Archive for February, 2009

W. Royal Stokes in West Virginia

February 28th 2009

A profile of our former Jazz Notes editor, at ease not retirement.

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Mark Gridley: Misconceptions in Linking Free Jazz
with the Civil Rights Movement: Illusory Correlations
Between Politics and the Origination of Jazz Styles

February 15th 2009

by Mark C. Gridley

first published October, 2008, in College Music Symposium,
vol. 47, 139-155. Copyright 2008 by College Music Society.

This article deals with two misunderstandings that intertwine to confuse students, teachers, and commentators of jazz history if they study American history at the same time that they study the music itself. The first misunderstanding is that during the 1960s African Americans striving for their political freedoms also transferred those strivings to include the striving for musical approaches (later termed “free jazz”) in which freedoms were sought from adherence to fixed progressions of accompaniment chords and meter. The second misunderstanding is that angry sounding music is a direct result of avant-garde musicians using jazz as a tool of personal protest toward social injustices.

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McManus: Jarrett at Carnegie

February 12th 2009

Free Suite and Six Encores

by Jill McManus

In his Carnegie Hall solo concert on Thursday, January 29, pianist Keith Jarrett freely improvised pieces that showed his mastery of jazz, classical, contemporary, gospel and other styles, keeping the sold-out house silent and engrossed. At the 10-foot unamplified Steinway, dressed in black with a gold vest, he sometimes slouched, sometimes stood in a crouch stamping the beat, and occasionally chanted. His rapport with the audience seemed built-in, and it deepened as the night progressed.

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Lyn Horton: Information Is Light Bulb

February 1st 2009

How information is assembled gives it meaning. Way back when information theory sprang up in the burgeoning age of the computer, if a vacuum tube was on or off, it was conveying one bit of information. The same on-off technology is true now; the conveyor is simply about a zillion times smaller and faster, more efficient. It takes 40 ICs to equal the power that could be supplied by a vacuum tube. Every time ICs diminish in size or change in configuration … well, imagine that.

The way in which information is disbursed signals the onset of a process. Put into a larger context, with the downturn of the economy and layoffs at technology industries as a backdrop, hardware is moving out and the development of software is rising. How that little ol’ Blackberry or iPhone is used and the number of apps it carries could be one key to the transition to a new economic world. Using information. Applying information.

Nat Hentoff was quoted in a NYTimes article documenting his being “let go” from the Village Voice. He said, in effect, that writers are inundated with information to the point of being so overwhelmed that proper research is avoided and what turns up being printed is downright wrong. Information in this case can be understood in terms of its application: how relevant and valuable it is to the context being developed for it. This leads to a possible conclusion: how information integrates into context that lives outside of the home of the information is a creative act.

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