Gerald Majer, a native of Chicago's racially segregated South Side, has written a book about its musical life. Majer 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. In the first portion of this wide-ranging chapter, Majer discusses the music of Hammond organ players Wild Bill Davis and Jimmy Smith.
Books and Writings
In this book, Solis looks beyond the challenges of Monk's playing and composing, and his uncompromising artistic stance, to grapple with lingering questions about Monk's life and music. He examines a wealth of documents and recordings newly available to explore these questions and to illustrate the significance of Monk's work for the study of jazz. The excerpt featured here presents a brief synopsis of Monk's life and explains the uneven trajectory of his career and public reception.
This chapter of Shim’s biography of Lennie Tristano deals with the pianist’s arrival in New York and his critical and professional reception thereafter. Tristano’s music startled some, confused others, and inspired many more, including protegés Billy Bauer, Lee Konitz, and Warne Marsh.
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.
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.
This article surveys the role of dance in black entertainment and its relation to the development of jazz in the first half of the 20th century. Malone finds that leading jazz instrumentalists gained formative experiences accompanying dancers, especially tap dancers. Musicians accordingly viewed dancers as practicing a sophisticated and influential form of jazz, and interaction between dance and music performance was seen as a vital sphere of improvisation.
This essay documents the absorption of jazz by the European artistic vanguard between 1910 and 1930. Because of jazz' perceived spontaneous and libidinous qualities, avant-garde artists exploited it as a symbol of modernism "like a decal on a traveler's bag," in turn preparing jazz' appropriation by the world of fashion of that time.
This essay explores the sexual politics of women's blues of the 1920s and compares it to black women's fiction during the same period. Carby argues that classic blues singers Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Ethel Waters had more latitude to challenge patriarchy and expose the contradictions of black women's experience than black women writers-though the latter's work has been more thoroughly investigated for insights into these issues.
Iyer asks how an improvised solo can convey meaning or “tell a story.” He develops a theory of jazz improvisation around his idea of hearing the body. To Iyer, the effectiveness of improvisation, particularly its rhythmic aspect, depends on an awareness by producers and listeners of the physical actions involved and their situation within a shared social environment, which creates a cascade of meaningful events in an “exploded” (i.e., not conventionally linear) narrative.
Jazz writers have often debated whether a tradition of standard jazz practices should be followed or transcended. Against this backdrop, Jackson investigates the unjustly neglected performance of the poem “In the Tradition,” a collaboration between poet LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), drummer Steve McCall, and saxophonist David Murray. Jackson argues that their approach to the jazz tradition is more constructive than the rigid conventional views: theirs represents “less a closed canon than . . . an energizing, inspirational base.”