Jazz Cultures

Jazz Cultures

Language: English

Pages: 265

ISBN: 0520228898

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

From its beginning, jazz has presented a contradictory social world: jazz musicians have worked diligently to erase old boundaries, but they have just as resolutely constructed new ones. David Ake's vibrant and original book considers the diverse musics and related identities that jazz communities have shaped over the course of the twentieth century, exploring the many ways in which jazz musicians and audiences experience and understand themselves, their music, their communities, and the world at large.

Writing as a professional pianist and composer, the author looks at evolving meanings, values, and ideals—as well as the sounds--that musicians, audiences, and critics carry to and from the various activities they call jazz. Among the compelling topics he discusses is the "visuality" of music: the relationship between performance demeanor and musical meaning. Focusing on pianists Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, Ake investigates the ways in which musicians' postures and attitudes influence perceptions of them as profound and serious artists. In another essay, Ake examines the musical values and ideals promulgated by college jazz education programs through a consideration of saxophonist John Coltrane. He also discusses the concept of the jazz "standard" in the 1990s and the differing sense of tradition implied in recent recordings by Wynton Marsalis and Bill Frisell.

Jazz Cultures shows how jazz history has not consisted simply of a smoothly evolving series of musical styles, but rather an array of individuals and communities engaging with disparate—and oftentimes conflicting--actions, ideals, and attitudes.


















White notes too that the densely collective aspects of these recordings sometimes even render player recognition difficult.47 In diametrical opposition to the complex harmonic schemes that Coltrane had devised in the late 1950s, the later albums feature openended pieces organized around “energy,” interplay, and sonic gesture. 138 chapter five 05-C1877 8/20/2001 12:46 PM Page 139 Even the modality such as found on “Impressions” is largely attenuated. One can descry modal or at least modal-like

to say that the piece lacks form. As with Ornette Coleman’s “Free Jazz” of 1960, Coltrane organized “Ascension” around alternating sections of soloist and large ensemble (he expanded his usual quartet to include eleven musicians for this recording). However, as Ekkehard Jost has pointed out, the two musicians approached their senses of large-scale freedom differently. Unlike Coleman’s conception of interplay, Jost notes that “the central idea [of ‘Ascension’] is not to produce a network of

still form the core repertoire, even seventy or more years after their initial publication. While the “mainstream” jazz repertoire consists mainly of blues tunes and standards, one should not attribute the longevity of a particular song solely to the structure or even to the “quality” of a specific piece. Rather, we must also consider the ways and places in which the composition has been recorded, published, or written about in the past. For instance, one may ascribe the durability of some songs

ever-changing list of “great figures in jazz” has yet to find an illustrious place for a practitioner of that instrument. Certainly, a critic tracing the jazz-accordion influences on Guy Klucevsek of Frisell’s band, as Crouch did for Marsalis’s trumpet precursors, would be hard pressed to locate a long line of masters. Instead, understandings of the accordion remain anchored in a range of “ethnic” and “local” sounds, including (again) polkas and klezmer, but also the “delightful” sounds of a French

majority of the genre’s most influential players have originated from African-diasporic communities. This Afrocentric historiographical stance appears especially warranted in light of the deplorable “white washing” of the music’s history that has surfaced on occasion (e.g., Paul Whiteman as the “King of Jazz”?). However, such narratives tend to ignore the fact that racial identity among jazz musicians and their attendant audiences within the various camps of this supposed black/white dichotomy has

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