Monson counters the romantic notion of Monk as an apolitical aesthete or isolated genius by pointing to his support of and explicit opinions on civil rights at the peak of the movement in the early 1960s. She focuses on Monk's participation in a series of concerts benefiting leading Civil Rights organizations, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
This essay explores the way New Orleans jazz was disseminated throughout the country, taking the Creole Band as a case study. This group included legendary jazz musicians Freddy Keppard and George Bacquet, was a popular vaudeville act, and traveled earlier and more widely than its New Orleans peers. Yet the Creole Band has had far less historical documentation and discussion. The authors address this gap by examining notice of the Creole Band in the white theatrical press.
Lewis notes that race has been "e-raced" in studies of free jazz in Europe and America, which he finds surprising given the music's emancipatory thrust. He investigates a recurrent ambivalence about the African-American contribution to free jazz, at once taking experimental cues from it, yet denying that it is capable of evolving or progressing itself. After uncovering coded assumptions about race, ethnicity, and class behind this ambivalence, Lewis explores the possibilities for artists to transcend, transgress, and perhaps even erase boundaries.
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.
Since their emergence from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the 1960s, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago have created a distinctive multidisciplinary performance practice centered on collective improvisation. In this article, Steinbeck conceptualizes Art Ensemble improvisations as networks of group interactions, and he analyzes an excerpt from a 1972 Art Ensemble concert recording using a phenomenological perspective informed by his conversations with the group about the performance and by my own experience as an improvised-music practitioner.
Monk's image in various cinematic biographies is puzzling and contradictory. Gabbard argues that films on Monk tell us as much about the inherent difficulties of documentary filmmaking-particularly with respect to jazz-as they do about Monk's life and music. In addition, he suggests that, like many African-American artists, Monk successfully "held up a trickster's mirror to his observers," allowing them to see precisely what they wished to see.
Pickering examines Stratton's popular blackface routine in late 19th century Britain. He argues that Victorian society defined itself as modern and civilized vis-à-vis a stereotyped racial "other"-yet also cynically suppressed awareness of the brutal colonial oppression attending its growing empire. Stratton made "visible for his British audiences what was otherwise evaded or concealed ‘inside themselves'."
Napier explores a tension between received tradition and individual expression in North Indian classical music. How should improvisation be understood, he asks, in a musical culture which prizes intergenerational continuity as much as innovation? He suggests that melodic moments should be viewed in that context as attempts at reconciling tradition with contemporary concerns. In this light, Napier argues that "improvisation" should in no instance be used to validate novelty without acknowledging reproduction and continuity.
University of Kansas
Burrows' goal is to demystify the act of improvising by drawing on theories of cognition and on his experience as a musician. He argues that purely interior mental processes supposedly governing improvisation are in fact dependent on external "objects" or environmental factors, such as the physical act of sound creation or the reactions of others. Each performance, Burrows suggests, may thus be affected by the interplay of individual psychological motivations, technical features of instruments, or the audience.