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Knowing Jazz

Knowing Jazz: Community, Pedagogy, and Canon in the Information Age

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Knowing Jazz
    Book Description:

    Ken Prouty argues that knowledge of jazz, or more to the point, claims to knowledge of jazz, are the prime movers in forming jazz's identity, its canon, and its community. Every jazz artist, critic, or fan understands jazz differently, based on each individual's unique experiences and insights. Through playing, listening, reading, and talking about jazz, both as a form of musical expression and as a marker of identity, each aficionado develops a personalized relationship to the larger jazz world. Through the increasingly important role of media, listeners also engage in the formation of different communities that not only transcend traditional boundaries of geography, but increasingly exist only in the virtual world. The relationships of "jazz people" within and between these communities is at the center of Knowing Jazz. Some groups, such as those in academia, reflect a clash of sensibilities between historical traditions. Others, particularly online communities, represent new and exciting avenues for everyday fans, whose involvement in jazz has often been ignored. Other communities seek to define themselves as expressions of national or global sensibility, pointing to the ever-changing nature of jazz's identity as an American art form in an international setting. What all these communities share, however, is an intimate, visceral link to the music and the artists who make it, brought to life through the medium of recording. Informed by an interdisciplinary approach and approaching the topic from a number of perspectives, Knowing Jazz charts a philosophical course in which many disparate perspectives and varied opinions on jazz can find common ground.

    eISBN: 978-1-61703-164-9
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    All of us who listen to, perform, or study jazz seem to know what this music is, and what it represents as both a musical and cultural system. Yet claims to an authoritative knowledge of jazz are deeply contested among and within various communities. In recent years, what we thought we knew about jazz has come under sustained critique, as even basic assumptions about jazz are now openly questioned. Musicians increasingly define themselves not within traditional paradigms, but in conscious opposition to them. Jazz scholarship in particular has witnessed the emergence of an increasingly iconoclasticstance, even as the institutionalization of...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Problem with Community
    (pp. 13-45)

    There are many constituencies within the jazz community, separated by race, age, mode of performance, level of professional involvement, geography, and other factors. I would like to offer two stories that underscore the ways that individuals position themselves within jazz communities, and how they are seen as part of those communities by others. The first offers us an aging African American saxophonist who, having experienced little acceptance for his music in his home country, relocated to Paris, where he finds his music appreciated more than in his native land. His gravelly voice and tendency toward self-destruction in his personal life...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Jazz Education and the Tightrope of Tradition
    (pp. 46-77)

    There are perhaps few discourses as contentious among jazz communities as those of jazz’s move into educational institutions over the last half century, especially at the college level. Jazz education runs the gamut from limited programs featuring a performing jazz group to advanced professional training programs, often housed within established schools of music. Instruction often moves well beyond the ensemble (though big bands still form the core of most university-level programs) into detailed coursework in jazz improvisation, arranging/composition, jazz history, and other areas. In addition, post-secondary jazz students often must complete additional coursework in Western art music history and theory,...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Doing and Teaching (and Researching)
    (pp. 78-114)

    In an essay published in theBlack Music Research Journalin 1988, noted jazz researcher Lewis Porter lamented the prevalence of “problems” in jazz research. Among the issues Porter cites as inhibiting good, solid jazz scholarship are an insensitivity to a black perspective on jazz’s history and practice, issues of authority in oral histories, and the role of jazz researchers who, in Porter’s view, lack a deep and critical understanding of the jazz tradition, in other words, who do notknowthe music. Porter’s essay concludes with the following:

    The recent appearance of the professional jazz scholar—the person who...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Virtual Jazz World
    (pp. 115-150)

    The earliest days of the virtual jazz world were summed up by Bret Primack, who wrote inJazz Timesin 1998, “The Internet is the fastest growing phenomenon in the history of mankind. In less than a decade, it has gone from a concept to an obsession. For jazz, Net activity is burgeoning, dramatically” (Primack 1998). One website that was part of this dramatic growth was Jazz Central Station, which appeared in 1996 and was maintained by record label N2K. Most new web-based ventures, however, did not last, and were victims of what would come to be called the burst...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Global Jazz Community
    (pp. 151-177)

    Jazz is a music whose identity has long reflected a tension between American and global influences and perspectives, with jazz often serving as a metaphor for globalization itself, reflecting in sound America’s identity in the world. In this view, jazzisglobalization in its purest form. Taylor Atkins writes that “practically from its inception, jazz was a harbinger of what we now call ‘globalization.’ In no one’s mind have the music’s ties to its country of origin been severed, yet the historical record proves that it has for some time had global relevance” (Atkins 2003, xv).

    As a “harbinger” of...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 178-188)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 189-198)
  12. Index
    (pp. 199-208)