The New Thing


Yale University


Spring 2004

An examination of the new jazz that emerged shortly after the middle of the 20th century. Discussion will include the work of musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Anthony Braxton, Carla Bley, Albert Ayler, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago; the economics and politics of the period; parallel developments in other arts; the rise of new performance spaces, recording companies, and collectives; the accomplishments of the music and the problems it raised for jazz performance and criticism.

Course Requirements

1) A short (4-5 pp.) midterm paper on a subject chosen through consultation with the instructor

2) A final paper of 12-15 pp.

3) Full participation in reading, viewing, and listening assignments and in discussions,

(Graduate students may also be asked to do a seminar presentation)


Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz. New York: DaCapo, 1981

Valerie Wilmer, As Serious As Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz. 1st U.S. Rev. Ed.

London: Serpent's Tail Press, 1980

A. B. Spellman. Four Jazz Lives. [aka Four Lives in the Bebop Business, also Black Music, Four

Lives] Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004 [1966]

John Szwed, Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra. New York: DaCapo, 1997

Graham Lock, Bluetopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra,

Duke Ellington, and Anthony Braxton. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999

Plus selected articles in a course packet


John Szwed, Jazz 101. NY: Hyperion Press, 2001

Bibliographical Note: The best bibliography (though now a bit dated) for this course is:

John Gray, Fire Music: A Bibliography of the New Jazz: 1959-1990, 1991

See also: A Free Jazz: A Selected Annotated Bibliograpy, http://www.alexia.lis.uiuc.rdu/~bjallen/freejazz.html)

Film Showings

Showing 1:

Space is the Place

The Last Angel of History

Showing 1:

Made in America: The Life and Music of Ornette Coleman

Imagine the Sound

Showing 3:

Rising Tones Cross (Marion Brown, Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai, Alan Silva, Burton Greene, Joseph Jarman, Baikida Carroll, William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Susie Ibarra, Dennis Charles, et. al)

Weekly Topics

Week 1: Introduction: Problems of Musical Style and Evolution

Week 2: The Experimental Tradition of the 1920s-1940s: Red Norvo, Stan Kenton, Lennie Tristano, Dave Brubeck

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD1: tracks 1-7

(Film clip in class: Lennie Tristano Solo: The Copenhagen Concert)

Week 3: 1950's Precursors: Jimmy Giuffre, George Russell, Charles Mingus, Teddy Charles, Kenny Graham, Gil Melle, Duane Tatro, The Third Stream, The Lennox School of Jazz, John Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Val Wilmer, As Serious as Your Life, 19- 45

Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz, 17-34; 35-43; 78-16

"A Jazz Summit Meeting," Playboy, February 1964, 29-31

Graham Lock, Jimmy Giuffre: Coming in from the Cool in Chasing the Vibration, 1994

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD1: tracks 8-10, 14

(Film clips in class: Roland Kirk, One Man Twins, The World According to John Coltrane,

Elvin Jones: A Different Drummer, Zachariah)

Week 4: Sun Ra and the Utopian Tradition in Jazz

John Szwed, Space is the Place

Val Wilmer, As Serious, 74-92

Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz, 180-199

Optional: Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant Than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction, 1998

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD1: tracks 11-13

(Film clips in class: Sun Ra Arkestra, The Cry of Jazz, Brother From Another Planet, George Clinton's The Mothership Tour, Hawkwind, Love in Space )

Week 5: The Utopian Tradition in Jazz (cont'd)

Read: Graham Lock, Blutopia, pp. 1-9;77-215 (pp. 13-74 (on Sun Ra) are optional

Optional: Graham Lock, Forces in Motion: Anthony Braxton and The Meta-Reality of Creative Music, 1988

Mike Heffley, The Music of Anthony Braxton, 1996

Week 6: Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, The October Revolution (1964)

Read: "Racial Prejudice in Jazz," Down Beat, 1962

Archie Shepp, An Artist Speaks Out Bluntly, Down Beat, Dec. 16, 1965, 11+

LeRoi Jones, The Modern Scene in Blues People, 1963, 175-236

"Point of Contact: A Discussion," Down Beat Music # 66, 1966

Val Wilmer, As Serious, 60-74; 213-240; 241-258

A. B. Spellman, Ornette Coleman, in Four Jazz Lives, 77-150

Max Harrison, Two Pieces on Ornette Coleman in A Jazz Retrospect, 1976, 107-115

David Ake, "Re-Gendering Jazz," in Jazz Cultures, 2002, 62-82

Ornette Coleman and John Zorn, "At the Hop," Village Voice, June, 1987, 10-11, 36

Leonard Feather, "Blindfold Test: Ornette Coleman"

Chris Vaughan, "JazzVisionary"

Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz, 44-65

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD2: tracks 1-7

"The New Thing" CD3: tracks 1-8

(Film clips in class:, David, Moffett & Ornette)

Week 7: Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, The October Revolution (1964), part 2.

Read: Val Wilmer, As Serious, 45-60

A. B. Spellman, Cecil Taylor,@ 3-76

Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz, 66-83

J. B. Figi, "Cecil Taylor: African Code, Black Methodology," Down Beat, April 10, 1975,

12-14, 31

Howard Mandel, "Emperor of the Senses," The Wire, June, 1994

Jeff McCord, "Independent Yet Empathic"

Optional: Damon Short, "The Music of Cecil Taylor" [annotated discography]

Matthew Goodheart, "Freedom and Individuality in the Music of Cecil Taylor"

Dixoniana: A Bio-Discography of Bill Dixon, Ben Young, compiler, 1998

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD3: tracks 9-10

(Film clips in class: Burning Poles (Cecil Taylor))

Week 8: Albert Ayler and The Problematic of Free Improvisation

Read: Val Wilmer, As Serious, pp. 92-111

Jeff Schwartz, "Albert Ayler: His Life and Music"

Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz, 121-132; 84-104

Optional: Derek Bailey, Improvisation, 1991

Ingrid Monson, Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction, 1996

Roger T. Dean, New Structures in Jazz and Improvised Music Since 1960, 1992

Paul F. Berliner, Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation, 1994

Charles O. Hartman, Jazz Text: Voice and Improvisation in Poetry, Jazz, and Song, 1991

Narada Burton Greene, Memoirs of a Musical: Pesky Mystic, 2001

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD4: tracks 1-9

(Film Clips in class: Steve Lacy, Lift the Bandstand, "October Revolution" ( celebration at the Fez)

Week 9: AACM, the Jazz Collectives, the Black Arts Movement, and the Second Wave

Read: Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz, 163-179

Val Wilmer, As Serious, 112-126; 127-152; 191-209

George Lewis, "Experimental Music in Black and White: The AACM in New

York, 1967-1985," Current Musicology, no. 71-73 (2001-2002, 100-148

Norman Weinstein, "Steps Toward an Integrative Comprehension of the Art

Ensemble of Chicago's Music," Lenox Avenue, 1997

Scott Hreha, "Certain Blacks Dig They Freedom: The Legitimization of Avant-Garde Jazz

Through European Expatriation"

Ajay Heble, "The Rehistoricizing of Jazz: Chicago's Urban Bushmen and the

Problem of Representation," Landing on the Wrong Note, 2000, 63-88

Ben Looker, "Poets of Action: The St. Louis Black Artists' Group, 1968-1972,"

Gateway Heritage Summer 2001, 16-27

George Lipsitz, "Like a Weed in a Vacant Lot: The Black Artists Group in St. Louis," in

Decomposition: Post-Disciplinary Performance, Sue-Ellen Case, et al., eds., 2000,


"The Best Jazz Albums of the 1970's"

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD2: tracks 8-10

(Film clips in class: Art Ensemble of Chicago Live From the Jazz Showcase; MediumCool)

Week 10: The Second Wave, cont'd.

Read: John Sinclair, "Self-Determination Music," in Music and Politics, 1971, 32-68

Jack Cooke, "The Lone Arranger," in The Wire. 28-30

"Looking Hard for a Drive-In: Carla Bley's Telescope Eyes Chuck Berry's America"

Optional: Paul Bley, Stopping Time, 1999

Horace Tapscott, The Musical and Social Journey of Horace Tapscott, Steven Isoardi, ed., 2001

Robert E. Sweet, Music Universe: Revisiting the Creative Music Studio, Woodstock, New York, 1996

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD5: tracks 1-9

(Film clips in class: Carla Bley & Paul Haines, Escalator Over the Hill, and Charlie Haden

and the Liberation Orchestra)

Week 11: The Internationalization of Free Jazz

Read: John Wickes, "New Wave Jazz in Britain: The Beginnings," Innovations in British

Jazz, Vol. 1: 1960-1980, 1999, 41-60

John Corbett, "Derek Bailey: Free Retirement Plan," Extended Play, (1994),


"Derek Bailey: Interview"

Graham Lock, "Evan Parker: Speaking of the Essence" in Chasing the Vibration, 1994,


John Corbett, "Peter Brotzmann: Machine Gun Etiquette," Extended Play, (1994), 247-259

Francis Davis, "The Ganelin Trio: Avant-Garde Comrades," in Outcats, 1990, 227-233

Optional: Vincent Cotro, Chants libre: le free jazz en France 1960-1975, 1999

William Minor. Unzipped Souls: A jazz journey Through the Soviet Union, 1995

Leo Feigin, ed. Russian Jazz New Identity, 1985

Kevin Whitehead, New Dutch Swing, 1998

Maxine McGregor, Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath, 1995

E. Taylor Atkins, Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan, 2001

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD5

(Film clips in class: Derek Bailey & Min Tanaka, Mountain Stage, Peter Kowald, On the Road, Peter Brötzmann, The Inexplicable Flyswatter, Stormy Monday, Han Bennick)

Week 12: The Loft Scene: The Third Wave

Read: John Szwed, "Free On Third," Village Voice, May 8, 1990

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD6

(Film clips in class) Sonny Simmons: The Multiple Rated-X Truth

Week 13: Secret Heirs of Free Jazz: World Jazz, "Spiritual Jazz," Jazz-Rock, Punk Rock, M-Base, Poetry

Read: Ekkehard Jost, Free Jazz, 133-162

"Alice Coltrane: An Interview," in Giants of Black Music, Pauline Rivelli & Robert Levin, eds, 1970, 122- 126

Aldon Lynn Nielsen, "Out There a Minute: The Omniverse of Jazz and Text," in

Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism, 1997, 173-233

Stuart Nicholson, "Ticket to Ride," in Jazz Rock: A History, 1998, 1-13

LeRoi Jones, "The Changing Same," in Black Music, 1967, 180-211

Greg Tate, "The Electric Miles," in Flyboy in the Buttermilk, 1992, 68-86

Francis Davis, "Steve Coleman: Bronx Cheer," in Outcats, 1990, 238-241

Lester Bangs, "Free Jazz/Punk Rock":

Vijay Iyer, "Steve Coleman, M-Base, and Music Collectivism"

Optional: Mike Barnes, Captain Beefheart, 2000

Listening Assignment: "The New Thing" CD7

(Film clips in class: A Bookshelf On Top of the Sky: 12 Stories About John Zorn; Miles Davis, Soft Machine, Captain Beefheart, Jaco Pastorius, et al)

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1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, anthropology, avant garde jazz, free jazz, jazz collectives, jazz history, jazz-rock, loft jazz, M-Base, modern jazz, new thing, October Revolution, syllabi