Cover

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Half Title, Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-x

This book would not have been possible without the support of the following people and organizations. First and foremost I would like to thank my colleagues at the University of Sydney for their ongoing encouragement and interest in this project and for contributing to what I see as the extraordinary intellectual culture of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. ...

Contents

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-23

In February 1957 the pianist and composer John Lewis sat down with Nat Hentoff of Down Beat magazine to discuss, among other things, the public perception of Lewis’s music. This was not the first time Hentoff had taken an interest in Lewis and his group the Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ). ...

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1. Branching Out: The Great Era of Venue Creation

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pp. 24-59

When John Lewis moved to New York to pursue a music career in 1945, he entered an industry on the precipice of collapse. Prior to World War II, swing bands had led popular music sales in the United States, permeated nightclubs and ballrooms, held hefty contracts with recording companies, and occasionally been welcomed into venues normally reserved for the performance of Western art music. ...

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2. “Bearded Undertakers”: Rhythm and Reputation

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pp. 60-82

The 1957 Nat Hentoff interview with John Lewis that I discuss in the opening of this book is undoubtedly a rich text. Lewis’s frustration with the press’s critique of his music is palpable throughout—potentially fueled by a sense of betrayal grown out of Hentoff ’s prior endorsements of Lewis’s modernist approach. ...

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3. “Finesse, Precision, and Logic”: Musical Traditions and the African American Elite

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pp. 83-113

On the night of February 22, 1946, Maestro Dean Dixon took the stage at Carnegie Hall to conduct the American Youth Orchestra, an interracial ensemble composed of exceptional young musicians from across the New York area (Du Bois 1946, 15). Dixon had founded the group in 1944 after receiving a prestigious Rosenwald Fund fellowship (“46 Get Rosenwald” 1945, 2), ...

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4. Composition in Context: Lewis and the MJQ, 1952–62

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pp. 114-155

The central compositional vehicle for Lewis’s musical vision during the 1950s was a quartet composed of vibraphone, bass, drums, and piano. Breaking with industry norms, the group set out not under Lewis’s name, but under a title that pointed directly to the innovative style of music the four members were committed to exploring— ...

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5. Lewis and Film Noir

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pp. 156-171

There are two musical moments in the Robert Wise film Odds against Tomorrow (1959) that speak volumes as to how Lewis would carry his ability to frustrate aesthetic boundaries into the realm of film scoring. Both involve the main character, Johnny (played by Harry Belafonte), a jazz musician with a gambling problem struggling to reunite his estranged family. ...

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6. “Real” Black Music

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pp. 172-182

As the 1950s drew to a close and frustration with the progress of the civil rights movement added fire to the “Black Nationalist” movement in the United States, the criticism Lewis faced took on a decidedly more militant feel. Leading the charge of this critical turn was a young writer named Le-Roi Jones, ...

Appendixes

Appendix A: Formal Outlines of Selected Works

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pp. 185-200

Appendix B: Sait-on jamais (1957) Soundscape

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pp. 201-206

Appendix C: Odds against Tomorrow (1959) Soundscape

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pp. 207-212

Notes

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pp. 213-218

Bibliography

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pp. 219-230

Scores

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pp. 231-232

Filmography

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pp. 233-234

Index

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pp. 235-241