Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Illustrations

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pp. vii-ix

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A Note on Yoruba Orthography

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p. x

Following conventional Yoruba orthography, I have used diacritics on Yoruba words to mark Yoruba tones and to distinguish between /s/ and /sh/ throughout the book. I have also adopted the customary practice of not applying such marks to persons’ names and to words such as Yoruba that have become recognizable by many English speakers. Words that are not in general use...

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Preface

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pp. xi-xii

As I began writing this book—not just talking about it, or researching in preparation for it, but actually beginning to make sentences across the simulated page of the computer screen—I was told over and over again that it was urgent that I get the word out. Urgent. There was a pressing need, to chart this territory, to tell these stories. My self, my identity, was wrapped up in...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xviii

This book has been many years in the making. I was processing ideas and experiences about art and embodiment long before I knew that my meanderings through museums, seat dancing at concerts, prayers in groves, and performances in many forms of theatre would eventually lead to Theatrical Jazz. I drew upon all of those chance and intentional encounters in bringing this...

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Introduction. Troubling Jazz / Abínibí / Black Theatre for the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 1-22

Everything is everything.
Jazz and Yoruba spiritual traditions and theatre arouse my unspeakable curiosities, arresting my attention—poised, ready, tantalized. The way Coltrane’s “Dear Lord” moves in me, and evokes so many things at the same time, is like prayer in the groves with the calabash held high. When Thelonious Monk ka-plunks a note, and something in me awakens, when my body moves around the circle with my back...

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Part 1. The Ensemble / Ẹgbẹ́ / Community

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pp. 23-35

The jazz aesthetic in theatre relies on a particular brand of collaboration that extends beyond the rehearsals and the productions. It is a binding and intimate collaboration that blends daily caretaking with apprenticeship, which closely resembles the Yoruba concept of ẹgbẹ́, a group of people joined by a common goal. My experience...

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The Marrow: Laurie Carlos

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pp. 36-77

Jazz narratives occur as a layering of elements. The primary layers are usually the textual, the physical, and the sonic. Because theatrical jazz sees truth-telling as foundational, the textual layer is often autobiographical explorations of family, neighborhood, era, secrets, personal history, and epiphanies. The nonlinearity of the textual layer resists the normativity...

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The Blue Note: Daniel Alexander Jones

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pp. 78-117

I attended a double bill of performances under the title “Revolutionary Love” at Frontera@Hyde Park Theatre in 1995—Earthbirths, Jazz, and Raven’s Wings, written and directed by Daniel Alexander Jones, and Black Power Barbie in Hotel de Dream, written by Shay Youngblood and directed by Daniel. These works included characters, themes, and artistic choices I had not experienced through a Black worldview. Then in 1996...

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The Roots: Sharon Bridgforth

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pp. 118-164

Bridgforth identifies as an L.A. girl, though her spirit is shaped by many places. Although she was born in Cook County Hospital in Chicago, she and her mother, Sonja Annjeanette Bridgforth, moved to Los Angeles when Bridgforth was about three years old. It was her childhood years in Memphis living with relatives from her mother’s side of the family that rooted...

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Part 2. The Break / Awo / Process

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pp. 165-198

The jazz aesthetic in theatre can be as elusive to document as jazz music was to document for Jelly Roll Morton. Morton attempted to explain jazz in print so that the music he helped pioneer would be more widely understood and accepted, and so that his own style of playing would be comprehensible to the musicians with whom he worked. Here, I set forth some...

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Part 3. The Bridge / Àṣẹ / Transformation

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pp. 199-226

The jazz bridge prepares us for a return to the original melody. But the return bears the marks of the journey. One does not arrive at the exact point of origin, for that familiar place is now imbued with the experience acquired through the bridge. The bridge is the shift in the music when a new refrain or key is introduced. The music takes a sonic turn as it heads to the next...

Appendix I: Laurie Carlos

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pp. 227-229

Appendix II: Daniel Alexander Jones

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pp. 230-235

Appendix III: Sharon Bridgforth

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pp. 236-239

Notes

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pp. 240-252

Glossary

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pp. 253-254

Bibliography

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pp. 255-262

Index

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pp. 263-269

About the Series, Other Works in the Series, Back Cover

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