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Student Handout

Jazz in America Glossary for Lesson VIII - Jazz Today, Jazz Tomorrow

looping: The continuous repetition of a musical phrase manipulated by electronic means; in acid jazz, the accompaniment portion of old records are often sampled then looped, providing the background for new recordings (over which are placed other synthesized sounds, raps, and jazz improvisations).

mainstream: Originally a term that embraced certain music (particularly small bands) which extended the swing jazz tradition into the present, mainstream has also been used as an umbrella term that includes all post-bebop acoustic jazz except that which is considered free or avant garde jazz; jazz reflecting the hard bop sensibilities.

sampling: Consists of digitally recording acoustic, synthesized, or previously recorded sounds for the purpose of electronically manipulating them (e.g., changing pitch, changing timbre, looping them, etc.); in acid jazz, entire musical phrases from old albums are often sampled then resynthesized as the basis for new recordings.

straight ahead: Term used to suggest a manner of playing which adheres closely to the tradition of jazz, as in played straight, moving in a straight forward manner; also used as a stylistic designation related to mainstream (see mainstream) playing; acoustic jazz based on the hard bop tradition and sensibilities.

Jazz in America Student Handout--Lesson Plan VIII--American History Essay

The American Century

At the dawn of the twentieth century, the acquisition of territories in the Caribbean and across the Pacific thrust the United States on the world's stage. The United States, although attempting to cling to an isolationist policy, began to play a major role in international affairs. President Theodore Roosevelt romped through the Caribbean with a "big stick," insured U.S. construction and control of the Panama canal, brokered a treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War, and helped arrange a conference to mediate an international dispute over Morocco.

American entry into World War I in 1917 broke the stalemate that had prolonged the bloody struggle and placed the United States on center stage negotiating a treaty to "make the world safe for democracy." Political wrangling at home over the League of Nations set in motion a new isolationist policy that attempted to keep the United States from becoming involved in international disputes while maintaining an interest and influence in world affairs. With the world plunged into global war in the late 1930s, the United States forged a wartime alliance upon entering World War II in 1941. The war changed the course of world affairs and by mid-century the United States had emerged as the world's leading economic and political power. Commanding the leadership of the Western world, the United States confronted the Soviet Union in a Cold War until the collapse of Communism in the last decade of the century.

While the United States was reluctant to enter upon the world stage at the beginning of the century, American culture was exported around the globe. Jazz musicians captivated Parisians during the victory celebrations at the close of World War I. In the 1920s, Paris, London, and Berlin roared with the unique sounds of a new American music. African American singers and musicians flocked to European capitals where they were not hindered by Jim Crow laws or practices they faced in the United States. In many countries throughout the world, American movies were immensely popular and the illusions of the cinema were accepted as a true depiction of American life. Just as American literature had come into its own in the mid-nineteenth century, American artists and musicians no longer looked to Europe as the repository of culture.

During the post-World War II era, the U.S. Department of State recognized the significance of American popular culture and sent artists as "cultural ambassadors" throughout the world to promote improved political relations. Immensely popular American music could not be restrained by an Iron Curtain. Jazz musicians electrified young audiences throughout Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union , playing a major role in promoting cultural exchanges that helped relieve international tensions.

Like no other period in history, lifestyles in America changed significantly during the twentieth century. The revolution in technology and communications propelled rapid change in American society. Opponents of change clung to a nostalgic feeling of "the good old days," seeking to stem the tide or slow the rate of change. Women, deprived of a basic right in a democratic society, won the right to vote in 1920. Gender roles in society underwent significant changes during the century as restrictive barriers designating societal roles broke down. In the realm of civil rights, African Americans created a Second Reconstruction destroying obstacles that had been established by law and practice to prevent full participation in the political, economic, and social life of the nation. The struggle to change a system became a model for women and other minorities in seeking full participation in American society.

American popular culture reflected societal change. Literature, art, and music were instruments carrying a message of reform. Television brought issues into the home as millions watched police dogs attack civil rights marchers and anti-war protestors; they saw Americans fight raging battles with police and national guard units on college campuses and in the streets of American cities. Amidst changes in American society, romanticism gave way to reality as movie directors began to place a greater focus on burning social issues.

Jazz performer and composer Wynton Marsalis recognizes the importance of the arts and is an avowed supporter of arts education for young people. According to Marsalis, "the arts interpret the way that we live our lives and gives us a code of conduct and a way to understand what our life has to offer . . . it can teach us history." The arts, at the focal point of American popular culture, reflect the conscience of the nation.

Lifestyles and values that are reflected in the arts and music of an epoch are essential aspects of the study of any era of history. An investigation of American popular culture enlivens the study of our nation's history. The University of Virginia's American Studies "Yellow Pages" (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~YP/yppop.html) has several different categories including popular music and dance, film, television, and jazz that link to other websites providing useful data for an investigation of American popular culture in the twentieth century.

Questions to consider:
  1. Why is the twentieth century known as "The American Century?"
  2. What influence did American popular culture have on other countries?
  3. How has jazz reflected the profound changes in American lifestyle in the 20th century?
Jazz in America Student Handout--Lesson Plan VIII--Jazz Biography

WYNTON MARSALIS, trumpet (b. 1961)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wynton_Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis is recognized as one of today's most prominent jazz musicians. Many of his compositions show the influence of early New Orleans jazz, the blues, and elements of classical music. Marsalis' insistence on preserving "traditional jazz" has made him both popular and controversial. Some look upon him as the savior of pure jazz while others argue that his efforts to preserve jazz are nothing more than regressive. Despite the controversy, Marsalis is a giant on the contemporary jazz scene.

Consider the following questions as you read the biography of Wynton Marsalis:
  1. What was the extent of Wynton Marsalis' musical training as a youth? As a young adult?
  2. How was Marsalis' epic oratorio on slavery, Blood on the Fields, received?
  3. What emphasis does Marsalis place on music education for young people?
  4. What recognitions has Marsalis received for his recordings and compositions?
  5. How has Marsalis influenced American popular culture?


JAZZ IN THE 1990'S AND BEYOND

CHICK COREA, piano and electric keyboards (b. 1941)
Biography: http://www.chickcorea.com/bio.php

DAVE DOUGLAS, trumpet (b. 1963)
Biography: www.davedouglas.com/bio.html

ROY HARGROVE, trumpet (b. 1969)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Hargrove

KEITH JARRETT, piano (b. 1945)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Jarrett

DAVID LIEBMAN, tenor and soprano saxophone (b. 1946)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Liebman

BRANFORD MARSALIS, tenor saxophone (b. 1960)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Branford_Marsalis

PAT METHENY, guitar (b. 1954)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Metheny

DAVID MURRAY, saxophone (b. 1955)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Murray_%28jazz_musician%29

JOSHUA REDMAN, tenor saxophone (b. 1969)
Biography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Redman

MARIA SCHNEIDER, composer and arranger (b. 1960)
Biography: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Schneider_%28musician%29

Jazz in the last decade of the 20th century has had numerous faces, many of which have been influenced by a trend towards commercialization, consumerism, and corporate control of media. In all periods of jazz, business and financial elements have played some role in the direction of the art; in the 1980s -1990s, image and sales-driven corporations made a major impact in creating a conservative musical environment. Many would say that while the most successful (fiscally and/or perceptually) jazz artists in the 1990s have indeed been exceptionally talented, they also have been considerably marketable and, perhaps, somewhat unadventurous in their musical choices. This jazz conservatism has created a backlash of non-traditionalists and non-conformists (who have been experimental and adventurous), risking their financial comfort in the name of art. Also in this period, artists from previous decades, considered marketable by record companies due to name recognition, have often redefined and reconstructed their artistic vision with varying degrees of success.

Perhaps the most frequent topic of conversation in jazz today is youth. The talk mainly concerns a group of outstanding instrumentalists in their twenties and thirties (known in the mid 1990s as jazz's "young lions"), including such artists as tenor saxophonists Joshua Redman and James Carter, trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton, pianists Cyrus Chestnut and Jacky Terrasson, and bassist Christian McBride; they are credited with helping bring audiences their own age and younger to jazz.

Consider the following questions as you read the biographies of one or more of the artists on the jazz scene today:
  1. When did this musician's career begin? If prior to the 1990's, has he or she redefined his or her style?
  2. What were this musician's influences?
  3. Has this musician innovated or extended the jazz language or style?
  4. Does this artist's music reflect current American culture? How?
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