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.
Books and Writings
Miller argues that Caribbean music is central to the emergence and development of jazz. The Caribbean islands were a crucial transfer point to the mainland United States for African rhythms and musical forms from the beginning of the slave trade until the present. Caribbean music was especially important in the development of jazz in New Orleans, America's Caribbean city.
Smith explores the act of naming jazz compositions. He takes Thelonious Monk's "Let's Call This," which is elliptical and open to multiple meanings, as a starting point. Smith believes the song title is an example of African-American transgressiveness, through the creation of an aloof, sometimes deliberately ironic aesthetic. The author explores the music, and the titles, of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Anthony Braxton in this regard. He also bases his argument on the poetry of Nathaniel Mackey, who "sees language as history.
An unlikely encounter between folklore archivist Alan Lomax and jazz composer and pianist Jelly Roll Morton led to some remarkable recordings for the Library of Congress of Morton speaking, singing, and playing. This article recounts the events that led to the historic meeting and explores the significance of the life and music captured in the recordings. The article contains a wealth of information on Morton’s early life, his uneven career, his incisive and wide-ranging views on jazz and related musical forms, and his central place in the development and dissemination of jazz.
This article explores the historiography of early black music and its legacy. In examining texts from the 19th century to the 1940s, Ramsey finds that black music has always been a fertile source of controversy-and that the same issues still resonate in current debates. He takes as his starting point the cleavage between "cosmopolitan" and "provincial" outlooks, which viewed American music from a European perspective, or a more resolutely and defiantly American one, respectively.
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.
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.