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conclusion Jürg Wickihalder Gets Around Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal celebrates improvisation, but its own teleology blunts improvisation’s sociopolitical edge. When Viktor at long last walks through the doors of jfk’s international transit terminal and sets foot on U.S. soil, he hails a cab in order to complete his mission. True to the director’s warm, fuzzy, feel-good multiculturalism, the driver turns out to be from Albania , and when Viktor asks him when he came to America, the laconic response is, “Ooph—Thursday.” On his way back from the Ramada Inn after Golson’s gig, seated in another yellow cab with his mission complete, the driver this time is no recent immigrant but asks Viktor in a typically gruff New York accent, “Where you wanna go?” With a visible sense of satisfaction, the Krakozhian passenger responds by repeating the very words of Gupta when taken into custody: “I am going home.”1 To be sure, Viktor’s social improvisations create a community of individuals from various national and ethnic backgrounds, however temporary. But in jazz music, improvisation at its best comes with an “ethical valence,” says Daniel Martin Feige: “successful jazz performances exemplify in ethical terms what it means to recognize and bear responsibility for each other.” The mutual recognition and responsibility the jazz context demands is something pianist Iyer also highlights: “As a musician, I personally believe that the improviser is concerned more with making individual improvisations relate to each other, and to his or her conception of personal sound, than he or she might be with obeying some standard of coherence on the scale of the single improvisation.”2 Jürg Wickihalder Gets Around 127 This interpersonal accountability is much more pronounced in a jazz context than in most other genres: each member of the collective bears a responsibility that the individual voice of the other can be heard. In European classical concert music, for example, the individual is accountable first to the script of the musical score as well as to the director’s abstract sound ideal to which the ensemble aspires. For a bass player in an orchestra to perform, say, Rachmanino ff’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor doesn’t require much adjustment whether the piano bench is occupied by Vladimir Ashkenazy or Rachmaninoff himself. The bass player in a jazz big band, on the other hand, will accompany the reading of a chart of Ellington’s “The Village of the Virgins,” even in the same key and in the exact same tempo, perhaps very differently if the piano bench is occupied by Iyer as opposed to the Duke himself. In this sense, then, the script of The Terminal, including Viktor’s social improvisations, turns out to be much more accountable to John Williams’s orchestral score than to anything Benny Golson has ever played. In fact, Golson could be replaced with any of the musicians depicted in Art Kane’s photograph without requiring even the slightest alteration in the storyline.3 By failing to listen, to recognize the sonorities of Madam Zajj’s Afropolitan flânerie, The Terminal’s script fails to bear responsibility for its characters. What this failure indicates, then, is that transnationalism—as social dynamic, economic process, or indeed as a critical practice—must first and foremost listen if it wants to aspire to more than a cursorily multicultural shout-out to the Ausland—the “outland”—if it wants to strive for a multinational, multiethnic togetherness, a Miteinander, instead of a mere adjacency, a Nebeneinander. Hans Janowitz certainly listened to, and heard in jazz music, the sonic sign of a transnational Miteinander. The Terminal may send all its characters back to their designated homes, but it does get at least one thing right: tireless Afropolitan flâneuse that she is, Madam Zajj has a knack for showing up in out-of-the-way places, not just New York or Paris, and not just behind the Iron Curtain. That Switzerland was on her itinerary early on shouldn’t come as a surprise. Shortly after World War I, classical conductor Ernst-Alexandre Ansermet saw Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra in London and was particularly taken with its star soloist, the young Sidney Bechet. The Swiss conductor was so impressed by what he heard that in 1919, he published in the Revue Romande what is still considered to be the first serious, musicological analysis of jazz by a representative of the classical European tradition. Because of his...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780820354347
Related ISBN
9780820354354
MARC Record
OCLC
1065536873
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2018-12-06
Language
English
Open Access
No
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