Author Graham Lock accompanied Anthony Braxton's classic quartet on a 1985 tour of England, and this book is the result. It includes interviews Lock did with Braxton and other members of his group. These are connected with concert reviews, stories of the tour, and essays on Braxton's ideas on musical languages and notation systems. Braxton candidly discusses his own startlingly innovative work as well his ethical, political, and spiritual beliefs.
1970s and 1980s
Guthrie Ramsey's Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop explores the lationship between music and African American identity. Surveying an array of black music styles, Ramsey asks how African Americans have identified themselves in music. He draws upon his experience as a jazz and gospel pianist and his family's participation in the Great Migration to generate an ethnographic method that positions family narrative at the intersection of racial identity and musical expression.
Caliban, a journal of alternative poetry, featured this collection of articles on the workings and the implications of Thelonious Monk's music. The contributions include poetry inspired by Monk, analysis of his music, and social commentary. These writings were featured in Caliban 4 (1988). To read the current issue online, please go to calibanonline.com.
Translator Timothy S. Murphy notes that Jacques Derrida wrote "Play-The First Name" in response to Ornette Coleman's invitation for him to perform onstage with Coleman and pianist Joachim Kühn at a concert in France. The piece contains Derrida's meditations on the nature of improvisation.
Two highly original thinkers share their views on improvisation. Both experienced discrimination: one as an Algerian Jew in colonial France, the other as an African-America in depression-era Texas. Both believe it put them at a distance from their own "languages of origin" yet spurred them to creative acts.
Jacques Derrida on improvisation:
"The very concept of improvisation verges upon reading, since what we often understand by improvisation is the creation of something new, yet something which doesn't exclude the pre-written framework that makes it possible."
This artful survey of interpretations of jazz history is also a challenge to the notion that there can or should be any single one. DeVeaux shows that common claims as to what jazz is about-a form of resistance, a folk art, an autonomous high art-coexist uneasily, and that each has been used to support otherwise antagonistic stylistic agendas. He calls for closer inquiry into the nuanced history of each period and rejects dogmatic assertions of jazz' "essence."