Journalism and Criticism

Dominant Positions: John Coltrane, Michel Foucault, and the Politics of Representation

Critical Studies in Improvisation

Nicholls argues that the way artistic projects are represented depends at least in part upon the willingness of critics to look beyond musical sounds alone and take notice of issues of identity and social positioning-their own and that of the artists they evaluate. To illustrate this point, she discusses the varying reception of John Coltrane, whose stature gave him a platform to resist and redress the negative judgments his experimental work received.

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing: Anthony Braxton’s Speculative Music

In this article, composer and educator Mike Heffley analyzes the libretto and score of a Braxton's magnum opus, the opera Trillium R (Shala Fears for the Poor) of 1991. With the term "speculative music,"  Heffley designates music as a "speculum," or a mirror of the natural world or cosmic order. Heffley considers the opera's libretto in the context of the entire corpus of Braxton's writings, particularly his Tri-Axium Writings of 1985. Heffley argues that Braxton's use of language is "a driving force behind, first, his music, and, further, his body of work as a whole . . ."

Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Improvisation

In this essay, often cited and reprinted, Schuller argues that a jazz solo's thematic structure should be considered on a par with its swing, melodic interest, and originality. He presents Sonny Rollins' "Blue Seven" solo as one possessing all of these qualities and analyzes it bar by bar to show the elements of formal thematic coherence within it.

Stitt's Time (from The Velvet Lounge)


Gerald Majer, a native of Chicago's racially segregated South Side, has written a book about its musical life. The Velvet Lounge combines his personal experiences with the story, or stories, of his community, merging his account of the music and with the difficult conditions that shaped it. The result is an innovative combination of history, subjective experience of that history, and reflection on its meaning--that is, of fact, literature, and criticism.

Jimmy Giuffre: Coming in from the Cool


This article examines Jimmy Giuffre’s unwarranted obscurity. Giuffre, who was a leader in the West Coast or “cool” school, later made some of the earliest free jazz recordings. Lock suggests that his failure to fit into predictable or convenient categories may have upset the “jazz police” in the music industry and media. Lock discusses the finely balanced ensemble playing and understated style of the pathbreaking free jazz recordings Giuffre made in the early 1960s just before a 20-year hiatus in his recording career.

The Ear of the Behearer: A Conversation in Jazz

This dialogue was initiated by literary journal New Ohio Review between two professors of literature who have explored the meaning of jazz and improvisation for their craft. Rasula and Edwards begin by discussing how they happened to become interested in jazz in the first place and who sparked that interest. From that starting point the conversation ranges to how audiences for jazz may emerge and how communities may form around it (particularly those of various ethnic diaspora).

Three Viewpoints on Robt. O'Meally's "Blues for Huckleberry"

Three professors of English and experts in African-American studies, Jonathan Arac, Susan K. Harris, and David L. Smith, present their views on Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and on Robert O'Meally's interpretation of it in "Blues for Huckleberry," the Introduction to the Barnes and Noble Classics version of Twain's work.

A Forum on the Prosody of Thelonious Monk

Caliban, a journal of alternative poetry, featured this collection of articles on the workings and the implications of Thelonious Monk's music. The contributions include poetry inspired by Monk, analysis of his music, and social commentary. These writings were featured in Caliban 4 (1988). To read the current issue online, please go to


Current Musicology Special Issue - Jazz Studies


In this special issue (Nos. 71-72, Spring 2001-Spring 2002), Current Musicology drew together some of the most prominent scholars in the nascent field of jazz studies to deal with important and provocative questions the subject has raised. The volume was dedicated to Columbia professor Mark Tucker, whose untimely death on December 6, 2000 robbed the field of one of its leading lights. This JSO special feature presents selected articles from the issue. © Used by permission of Current Musicology and the authors of specific excerpts.


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