Shaping Jazz

Shaping Jazz: Cities, Labels, and the Global Emergence of an Art Form

Damon J. Phillips
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2855bs
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  • Book Info
    Shaping Jazz
    Book Description:

    There are over a million jazz recordings, but only a few hundred tunes have been recorded repeatedly. Why did a minority of songs become jazz standards? Why do some songs--and not others--get rerecorded by many musicians?Shaping Jazzanswers this question and more, exploring the underappreciated yet crucial roles played by initial production and markets--in particular, organizations and geography--in the development of early twentieth-century jazz.

    Damon Phillips considers why places like New York played more important roles as engines of diffusion than as the sources of standards. He demonstrates why and when certain geographical references in tune and group titles were considered more desirable. He also explains why a place like Berlin, which produced jazz abundantly from the 1920s to early 1930s, is now on jazz's historical sidelines. Phillips shows the key influences of firms in the recording industry, including how record companies and their executives affected what music was recorded, and why major companies would rerelease recordings under artistic pseudonyms. He indicates how a recording's appeal was related to the narrative around its creation, and how the identities of its firm and musicians influenced the tune's long-run popularity.

    Applying fascinating ideas about market emergence to a music's commercialization,Shaping Jazzoffers a unique look at the origins of a groundbreaking art form.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4648-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION Sociological Congruence and the Shaping of Recorded Jazz
    (pp. 1-12)

    I have an unusual confession to make. When I go to high-end grocery stores I like to read the food and beverage narratives printed on the products. Beyond what you see on wine bottles in these stores, you can even find narratives on a bottle of water. For example, “[xyz] begins its journey high up in the remote native forests of New Zealand’s Kaimanawa Ranges. Its voyage takes it through layers of volcanic rock and sandstone to a vast aquifer where it has collected for millennia.” Another bottle states, “Our water is bottled at the source only weeks after falling...

  5. Chapter 1 THE PUZZLE OF GEOGRAPHICAL DISCONNECTEDNESS
    (pp. 13-39)

    As these epigraphs illustrate, we tend to reserve a special type of appeal for music that is from locations that are far away or disconnected from us. Of course, one of the questions is whether that appeal is based on the inherent uniqueness or qualities of the music or whether our interpretation of the music alters its appeal given that we know the music’s source is foreign to us. Our biases and understandings about the source of a cultural object often inform our evaluations. For me, the implications of this are powerful as they point to the fact that to...

  6. Chapter 2 FURTHER EXPLORING THE SALIENCE OF GEOGRAPHY
    (pp. 40-52)

    In chapter 1 I emphasized that the initial location of a recording matters for those receiving and evaluating music. In particular, disconnectedness in the network of geographic mobility has greater influence for how jazz is received than for how it is produced. The evidence suggested that disconnectedness operates though sociological congruence, where difficult-to-categorize aspects of a tune or song make the music more appealing if the (geographic) source is highly disconnected.

    Part of my point is that sometimes we shortchange the fact that location effects how people categorize and evaluate a piece of music. Difficult-to-categorize music from a place that...

  7. Chapter 3 SOCIOLOGICAL CONGRUENCE AND THE PUZZLE OF EARLY GERMAN JAZZ
    (pp. 53-76)
    Gregory J. Liegel

    In chapter 1 I showed that the long-run appeal of jazz music worldwide was related to the city of origin’s network position. My model has good explanatory power with the exception of one city: Berlin in what was then Weimar Germany.¹ The long-term influence of most cities has been explained by their position in the network of bandleader mobility, alongside various controls for city, group, and record company differences. Berlin, however, is an anomaly that does not fit my model. Consider Figure 3.1.

    Between 1923 and 1933, more original jazz recordings were produced in Berlin (156) than were produced in...

  8. Chapter 4 SOCIOLOGICAL CONGRUENCE AND RECORD COMPANY COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE
    (pp. 77-102)

    The epigraphs point to the fact that both musicians and scholars recognize the influence of record companies on what occupies the market for jazz—even in a genre where the artist has greater control over what they record than most other musical genres. With this in mind, my colleague David Owens and I came across a very curious discovery that did not quite fit our sense of how competitive markets worked. It was a discovery that had substantial implications for how jazz was shaped.

    First we need a little context. Josef Schumpeter (1942) has fueled decades of research in economics,...

  9. Chapter 5 THE SOCIOLOGICAL CONGRUENCE OF RECORD COMPANY DECEPTION
    (pp. 103-119)

    When I was coding data for the analyses that ultimately constituted chapter 4, I came across a very interesting component of the discographical data. Among the rich data embedded within the jazz discographies are pseudonyms of various recording groups; that is, there were notes indicating that a recording by a particular group was also released by that same group under a completely different name.² Initially I found this amusing and left it at that; as the epigraph suggests pseudonyms are not new or even unique to jazz. Musicians and artists use false or multiple names to disguise racial identities, secretly...

  10. Chapter 6 THE SOCIOLOGICAL CONGRUENCE OF IDENTITY SEQUENCES AND ADOPTION NARRATIVES
    (pp. 120-136)

    This chapter uses an interesting question to reincorporate the discussion of reception and authenticity from chapters 1–3 with the research in chapters 4 and 5 on the role of firm identities. We will look at the effect of the adoption pattern of a song’s originators and its early adopters on the long-run appeal of that song. With the two epigraphs of this chapter in mind, consider four adoption patterns by musician race presented in Figure 6.1. It portrays a recording’s adoption trajectory according to the races of the originator and early adopter—something my Midwest data capture.² For example,...

  11. Chapter 7 PULLING IT TOGETHER AND STRETCHING IT BEYOND
    (pp. 137-158)

    Many consumers, performers, and students of jazz would agree with McPartland that there are a “million good tunes.” Of course only a small fraction of the “million” represents the market for jazz music as jazz standards, as tunes that are somehow disproportionately appealing. Moreover, as the second epigraph suggests, defining and understanding why a particular tune is worthy of being a standard (having the highest appeal), simply based on the tractable or observable features of that tune, has led many gifted scholars down intellectual rat holes. This book is about understanding which tunes had disproportionate long-run appeal based on the...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 159-168)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 169-186)
  14. References
    (pp. 187-202)
  15. Index
    (pp. 203-218)