Traditional jazz studies have tended to see jazz in purely musical terms, as a series of changes in rhythm, tonality, and harmony, or as a parade of great players. But jazz has also entered the cultural mix through its significant impact on novelists, filmmakers, dancers, painters, biographers, and photographers. Representing Jazz explores the "other" history of jazz created by these artists, a history that tells us as much about the meaning of the music as do the many books that narrate the lives of musicians or describe their recordings.
Krin Gabbard has gathered essays by distinguished writers from a variety of fields. They provide engaging analyses of films such as Round Midnight, Bird, Mo’ Better Blues, Cabin in the Sky, and Jammin’ the Blues; the writings of Eudora Welty and Dorothy Baker; the careers of the great lindy hoppers of the 1930s and 1940s; Mura Dehn’s extraordinary documentary on jazz dance; the jazz photography of William Claxton; painters of the New York School; the traditions of jazz autobiography; and the art of "vocalese." The contributors to this volume assess the influence of extramusical sources on our knowledge of jazz and suggest that the living contexts of the music must be considered if a more sophisticated jazz scholarship is ever to evolve. Transcending the familiar patterns of jazz history and criticism, Representing Jazz looks at how the music actually has been heard and felt at different levels of American culture.
With its companion anthology, Jazz Among the Discourses, this volume will enrich and transform the literature of jazz studies. Its provocative essays will interest both aficionados and potential jazz fans.
Contributors. Karen Backstein, Leland H. Chambers, Robert P. Crease, Krin Gabbard, Frederick Garber, Barry K. Grant, Mona Hadler, Christopher Harlos, Michael Jarrett, Adam Knee, Arthur Knight, James Naremore
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Other reviews of Representing Jazz:
Jazz among the Discourses and Representing Jazz represent something of an academic turning point in the mainstreaming of jazz studies in American academic circles. . . . [In] Representing Jazz . . . Gabbard has collected [a] dozen papers that explore the cross-fertilization of jazz in other media. Central to the argument of this collection is a challenge to the evolutionary, chronological model of jazz criticism. Instead, these critics situate jazz in its cultural moment, examining the racist and colonialist, the literary and filmic, undertaking a gestalt jazz criticism. . . . [T]hese essays provide a new dimension, another history of jazz."(The Antioch Review)
"[I]mportant for studying the interconnections between music, culture, and society. . . . [The contributors] share a commitment to understanding the complexity of the music they champion. Their efforts in opening up new perspectives for the analysis of music must be commended."(American Book Review)
"Both anthologies will provide valuable material for the serious student of jazz. . . . And the average reader with an interest in jazz will find some stimulating reading here."(ALLEGRO) (Associated Musicians of Greater New York)From the Back Cover:
"One of the strongest jazz anthologies I have seen. Its focus is original. Jazz in literature has been treated before to some extent, but not in the same fashion, and there is little elsewhere on jazz in dance or jazz and the visual arts."--Lewis Porter, author, with Michael Ullman, of "Jazz: From Its Origins to the Present "
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