United States

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.

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.

James Reese Europe and the Infancy of Jazz Criticism

Black Music Research Journal

Just after World War I, when proper jazz journalism did not yet exist, composer and orchestra leader James Reese Europe served as an articulate, even prophetic voice. Though not a writer, comments Europe made on jazz to the press helped cast it as a legitimate art form rather than a threat to society, as it was then sometimes seen. Welburn discusses Europe's comments on race, the origins of jazz, and idiomatic jazz performance techniques.

The Community that Gave Jazz to Chicago


Chicago's notoriety as the hub of the Jazz Age of the 1920s is unquestioned.  But little has been written about how African-American entrepreneurs and community leaders built the commercial infrastructure for the rise of jazz and blues clubs in the city. Although Chicago's mob rule put its stamp on the era in public consciousness, Vincent observes that it was only after black entrepreneurs laid the foundation that the mob decided it wanted "a piece of the action."

Asian/American Improvisation in Chicago: Tatsu Aoki and the 'New' Japanese American Taiko


Bassist Tatsu Aoki produces Chicago's Asian American Jazz Festival. His work often draws on taiko, a form of folkloric Japanese drumming, as well as experimental jazz. Wong views Aoki's activity as a process of constructing a dynamic, transnational Asian American identity. She argues that Aoki takes his status as a "Shin Issei" (a recent Japanese immigrant) as a starting point, but aims to "become" American on his own terms-an aspiration of the contemporary Asian American community at large.

Asian Americans and Creative Music Legacies

Dessen focuses on a group of San Francisco Bay Area musicians known as the Asian American Creative Music Movement. Inspired by the musical innovation and explicit political engagement of African-American experimental jazz, these musicians drew on their own ethnic traditions to make a statement about their contemporary situation. Their very success, however, compelled them to resist their cooptation by the media and music industry into an ethnic "ornament" on conventional jazz.

Researching the New Orleans-Chicago Jazz Connection: Tools and Methods

Black Music Research Journal

This article discusses the research methods and issues involved in investigating the musical migration from New Orleans to Chicago in the early 20th century and surveys research sources on this period of early jazz. Wang seeks to put several myths to rest, such as that of a musical exodus after the closing of Storyville, New Orleans' red light district, and of a rapid, unidirectional flow of talent between the two cities.

Modes and Manifestations of Improvisation in Urban Planning, Design, and Theory

Critical Studies in Improvisation

Rowan suggests that improvisation and noise-making are viable elements in urban planning and discusses three urban designers who use them. Whereas rational processes and settled laws are often asserted to be necessary foundations of music as well as urban development, Rowan argues that "spontaneity will inevitably insinuate itself within a plan as creativity, resistance, and response to crisis" and that its embrace is "conducive to the polyrhythm and discord of heterogeneous society."

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.


Subscribe to RSS - United States