Chevan documents the musical literacy of early jazz musicians in order to debunk romantic notions of "primitivism" in jazz. Even as jazz first emerged as a distinct musical form, its leading musicians had to read music as well as improvise. Reading music was essential to understand the variety of styles they absorbed and incorporated and to function in any professional situation they found themselves in.
Analysis of jazz solos has often focused on formal coherence. Proponents of this approach have often tried to establish a parallel to the formal rigor of classical music-and thus to uphold jazz' status as an art form (for example, see Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Improvisation). Givan argues that close analysis can be instead be used to highlight not continuity in a jazz solo but discontinuity, which has its own creative and symbolic possibilities.
In 1974, Anthony Braxton was considered a radical among radicals. This was true not least for his distinctive embrace of post-war European avant-garde composition, then assumed to be particularly uncongenial to the average listener's taste.
Washburne asks why Latin jazz has been overlooked in histories of jazz and lists of canonical works, explores what it has to teach us about jazz on the whole, and provides an invaluable survey of this influential music and its culture. He argues that the persistent and varied influence of Latin jazz is inconvenient for standard unilinear accounts of jazz' history, but that it ought to be included in the name of diversity and the central role that principle plays in the creation and renewal of jazz.
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.
Tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton talks about his connections to an earlier, submerged mainstream jazz "tradition" of the 1940s and ‘50s and speaks eloquently of the music that inspired him.
In this interview with Professor Jim Merod, composer and trombonist Tom McIntosh reflects on overcoming many kinds of racial barriers, criticizes the idea of jazz as an expression of "primitive" human culture, and explores the impact of African-American culture on popular music.
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.
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.