20th Century Study of Music

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  • Topic: Jazz, Blues, Swing music
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Session 6 20th Century

To be specific - focusing on five performances: First one comes before this period. Laying down framework that comes later: A concert at the Carnegie Hall, 1938, called Spirituals to Swing. Second one, in 1939 another concert-same title.

Then we come to Post war period - A concert, in 1953 that became known as Jazz - Massey Hall, Canada. Referred to at times as the quintet of the year - the five musicians that played were some of the foremost Bebop musicians at the time. Both live events. Subsequently those tunes became part of the Miles Davies repertoire.

Coming into 1960's - another studio performance called Ascention, which was led by saxophone player, John Coltrane, who was very much associated with 'the new thing,' i.e free improvisation. Finally-beyond the period Sun Ra-1989.

In those pieces we go a little bit before the period and a little after - taking us into the 'popular level' of the digital era-early 80's. * Chose these specific performances because they encapsulate something very important that was happening in Jazz - very new, blue, consolidating.

*Place in social context as well as musical and artistic concepts.

A very general outline - ' Ideologies' (or frameworks of ideas we might apply to what was going on).

Placed In a sort of logical order, although no need as Grass roots Jazz carries on to this day-is referring to early 20th century. -Grassroots Pragmatism (Practical, matter of fact way of approaching and assessing music. Jazz grassroots dimension.

1920's onwards - increasing commercial interests in Jazz. Particularly in the 30's and 40's - led to two things: *African-American essentialism (Spiritual Swing Concert) an ideology, put black Americans first (form of music comes from these people) - in a way counterposed to commercialism if you look at racial politics of America at that time - white people making big bucks out of the white musicains.

*Marginalisation (beginning of Bebop). This is where musicians keen to put themselves outside of the commercial nexus- after hours in little clubs they would evolve a new type of music. Idea putting themselves on the margin and musicians aspiring to being considered as artists despite the racist snobbery that suggested they would find it more difficult to be genuine artists-this is part of the marginalisation and the sod you attitude, as they were not actually thinking in commercial terms, the first and foremost thing was not to make money out of the music.

1950's A Cold War Ideology- quite political here.
America, enormous amount of promotion of Jazz - example of how wonderful America was. Happy to use Jazz in a propoganda sense. E.g, Communist world doesn't know this kind of music and they were happy to use Jazz in that propoganda sense because one of the big criticisms that the Russians/communists had was that in America people are not all equal and you just wanted to look at the racial issue. America was happy to come back with, well yes there's an awful lot of black people that play this music as well, so it was good propoganda which led to some extraordinary results. *Backlash to all of that, against this in the 60's where Jazz became very associated with the freedom movement and the civil rights movement. This is very much where Free Jazz, Free improvisation and really Ascention-Sun Ra's work were associated with that. *70's - 80's - Finally, Jazz becomes multi-dimensional , in the 70's, 80's, maybe. ref (15:00) To some degree-black Americans musicians-searching for the history in the roots, in relation to freedom in the civil rights-made their journeys through Africa, and tried to find ways in which the two types of music enmeshed. * Two famous examples-albums recorded by Jazz musicians - perhaps a Jazz sax player and made albums with drummer ensembles etc, so you get this kind of fusion.

!960's - If you look back as far as the 60's, you get another Jazz fusion - Jazz Rock-Miles Davies,...
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