.3 The problem with this argument, even if we grant the basic soundness of Robinson’s historical account of the dissemination of jazz in Weimar Germany, is that it saves Adorno by taking the sting out of his critique; it ironically winds up following the very logic of the culture industry that Horkheimer and Adorno do so much to expose in Dialectic of Enlightenment — passive, unreflective consumption. A critique of commercial jazz that does not implicate “legitimate” jazz makes for very easy reading indeed: nothing in it disturbs thought, spurs it to greater reflection.4 For there is simply very little at stake in this version of Adorno’s critique — it becomes but a well-worn lament over the vacuity of the music industry, with Whiteman, the so-called “King of Jazz,” inevitably trotted out as the prime exhibit of the depravity of the industry.5 Consequently Adorno’s writings become largely irrelevant for current debates about mass culture. Adorno is saved only to be made superfluous.