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Chapter
18
Historicist Jazz
Overview

In this chapter, we consider jazz as influenced by history, beginning in the 1930s with the development of jazz history and the revival of New Orleans jazz in live performance (continuing to the present day with Preservation Hall). In the 1950s, jazz moved into academia and festivals, and musicians began creating music that referred back to the past. In the 1970s, jazz was understood as a “tradition,” and avant-garde artists began making a point of including music as far back as ragtime in their new compositions. Avant-garde and fusion jazz still ruled until the 1980s, however, until the sudden breakthrough of Wynton Marsalis. We consider Marsalis’s career, up through Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as the success of the Young Lions and the renewed interest in the older guard (Dexter Gordon, Joe Henderson). Nostalgia played a role (Harry Connick, Diana Krall), reinforced by CD reissues that crowded record stores with older music. We examine repertory bands and look at the peculiar historicism of Shannon Jackson and James Carter, both of whom transformed the tradition in unexpected ways.

  • Wynton Marsalis, Processional
  • Anthony Braxton, Piece Three
  • Shannon Jackson, Now’s the Time

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