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Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World
Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World

David Horn

David Horn was a founding editor of the journal Popular Music and a founding member of IASPM (The International Association for the Study of Popular Music). He was Director of the Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool from 1988 until his retirement in 2002. Together with the blues scholar Paul Oliver he first proposed the idea of EPMOW in the 1980s, and has worked on the project since that time. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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and John Shepherd

John Shepherd is Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (Academic) and Chancellor’s Professor of Music and Sociology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He was from 2007-2012 Carleton’s Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs. Dr. Shepherd has been a member of EPMOW’s editorial board since 1990. In 2000, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in recognition of his role “as a leading architect of a post-War critical musicology.” Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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The Continuum International, 2012

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DOI: 10.5040/9781501329203-0014279
Page Range: 286–307

Jazz emerged as a distinct musical form in the United States in the early decades of the twentieth century and is primarily of African-American origin. Its early influences are held to encompass elements of African and European music, American folk music, marching band music, plantation songs, spirituals and gospel music, minstrelsy, ragtime and the blues. In terms of its specifically musical characteristics, jazz has been defined with reference to particular rhythmic qualities, including swing and syncopation, the development of a sophisticated harmonic language, and perhaps its most distinctive feature – regarded by some as its most fundamental – the element of improvisation. It must be noted, however, that these characteristics changed significantly as the music developed throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.

Since it first entered the English language, in a similar time period to that in which the musical form emerged, the word ‘jazz,’ in its most common usage as a noun, has been called upon to describe, characterize and classify an increasingly diverse range of music. The word has also been employed, in somewhat less common usages, as both an adjective (e.g., ‘a jazzy pattern’) and a verb (e.g., ‘to jazz up’). In addition to its strictly musical use, the Oxford English Dictionary records the now rare usage of the noun as a slang term for ‘energy, excitement, “pep”; restlessness; animation, excitability.’ The etymological origins of the term are uncertain, although its use was apparently first recorded in 1913, and there is general agreement that it originally served as a slang word for sexual intercourse (see Porter 1997, 1–12; Gabbard 2002).

In a manner similar to the longstanding stylistic and historical categories employed in traditional musicological approaches to Western art music (which commonly comprise Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century), standard histories of jazz, and the majority of jazz textbooks (e.g., Berendt 1975; Gridley 2008), proceed through a series of equally well-established musical styles and commonly understood defining periods, typically including: Early Jazz, encompassing New Orleans, Chicago and Dixieland Jazz (1920s); Swing and Big Band Jazz (1930s); Bebop, or sometimes simply Bop (1940s), Cool Jazz, encompassing West Coast Jazz, Modal Jazz and Third Stream music (1950s/60s); Hard Bop, or sometimes Soul Jazz (1950s/60s), Free Jazz, or sometimes Avant-Garde (1960s); and Jazz-Rock Fusion, or simply Fusion (1970s) – the latter representing perhaps the last clearly identifiable and generally agreed upon classificatory category, although one that, in common with free jazz, remains contested as part of the jazz tradition.

These stylistic and chronological markers have perpetuated a particular understanding of jazz history, in which musical development is viewed as an organic process of artistic cause and effect, with the various styles, schools and sub-genres of the music retrospectively ordered and categorized in a relatively unproblematic fashion. Indeed, employing a modernist notion of teleological progress, some observers have suggested that jazz history can be understood to represent an accelerated version of the developmental trajectory of classical music, in which traditional forms and structures are challenged and transcended, yielding new musical innovations (e.g., Hodeir 1956; Feather 1959; Pleasants 1969; Berendt 1975). From this perspective, the transition in Western art music from Early Music, through Classical and Romantic, to the Twentieth Century, which involved a gradual breaking with the musical conventions of tonality, is held to correspond to a similar evolution in jazz, from the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic constraints of New Orleans jazz to the atonal freedom of the 1960s avant-garde: a process that, advocates of this perspective sometimes proudly note, took decades, rather than centuries. This perspective has been the subject of considerable critique (e.g., DeVeaux 1998; Gab-bard 1995, 1–28), raising some searching questions with regard to the nature of jazz historiography and the construction of the jazz canon – namely, an inventory of representative performers, recordings and performances, which, through a process of inclusion and exclusion, has both enabled and constrained the development of jazz as a cultural form.

Indeed, the development of jazz as a clearly distinguishable genre has always been the subject of considerable, and often heated, debate. While the various musical forms included under the rubric of ‘jazz’ have continued to grow and develop, early disagreements over the meaning and usage of the term have only intensified. Since its first incarnations, then, jazz has been a thoroughly contested cultural site, and the music and its history have been the locus for ongoing debates over questions of racial and geographical origins, and the inclusion or exclusion of particular musical styles, forms and approaches. As jazz developed throughout the twentieth century, the transition between specifically identifiable sub-genres was marked by shifts in musical and stylistic characteristics, revealing differing approaches to instrumentation, rhythm, harmony and melody. It became commonplace in the minds of many observers – critics, musicians and fans alike – to equate these transitions with notions of progress, resulting in narrowly prescriptive readings of musical authenticity, and generating often fierce debates, ranging from rejections of the perceived challenges of the new, to a dismissal of the supposed anachronisms of the past. Notwithstanding the prevalence of the evolutionary model of jazz development, the various sub-genres of the music have continued to co-exist, sustained by networks of performers, fans, record labels and venues, with particular styles enjoying periodic revivals.

Since the late 1960s, beginning with the controversy over the rock-based rhythms and electric instruments of fusion, and in contrast to the somewhat ossified nature of the more established categories identified above (early jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, hard bop and free jazz), there has been little consensus or unanimity with regard to the development of subsequent jazz styles, although they are often understood to include categories such as Smooth Jazz, Acid Jazz, Latin Jazz, Improvised Music (or Free Improvisation) and the New York Downtown scene, as well as other, rather vague, catch-all categories such as Contemporary Jazz and Postmodern Jazz. The confusion inherent in this proliferation of sub-genre classifications is indicative of the manner in which musical developments in jazz since the latter part of the twentieth century have been characterized by an eclectic hybridity and a cross-fertilization with other musical forms and styles, making strict genre categorization an increasingly problematic exercise, and proving ever more frustrating for jazz purists and the often self-appointed gatekeepers of the jazz canon.

The instrumentation of early jazz ensembles reflected the music’s mixed inheritance of African, European and American influences, drawing on an eclectic range of instruments derived from the classical, brass band, ragtime and folk music traditions. Brass instruments such as the trumpet, cornet, trombone and tuba were central to most early jazz groups, alongside the clarinet, piano, banjo, guitar, double bass and drums. Although not especially common in the earliest of jazz styles, the saxophone soon established itself as a key instrument in jazz development, rivalling the trumpet as one of the defining instruments of the genre, and proving to be one that lent itself readily to the cultivation of an individual tone. Typical instrumental groupings in jazz have ranged from the big bands of the Swing Era to the well-established trio format of acoustic piano, double bass and drums, which also forms the rhythm section of the standard jazz quartet and quintet – perhaps the most common ensembles in jazz – with a front line of saxophone and/or trumpet.

The acoustic piano – one of the quintessential, defining instruments of Western art music, in its keyboard-based delineation of tonal harmony – has occupied both a central and, at times, somewhat ambivalent role in the development of jazz. In the group context, in addition to offering the opportunity for improvised solos, the piano has most often provided chordal accompaniment, known as ‘comping,’ supporting soloists by outlining the harmonic framework of the composition. Employing distinctive instrumental and musical techniques, pianists as diverse as Thelonious Monk, Paul Bley and Cecil Taylor, among others, have challenged the harmonic constraints imposed by the piano, while some ensembles – most notably the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker Quartet of the 1950s and the Ornette Coleman Quartet of the 1960s – have eschewed the use of the piano, thereby allowing greater harmonic flexibility for improvisation. Although solo piano performances have been prevalent throughout jazz history, solo recitals on a wide range of instruments have become more common since the free jazz of the 1960s, and the subsequent development of free improvisation pioneered ad hoc groupings of instruments in a variety of ensembles.

Approaches to rhythm have varied considerably throughout the history of jazz, from the often rather stiff, ragtime-derived feel of much early jazz, to the rhythmic looseness of free jazz. Notwithstanding these stylistic variations, swing feeling has remained a dominant and defining characteristic of much jazz practice, from big bands to hard bop, and has served as a marker for many of ‘authentic’ jazz, thereby excluding the textural innovations of free jazz and the rock-based rhythms of fusion from easy acceptance as part of the jazz canon. Approaches to harmony and melody in jazz have been similarly varied and contested. Although the polyphonic demands of the collective improvisation prevalent in much early jazz led to relatively straightforward harmonic frameworks, the tightly arranged big band scores of the Swing Era introduced a new level of harmonic complexity, albeit subservient to the melodic demands of the form’s primarily populist orientation.

The language of bebop expanded the harmonic resources of jazz significantly further, while modal jazz offered an alternative to the harmonic hurdles of bebop, emphasizing melodically based improvisation on scales or modes. In contrast to these developments, the advent of free jazz saw harmony become an often non-functional aspect of musical structure, with the emphasis on collectivist approaches to sound, texture and tonal variation, whereas fusion drew on the often simple harmonic and melodic norms of rock and popular music. Despite this range of approaches to harmony and melody, and in a manner similar to the role of swing feeling, improvisation on the chord changes of popular songs, or ‘standards,’ has remained common practice – and a definitional model – in the formation of the jazz canon.

Stressing the need for socio-historical contextualization in the study of art, the cultural theorist Raymond Williams famously cautioned against formalist analytical recourse to ‘the works of art themselves’ (1981, 119). This latter tendency has been readily apparent, for example, in more traditionalist approaches to art history and musicology, in which the social and historical context of artworks often functions, as the cultural sociologist Janet Wolff has argued, as little more than a ‘painted backdrop’ (1992, 706) to the formalist analysis of cultural texts. Hence, although much of the history of jazz can be understood, arguably, in terms of what might be regarded as specifically musical developments, the fact that these strictly musical characteristics would go on – in the minds of cultural conservatives and cultural radicals alike – to serve as definitional and discursive markers of ‘authenticity,’ thereby delimiting the scope and potential of ‘jazz’, only serves to confirm the need for analytical caution, highlighting the often prescriptive manner in which such discourses function in the sphere of art and culture. In this article, therefore, questions of musical development in jazz will be considered alongside their broader cultural implications, acknowledging the synergy between issues of musical text and social context.

Rather than addressing, in standard chronological fashion, the details of the historical and musical development of the various sub-genres of jazz (the majority of which have their own individual entries in this volume), this article will examine a number of themes and debates which have been prevalent throughout jazz history, and which have manifested themselves, at varying degrees of salience, in all the styles and sub-genres of jazz. This article will therefore explore the tensions and controversies evident in the ongoing development of jazz, examining the manner in which these themes and debates have served to influence the production, circulation, regulation and reception of the music, noting the various assessments, critiques and evaluations made by critics, artists, academics, record company executives and audiences, all of whom, at differing levels of influence, have served as cultural gatekeepers in defining the music known as jazz.

The themes and debates identified above in the ongoing history of jazz can be summarized, neither comprehensively nor categorically, in terms of the tensions inherent in a series of discourses, all of which invoke particular notions of authenticity, namely: race and nationalism, musical form and style, technology, and art and populism. Reflecting and illustrating the often highly partisan nature of debates in this field, the tensions in these discourses have most often been expressed in a succession of somewhat rudimentary but remarkably persistent binary oppositions: black-white, American-European, improvisation-composition, spontaneity-structure, individual-collective, soloist-ensemble, tradition-innovation, continuity-schism, purity-cross-fertilization, acoustic-electric, live-recorded, artistic-commercial, marginal-mainstream. Moreover, far from generating discrete debates, these various discourses continue to overlap and interrelate in an extremely complex manner. The following sections will address these discursive debates in more detail.

Race and Nationalism

Historically, there is little doubt that the particular set of social, cultural, racial, political and musical conditions in New Orleans at the beginning of the twentieth century played a significant role in the early development of jazz, highlighting the seminal influence of key African-American innovators such as Jelly Roll Morton, Joe ‘King’ Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet – a story that has been well-documented (e.g., Stearns 1956; Peretti 1992; Hersch 2008). The subsequent history of jazz simply confirms the centrality of African-American influence, as represented by the canonic figures in the development of swing, bebop, hard bop and free jazz, among them Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman.

The breadth and depth of this influence has led some observers to characterize jazz as a quintessentially American, and fundamentally African-American, musical form. Indeed, some critics have argued that jazz represents ‘America’s Classical Music’ (e.g., Sales 1984; Taylor 1986), a discursive claim for cultural legitimacy that remains highly prevalent in popular conceptualizations of the music. Increasingly, however, such claims for the specifically geographical and racial provenance of jazz have become highly contested, and the ‘creation myth’ of New Orleans as the sole birthplace of jazz has been brought into question (see, for example, Shipton 2007; Atkins 2003; Miller 2005). From its earliest days, the music circulated swiftly and widely, not only throughout the United States but also internationally, and jazz remains an essentially global, fundamentally hybrid cultural form – as George McKay has argued, ‘It was the cultural product of diaspora, in origin and subsequent trajectory’ (2005, 3).

Moreover, some revisionist jazz historians have queried the extent to which early jazz can be understood as a specifically African-American music, examining the significant contributions of white musicians in the music’s formative years, and in its subsequent development (e.g., Sudhalter 1999; Collier 1993; Lees 1994). Although Richard Sudhalter’s vigorous revisionism – with its accompanying, and somewhat conspiratorial, claims of a ‘black creationist canon’ (1999, xviii) – remains problematic in its often simplistic canonic inversion (in which, rather contentiously perhaps, the contributions of white performers such as Bix Beiderbecke, Red Nichols and Frankie Trumbauer are held to be of equal importance in the early development of jazz as those of their African-American peers), work such as this does offer a provocative response to the marginalization of white musicians in some standard historical accounts. It is worthwhile noting that the first jazz recording, made in 1917, was by a white group, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, which served both to initiate and anticipate future claims for the appropriation of African-American musical forms by white musicians and performers, a recurrent – and often valid – theme in the history of jazz.

The controversial figure of the white bandleader Paul Whiteman is indicative of the definitional and classificatory confusion of the period. As the self-styled – and highly contested – ‘King of Jazz’ (a title immortalized in the film of the same name in 1930) and a prime exponent of what became known as ‘symphonic jazz,’ Whiteman has been the subject of scorn and disdain from critics of both traditionalist and revisionist leanings, chastised not only for his ‘banal … and rigidly played’ band arrangements (Schuller 1989, 660), but also for his ‘denial of the African American role in jazz’ (Gabbard 1996, 10). But the popularity and influence of Whiteman was significant: as Gary Giddins has suggested, he was ‘the first genuine popular-music superstar, an idol mobbed coast to coast at railway stations in every city he played’ (2001, 141); his bands included some of the most highly regarded (white) jazz instrumentalists and vocalists of the period, including Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden, Bunny Berigan, Bing Crosby and Mildred Bailey; and it is interesting to note that, in 1926, praising the work of the black band-leader Fletcher Henderson (a figure often held to be unjustly neglected at the expense of the popularity of white big bands), the Chicago Defender, an influential African-American newspaper, noted that Henderson’s group was not ‘like the average Negro orchestra, but in a class with the good white orchestras, such as Paul Whiteman … not sloppy New Orleans hokum’ (quoted in Harrison 1976, 185). Hence, there can be little disagreement about Whiteman’s positioning at the forefront of the 1920s ‘Jazz Age’ – and, in that specific sense, Whiteman can, indeed, be understood to be the ‘King of Jazz’ – although it is equally obvious that issues of race and authenticity, and the assumptions and expectations that typically accompany such issues in a jazz context, have had a significant impact on the critical reception of Whiteman’s work, as they would in subsequent critical responses to cool jazz, West Coast jazz, and Third Stream music.

Some observers (e.g., Jones 1963, 186) have highlighted the extent to which white bandleaders in the Swing Era, most notably Benny Goodman (hailed as the ‘King of Swing’), achieved considerable fame and financial reward in their day far beyond that afforded their African-American precursors and contemporaries such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Fletcher Henderson, whose bands, in a racially segregated United States, also had to contend with significantly lower standards of touring and presentation. To a very large extent, these are legitimate arguments, although it would be unwise to underestimate the genuine influence of Goodman, or his contemporaries such as Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey. Moreover, it is worthwhile noting that, in the subsequent formation of the jazz canon, history has tended to favour the work of the African-American bands, with figures such as Goodman customarily characterized as pretenders to the throne.

Although discourses of race and nationalism are clearly evident in debates over bebop, cool jazz and hard bop, it is their intersection with the accompanying discourses of musical style and populism that has tended to influence broader conceptualizations of these sub-genres, and these issues will be addressed in the following sections. In the case of 1960s free jazz, however, discourses of race and nationalism were especially foregrounded, often explicitly linked to the Black Arts and Black Nationalist movements, through figures such as the writer Amiri Baraka (formerly known as LeRoi Jones, before his conversion to Islam in 1968), and the saxophonists Archie Shepp and Marion Brown (see, for example, Jones 1963; Kofsky 1970; Wilmer 1977; Thomas 1995; Anderson 2007). The political and artistic radicalism of much free jazz found its roots in earlier politicized statements by African-American jazz artists, including Sonny Rollins’s ‘The Freedom Suite’ (1958), Max Roach’s We Insist! Freedom Now Suite (1960), and Charles Mingus’s celebrated piece ‘Original Faubus Fables,’ first recorded with its lyrical content intact – an attack on the segregationist Governor of Arkansas, Orval E. Faubus – on the 1960 recording Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus.

Subsequent recordings by Shepp and others reveal a collocation of African-American political activism and a burgeoning Afrocentrism: for example, Shepp’s Fire Music (1965) included an elegy for the recently assassinated Malcolm X, while the 18-minute title track of The Magic of Ju-Ju (1967) featured five percussionists on African drums. For some musicians in this period, the influence of Africa had particularly spiritual resonance, as in the music of Pharoah Sanders (e.g., Tauhid, 1966) or in some of the later work of John Coltrane (e.g., Kulu Se Mama, 1966). And although the elaborate Space Age trappings of Sun Ra’s particular brand of Afro-Futurism have been interpreted by some observers as merely amusingly idiosyncratic, the black activism inherent in his work has been highlighted by Ra biographer John Szwed: commenting on the discourse of space that dominates Sun Ra’s rhetoric, Szwed has argued that, for Sun Ra, ‘space was both a metaphor of exclusion and reterritorialization, of claiming the “outside” as one’s own, of tying a revised and corrected past to a claimed future’ (1998, 140).

While debates over subsequent musical developments in fusion tended to focus especially on issues of technology and populism (which will be pursued further below), the prevalence of discourses of racial, nationalist and musical authenticity was readily apparent in the later decades of the twentieth century, especially in the context of the neo-conservatism inherent in the work and influence of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and his long-time supporter, writer Stanley Crouch, both of whom were highly influenced by the writings of Albert Murray (e.g., 1976). Having served his apprenticeship in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Marsalis rose quickly to prominence in the 1980s as part of the Young Lions movement, touring and recording frequently as a leader, and, since 1991, serving as Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. He also acted as Senior Creative Consultant on Ken Burns’s PBS documentary Jazz (2001), which included Crouch on its Advisory Board. Rejecting the innovations of both free jazz and fusion, Marsalis championed a return to the styles and values of New Orleans, swing and hard bop, winning multiple Grammy awards, and the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his often Ellington-inspired compositions. Writing in the New York Times in 1988, Marsalis outlined his understanding of ‘What Jazz Is – and Isn’t,’ arguing that ‘Too often, what is represented as jazz isn’t jazz at all … rock isn’t jazz and new age isn’t jazz, and neither are pop or third stream’ (1988, A21).

The delimited nature of Marsalis’s perspective on jazz music and jazz history has been the subject of much controversy, and he has been criticized for his programming and hiring practices at Jazz at Lincoln Center, which, some observers have argued, have privileged African-American artists at the expense of white musicians and composers (see, for example, Lees 1994; Nisenson 1997; Teachout 1995). Similarly controversial was the involvement of Marsalis and Crouch in Burns’s Jazz documentary, which drew heated criticism for a number of reasons: its inordinate emphasis on Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, its narrowly American, and often singularly African-American focus, its highly selective list of musicians for inclusion in the series (which neglected the contributions of many key figures, including Bill Evans, George Russell, Lennie Tristano and Stan Kenton), its limited purview on genres such as free jazz and fusion (including its highly dismissive treatment of Cecil Taylor), and its cursory review of the previous 40 years of jazz history, which ignored many significant innovators of the period, especially those of the New York Downtown scene of the 1980s and 1990s, including John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne and Dave Douglas (see, for example, Gabbard 2000; Ratliff 2001; Davis 2001; Radano 2001; Stanbridge 2004). Stanley Crouch’s outspoken 2003 piece on Dave Douglas – entitled ‘Putting the White Man in Charge,’ and arguing that ‘Dave Douglas will never be seen standing up next to black masters of the idiom’ (2006, 234) – led to Crouch’s column being dropped from Jazz Times.

Much of the formative writing on jazz, whether in the form of jazz criticism or record album liner notes, has been criticized by scholars in the relatively new field of Jazz Studies for its formalist focus on specifically musical details, which is held to be at the expense of addressing broader social issues, most notably race. Hence, for example, Gunther Schuller’s work on early jazz and swing has been characterized as ‘a monument to the ideal of jazz as an autonomous art’ (DeVeaux 1998, 496); Martin Williams’s work is held to be based on an ‘aesthetic of unity and coherence,’ representing the ‘application of formalist literary principles to jazz’ (Gabbard 1995, 12), and, in response to a chapter on ‘Jazz and Race’ by Leonard Feather (1959), Scott DeVeaux has argued that the ‘point of this exercise … is not to connect the expressive power of the music to oppressive social conditions, but to exorcise them so that the rest of the book may be safely devoted to the development of musical language’ (DeVeaux 1997, 20). DeVeaux also acknowledges, however, that to ‘insist on the dignity and inherent worth of the black expressive arts was … a risky political act in the 1940s and 1950s’ (1997, 20), and his critique perhaps underplays the extent to which writers such as Leonard Feather and Nat Hentoff were successful in introducing a form of contextualist discourse into music criticism in a historical period that was inimical to statements of black creativity and equality.

Interestingly, some work in the field of Jazz Studies has been subjected to criticism for its ‘Afrocentric essentialism’ (Brown 1999, 236), highlighting the extent to which socio-historical discourses of race have displaced the previous emphasis on formalist musical analysis. Lee Brown cites Jed Rasula’s claim that ‘jazz music is black history’ (Rasula 1995, 156) as indicative of this essentialist trend, which is also evident in the work of Charley Gerard, when he argues, for example, that white innovators’ ‘interests in jazz are primarily aesthetic, since their music does not play a part in establishing a group’s social cohesion, as African-American music does for African-American culture. Whites have a strong interest in expanding the technical aspects of jazz by introducing elements from modern classical music. They are less interested in making their music sound like jazz than in expressing themselves’ (1998, 114–15). Similarly, comparing the saxophone-playing of Johnny Griffin and Jimmy Giuffre, Gerard suggests that a ‘constant flow of blues phrases mixed into bebop lines marks Griffin as African American, just as their scarcity in Giuffre’s music marks him as not African American’ (1998, 163).

In sharp contrast to the problematic essentialism of work such as this, Gary Tomlinson has argued that the ‘forfeiture of dialogue can cut both ways. Just as white writers have sometimes been intent on ignoring or minimizing the blackness of jazz innovations and of individual jazz voices, so black writers have sometimes proved just as intent on impoverishing the interethnic dialogues that inform jazz styles … both start from premises that drastically reduce the dialogics itself of cultural production’ (Tomlinson 1992, 79). The impoverishment of interethnic dialogue which Tomlinson identifies is paralleled by an equivalent impoverishment of intraethnic dialogue, as DeVeaux suggests of the politically motivated linkage of authenticity and ethnicity in the 1960s, exemplified by the interplay of free jazz and Black Nationalist politics in this period: ‘As always, the actual diversity of expression within the black community was masked by the tendency for any and every viewpoint within it to claim the collective history of the people as a source of legitimacy’ (1998, 501) – an observation that appears to apply as equally to the radical, emancipatory rhetoric of Amiri Baraka and Archie Shepp in the 1960s as it does to the neo-conservative, canonizing rhetoric of Stanley Crouch and Wynton Marsalis in the 1990s.

In the early years of the twenty-first century, discourses of race and nationalism in jazz tended to be dominated by the neo-conservative Marsalis/Crouch axis, which benefited from a strong institutional base in the Jazz at Lincoln Center program and significant media exposure through Ken Burns’s Jazz documentary. Also evident, however, were some interesting variations on a well-established theme, which both confirmed earlier discourses and introduced some contrasting perspectives. In an influential essay, the trombonist and writer George E. Lewis proposed the concepts of ‘Afrological’ and ‘Eurological’ musicality, to refer ‘metaphorically to musical belief systems and behavior’ (1996, 93). Although Lewis has argued that the concepts should not be understood as ‘ethnically essential’ in their employment as ‘critical tools’ (1996, 93), they have tended to be interpreted and utilized as racially essentialized categories. In a subsequent essay, contrasting the avant-garde improvisational approaches of the members of the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) with those of the European free improvisation scene, and although ultimately arguing for an ‘inclusive, nonracialized historical account of late 20th-century and 21st-century free improvisation, based on a fluid notion of tradition’ (2004, 24), Lewis employs some problematic stereotypes in an analysis that invokes discourses of racial, cultural and musical authenticity which stretch back to earlier dismissals of the music of Paul Whiteman, Lennie Tristano and others.

In an edited collection of essays published in 2003, E. Taylor Atkins observed that ‘practically all jazz discourse rests on the premise of American exceptionalism’ (2003, xiii), and argued that ‘jazz, as both a sociocultural force and as a musical idiom, is significantly impaired by construing it as a narrowly national art, expressive of uniquely American experiences and characteristics’ (2003, xx). As Atkins suggests, the influence of jazz has been considerably broader in its reach: ‘it is important … [to] acknowledge that the evolution of jazz as an art did not occur solely within the borders of the United States, but rather in a global context in which musicians from a variety of musical traditions exchanged information and inspiration’ (2003, xxiii). Standard histories of jazz have tended to highlight international, non-American contributions to jazz as exceptions to the American norm – a tendency evident in many jazz textbooks, as well as in the Ken Burns documentary. Hence, figures such as the Cuban conga player Chano Pozo, the Brazilian Bossa Nova musicians and songwriters João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and the Belgian gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Django_Reinhardt”\l“cite_note-0”\o ) are seen as isolated examples, rather than fully integrated into a broader – and, indeed, more accurate – history of the music and its development. Although elements of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music were popularized by Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, among others, these musics have their own unique histories and traditions, which have been increasingly acknowledged in jazz criticism and scholarship (see, for example, Roberts 1979, 1999; Yanow 2000; Piedade 2003; Fernandez 2006).

Along similar lines to those suggested by Atkins, Stuart Nicholson has argued that ‘since the 1960s, there has been a gradual realization, more outside the United States than in it, that jazz does not have to be American, or even sound American, to be jazz’ (2005, xii). Nicholson goes on to examine the conservatism of the dominant American jazz mainstream at the turn of the new century, contrasting it with innovations in European jazz in the same period. The argument has been a controversial one, although there is little doubt that the influence of specifically European forms on the development of contemporary jazz has been distinctive and far-reaching, encompassing a wide range of work on the British, Dutch, German, French, Italian and Nordic music scenes (see, for example, Wickes 1999; McKay 2005; Whitehead 1998; Heffley 2005, Nicholson 2005). In the British context, although drawing early influence from 1960s African-American models, subsequent developments owe little to American forms. Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and John Stevens, for example, have offered highly individual approaches to free improvisation, while figures such as Barry Guy, Keith Tippett and Howard Riley have pursued new methods for exploring the interface between improvisation and composition. Over and above the first generation of British improvisers, and in addition to the contributions of British second-generation musicians, from Django Bates to Spring Heel Jack, the UK-based diasporic work of figures such as the Jamaican Joe Harriott and the South Africans Chris McGregor, Dudu Pukwana and Harry Miller, represents a unique contribution to the development of specifically non-American forms of jazz and improvised music.

In addition to the exclusionary discourses of race and nationalism, the question of gender in jazz has been similarly problematic, often linked to issues of authenticity. Throughout much of its history, and at a variety of levels – whether as musicians, critics, promoters or listeners – jazz has been a thoroughly male-dominated music, with the result that the contributions of women have tended to be underestimated and undervalued. The predominant role for female performers in jazz has historically been as vocalists, and especially so in the Swing Era, when featured singers – both male and female – were vital to a big band’s popular appeal. Contrary to standard perceptions of jazz history, however, and alongside celebrated vocal-ists such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, many female instrumentalists and composers have also made significant contributions to the development of the music, from the eclectic pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams, whose work covered an extraordinary spectrum, encompassing her first recording with Andy Kirk’s Twelve Clouds of Joy in 1929 and piano duets with Cecil Taylor in 1977, to the innovative composer and bandleader Carla Bley, whose remarkable body of work over four decades has contributed to expanding and transforming the parameters of contemporary jazz. The distinctiveness of more recent work by key figures such as Maria Schneider, Satoko Fujii, Susie Ibarra, Marilyn Crispell, Regina Carter, Myra Melford and Aki Takase, among many others, simply confirms the fact that female jazz performers no longer need to justify their contributions with reference to those of their male counterparts. Although such a perspective might run the risk of a perceived tokenism, there is an equal risk of perhaps over-emphasizing the role of women in jazz history, substituting – in a manner analogous to Richard Sudhalter’s overly zealous and racially motivated revisionism – one gender-based canon for another: as Rita Felski has argued of some feminist approaches in literary studies and art history, ‘simply to present a woman-centred canon of great texts as the basis for an autonomous feminist aesthetic is surely to leave a number of key questions unanswered’ (1995, 433). Generally avoiding such analytical pitfalls, a steadily growing literature has chronicled the often forgotten history of women in jazz, offering a revised, and much-needed, perspective on jazz development (see, for example, Placksin 1982; Dahl 1984; Gourse 1995; Tucker 2000; Rustin and Tucker 2008).

Musical Form and Style

Attempts to define jazz in terms of its specifically musical characteristics have been notoriously problematic, with, typically, references to improvisation, swing and individual sound tending to circumscribe the music within rather narrow musical parameters (see, for example, Berendt 1975; Gridley, Maxham and Hoff 1989). Although the question of sound is one on which there appears to be general agreement – across all the styles and sub-genres of the music, jazz musicians are expected to possess not only an impeccable technique on their chosen instrument but also an identifiable tone – a singular emphasis on swing serves to highlight particular qualities of rhythmic style and vitality at the expense of the alternative rhythmic approaches found in some sub-genres of the music, in which swing may not be a central or defining characteristic. Hence, for those observers for whom swing is an essential criterion in defining jazz, musical forms that do not exhibit stereotypical swing feeling are readily dismissed as ‘not jazz.’

A prime example of the manner in which such exclusionary discourses of musical and stylistic authenticity have been wielded is in negative responses to free jazz, in which the loosening of the rhythmic pulse in favour of an emphasis on sound and texture proved to be anathema to jazz purists. Similar exclusionary discourses are evident in critical reaction to much cool jazz and to the majority of Third Stream experiments, while the rock-based rhythms of fusion, coupled with an often unrepentant populism, have been regarded by many as a denial of the fundamental elements of jazz music. In this context, it is interesting to note that the motto of Jazz at Lincoln Center is ‘Bringing people together through swing,’ and that, in October 2004, opening the US$131-million Frederick P. Rose Hall (also known as the House of Swing), Wynton Marsalis announced that ‘The whole space is dedicated to the feeling of swing,’ thereby firmly – and rather narrowly – setting the agenda for future programming at the facility (see Jazz at Lincoln Center 2008).

One of the earliest discursive debates in jazz, highlighting the prevalence of discourses of musical authenticity and evolution, occurred in the early 1940s, between Dixieland revivalists and proponents of swing music, which had emerged in the 1930s and had begun to supersede earlier jazz styles in terms of popularity and media attention. In 1942, characterizing the revivalists as ‘moldy figs,’ Metronome magazine – a champion of the swing style – launched a series of editorials and articles that would ‘castigate New Orleans jazz as technically backward and “corny” … position[ing] itself as the defender of modernism and progress in jazz’ (Gendron 1995, 32). The emergence of bebop in the 1940s overlapped with the declining fortunes of swing and big band music in the latter part of that decade, and the role of swing music was swiftly transformed from modernist vanguard to traditionalist anachronism. Bebop represented both an extension of, and a reaction against, earlier swing styles, and reinvigorated the role of the virtuoso instrumental soloist, a role that had been somewhat displaced in swing music by the restrictions of dance-based charts and the popularity of front-line vocalists. In contrast to the primacy of the big band in the Swing Era, bebop was largely a small-group music, although its musical repertoire still drew heavily and repeatedly upon many of the songs and show tunes popularized by swing bands, which included works by Broadway’s established canon of composers – George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers among them.

But if swing, even in its most adventurous incarnations, remained essentially a popular music for dancing and socializing, bebop heeded few such populist restrictions, offering an often challenging musical agenda for the listener: a hitherto unfamiliar level of harmonic complexity, involving chord substitutions and extensions, a vigorous improvisational style, far removed from the melodic emphasis of much swing music, and a sophisticated approach to rhythm, with drummers extending their musical participation beyond what had previously been mainly a time-keeping role, adding rhythmic punctuation and commentary to the music. Bebop’s prime exponents included Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, whose pioneering work, alongside fellow innovators such as Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Max Roach, introduced the style to both avid, ‘hip’ enthusiasts and an often uncomprehending broader public.

The debates between advocates of earlier jazz styles and bebop – between a new set of ‘moldy figs’ and ‘modernists’ – represented not only a divisive conflict between, on the one hand, discourses of musical authenticity and populist entertainment (in the case of swing music, a predominantly white populist entertainment), and, on the other, discourses of (primarily black) artistic progress and innovation, but also served, in distinctly non-divisive fashion, to legitimate jazz as a developing, ‘organic’ musical form. As Scott DeVeaux has argued: ‘In the long run, it proved as much in the interests of the modernists to have their music legitimated as the latest phase in a (now) long and distinguished tradition, as it was in the interests of the proponents of earlier jazz styles (whether New Orleans jazz or swing) not to be swept aside as merely antiquarian’ (1998, 494). Subsequent musical developments in jazz, including cool jazz, hardbop, free jazz and fusion, revealed a similar range of discursive tensions, encompassing the intersecting discourses of race, musical style, technology and populism – debates that have remained prevalent throughout the music’s ensuing developmental trajectory.

Of all the styles and sub-genres of jazz, it is perhaps in the context of cool jazz that the exclusionary nature of the interrelated discourses of racial and musical authenticity has been most readily apparent. Although a number of renowned African-American musicians were involved in the cool jazz and West Coast jazz scenes, as well as the various Third Stream experiments of the period – among them John Lewis, Charles Mingus and Miles Davis, whose seminal recording, Birth of the Cool (1957), represents a significant early statement of the style – these musical forms tend to be identified as the product of primarily white musicians and composers, and have been routinely criticized for a number of imputed musical characteristics that are held to distance them from ‘authentic’ jazz forms: a lack of swing, muted dynamics, light tonal qualities, a detached ‘intellectualism’ and the borrowing of instruments, techniques and structures from ‘non-jazz’ sources, such as classical music. The generally negative critical reception afforded the work of Lennie Tristano, for example, is typical of this trend, the intersection of discourses of racial and musical authenticity resulting in Tristano and the various members of his ‘school’ – most notably Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh – remaining undeservedly marginalized figures in jazz history (see Shim 2007; Ind 2005).

Even more determinedly than in the negative responses to Lennie Tristano’s work, the reaction to Third Stream music – a term coined in 1957 by Gunther Schuller to refer to the melding of Western art music and jazz, and first described by him in print in 1961 (see Schuller 1986) – reveals the influence of the overlapping stereotypical discourses of musical and racial authenticity, as evidenced by much of the critical writing on the topic – recall, for example, that Wynton Marsalis specifically identified Third Stream as a musical form that ‘isn’t jazz’ (1988, A21). Despite widespread critical disapproval, however – and there can be little doubt about the form’s ‘rather risible reputation’ (Priestley 1987, 496) – many early Third Stream experiments were undeniably musically challenging and innovative, both acknowledging and expanding the jazz tradition, as in the work, for example, of Jimmy Giuffre, George Russell and Teddy Charles, as well as in Robert Graettinger’s unprecedented music for the Stan Kenton Orchestra (Kenton 1952). Moreover, Third Stream concepts of cross-fertilization and hybridity – whether or not explicitly referred to as such, and whether employed by white or black musicians – have continued to be highly influential in the work of contemporary figures such as Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, Julius Hemphill, Don Byron, Dave Douglas, John Zorn, Barry Guy and Franz Koglmann, among many others.

Koglmann’s provocative perspective on these issues was highlighted in his recording A White Line (1989), which featured tributes to a series of white jazz composers and performers, including Stan Kenton, Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre and Gil Evans. In his liner notes to the CD, Koglmann stated:

The specific something that fascinates most jazz lovers has to do with swing, soul, and heated expressivity. Since all pertinent standards were set by black musicians, white musicians accepting these categories as supreme criteria naturally have to look for guidance to their black colleagues. My categories are different, however. With due respect to the achievements of African-American jazz … I cannot see swing as the one and only saving criterion (Koglmann 1990).

Such comments may be anathema to jazz traditionalists but offer an anticipatory rejoinder to those critiques of Third Stream and cool jazz which suggest that the music is too ‘structured’, too ‘academic’, too ‘cerebral’, that it ‘doesn’t swing’: exactly the qualities, it would appear – paradoxically and frustratingly so for the purist – for which Koglmann is aiming.

In the liner notes to his symphonic piece, Skies of America (1972), the saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman addressed similar issues: ‘I have often read critical pieces where the critic said that what the composer was trying to do didn’t come off. I have wondered what the critic meant if he didn’t know what the composer was trying to do’ (1972, 5). The sad saga of Coleman’s controversial piece highlights the problems awaiting an African-American artist who rejects the imposed constraints of jazz stereotypes and has the temerity to write a ‘serious’ work for the concert hall: having reclassified Coleman as a ‘classical performer’ in order that his work could be performed and recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra, the British Musicians’ Union then ruled that Coleman’s jazz quartet – an integral component in his musical plan – could not participate in the proceedings (see Litweiler 1992, 144; Williams 2000, 209).

Similar classificatory problems have beset the musical eclecticism of such apparently diverse figures as Jimmy Giuffre and Anthony Braxton. In addition to his celebrated piece, ‘Four Brothers,’ for the Woody Herman band in the 1940s and the more readily accessible character of his folk-influenced work with his first trios, Giuffre’s restless experimentalism also led to his involvement in early examples of free improvisation, studio overdubbing and Third Stream composition, and to the prescient improvisational innovations of his 1960s trio with Paul Bley and Steve Swallow (e.g., Free Fall, 1962) – but his subsequent neglect by both audiences and critics saw him spend much of the later years of his career devoted to teaching. Revealing a similarly diverse range of ambitions, and influenced as much by Karlheinz Stockhausen as by Charlie Parker, Braxton’s musical output has encompassed solo saxophone recitals, jazz quartet and quintet work, free improvisation and composed music for a range of ensembles, from small-scale chamber pieces to his Composition 82 for four orchestras (see Braxton 2008). Braxton’s own uncompromising pronouncements – ‘I’m not a jazz musician’ (quoted in Radano 1995, 196) – have done little to endear him to the jazz establishment, and his latterly fractious relationship with Arista Records in the 1970s exemplified the definitional uncertainties inherent in contemporary jazz (see Radano 1993, 1995).

Although the vast majority of jazz improvisation – including much of the improvisation in so-called ‘free’ jazz – occurs within clearly delineated musical structures, discourses of jazz authenticity grounded in concepts of spontaneity and immediacy have led to the function of the composer and arranger in jazz remaining undervalued in comparison to the popular emphasis on the virtuoso soloist – a role that stands in constant tension with the claims for jazz as a fundamentally collaborative form. Commenting on the limited and highly structured nature of improvised solos in Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool (1957), Max Harrison noted that ‘the ensemble is king,’ although he goes on to observe that the negligible influence of this work represented ‘another case … of jazz failing lamentably to explore a potentially major field of development’ (Harrison et al. 1978, 64). Hence, a figure such as George Russell – an innovative composer, theorist and bandleader, whose works feature extensive improvisation but always within complex compositional frameworks – remains historically marginal compared to many of his African-American peers. Similarly, although the work of big band arrangers and composers represents a fundamental component of the music, the recognition and reputation afforded innovative figures such as Claude Thornhill, Gil Evans and Stan Kenton lags well behind that of many of the featured star soloists with these bands, including, for example, Lee Konitz, Miles Davis and Art Pepper. Duke Ellington remains a notable exception to this trend, representing a relatively isolated example of composition and arrangement in jazz being unequivocally valued as part of the jazz tradition, based primarily on the distinctive manner in which Ellington integrated the individualities of his featured soloists into the overall compositional texture.

The critical debates that served to frame the sub-genre that came to be known as hardbop tended not to focus on issues of racial authenticity – the vast majority of hard bop performers were African-American – but highlighted the tension between discourses of musical authenticity and populism: issues that will be pursued further below. Concurrent with – and, to some extent, influencing – hardbop, the early modal experiments of Miles Davis offered an alternative to the chord-based improvisational styles of bebop, emphasizing melody and musical texture, and proving, in some cases, to be even more popular: Davis’s Kind of Blue (1959) remains the highest-selling jazz record of all time. The use of modes or scales as a basis for improvisation was not a new concept – George Russell had been exploring these ideas as early as the late 1940s, and Jimmy Giuffre had been seeking an alternative to what he characterized as the ‘vertical prisons’ of traditional harmony in his 1950s work, revealing a ‘concern with the expressive potentials of line and of sound’ (Harrison et al. 1978, 106) – but Davis’s example was perhaps the most influential, inspiring the subsequent modal work of John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and others.

Contemporaneous developments in free jazz proved to be considerably more controversial than either hardbop or modal jazz, and the critical reception of free jazz offers a striking example of the highly selective and often exclusionary nature of the established jazz canon. In the late 1950s and the 1960s, the work of performers such as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler and John Coltrane generated heated debate, and Coltrane’s work with Eric Dolphy was famously denounced as ‘anti-jazz’ in Down Beat magazine (see Tynan 1961, 40; Feather 1962, 40; see also DeMicheal 1962). Although free jazz, for many of its performers (and listeners), was a highly politicized musical form – an activist agenda perhaps somewhat compromised by the cultural marginality of the music – these discursive debates focused especially on issues of musical authenticity and artistic value, paralleling similar controversies over the ‘avant-garde’ in other art forms. However, contrary to the typically modernist negation of aesthetic precursors (see Born 1995, 40–65) – and in sharp contrast to the claims of many antagonistic critics – it can be argued that free jazz exhibits both an urge to radical innovation and a respect for its artistic predecessors. As Mark Harvey has suggested, ‘although modernism elevated innovation to the level of a primary aesthetic principle and sought release from perceived limitations of tradition, jazz has always valued both its sources and its evolving tradition’ (1991, 132). Hence, notwithstanding Scott DeVeaux’s critique of overly linear conceptualizations of jazz history (DeVeaux 1998), free jazz can be understood not simply as a radical break with the jazz tradition, but rather as a radical reworking of that tradition, reasserting the status of jazz as an evolving art form.

Denying the often somewhat hysterical voices of conservative critics – for Philip Larkin, ‘After Coltrane … all was chaos, hatred and absurdity’ (1970, 21); for Stanley Crouch, late period Coltrane represents ‘an artistic abyss’ (2006, 213) – the statements of many free jazz musicians confirm this provocative balance of tradition and innovation: categories that the philosophical tenets of an avant-garde modernism had tended to suggest were mutually exclusive. For the pianist Cecil Taylor – a figure who remains, in the eyes of narrow classicists, one of the most challenging of jazz innovators – the jazz tradition is a source of constant inspiration: ‘Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, they’re the highest mountains, you know, the highest mountains’ (quoted in Miller 2006, 48). And the trombonist Roswell Rudd has indicated that ‘it was Dixieland that led me to free’ (quoted in Shipton 2007, 582), a point that is amplified in Archie Shepp’s commentary on Coltrane’s Ascension (1965), a paradigm of 1960s free jazz – and one excoriated by Larkin, in typically wry fashion, for its ‘bellowing and screeching,’ in which soloists ‘appear and submerge like Titanic passengers’ (Larkin 1970, 166). Contrary to Larkin’s aesthetic myopia, Shepp suggests a rather different interpretation, arguing that: ‘The precedent for what John did here goes all the way back to New Orleans, where the voicings were certainly separate even though the group idea held. This is like a New Orleans concept, but with 1965 people’ (quoted in Spellman 1965).

In this context, it is interesting to note that Max Harrison has observed that some Ornette Coleman pieces, notably Lonely Woman, have ‘a dissonant heterophony paralleling that of New Orleans funeral music’ (McCarthy et al. 1968, 50). Similarly intriguing are Martin Williams’s observations on the distinctive tenor saxophone sound of Albert Ayler, often characterized as a stereotypically avant-garde rejection of tradition. On the contrary, however, noting that Ayler ‘has decided that the honk or whinny produced by a too-loose use of the saxophone reed can be a part of his music’ (1970, 194), Williams links Ayler’s non-conventional instrumental techniques to those of earlier jazz figures such as King Oliver, Sidney Bechet and Rex Stewart, thus emphasizing the manner in which Ayler’s highly individualized approach can be understood to represent a continuation, rather than a negation, of the jazz tradition. Many subsequent developments in contemporary jazz and improvised music have revealed similar concerns with both exploiting and extending the jazz tradition, from the diverse projects of the members of Chicago’s AACM (see Lewis 2008) – the Art Ensemble of Chicago adopted the slogan ‘Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future’ to describe their work – to the eclectic work of the members of the Dutch contemporary jazz scene (see Whitehead 1998), which adopts an often drolly playful, rather than deferentially respectful, attitude toward their artistic forebears.

Free improvisation – a form with its early roots in African-American free jazz, but one that soon developed its own distinctively European characteristics and inflections – might be understood to represent the ultimate in musical spontaneity and immediacy: one-off musical performances with no predetermined form or structure. The radical spontaneity of free improvisation, however, has little relationship with the spontaneity valued as part of the jazz tradition, which is stereotypically accompanied by swing feeling. Hence, in common with the undervalued practices of composition and arrangement highlighted above, which are often held to impede the possibilities for spontaneity and swing, free improvisation has a similarly contested – if not positively oppositional – relationship with the jazz tradition, exhibiting few of the elements of continuity evident in much of the free jazz of the 1960s. Free improvisation has developed its own tradition of techniques and practices, however, best exemplified in the remarkable communicative power generated by long-standing relationships, such as those, for example, in the groups of Evan Parker and Alexander von Schlippenbach. Yet, notwithstanding the improvising guitarist Derek Bailey’s bold claims for free improvisation as a ‘non-idiomatic’ musical form, it must also be acknowledged, as Bailey himself observed, that free improvisation can be ‘highly stylised’ (1993, xii), sometimes becoming – somewhat paradoxically, given its inherent spontaneity – as idiomatic and formulaic as the music of the Dixieland revivalists.

Technology

Debates over technological issues have been prevalent throughout the history of jazz, focusing primarily on two factors, both of which invoke particular questions with regard to ‘authenticity’: the use of acoustic versus electric instruments, and the role of sound recording and the use of the recording studio. In the case of the former, the stereotypical argument has been that jazz is fundamentally an acoustic music, made on acoustic instruments, and that the employment of electric instruments represents a corruption of the essential qualities of the music. In the case of the latter, although sound recording has been an integral aspect of jazz since its earliest days, the practice is one that remains controversial, especially when the resources of the recording studio are employed in a manner that goes far beyond that of documentation.

In its early years jazz was played exclusively on acoustic instruments, although it is interesting to observe that the individual expressivity which is so highly valued in jazz has not always benefited from ongoing developments in instrument design. Noting the continual technical ‘improvement’ in the trumpet during the course of the nineteenth century – in which the ‘striving for a smooth, even timbre across the whole range of the instrument’ was part of the standardization of many instruments ‘for the needs of the symphony orchestra’ – Robert Walser has suggested that ‘as a consequence, jazz trumpet players like Miles Davis have had to wrestle with an instrument that was literally designed to frustrate their attempts to produce a wide variety of timbres’ (1995, 174–5). The example serves to highlight the fact that those ‘anti-technology’ discourses that focus exclusively on a rejection of electric instruments simply ignore the aspects of technology inherent in all instrument design, from the complex action mechanism of the concert grand piano – which is, itself, a remarkable piece of technology – to the byzantine keypad system of the saxophone. Hence, playing any musical instrument – acoustic or otherwise – involves interfacing with technology at some level, which tends to suggest that acoustic instruments offer no inherent guarantee of the musical ‘authenticity’ with which they have been discursively invested.

One of the few early exceptions in terms of the employment of electricity in jazz was recourse to modest forms of amplification, primarily to allow the double bass to be heard above the rest of the performing ensemble, thereby relegating the technique of slap-bass playing – previously essential in order to allow a bass player to be heard – to the role of novelty device. In addition, the introduction of the microphone in the mid-1920s enabled the intimate singing style known as ‘crooning,’ with singers no longer required to project to the rear of the auditorium. In the mid-1930s the early experiments with guitar amplification by Eddie Durham, and the pioneering development of the instrument by Charlie Christian, represented the first use of electric instruments in jazz. In the same decade, Fats Waller made use of the recently invented Hammond electric organ, which was subsequently popularized by Jimmy Smith from the early 1950s onwards. In contrast to later debates, the electric instrument innovations of figures such as Christian and Smith were incorporated relatively easily within the mainstream of jazz development, primarily because these innovations were made within the contexts of the well-established sub-genres of, respectively, swing and hardbop.

It was not until the 1960s, however, with the advent of jazz-rock fusion, that jazz began to make widespread – and highly controversial – use of electric instruments, including the electric guitar (as a frontline, and often heavily amplified, ensemble voice), the electric bass, and a variety of electric keyboards, many of which had first been used in rock and popular music. In addition, some performers began to electrify their acoustic instruments, introducing tonal and textural variations with the aid of wah-wah pedals, echoplex and various electronic effects – notable examples of this trend include the trumpeters Miles Davis and Don Ellis, the violinists Jean-Luc Ponty and Jerry Goodman, and the saxophonist Eddie Harris, who pioneered the use of the Varitone amplified saxophone. Further developments in electronic instruments included the introduction of the EWI (Electronic Woodwind Instrument) in the 1970s, which was subsequently popularized by the saxophonist Michael Brecker with the band Steps Ahead. In a fascinating example of the persistence and adaptability of discourses of authenticity in jazz, by the beginning of the twenty-first century the use of the Fender Rhodes electric piano, which was last manufactured by the original company in 1984, served as a significant marker of an ‘authentic’ fusion sound.

The extensive recourse to electric instruments, coupled with a variety of other factors – most notably the use of rock-based rhythms that tended to negate the stereotypical swing feeling of jazz, and a populist commercialism that challenged the conceptualization of jazz as an art form (discussed further in the following section) – conspired to make fusion, in common with free jazz, an enormously contested sub-genre in the lineage of jazz history. Although the pianist Keith Jarrett had played electric keyboards with the Miles Davis band in the early 1970s, his subsequent career has seen him performing almost solely on the acoustic piano, and his characterization of electric instruments as ‘toys’ (in the film documentary directed by Mike Dibb in 2005) serves to illustrate a common attitude among those purists who adhere to a discourse of ‘acoustic authenticity’ in jazz. The attitude is one that has had a significant influence on the critical reception of fusion, and the form continues to be regarded by some observers as a fundamentally inauthentic example of jazz practice.

Although Jarrett has been highly critical of Wynton Marsalis, in terms of both his musical practice and his involvement in the Ken Burns Jazz documentary (see Solomon 1997; Jarrett 2001), it is interesting to note that Jarrett’s dismissal of electric instruments has striking parallels with Marsalis’s own anti-electric philosophy: a 70th birthday commission to the composer George Russell from Jazz at Lincoln Center was withdrawn after the organizers discovered that Russell’s band included electric instruments, specifically an electric bass (see Gross 2003, 115; Nisenson 1997, 239). Notwithstanding such vigorous rejections of electric instruments, and following Miles Davis’s early fusion experiments, a great many musicians, composers and bandleaders embraced electricity as an integral component in their music-making. This included not only those alumni groups that emerged from Davis’s fusion bands – Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter’s Weather Report, John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tony Williams’s Lifetime, Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Herbie Hancock’s Head-hunters – but also several key figures in the contemporary development of the music, including Gil Evans, George Russell and Ornette Coleman, all of whom incorporated electric instruments in their later work. In more recent years, a new generation of jazz musicians has revealed an equally open and inclusive attitude towards electronic technology, which coexists comfortably with their acoustic music practices, including Dave Douglas, Uri Caine, Chris Potter, Roy Hargrove and Tim Berne among many others.

Sound recording has occupied an extremely important, if sometimes problematic, role in the history and development of jazz. Given the improvised spontaneity often claimed as the archetype of ‘authentic’ jazz, the very concept of recording might appear to be antithetical, although the centrality of sound recordings in any understanding and assessment of jazz history tends to suggest that jazz history is, to a very large extent, the history of jazz recordings. As Mark Katz has observed, jazz was ‘the first major musical style whose early development was preserved on record’ (2004, 84), and the portability and repeatability of recordings was a crucial factor for both listeners and musicians in the dissemination and learning of the music. But the early technological limitations of the medium – most notably the three minutes that could be recorded on one side of a ten-inch 78-rpm disc – also imposed considerable restraints on musical structures, playing styles and the extent of improvisation. (Although 12-inch 78-rpm records could hold four and a half minutes per side, most record companies reserved these for recordings of classical music,) Hence, prior to the introduction of the long-playing record in 1948, which could accommodate over 20 minutes per side, the legacy of recorded jazz over its first three decades tended to suggest that all jazz, from New Orleans to bebop, could be – and, indeed, was – contained within short, three-minute pieces.

Adopting a benign form of technological determinism, Gunther Schuller has suggested that the imposed restriction of recording technology engendered particular forms of creativity, arguing, for example, that Duke Ellington ‘took this restriction and turned it into a virtue. He became the master in our time of the small form, the miniature, the vignette, the cameo portrait’ (1993, 417). Similarly, noting that Thelonious Monk’s compositions are ‘remarkably concise,’ Schuller suggests that their ‘conciseness is actually to some extent the indirect result of recording for a ten-inch disc, and today when not all musicians have learned that the greater freedom of the LP also requires greater discipline, the confinement of the three-minute limit sometimes seems in retrospect like a blessing’ (1965, 217). The composer-arranger William Russo has made a similar argument, commenting approvingly on ‘pre-LP solo length’ (1962, 133), and Martin Williams (1959, 91–3) has observed the manner in which some blues singers tailored the structure of their songs to the recording limits of the 78-rpm disc.

Sound recording, therefore, not only documented a pre-existing music, but also had a significant and profound influence on the development and shaping of that music. Given the emphasis within jazz on distinctive musical personalities, expressed through personal instrumental tones and characteristically individualistic improvisatory approaches to melody, harmony, and rhythm – and unlike recordings of Western art music, which function primarily as secondary documents, the score itself ultimately constituting ‘the work’ (see Goehr 1992) – jazz recordings can be understood as representations (or re-presentations) of unique individual performances, the performance itself embodying ‘the work.’ This, in turn, further emphasizes the extent to which sound recordings have been implicated in charting the history of jazz. Celebrated anthologies of jazz recordings such as The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz, compiled by Martin Williams in 1973, have done much, especially in the field of education, both to popularize and entrench the jazz canon, and such recorded anthologies function in a manner similar to score anthologies in classical music pedagogy (see Citron 1993, 15–43).

Sound recording in jazz has been at its most controversial when musicians and producers have exploited the resources of the recording studio in terms of overdubbing and editing, thereby fashioning technologically constructed pieces of music that deny – in the eyes of jazz purists – the improvised spontaneity and authenticity of live performance. One of the earliest jazz experiments with multi-track recording techniques was Sidney Bechet’s 1941 recording of ‘The Sheik of Araby,’ in which the clarinetist and soprano saxophonist turned himself into a one-man band, playing not only his primary instruments, but also tenor sax, piano, bass and drums. Subsequent examples of the use of studio technology include Lennie Tristano’s pioneering use of extended recording techniques, including overdubbing and tape speed manipulation (1955), Jimmy Giuffre’s use of overdubbing to recreate the four-saxophone frontline of the earlier Four Brothers recordings (1958), and the series of Bill Evans ‘solo’ recordings, in which he accompanied himself with overdubbed piano lines (1963, 1967, 1978). Such practices have been controversial and, as Max Harrison has noted of Tristano’s early experiments, created ‘mild uproar amongst jazz critics’ at the time, although he goes on to argue that ‘the resulting music is surely superb enough to justify any “help” received from the studio engineers’ (McCarthy et al. 1968, 289). Similarly, commenting on Evans’s first overdubbed recording, Richard Cook and Brian Morton have observed that the album ‘has aroused sometimes fierce views both for and against its approach, but in an age where overdubbing is more or less the norm in record-making, its musicality is more important’ (2008, 457).

Perhaps the most well known, most extensive and most controversial use of the recording studio in jazz is to be found in Miles Davis’s fusion music of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In a productive relationship with producer Teo Macero, Davis constructed a seminal series of albums, which were literally pieced together in the studio. Macero had employed studio technology before, in his own recording What’s New (1956), but his creative use of tape splicing and editing with Davis brought these techniques to new heights in jazz, mirroring the creative use of the recording studio in the popular music of the time (George Martin’s relationship with the Beatles representing only the most-cited example). In albums such as Bitches Brew (1969), Jack Johnson (1970) and On the Corner (1972), multiple recording sessions from different times and places were combined in an edited collage.

The negative critical response to such uses of technology, coupled with an equally disapproving attitude towards its populist leanings (which are examined in the following section), conspired to make Davis’s electric music of this period, and fusion music in general, some of the most contested in jazz history. Notwithstanding such critical perspectives, the employment of electric instruments and the creative use of the recording studio have become integral elements of much jazz practice.

Art and Populism

A recurrent debate in jazz circles is that between discourses of art and discourses of populism, with often heated disagreement over whether jazz is best understood as a form of ‘art’ or as a popular musical genre. Jazz has always had a somewhat uneasy relationship with the cultural mainstream (see Stanbridge 2008), and, with the exception of the Swing Era, its positioning as a genuinely popular music has tended to be compromised by its musical complexities and improvisatory nature, which have increasingly stood in opposition to the often somewhat less challenging demands and desires of a mass audience. Contrary to those observers who regard bebop as the earliest manifestation of jazz as an art form (e.g., Spellman 1966; Gridley 2008), and notwithstanding the fact that much early jazz was clearly designed as entertainment, often for the accompaniment of social dancing, the characterization of jazz as art was already evident in its early stages of development.

In contrast to those readings of jazz that emphasized either its ‘authenticity’ as an essentialized variety of black expression – characterized by some observers in the 1940s as a musical form that ‘began as a folk culture of the illiterate negro’ (quoted in Gendron 1995, 39) – or its role as simply popular entertainment, an alternative view advocated the understanding of jazz as an art form, highlighting the role of individual creativity and the form’s musical innovations: a process in which the emerging discourses of jazz criticism played a significant role (see Welburn 1986; Frith 1988; and the early readings in Walser 1999). Two key figures in this discursive shift were the trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong, whose instrumental virtuosity contributed to the transformation of the hitherto collectivist approach of the typical New Orleans jazz band, heralding the advent of the frontline jazz soloist, and the composer and arranger Duke Ellington, whose sophisticated writing and improvisational structures established new musical standards for large-scale ensembles. It must also be noted, however, that virtually throughout their careers (and in common with many other jazz performers), both Armstrong and Ellington continued to negotiate an often convoluted path between the contradictory perspectives of the characterization of jazz as an ‘authentic’ – and often ‘primitivist’ – African-American musical form, the populist understanding of jazz as entertainment, and the critically discursive positioning of jazz as an art form.

With the emergence of swing music and the prevalence of big bands in the 1930s, jazz entered a period of significant and broad popularity. In the view of Gunther Schuller, the Swing Era was ‘undoubtedly the only time in its history when jazz was completely in phase with the social environment, and when it both captured and reflected the broadest musical common-denominator of popular taste in the nation’ (1989, 6). Similarly, Martin Williams has argued that the Swing Era was ‘the period of greatest mass popularity that any jazz style has ever had’ (1970, 78). Prior to the usurping of the role of ‘popular music’ by the emergence of rock ’n’ roll in the mid-1950s (see Peterson 1990), swing represented the true popular music of its day, as reflected in record sales, audience figures and media coverage, and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller became household names.

Swing music was primarily for dancing, which often limited both its musical range and the extent of improvisation, although many big band leaders continued to pursue the development of jazz as an art form within these restrictions. Indeed, the distinction between more dance-oriented big bands and those committed to jazz-inspired musical innovation was often sharply drawn, with Duke Ellington perhaps representing only the most celebrated example of this latter trend. The transition from dancing to listening – presaging the dominant behaviour of jazz audiences from bebop onwards – was dramatized in typical Hollywood fashion in a key scene from the film The Benny Goodman Story (1955), which starred Steve Allen in the title role. At the famous 1935 Palomar Ballroom engagement in California, having decided to play their Fletcher Henderson jazz arrangements rather than the crowd-pleasing dance pieces demanded by the promoter, Goodman’s entourage is initially perturbed by the young audience’s behaviour – ‘They’re just standing, they’re not dancing!’ – although the performance culminates in a (standing) ovation by the (non-dancing) listeners.

The accuracy of such Hollywood folklore notwithstanding – and Hollywood biopics are seldom celebrated for their historical accuracy – the Palomar engagement was, indeed, a great success and represented an important transitional moment in jazz, not only in terms of the surge in popularity of both Goodman in particular and swing music in general, but also leading ultimately to Goodman’s celebrated Carnegie Hall concert of 1938, an unprecedented presentation of jazz in a venue previously reserved for classical music. The contrast between the two musical worlds was famously summarized by the trumpeter Harry James, one of Goodman’s star soloists, when he nervously uttered the now famous line: ‘I feel like a whore in church’ (quoted in Firestone 1993, 212). Hence, as Will Friedwald has suggested of Goodman and his band: ‘In bringing jazz to Carnegie, they were, in effect, smuggling American contraband into the halls of European high culture’ (Friedwald 2006).

The positioning of jazz as an art form was further enhanced by the advent of bebop in the 1940s. Indeed, the musical and discursive schisms between bebop and earlier forms of jazz simply served to consolidate and reinforce the growing understanding of jazz as an autonomous art, but one that – significantly – also acknowledged its musical lineage and genealogy. Although clearly drawing on many of the stylistic conventions of bebop, hardbop both simplified and expanded bebop’s musical resources, introducing significant elements of blues, gospel and Latin music, thereby creating a music that was ‘funky,’ ‘soulful’ and often highly accessible. As Alyn Shipton has noted, key performers such as Art Blakey and Horace Silver ‘began to break through to a mass audience’ (2007, 492), and other hardbop performers, including Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith and Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adder-ley, achieved similar degrees of mainstream exposure, with the form being well documented by record labels such as Blue Note, Prestige and Riverside.

Morgan’s Blue Note recording The Sidewinder (1964) sold in unprecedented quantities for a jazz LP, reaching number 25 in the Billboard LP charts, and becoming a popular jukebox hit, thereby creating considerable pressure for Morgan and Blue Note to produce an equally popular follow-up (see Perchard 2006). Critical response to the music’s new-found popularity was mixed, with some observers lamenting the concessions to accessibility (e.g., Pekar 1964), and others suggesting that many later period hardbop performers, including Morgan and Hank Mobley, ‘seemed to continue on a kind of automatic pilot’ (Cook 2001, 195). But hardbop, and especially the Blue Note recordings of the 1950s and 1960s (which virtually defined the style), represented an important period of popularity for jazz, and, foreshadowing fusion, offered an intriguing example of the incorporation of current popular music styles into the mainstream of jazz development.

With the advent of fusion in the late 1960s, jazz entered a new period of musical development, popular acceptance and discursive debate. In an intriguing reversal of the earlier contestations between swing and bebop, in which the established construction of jazz as a socially popular form was challenged by those claiming it as an autonomous art form, and both echoing and intensifying the antipopulist rhetoric evident in some responses to hardbop, the controversy over fusion highlighted the challenge that this popular form, drawing freely on soul, funk and rock music, presented to the (by then, well-established) understanding of jazz as art. For many jazz purists, fusion was virtually incomprehensible as part of the jazz tradition: having embraced (often somewhat reluctantly) the musical developments of bebop and hardbop, and having acknowledged (similarly grudgingly, if at all) the aesthetic lineage of free jazz, fusion was simply the final straw and Miles Davis, with his electric explorations of the late 1960s and early 1970s, came to symbolize all that was wrong with contemporary jazz.

This negative perspective was reflected in much jazz criticism, not only of the period but also in subsequent years, often with a virulence that made earlier heated debates between ‘moldy fig’ traditionalists and bebop modernists seem relatively tame. Typically, fusion was derided as ‘dollar-sign music’ or ‘new-style mood-music’ (Baraka 1987, 177–8); Miles Davis’s In a Silent Way (1969) was described as ‘dissipated … enervated … precious … sickly sweet’ (Litweiler 1984, 126–7) and Davis was characterized as a ‘sellout … [he] turned butt to the beautiful in order to genuflect before the commercial’ (Crouch 2006, 240). The entry on Miles Davis in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz (Case and Britt 1978) offers a revealing example of the exclusionary nature of the jazz canon, and – notwithstanding the authors’ caveats to the contrary – emphasizes the highly non-arbitrary nature of generic labeling and categorization: ‘Using an enlarged personnel … Miles cut what, from a jazz fan’s viewpoint, was to be his last album (In a Silent Way). Although labels are arbitrary, Miles Davis’ subsequent output is of little interest to the jazz record collector’ (Case and Britt 1978, 59).

Refuting such charges, Gary Tomlinson has argued that perspectives such as these represent an ‘antipopulist chauvinism … the contrast of commercial fusion with noncommercial earlier jazz amounts to elitism pure and simple, to a snobbish distortion of history by jazz purists attempting to insulate their cherished classics from the messy marketplace in which culture has always been negotiated’ (1992, 82). Moreover – and contrary to the notion of a popu-list ‘sell-out’ – it is worthwhile noting that many of Davis’s fusion experiments, particularly those of the early to mid-1970s, represented some of the most uncompromising music of his entire career, offering often dense collective improvisations that made little concession to popular tastes. Furthermore, this emphasis on collective improvisation in Davis’s fusion music (which also often disrupted and inverted the standard roles of soloists and rhythm section), can be understood to suggest links not only with the radical innovations of free jazz, but also – in common with free jazz, and recalling Shepp’s comments on Coltrane’s Ascension – to hearken back to an even older, New Orleans jazz tradition. In more recent years, fusion has been permitted a somewhat reluctant position in the jazz canon, and is now regularly included in standard jazz histories and textbooks. In a significant canonic gesture, Miles Davis’s fusion music has been meticulously remastered and lavishly repackaged by Columbia/Legacy as part of a major reissue series – a point that simply emphasizes the role that record companies play in the creation of the jazz canon, highlighting the fact that jazz critics and scholars have no monopoly on the processes of canon formation.

Jazz Scholarship

Until relatively recently, jazz was a music that tended to fall between the cracks of academic scholarship: historically marginalized within traditional musicology for its ‘popular’ affiliations and emphasis on improvisation rather than a fixed score, the study of jazz has been similarly – if somewhat paradoxically – peripheral to popular music studies, on the basis of its ‘high art’ associations and lack of conformity to the norms of rock and popular music (see Frith 2007). Notwithstanding this mutual scholarly neglect, however, jazz has generated an extensive literature of its own, much of it historical, biographical and anecdotal in nature, and primarily based in journalistic criticism, often finding its expression in the form of magazine articles, record and concert reviews, and record album liner notes. From the 1940s onwards, jazz critics and writers such as Leonard Feather (e.g., 1977), Nat Hentoff (e.g., 1976), Martin Williams (e.g., 1983) and Whitney Balliett (2000), among many others, did much to legitimate and popularize the music, in the pages of magazines such as Metronome, Jazz Review and Down Beat (see Gennari 2006, for a comprehensive review of American jazz criticism). Many non-American writers, including André Hodeir (1956), Ekkehard Jost (1981), Philip Larkin (1970), Max Harrison (1976), Ian Carr (e.g., 1998), Brian Priestley (e.g., 2006), Richard Williams (2000), and Richard Cook and Brian Morton (e.g., 2008), have also made important contributions to the development of the critical literature of jazz.

But if jazz was not reliant on the formal structures of the academy as a primary factor in the early stages of canon formation, the establishment of a jazz canon was predicated, to a very large extent, on a mode of criticism that owed much to the traditional, formalist discourses of historical musicology and musical analysis. Indeed, as jazz began to be assimilated into the academy in the 1960s, it was often on the basis of musicological techniques and approaches that failed to address the specificities of the music – for example, in the transcription and analysis of improvised solos as notated texts, emphasizing characteristics such as thematic unity, often at the expense of any broader socio-historical contextualization. The analysis of Sonny Rollins’s ‘Blue Seven’ written by the composer and writer Gunther Schuller in 1958 (Schuller 1986) represents a classic, and influential, example of such an approach, although Larry Gushee has argued that the analysis ‘ignores (or glosses over or attempts to explain away) many disparate elements in his [Rollins’s] musical thinking’ (1962, 254), and Schuller’s essay has been critiqued for its ‘classicizing formalism’ (Walser 1995, 171).

By the latter decades of the twentieth century the academic study of jazz had expanded considerably, and the development of the academic field known as Jazz Studies introduced a series of broader analytical perspectives, stressing the historical, cultural, social and political contexts of the music’s development, and addressing issues such as race, class, gender and sexuality. In parallel with these developments, programs in instrumental instruction and jazz performance became more common in universities and colleges on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite this new-found cultural legitimacy, however, and unlike the history of court patronage in Western art music and the subsequent patterns of arts funding adopted by many Western governments (see Stanbridge 2007), jazz has never enjoyed the levels of state support afforded classical music and opera.

See also: Jazz (Volume XII, International)

Jazz, Latin, see Latin Jazz

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Macero, Teo. What’s New . Columbia CL 842. 1956: USA.

Mingus, Charles. ‘Original Faubus Fables.’ Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus . Candid 9005. 1960: USA.

Morgan, Lee. The Sidewinder . Blue Note 84157. 1964: USA.

Roach, Max. We Insist! Freedom Now Suite . Candid 9002. 1960: USA.

Rollins, Sonny. ‘Blue Seven.’ Saxophone Colossus . Prestige 7079. 1956: USA.

Rollins, Sonny. ‘The Freedom Suite.’ Freedom Suite . Riverside 258. 1958: USA.

Sanders, Pharoah. Tauhid . Impulse AS 9138. 1966: USA.

Shepp, Archie. Fire Music . Impulse 86. 1965: USA.

Shepp, Archie. The Magic of Ju-Ju . Impulse 9154. 1967: USA.

Tristano, Lennie. Lennie Tristano . Atlantic 1224. 1955: USA.

The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz , ed. Martin Williams. Columbia Special Products P6 11891. 1973: USA.

Filmography

The Benny Goodman Story , dir. Valentine Davies. 1955. USA. 116 mins. Biopic.

Jazz , dir. Ken Burns. 2001. USA. 19 hours. Documentary.

Keith Jarrett: The Art of Improvisation , dir. Michael Dibb. 2005. USA. 126 mins. Documentary.

King of Jazz , dir. John Murray Anderson. 1930. USA. 98 mins. Musical featuring Paul Whiteman, Bing Crosby and others.