“There are only three things that America will be remembered for 200 years from now when they study the civilization: The Constitution, Jazz Music and Baseball. These are the three most beautiful things this culture’s ever created.”–(Gerald Early) Jazz is the most common name for a great African American Art form that still defies definition. Over the past century this elastic tradition has laid down firm roots for numerous other American and World musics, while itself in the throes of a seemingly permanent identity crisis. Jazz is perennially declared dead or dying yet consistently summoned by advertisers to lend vitality and sex appeal to liquor or automobiles. By any name and regardless of its health status, jazz has a rich history of conservative innovators, at once restless and reverent, who made fascinating leaps of creativity out of inspiration or necessity. This “listening intensive” class will look at the past century of jazz music through ideas, “what-if” questions and movements that changed the way the music was created, presented and perceived. Both musical concepts (such as syncopation and cross instrumental-influence) and cultural connections (jazz as cold war propaganda, jazz as protest music) will be examined, giving us freedom to link similar kinds of musical thought across disparate settings and decades. Our inquiry will include (but not be limited to) the lives and music of Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, John Lewis, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter.
The Class: Type: lecture
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation including regular reading and listening assignments; concert attendance; mid-term and final exam, one paper, and one final project
Enrollment Preference: first-years and sophomores
Distributions: Division I;
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives; AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora;