Analysis of jazz solos has often focused on formal coherence. Proponents of this approach have often tried to establish a parallel to the formal rigor of classical music-and thus to uphold jazz' status as an art form (for example, see Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Improvisation). Givan argues that close analysis can be instead be used to highlight not continuity in a jazz solo but discontinuity, which has its own creative and symbolic possibilities.
In 1974, Anthony Braxton was considered a radical among radicals. This was true not least for his distinctive embrace of post-war European avant-garde composition, then assumed to be particularly uncongenial to the average listener's taste.
Washburne asks why Latin jazz has been overlooked in histories of jazz and lists of canonical works, explores what it has to teach us about jazz on the whole, and provides an invaluable survey of this influential music and its culture. He argues that the persistent and varied influence of Latin jazz is inconvenient for standard unilinear accounts of jazz' history, but that it ought to be included in the name of diversity and the central role that principle plays in the creation and renewal of jazz.
Gushee asks whether New Orleans deserves its central place in the story of jazz' origins. He argues that, although ragtime was being "faked" throughout the country by the beginning of the 20th century, it was New Orleans' version that had the most influence on Chicago jazz and early swing that followed in the 1920s. Drawing on a thorough and imaginative command of primary sources, Gushee focuses on New Orleans musicians' distinctive manner of accompanying contemporary dance music to make his point.
Mandel offers his thoughts about the calling of the jazz journalist and critic: the skills the work requires, the responsibilities it entails, and how it enriches our experience of the music. He sees his craft as a difficult, even elusive quest: "jazz journalists . . . are so struck by the glories and multiple dimensions of the art as to need to struggle to describe what we perceive, and to understand our reactions to the sensations."
Tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton talks about his connections to an earlier, submerged mainstream jazz "tradition" of the 1940s and ‘50s and speaks eloquently of the music that inspired him.
"We are in the transhuman age," declares composer Pauline Oliveros, referring to the extension of human capabilities through technology. Oliveros tells how her own early improvisations with tape recording and editing anticipated many current creative uses of sound technology, and asks how further advances will bring new tools to experiment with and new realms to explore.
In "'Come on in North Side, you're just in time': Musical-Verbal Performance and the Negotiation of Ethnically Segregated Social Space," Scruggs explores the ways that tenor saxophonist Von Freeman used both music and speech to create a sense of community and shared tradition through his performances at Chicago's Enterprise Lounge during the 1970s and 1980s.
In this interview with Professor Jim Merod, composer and trombonist Tom McIntosh reflects on overcoming many kinds of racial barriers, criticizes the idea of jazz as an expression of "primitive" human culture, and explores the impact of African-American culture on popular music.
Bernstein asks why poets would read their work aloud and what happens when they do. He views the performance of poetry as a "competing realization" of the written work and explores the possibilities for tonal, rhythmic, and phrasing dynamics that performance adds to poetry. That in turn suggests a comparison with jazz performance, and specifically that of Thelonious Monk for his pauses and silences.