JSO Original Article

Saving it Twice: Preserving Jazz in Documentaries, Compilation Films, and Short Subjects


Even the best jazz artists were not filmed under the circumstances they themselves might have chosen, since commercial entertainment was often the overriding concern of film producers. Nevertheless, jazz enthusiasts should be grateful for any film of jazz musicians, if only because so little of it exists. Much can be learned from those bits of film that preserve the images of the artists along with their music. Our pleasure in these images can be greatly enhanced when we know where they come from and why there were made.

Thelonious Monk and the Performance of Poetry

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.

Syncopating Rhythms: Jazz and Caribbean Culture

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.

Doctor Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton


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.

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 . . ."

Central Avenue Bop


Jazz history is sometimes – too often! – told as a sequence of turning points – a journey from one seminal moment to another, lingering at the milestones where everything – cultural, aesthetic, and even political – supposedly coalesces into "the new." One of these moments happened sixty years ago at the Elks Club on Central Avenue in Los Angeles. On July 6, 1947, Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon locked musical horns with their tenor saxophones. Portions of the night's playing were released on a series of four 78s on the Bop! Records label.

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.

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