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Jazz Matters

Jazz Matters: Sound, Place, and Time since Bebop

David Ake
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Jazz Matters
    Book Description:

    What, where, and when is jazz? To most of us jazz means small combos, made up mostly of men, performing improvisationally in urban club venues. But jazz has been through many changes in the decades since World War II, emerging in unexpected places and incorporating a wide range of new styles. In this engrossing new book, David Ake expands on the discussion he began inJazz Cultures, lending his engaging, thoughtful, and stimulating perspective to post-1940s jazz. Ake investigates such issues as improvisational analysis, pedagogy, American exceptionalism, and sense of place in jazz. He uses provocative case studies to illustrate how some of the values ascribed to the postwar jazz culture are reflected in and fundamentally shaped by aspects of sound, location, and time.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94739-9
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-14)

    IN A STUDY ON THE FUNCTIONS of literature and literary criticism, Milan Kundera wrote, “As a novelist, I have always felt myself to be within history, that is to say, partway along a road, in dialogue with those who preceded me and even perhaps (but less so) with those still to come.”¹ Kundera was describing his own sense of belonging and purpose, but he also unintentionally provided a spot-on summary of the scholar’s life and, in doing so, gave me a handy way of characterizing my goals with this book. More than other nonfiction authors, the scholar moves between past...


    • ONE Being (and Becoming) John Coltrane: Listening for Jazz “Subjectivity”
      (pp. 17-36)

      MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT John Coltrane’s dramatic rise from humble beginnings to exalted status in the jazz world. Journalists and scholars alike have described the path of Coltrane’s performing career, one that saw him starting out as a workmanlike hard-bop tenor saxophonist to emerge in quick succession as a master of difficult harmonic progressions, an early proponent of modal jazz, and a leading voice in the avantgarde. Writers have remarked, too, on the unprecedented, and thus far unrepeated, trajectory of Coltrane’s reputation as a public figure, from pitiable heroin addict to clean and respected spiritual seeker, mentor, and (for...

    • TWO Musicology beyond the Score and the Performance: Making Sense of the Creak on Miles Davis’s “Old Folks”
      (pp. 37-53)

      Miles Davis’s 1961 albumSomeday My Prince Will Comehas never attracted the attention or accolades accorded to many of the trumpeter’s other records. How could it, really, considering that the two Davis releases that preceded it,Kind of BlueandSketches of Spain,rank among the most revered recordings in all of jazz, whileE.S.P.,the studio debut of Davis’s socalled Second Great Quintet, would follow just a few years later? By contrast to those landmark discs,Someday My Prince Will Comeisn’t generally considered much more than a blowing session.¹ Still, I suggest the record merits further attention....

    • THREE Sex Mob and the Carnivalesque in Postwar Jazz
      (pp. 54-74)

      FOR MORE THAN A HALF CENTURY NOW a large contingent of musicians, writers, and educators has worked to reverse early perceptions of jazz as vulgar entertainment, arguing instead for its acceptance as art music, replete with the same markers of sophistication and gravity that have come to represent highbrow European forms and styles. The pianist and author Billy Taylor expressed this sentiment quite clearly when he wrote, “Though it is often fun to play,jazz is very seriousmusic,” this in an article titled, tellingly, “Jazz: America’s Classical Music.”¹ If we look and listen closely enough, however, it becomes apparent...


    • FOUR Race, Place, and Nostalgia after the Counterculture: Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny on ECM
      (pp. 77-101)

      JAZZ HAS LONG BEEN IDENTIFIED as an urban genre. Certainly the standard historical narratives trace a metropolitan lineage: New Orleans to Chicago to Kansas City to New York, with other cities inside and outside the United States also playing prominent roles. Dozens of song and album titles helped to establish and reinforce these interpretations, celebrating a favorite municipality, neighborhood, thoroughfare, or landmark. One commentator even described jazz as the “expression of the dynamic of the modern city and modern life through its complex dissonant sounds and dynamic energy,” implying that jazz is not only made in cities but is itself...

    • FIVE Rethinking Jazz Education
      (pp. 102-120)

      IN A SCENE FROM THE 2004 Hollywood thrillerCollateral,Vincent, a selfassured professional assassin (played by Tom Cruise), enters a Los Angeles jazz club with Max, a smart but timorous cab driver (Jamie Foxx), whom Vincent has forcibly enlisted to shuttle him from one hit job to another. The two men sit down at a table, ostensibly to listen to the band, which is led by a trumpeter named Daniel (Barry Shakaba Henley). It turns out that Vincent is not only a murderer but also a jazz aficionado. He lectures Max—no fan of the music—on the finer points...

    • SIX Negotiating National Identity among American Jazz Musicians in Paris
      (pp. 121-140)

      THIS FINAL CHAPTER BROACHES a subject that has surfaced in various guises for decades but asserts itself now perhaps more forcefully than ever: the increasingly complex and fluid associations of jazz’s national, specifically “American,” identity.¹ Without question jazz initially emerged as a distinct genre in the United States, and the vast majority of its most highly regarded figures were born here. Yet as J.A. Rogers suggests, the music spread quickly, establishing a foothold in parts of Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America by the early decades of the twentieth century. The musician and scholar Bruce Johnson has even suggested...

    (pp. 141-143)
  8. APPENDIX ONE. Sample of American Jazz Musicians Born Since 1950 Who Studied Jazz at the College Level
    (pp. 144-149)
  9. APPENDIX TWO. Interview Locations and Dates
    (pp. 150-150)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 151-186)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 187-199)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 200-200)