restricted access 9. Coda

From: David Baker

Indiana University Press colophon
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303 Monik a Her zig 9 Coda The coda of a musical piece is a separate movement that creates a memorable ending to a composition while incorporating previous stylistic elements and themes. In fact, Merriam-Webster defines a coda as a concluding musical section that is formally distinct from the main structure or a concluding part of a literary or dramatic work.1 Similarly, this concluding chapter features a summary piece on the impact and future of jazz education , observations on David Baker’s effective strategies and personality traits, and his keynote address at the inaugural Jazz Education Network conference, May 20–22, 2010. Most importantly, this finale is not an ending, but a look ahead into the future of jazz and jazz education. 304 Monika Herzig T wenty-first-century Jazz Education As we review the legacy of David Baker, it is clear that his influence goes well beyond the jazz field as a prolific master composer in classical as well as jazz styles, as arranger and performer, conductor, historian, author , administrator, and – of course – pedagogue. In fact, Nathan Davis, director of jazz studies at the University of Pittsburgh, points out that Baker could easily hold the position of composer-in-residence at any major university.2 Nevertheless, being widely recognized as the “B” in the ABCs of jazz education (Jamey Aebersold, David Baker, and Jerry Coker), Baker has especially succeeded in making jazz available and accessible to generations of jazz students globally as well as codifying a universal approach to jazz pedagogy. Indiana University Associate Professor of Woodwinds Tom Walsh notes, But, I mean, in terms of teaching, certainly every day that I teach I’m paying homage to David Baker. There’s no doubt that huge amounts of what I teach comes from David. And there comes a point where you don’t even remember where you learned something or how you learned something. And I have this experience of starting to think something is my own . . . then I’ll open up one of his books and I am like, “Oh! There it is. It’s been there all along. Oh, yeah, I guess I did learn that from David.” So, you know, it certainly perpetuates my teaching.3 Pat Harbison, professor of jazz studies at Indiana University, confirmsBaker ’ssuccessincodifyingthelanguageofjazzandexplainingthe need for preserving its oral traditions for future generations: He [David Baker] has codified a lot of these things that he learned by the oral tradition and now the oral tradition virtually doesn’t exist. He has created an academic discipline, and pedagogy, and methodology for us to convey that information and passing that cultural code forward. It’s almost like breeding wild animals in the zoo once they’re extinct in the wild. It’s not quite that desperate yet, but if he hadn’t done that we would be looking at a nearly extinct population in the wild, I think. . . . An oral tradition only needs to have one lost generation and it’s gone.4 Stuart Nicholson confirms Harbison’s speculations. He points out that as more and more mostly self-taught master musicians departed, the last traces of a true oral tradition also disappeared, and we now live in the age of the college-educated jazz musician.5 Nicholson also points Coda 305 towards a discrepancy of academic training versus audience demands in the music market, in which the consumer decides to buy music based on personal attraction to the sound rather than the artist’s level of education . Further criticism is directed towards a lack of individuality and originality of performers coming off the “jazz-education production line.”6 Guitarist John Scofield confirms in an interview for Jazz Times magazine that he noticed such shortcomings in young players.7 Askedabouttheconcernthatacademiamaybestiflingthegrowthof jazz, Baker strongly denies such possibilities. In his view, academia provides not only the possibility for jazz musicians to preserve the history but also the opportunity to develop new directions and new repertoire without the pressures of having to make financial profits for a record company or club owner: First of all, I think that that’s absolute nonsense. For instance, classical music hasn’t stopped growing because it’s in academia. Otherwise you wouldn’t have all the new music programs that play music by contemporary composers. And I think you have the best of both worlds in an academic situation because for example, I always see my role as twofold: one to preserve, the other to nurture. So at the same...


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Subject Headings

  • Baker, David, 1931-.
  • Composers -- United States -- Biography. -- Composers -- United States -- Biography.
  • Jazz musicians -- United States -- Biography. -- Jazz musicians -- United States -- Biography.
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