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.
1930 and 1940s
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.
Smith explores the act of naming jazz compositions. He takes Thelonious Monk's "Let's Call This," which is elliptical and open to multiple meanings, as a starting point. Smith believes the song title is an example of African-American transgressiveness, through the creation of an aloof, sometimes deliberately ironic aesthetic. The author explores the music, and the titles, of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Anthony Braxton in this regard. He also bases his argument on the poetry of Nathaniel Mackey, who "sees language as history.
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.
Monson counters the romantic notion of Monk as an apolitical aesthete or isolated genius by pointing to his support of and explicit opinions on civil rights at the peak of the movement in the early 1960s. She focuses on Monk's participation in a series of concerts benefiting leading Civil Rights organizations, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder has been active since the 1940s. Skea notes that that the quality of Van Gelder's output rests not necessarily on technical innovation but on determination to master successive waves of state-of-the-art technology available to him and a legendary degree of perfectionism.
Kelly argues that Thelonious Monk's popular success, along with the emergence of free jazz in the 1960s, changed the terms of critical reception for the previously misunderstood composer and pianist. Conservative critics, and some liberal ones, suddenly embraced Monk as a foil against the free jazz rebellion, while defenders of the avant-garde often sought to claim Monk as one of their own-though these younger musicians sometimes challenged Monk's musical conceptions.
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.
The full text of a pathbreaking early book on jazz.