What is jazz? What is gained--and what is lost--when various communities close ranks around a particular definition of this quintessentially American music? Jazz/Not Jazz explores some of the musicians, concepts, places, and practices which, while deeply connected to established jazz institutions and aesthetics, have rarely appeared in traditional histories of the form. David Ake, Charles Hiroshi Garrett, and Daniel Goldmark have assembled a stellar group of writers to look beyond the canon of acknowledged jazz greats and address some of the big questions facing jazz today. More than just a history of jazz and its performers, this collections seeks out those people and pieces missing from the established narratives to explore what they can tell us about the way jazz has been defined and its history has been told.
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.
What, where, and when is jazz? To most of us jazz means small combos, made up mostly of men, performing improvisationally in urban club venues. But jazz has been through many changes in the decades since World War II, emerging in unexpected places and incorporating a wide range of new styles. In this engrossing new book, David Ake expands on the discussion he began in Jazz Cultures, lending his engaging, thoughtful, and stimulating perspective to post-1940s jazz. Ake investigates such issues as improvisational analysis, pedagogy, American exceptionalism, and sense of place in jazz. He uses provocative case studies to illustrate how some of the values ascribed to the postwar jazz culture are reflected in and fundamentally shaped by aspects of sound, location, and time.