Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

This fresh look at the neglected rhythm section in jazz ensembles shows that the improvisational interplay among drums, bass, and piano is just as innovative, complex, and spontaneous as the solo. Ingrid Monson juxtaposes musicians' talk and musical examples to ask how musicians go about "saying something" through music in a way that articulates identity, politics, and race. Through interviews with Jaki Byard, Richard Davis, Sir Roland Hanna, Billy Higgins, Cecil McBee, and others, she develops a perspective on jazz improvisation that has "interactiveness" at its core, in the creation of music through improvisational interaction, in the shaping of social communities and networks through music, and in the development of cultural meanings and ideologies that inform the interpretation of jazz in twentieth-century American cultural life.

Replete with original musical transcriptions, this broad view of jazz improvisation and its emotional and cultural power will have a wide audience among jazz fans, ethnomusicologists, and anthropologists.



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About the author

Ingrid Monson is assistant professor of music at Washington University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Feb 15, 2009
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Pages
261
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ISBN
9780226534794
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / General
Music / Genres & Styles / Jazz
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The Lobster Theory is a groundbreaking new approach to learning the language of jazz. It’s a book of musical concepts brought to life through the use of clever analogies, illustrated by New Yorker Magazine cartoonist Mick Stevens. Foreword by Jeff Coffin. Through eighteen chapters, this educational book shares fresh, creative approaches to the following topics: • Practicing ("Lifting Weights") • Ear training ("The School Bell") • Harmonic awareness ("Ketchup on a Brownie") • Phrasing like a pro ("The Bus") • The importance of chord study ("Polishing the Silver") • Common tones ("Dual Citizen Notes") • Keeping your solos fresh and spontaneous ("The Lobster Theory") • Hearing in harmonic context ("Harmonic GPS") • Pacing your solo ("The Waiter") • How to memorize major scales & key signatures ("Alligators, Elephants & Clowns") • Using chord substitutions (Harmonic Turn Signals) • Infusing your notes with life and energy ("The Bobber Theory") • Using taste to differentiate the sounds of chords ("Apple Chords" - includes spellings for the 60 most common seventh chords) • Two great ways to sequence a musical idea ("The Snake") • Connecting with your listener ("Tasting Harmony") • Organizing your musical furnishings ("The Music House") • Scale note selection ("The Kid and the Cupcake") • Transformative practice strategies ("Running with the Pro Dogs") Notated musical examples, jazz etude excerpts, educational chord graphs and charts are featured throughout the book to further illustrate and teach the musical concepts.
Experimentation in Improvised Jazz: Chasing Ideas challenges the notion that in the twenty-first century, jazz can be restrained by a singular, static definition. The worldwide trend for jazz to be marginalized by the mainstream music industry, as well as conservatoriums and schools of music, runs the risk of stifling the innovative and challenging aspects of its creativity. The authors argue that to remain relevant, jazz needs to be dynamic, proactively experimental, and consciously facilitate new ideas to be made accessible to an audience broader than the innovators themselves.?Experimentation in Improvised Jazz explores key elements of experimental jazz music in order to discern ways in which the genre is developing.?

The book begins with an overview of where, when and how new ideas in free and improvised jazz have been created and added to the canon, developing the genre beyond its initial roots. It moves on to consider how and why musicians create free and improvised jazz; the decisions they make while playing. What are they responding to? What are they depending on? What are they thinking? The authors analyse and synthesise the creation of free jazz by correlating the latest research to the reflections provided by some of the world’s greatest jazz innovators for this project. Finally, the book examines how we respond to free and improvised jazz: artistically, critically and personally. Free jazz is, the book argues, an environment that develops through experimentation with new ideas.

An insightful examination of the impact of the Civil Rights Movement and African Independence on jazz in the 1950s and 60s, Freedom Sounds traces the complex relationships among music, politics, aesthetics, and activism through the lens of the hot button racial and economic issues of the time. Ingrid Monson illustrates how the contentious and soul-searching debates in the Civil Rights, African Independence, and Black Power movements shaped aesthetic debates and exerted a moral pressure on musicians to take action. Throughout, her arguments show how jazz musicians' quest for self-determination as artists and human beings also led to fascinating and far reaching musical explorations and a lasting ethos of social critique and transcendence. Across a broad body of issues of cultural and political relevance, Freedom Sounds considers the discursive, structural, and practical aspects of life in the jazz world in the 1950s and 1960s. In domestic politics, Monson explores the desegregation of the American Federation of Musicians, the politics of playing to segregated performance venues in the 1950s, the participation of jazz musicians in benefit concerts, and strategies of economic empowerment. Issues of transatlantic importance such as the effects of anti-colonialism and African nationalism on the politics and aesthetics of the music are also examined, from Paul Robeson's interest in Africa, to the State Department jazz tours, to the interaction of jazz musicians such Art Blakey and Randy Weston with African and African diasporic aesthetics. Monson deftly explores musicians' aesthetic agency in synthesizing influential forms of musical expression from a multiplicity of stylistic and cultural influences--African American music, popular song, classical music, African diasporic aesthetics, and other world musics--through examples from cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and the avant-garde. By considering the differences between aesthetic and socio-economic mobility, she presents a fresh interpretation of debates over cultural ownership, racism, reverse racism, and authenticity. Freedom Sounds will be avidly read by students and academics in musicology, ethnomusicology, anthropology, popular music, African American Studies, and African diasporic studies, as well as fans of jazz, hip hop, and African American music.
A landmark in jazz studies, Thinking in Jazz reveals as never before how musicians, both individually and collectively, learn to improvise. Chronicling leading musicians from their first encounters with jazz to the development of a unique improvisatory voice, Paul Berliner documents the lifetime of preparation that lies behind the skilled improviser's every idea.

The product of more than fifteen years of immersion in the jazz world, Thinking in Jazz combines participant observation with detailed musicological analysis, the author's experience as a jazz trumpeter, interpretations of published material by scholars and performers, and, above all, original data from interviews with more than fifty professional musicians: bassists George Duvivier and Rufus Reid; drummers Max Roach, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Akira Tana; guitarist Emily Remler; pianists Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris; saxophonists Lou Donaldson, Lee Konitz, and James Moody; trombonist Curtis Fuller; trumpeters Doc Cheatham, Art Farmer, Wynton Marsalis, and Red Rodney; vocalists Carmen Lundy and Vea Williams; and others. Together, the interviews provide insight into the production of jazz by great artists like Betty Carter, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker.

Thinking in Jazz overflows with musical examples from the 1920s to the present, including original transcriptions (keyed to commercial recordings) of collective improvisations by Miles Davis's and John Coltrane's groups. These transcriptions provide additional insight into the structure and creativity of jazz improvisation and represent a remarkable resource for jazz musicians as well as students and educators.

Berliner explores the alternative ways—aural, visual, kinetic, verbal, emotional, theoretical, associative—in which these performers conceptualize their music and describes the delicate interplay of soloist and ensemble in collective improvisation. Berliner's skillful integration of data concerning musical development, the rigorous practice and thought artists devote to jazz outside of performance, and the complexities of composing in the moment leads to a new understanding of jazz improvisation as a language, an aesthetic, and a tradition. This unprecedented journey to the heart of the jazz tradition will fascinate and enlighten musicians, musicologists, and jazz fans alike.
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