Chapter Study Outline

  1. The Weight of History
    1. In 1925, Don Redman, then with the Fletcher Henderson band, arranged "Dippermouth Blues," a piece from Louis Armstrong's book of compositions that Armstrong offered to Redman. It was recorded as "Sugar Foot Stomp."
    2. This was not the first nor the last time Henderson had looked to jazz history for inspiration, as illustrated by his recordings of "Copenhagen" and another based on the third strain of Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp"—all of them successful.
    3. So far jazz history has been considered as several things:
      1. Art for art's sake: an art that progresses through radical leaps of creativity by master musicians.
      2. A "fusion" tradition that changes in response to contemporary pop culture.
      3. The Henderson examples offers a third way: historicism, wherein jazz creativity is viewed as bound up with its past.
  2. Historicism: A Definition
    1. In contrast to the idea that individuals create great work independent of history, historicism (Georg Hegel) posits a dialectical relationship between the past and the present. Artists engage with the past when they create new work.
    2. 1980s: New Historicism claimed that art must be viewed in its historical and sociocultural context, in contrast to the New Criticism, which denied context as important to understanding art. In jazz, these two views complemented each other. Martin Williams is probably the leading advocate of the New Criticism in jazz.
    3. In the 1970s Williams created the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, which was a mainstay of jazz education for years. But as one who ignored context, he would leave out important aspects of performances, such as Jelly Roll Morton's comic introduction to "Dead Man Blues," which he considered irrelevant. A historicist would find this introduction illuminating.
    4. In the twenty-first century artists try to energize the present by mining the past through interpretation and homage. In the 1950s and 1960s jazz musicians tried to create new and original works. These are mined by present-day musicians through three kinds of historicist principles:
      1. Revival of entire idioms.
      2. Original music that celebrates the musical past.
      3. Modernist interpretations of jazz classics.
    5. All three can be found throughout jazz history.
  3. Reclaiming and Defining the Past: From Bunk to the Academy (1940s and 50s)
    1. The first historical-focused movement occurred in the late 1930s with the publication of Ramsay Jr. and Smith's Jazzmen (1939), which argued that authentic jazz was an African American, bluesbased music derived from New Orleans. The authors almost completely ignored swing. In the course of researching his book, William Russell discovered trumpeter Willie "Bunk" Johnson (1889-1949).
    2. Johnson claimed to have played with Buddy Bolden (he was too young for this to be true) and influenced Louis Armstrong (this was denied by Armstrong). Johnson recorded and toured, starting in 1942 for around five years, as a representative of the "real" jazz.
    3. Technically limited, he could play blues well and was a decent lyricist.
    4. On the plus side, Johnson and his supporters forced a reconsideration of early jazz, resulting in a rediscovery of the work of King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton; they introduced a coterie of traditional New Orleans musicians, one of whom, George Lewis, went on to play an important role in reestablishing the French Quarter as a tourist attraction.
    5. The 1950s were characterized by new styles, players, and composers that also instigated a look at older schools like swing.
    6. In 1958 Stanley Dance, who hated bop, coined the term "mainstream," which included those musicians between traditional jazz and modernity. The definition changed in the 1960s to include bop and then, in the 1970s, any jazz that was acoustic, as a reaction to fusion in the latter case and the avant-garde in the former. "Mainstream" came to represent ongoing developments absent of the most recent trends.
    7. Although jazz was slowly making inroads into academia and the arts establishment, jazz activists started institutionalizing jazz history in their own schools, writing about jazz in books and magazines, and holding public discussions.
    8. In the meantime, musicians started crossing stylistic lines, with modernists paying tribute to traditional music.
    9. Much of this educational activity took place in the Massachusetts cities of Boston and Lenox. The year 1957 saw the first dedicated jazz curriculum (intended for a white student body), taught by a faculty that was integrated but mostly black— another first—under the direction of John Lewis. Students had to audition to get into the school.
    10. There were forty-five students and thirty-four faculty members in the first year, including many of the top jazz musicians of the day, who had learned by doing but were now faced with figuring out how to pass on their knowledge for the first time (Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson George Russell, Jimmy Giuffre, Ornette Coleman, J.J. Johnson, Max Roach, and others). Both jazz history and jazz technique were taught. The school closed in 1960.
    11. By that time, jazz studies was making its way into other schools including the Berklee School of Music in Boston. The first degree in jazz studies was offered in 1947 by the University of North Texas in Denton.
  4. The Newport Jazz Festival
    1. George Wein, owner of two jazz clubs in Boston, was asked by Elaine and Louis Lorillard in 1954 to program some jazz concerts in an unlikely spot—a center of old money, Newport, Rhode Island. Although there was some resistance at first, jazz at Newport was eventually accepted as a symbol of enlightenment and fun.
    2. Wein became a powerful jazz impresario. Taking his cue from the Lenox School, he included panels and workshops as well as concerts that featured every major jazz artist of the day and some not usually considered part of the world of jazz, including Frank Sinatra, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, and Mahalia Jackson.
    3. When the festival was suspended in 1960 due to rowdiness, Wein moved it to New York City, where it grew even larger. He went on to start festivals in France, New Orleans, and elsewhere. By 2006, festivals had become a major part of the jazz landscape on six continents.
  5. Avant-Garde Historicism and Neoclassicism (1970s and 80s)
    1. Historicism was almost totally absent during the 1960s, when the first wave of avant-garde musicians emphasized new directions, but the eclectic second wave of the 1970s did not ignore jazz history. It was also during this period that record companies started to release box sets encompassing the music of a certain musician, era, movement, or record label.
    2. At the same time, a number of "living legends" who had left jazz for studio work, the academy, pit bands, or Europe returned to an active jazz performance schedule, priming audiences for almost anything.
  6. Anthony Braxton (b. 1945)
    1. Chicago native Braxton played all the reed instruments and piano. In 1969 he released a double album of unaccompanied alto saxophone solos that created quite a furor over familiar issues: fakery versus genius; jazz versus non-jazz. He recorded dozens of albums with wide-ranging instrumentation. He worked with figures such as Chick Corea, Dave Brubeck, Dave Holland, and Max Roach.
    2. His historicism created much controversy. His quartet, In the Tradition, consisted of traditional repertory played in nontraditional ways and with unconventional titles. His sources and performance practices were much broader than what most people understood as proper to jazz. He eventually settled into academia as a music professor. In 1994 he started a company that presented interdisciplinary and multimedia works in New York.
    3. Loft-era musicians drew on older resources combined with new ways of playing to create "free jazz"—meaning they were free to play whatever they wanted.
    4. During the 1980s, one response to this approach appeared in the form of new classicism. Older styles, practices, and techniques were viewed, not as a resource for new music, but rather as an object of homage and a definition of the "real" jazz.
    5. This traditionalist approach to jazz paralleled the conservative nature of political culture during the Regan era of the 1980s.
    6. The prevailing anti-intellectual and nostalgic feelings of this period precipitated hostility toward the arts, reduced arts funding, and encouraged censorship.
    7. Some jazz musicians, alienated by fusion and the avant-garde, began to explore jazz history by paying homage to deceased or neglected musicians like Billy Strayorn, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Tadd Dameron, and Herbie Nichols. Keith Jarrett launched a trio that specialized in playing jazz standards.
  7. Repertory vs. Nostalgia
    1. The jazz repertory movement, consisting of large jazz ensembles performing original arrangements of previous bands or new versions of classic works— essentially operating as tribute bands—started in the mid-1970s with George Wein's New York Jazz Repertory Company, which had rotating directors such as Cecil Taylor, George Russell, and Paul Jeffrey, and with Chuck Israels's National Jazz Ensemble.
    2. During the mid-1980s, this idea continued in the form of the American Jazz Orchestra led by John Lewis. It played music by past jazz artists, both well known and rare, including Ellington's Black, Brown, and Beige. Composers from previous eras were also invited to write and conduct new works.
    3. Similar jazz orchestras were created in San Diego, Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian Institute), and elsewhere, including the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band under the direction of Gillespie protégé Jon Faddis, which premiered new versions of jazz classics such Coltrane's A Love Supreme.
    4. The most durable of these ensembles is the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, which started in 1987 and, under the direction of Wynton Marsalis, led to the creation of an independent jazz wing of the center. This success led many high school and university music programs to introduce jazz repertory into their ensembles.
    5. Other performers, like Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall, took a more nostalgic approach by reviving styles from the 1940s and 1950s.
    6. Films about jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker, the jazz scene in Kansas City in the 1930s, and the life of fictional jazz musicians also contributed to jazz nostalgia.
  8. Wynton Marsalis (b. 1961)
    1. A leader of the neoclassical approach, Marsalis rejected the avant-garde, fusion, and informal personal styles of modern musicians, preferring instead an elegant, formal attire reminiscent of the Swing Era.
    2. He won Grammy Awards for both jazz and classical music and changed the direction of jazz discourse from one of progressive modernism and eclecticism to one of strict interpretation of mainstream jazz.
    3. Many musicians found him divisive, but he was accepted by popular culture as he immersed himself in many forms of jazz historicism, including the repertory movement, recordings that interpreted older musicians, and original work that probes African American history in a variety of formats.
  9. From New Orleans to New York
    1. Born in New Orleans, Wynton comes from a musical family. His father was a teacher and well-known jazz pianist.
    2. In 1980, while at Julliard, he joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, recording on Blakey's Album of the Year. He toured with Herbie Hancock and then started his own historicist group with Branford based on the 1963-1968 Miles Davis group.
    3. Although the press celebrated Marsalis as a personality, it no longer responded to jazz as it once did. Marsalis's historicism resulted in jazz competing with itself. Jazz sales plummeted, and even Marsalis was dropped by the Columbia label.
    4. Seeing the writing on the wall, Marsalis started touring and teaching and increased his fund-raising. He changed his style to an earlier style à la Ellington, while loosening his strict definition of jazz by recording with Willie Nelson.
  10. "Processional"
    1. This piece hails from his 1992-93 album In This House, on This Morning, written for septet, which chronicles a Sunday in the life of an African American religious family. This piece is from the first of three movements.
    2. Unlike Braxton's "Piece Three," which razes the opening march before bringing it back at the end, Marsalis makes subtle, historically accurate changes in form and structure.
    3. There are other references to the past:
      1. The A theme: very much like a folk song or hymn, thereby suggesting Horace Silver's "Preacher."
      2. The C theme: harmonies are similar to those of "Sweet Georgia Brown."
      3. The use of tambourine evokes gospel traditions.
      4. Ellington's influence is evident in the bowed bass, the vocalized trombone, and Marsalis's half-valve effects.
  11. Ronald Shannon Jackson (b. 1940) and James Carter (b. 1969)
    1. By using musical sources in the same way as swing bands did—adopting pop songs as well as classical themes and even ethnic styles— historical eclecticism connected with the jazz tradition in ways that are different from the postbop era's reliance on jazz standards.
    2. From two different generations, drummer Jackson and saxophonist Carter are both virtuosos who look beyond the usual boundaries of jazz to explore the avant-garde, fusion, and traditional jazz, all anchored in 1990s improvisation.
    3. In 1975, Jackson joined Ornette Coleman's band Prime Time and recorded two fusion albums, bringing funk to the avant-garde. He also recorded with Cecil Taylor in 1978. He started his own band, Decoding Society, with the goal of finding the common denominator to a broad variety of musics.
    4. In 1994, when he was twenty-five, Carter recorded with Decoding Society on What Spirit Joy. Even then he was considered an exemplar of the historicism that opened borders in the present while engaging the past.
    5. He started recording in 1993 with a series of quartet albums that spanned a broad range of styles. He was also involved in the music of the film Kansas City.
    6. Starting in 1996 he recorded a number of projects including:
      1. Albums combining traditional and Loft Era musicians.
      2. An album of arrangements of Django Reinhardt's music and improvised fusion music.
      3. An early-style fusion recording.
    7. In 2008 a jazz musician won a Grammy Award for album of the year—Herbie Hancock for River: The Joni Letters, based on the music of Joni Mitchell.
    8. All agreed that although this was a great album (it included Miles alumni Shorter, Hancock, and Holland), it could only have won this prize because it was a fusion with pop.
    9. With River Hancock created an album that needed to reference both fusion and a memorial to another time to achieve mainstream recognition. How long jazz can continue looking backward while moving forward remains to be seen.

Chapter 18 Jukebox