From its beginning, jazz has presented a contradictory social world: jazz musicians have worked diligently to erase old boundaries, but they have just as resolutely constructed new ones. David Ake's vibrant and original book considers the diverse musics and related identities that jazz communities have shaped over the course of the twentieth century, exploring the many ways in which jazz musicians and audiences experience and understand themselves, their music, their communities, and the world at large.
Writing as a professional pianist and composer, the author looks at evolving meanings, values, and ideals—as well as the sounds—that musicians, audiences, and critics carry to and from the various activities they call jazz. Among the compelling topics he discusses is the "visuality" of music: the relationship between performance demeanor and musical meaning. Focusing on pianists Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, Ake investigates the ways in which musicians' postures and attitudes influence perceptions of them as profound and serious artists. In another essay, Ake examines the musical values and ideals promulgated by college jazz education programs through a consideration of saxophonist John Coltrane. He also discusses the concept of the jazz "standard" in the 1990s and the differing sense of tradition implied in recent recordings by Wynton Marsalis and Bill Frisell.
Jazz Cultures shows how jazz history has not consisted simply of a smoothly evolving series of musical styles, but rather an array of individuals and communities engaging with disparate—and oftentimes conflicting—actions, ideals, and attitudes.
List of Illustrations
Creole Culture and Early New Orleans Jazz
Jazz Historiography and the Problem of Louis Jordan
Ornette Coleman and the New York Scene in the Late 1950s
Body and Soul
Performing Deep Jazz
John Coltrane and the Conservatory
Setting Standards at Century's Close
David Ake is Professor and Chair of the Department of Musicology at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami.
"His appreciation of Keith Jarrett's solo performances is the best ever published."—Jack Chambers Canadian Literature: A Qtly Of Criticism And Review
"Ake blends careful historical research with intelligent textual criticism and sophisticated cultural theory. . . His critiques augment and enhance our understanding and appreciation of great artistry, but they do much more. This is new, imaginative, original, and generative work. There are very few people who can write about both music theory and social theory with such clarity, depth, and insight."—George Lipsitz, author of Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Poetics of Place
"David Ake is a jazz artist who has woodshedded with his critical theory as much as with his instrument. As an astute commentator on a wide range of jazz subjects, he has the virtuosity of an Art Tatum and the eclecticism of a John Zorn."—Krin Gabbard, author of Jammin' at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema
"David Ake's writing combines the best of modern scholarship with the no-nonsense attitude of a gigging musician. In Jazz Cultures,
he seizes upon precisely those issues and historical moments that best reveal how jazz studies might mature into something worthy of the music. A wonderful antidote to the usual cliches of jazz history and a splendid debut."—Scott DeVeaux, author of The Birth of Bebop