Rare Works by Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn

Billy Strayhorn helped create the world known as “Ellingtonia,” but his music was a world of its own. “Strayhorn in the Foreground” featured his suave, subtle, and surprisingly modern compositions for jazz orchestra. The concert was presented by Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies at Miller Theatre on Thursday, November 21, 2013.

Early Jazz History and Criticism Bibliography


Pre-1940 Writings

*"About Books, More or Less: In the Matter of Jazz," The New York Times, February 18, 1922

*"About Ragtime," Ragtime Review. August 1916

Adorno, Theodore. "On Jazz" and "Farewell to Jazz" in Essays in Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002, pp. 470-495, 496-500

*Aldrich, Robert. "Drawing a Line for Jazz," New York Times, December 10, 1922 (Reprinted in Koenig 2002)

The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Jazz

Black Music Research Journal

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.

Jazz Music in Motion: Dancers and Big Bands


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.

Exploding the Narrative in Jazz Improvisation


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.

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