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This is the first comprehensive treatment of the remarkable music and influence of Carla Bley, a highly innovative American jazz composer, pianist, organist, band leader, and activist. With fastidious attention to Bley's diverse compositions over the last fifty years spanning critical moments in jazz and experimental music history, Amy C. Beal tenders a long-overdue representation of a major figure in American music._x000B__x000B_Bley is best known for her jazz opera "Escalator over the Hill," her role in the Free Jazz movement of the 1960s, and her collaborations with artists such as Jack Bruce, Don Cherry, Robert Wyatt, and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. She has successfully maneuvered the field of jazz creating works that range from the highly accessible and tradition-based to commercially unviable and avant-garde. Beal details the staggering variety in Bley's work as well as her use of parody, quotations, and contradictions, examining the vocabulary Bley has developed throughout her career and highlighting the compositional and cultural significance of her experimentalism._x000B__x000B_Beal also points to Bley's professional and managerial work as a pioneer in the development of artist-owned record labels, the cofounder and manager of WATT Records, and the cofounder of New Music Distribution Service. Showing her to be not just an artist but an activist who has maintained musical independence and professional control amid the profit-driven, corporation-dominated world of commercial jazz, Beal's straightforward discussion of Bley's life and career will stimulate deeper examinations of her work.
Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum
Batá identifies both the two-headed, hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba people and the culture and style of drumming, singing, and dancing associated with it. This book recounts the life story of Carlos Aldama, one of the masters of the batá drum, and through that story traces the history of batá culture as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then to the United States. For the enslaved Yoruba, batá rhythms helped sustain the religious and cultural practices of a people that had been torn from its roots. Aldama, as guardian of Afro-Cuban music and as a Santería priest, maintains the link with this tradition forged through his mentor Jesus Pérez (Oba Ilu), who was himself the connection to the preserved oral heritage of the older generation. By sharing his stories, Aldama and his student Umi Vaughan bring to light the techniques and principles of batá in all its aspects and document the tensions of maintaining a tradition between generations and worlds, old and new. The book includes rare photographs and access to downloadable audio tracks.
The Triumph of Charlie Parker
Within days of Charlie “Bird” Parker’s death at the age of thirty-four, a scrawled legend began appearing on walls around New York City: Bird Lives. Gone was one of the most outstanding jazz musicians of any era, the troubled genius who brought modernism to jazz and became a defining cultural force for musicians, writers, and artists of every stripe. Arguably the most significant musician in the country at the time of his death, Parker set the standard many musicians strove to reach—though he never enjoyed the same popular success that greeted many of his imitators. Today, the power of Parker’s inventions resonates undiminished; and his influence continues to expand.
Celebrating Bird is the groundbreaking and award-winning account of the life and legend of Charlie Parker from renowned biographer and critic Gary Giddins, whom Esquire called “the best jazz writer in America today.” Richly illustrated and drawing primarily from original sources, Giddins overturns many of the myths that have grown up around Parker. He cuts a fascinating portrait of the period, from Parker’s apprentice days in the 1930s in his hometown of Kansas City to the often difficult years playing clubs in New York and Los Angeles, and reveals how Parker came to embody not only musical innovation and brilliance but the rage and exhilaration of an entire generation.
Fully revised and with a new introduction by the author, Celebrating Bird is a classic of jazz writing that the Village Voice heralded as “a celebration of the highest order”—a portrayal of a jazz virtuoso whose gargantuan talent was haunted by his excesses and a view into the ravishing art of one of jazz’s most commanding and remarkable figures.
Interpreting the Music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress
This book examines the impact place and displacement can have on the composition and interpretation of Western art music, using as its primary objects of study the work of István Anhalt (1919–2012) György Kurtág (1926–) and Sándor Veress (1907–92). Although all three composers are of Hungarian origin, their careers followed radically different paths. Whereas, Kurtág remained in Budapest for most of his career, Anhalt and Veress left: the former in 1946 and immigrated to Canada and the latter in 1948 and settled in Switzerland. All three composers have had an extraordinary impact in the cultural environments within which their work took place.
In the first section, “Place and Displacement,” contributors examine what happens when composers and their music migrate in the culturally complex world of the late twentieth century. The past one hundred years produced record numbers of refugees, and this fact is now beginning to resonate in the study of music. As Anhalt himself forcefully asserts, however, not all composers who emigrate should be understood as exiles. The first chapters of this book explore some of the problems and questions surrounding this issue.
Essays in the second section, “Perspectives on Reception, Analysis, and Interpretation,” look at how performing acts of interpretation on music implies bringing the time, place, and identity of the musician, the analyst, and the teacher to bear on the object of study. Like Kodály, Kurtág considers his work to be “naturally” embedded in Hungarian culture, but he is also a quintessentially European artist. Much of his production—he is one of the twentieth century’s most prolific composers of vocal music—involves the setting of Hungarian texts, but in the late 1970s his cultural horizons expanded to include texts in Russian, German, French, English, and ancient Greek. The book explores how musicologists’ divergent cultural perspectives impinge on the interpretation of this work.
The final section, “The Presence of the Past and Memory in Contemporary Music,” examines the impact time and memory can have on notions of place and identity in music. All living art taps into the personal and collective past in one way or another. The final four chapters look at various aspects of this relationship.
American Histories of an Iconic Composer
American composer Charles Ives (1874 - 1954) has gone from being a virtual unknown to become one of the most respected and lauded composers in American music. In this sweeping survey of intellectual and musical history, David C. Paul tells the new story of how Ives's music was shaped by shifting conceptions of American identity within and outside of musical culture, charting the changes in the reception of Ives across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century. Paul focuses on the critics, composers, performers, and scholars whose contributions were most influential in shaping the critical discourse on Ives, many of them marquee names of American musical culture themselves, including Henry Cowell, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, and Leonard Bernstein. Paul explores both how Ives strategically positioned his music amid changing philosophical and aesthetic currents and how others interpreted his contributions to the idea, character, and functions of American music. Although Ives's initial efforts at making his music known to the public in the early twenties were unsuccessful, the resurgence of interest in the American literary past during the thirties helped secure an important place in American concert culture for his "Concord" Sonata, a work dedicated to nineteenth-century transcendentalist writers. Paul also charts the deployment of Ives as an icon of self-made independence and American freedom during the early Cold War period and the more recent instigation of Ives at the head of a line of so-called "American maverick" composers. By embedding Ives' reception within the changing developments of a wide range of fields including intellectual history, American studies, literature, musicology, and American politics and society in general, Charles Ives in the Mirror: American Histories of an Iconic Composer greatly advances our understanding of Ives and his influence on nearly a century of American culture.
The Cloud Cult Story
“Cloud Cult’s grand, unkempt indie rock is at once jam band, emo, and avant-garde. Their songs, born out of personal tragedy, are otherworldly lessons in being human.” —Pitchfork During the past decade, Minnesota-grown band Cloud Cult has become one of the most inspirational indie bands, with a deeply devoted fan base and an approach to music and the environment that is hard not to admire. Beyond a musical biography, Chasing the Light tells the story of the heartbreaking yet affirming journey of lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa and delves into the career of the band known by music lovers as the least cynical and most idealistic band in the country.
Tracing Cloud Cult’s rise to critical acclaim, author Mark Allister details the band’s defining moments, beginning with the death of Craig and Connie Minowa’s two-year-old son and the hundreds of songs that grew out of the tragic loss. Allister describes the band’s unique philosophy and principles, including how Minowa created a zero carbon footprint for the band’s recording and touring, adopting DIY and green-sustainable practices well before the ideas became mainstream. Allister also presents a first-person account of a day in the life of a quintessential indie band and conveys the immense emotional impact of Cloud Cult’s albums and live shows. Described by a fan in the book as “the anthem for the soul searcher in us all,” Cloud Cult’s music and message are both stirring and sincere.
Featuring rarely seen photos from Cloud Cult’s history and passionate testimonials by fans, Chasing the Light is a testament to the profound influence one band’s personal evolution can have on its followers and on indie rock aficionados in search of beauty, meaning, and redemption.
In this first interpretive narrative of the life and work of Christian Wolff, Michael Hicks and Christian Asplund trace the influences and sensibilities of a contemporary composer's atypical career path and restless imagination. Written in full cooperation with Wolff, including access to his papers, this volume is a much-needed introduction to a leading avant-garde composer still living, writing music, and speaking about his own work. _x000B__x000B_Wolff has pioneered various compositional and notational idioms, including overtly political music, indeterminacy, graphic scores, and extreme virtuosity. Hicks and Asplund cover Wolff's family life and formative years, his role as a founder of the New York School of composers, and the context of his life and work as part of the John Cage circle, as well as his departures from it. Critically assessing Wolff's place within the experimental musical field, this volume captures both his eloquence and reticence and provides insights into his broad interests and activities within music and beyond._x000B_
Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz
Edward "Kid" Ory (1886-1973) was a trombonist, composer, recording artist, and early New Orleans jazz band leader. Creole Trombone tells his story from birth on a rural sugar cane plantation in a French-speaking, ethnically mixed family, to his emergence in New Orleans as the city's hottest band leader. The Ory band featured such future jazz stars as Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, and was widely considered New Orleans's top "hot" band. Ory's career took him from New Orleans to California, where he and his band created the first African American New Orleans jazz recordings ever made. In 1925 he moved to Chicago where he made records with Oliver, Armstrong, and Jelly Roll Morton and captured the spirit of the jazz age. His most famous composition from that period, "Muskrat Ramble," is a jazz standard. Retired from music during the Depression, he returned in the 1940s and enjoyed a reignited career.
Drawing on oral history and Ory's unpublished autobiography, Creole Trombone is a story that is told in large measure by Ory himself. The author reveals Ory's personality to the reader and shares remarkable stories of incredible innovations of the jazz pioneer. The book also features unpublished Ory compositions, photographs, and a selected discography of his most significant recordings.
The Music Life of J. D. Crowe
In this first biography of legendary banjoist J. D. Crowe, Marty Godbey charts the life and career of one of bluegrass's most important innovators. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Crowe picked up the banjo when he was thirteen years old, inspired by a Flatt & Scruggs performance at the Kentucky Barn Dance. Godbey relates the long, distinguished career that followed, as Crowe performed and recorded both solo and as part of such varied ensembles as Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys, the all-acoustic Kentucky Mountain Boys, and the revolutionary New South, who created an adventurously eclectic brand of bluegrass by merging rock and country music influences with traditional forms. Over the decades, this highly influential group launched the careers of many other fresh talents such as Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, and Doyle Lawson._x000B__x000B_With a selective discography and drawing from more than twenty interviews with Crowe and dozens more with the players who know him best, Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J. D. Crowe is the definitive music biography of a true bluegrass original.
Adventures in American New Music
Composer, performer, instrument-builder, teacher, and writer Gordon Mumma has left an indelible mark on the American contemporary music scene. A prolific composer and a innovative French horn player, Mumma is recognized for integrating advanced electronic processes into musical structures, an approach he termed "Cybersonics." Musicologist Michelle Fillion curates a collection of Mumma's writings, presenting revised versions of his classic pieces as well as many unpublished works from every stage of his storied career. Here, through words and astonishing photos, is Mumma's chronicle of seminal events in the musical world of the twentieth century: his cofounding the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music; his role in organizing the historic ONCE Festivals of Contemporary Music; performances with the Sonic Arts Union; and working alongside John Cage and David Tudor as a composer-musician with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company In addition, Mumma describes his collaborations with composers, performers, dancers, and visual artists ranging from Robert Ashley and Pauline Oliveros to Marcel Duchamp and Robert Rauschenberg.