Extract from A Concise History of Jazz, by John Robert Brown
Published in 2004 by Mel Bay, Inc. ISBN 0-7866-4983-6, 228 pp, paperback, this extract is included here by kind permission of the publishers. Reproduction is forbidden.
Available for $14.95, direct from the publishers: Melbay
In the UK for £10.50, from Warwick Music
Chapter 10. Europe: Trondheim, Norway, 1995
It is the middle of October in 1995. We are in Trondheim, Norway's third largest city, 550 kilometers north of the capital, Oslo. We are walking through the city on a fine but cold evening, towards the Nidaros cathedral. One of the largest Gothic buildings in Scandinavia, this is where all the kings of Norway are crowned. Norway is prosperous, the second largest oil exporting nation in the world. The Norwegians, with characteristic independence, have voted to stay out of the European Union. Of the affluent European nations, only they, together with Iceland and Switzerland, choose to remain apart.
Tonight in Trondheim everyone seems to be heading in the same direction, either on foot or by bicycle. Crowds of young people, mostly of university age or a little older, stream along the road. All are quiet, well behaved, sensibly dressed against the cold evening. As they walk along, one or two of these concertgoers are listening to their personal portable stereo systems, through headphones. The music is on cassette. The digital mini-disc, though now available, has not yet achieved significant sales. Enthusiasm is in the air, a feeling of anticipation, for we are all going to hear a concert of some very unusual music.
Tonight's concert is to be given by the Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, together with a Renaissance group from Britain, the Hilliard Ensemble. A year ago these musicians recorded a CD, Officium, on the ECM label, in which the all-male vocal ensemble sang medieval music while Jan Garbarek played alto and tenor saxophone improvisations in and around the singing. A novel idea, as with many projects emanating from the ECM label it sold sufficiently well to be regarded as a jazz hit. Not surprisingly, the opportunity to hear this music played in such appropriate surroundings, with a Norwegian national jazz hero Jan Garbarek on home ground, has proved popular. Two performances will take place tonight. The theatre is full for both.
To older jazz fans, this popularity is a surprise. The music does not have a rhythm section, it does not swing, you cannot dance to it, it does not have catchy tunes, and Garbarek does not play groovy licks. The music is quiet, the harmonic language is archaic, and it does not have obvious climaxes. Saxophonist Garbarek is certainly improvising, but some knowledgeable listeners debate, fruitlessly, whether this music should be called jazz.
Nidaros Cathedral's geometry and acoustics are exploited by the performers. The concert opens with a quadrophonic effect, as the singers are first heard from all four corners of the building. They begin to sing out of sight of the audience. Gently, dramatically, the music builds as they come into view, walking slowly towards their meeting place at the center of the enormous space. Only then does Jan Garbarek start his improvisation, his saxophone commenting on, and paralleling, the vocal parts. Naturally we knew what we were coming to hear, but no CD can produce this glorious acoustical and dramatic effect.
A sense of occasion prevails here tonight. We are lucky to be present.
In 1969, bass player and record producer Manfred Eicher founded the record label Edition of Contemporary Music, ECM. Eicher had previously been employed by another record company, working on the production of orchestral and chamber music. He felt that the same love and care that was lavished on those recordings should be brought to the production of contemporary jazz records. Though Eicher did not express it in this way, there had long been a faint but detectable tendency among jazz supporters to pursue the illusion of European respectability. This respectability of European classical music was what was coveted; the disdain towards jazz that this has produced is no less strong in Europe than elsewhere. It is still alive today.
Rock was enjoying great popularity at the time. Eicher was concerned that many important young jazz players were being overlooked. His company's first pressings on vinyl used the highest quality materials. Each recording had to subsidise the next. Fortunately, the early releases, first with American pianist Paul Bley, then with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, were successful. The good fortune continued, despite Eicher's pursuance of a policy that, by industry mores, was not commercial.
By 2002 the ECM company, based in Munich, had a catalog of more than 700 titles, and was celebrating the success of Morimur, a radical reinterpretation of Bach's Partita in D Minor for Solo Violin, a collaboration between the Baroque violinist Christopher Poppen and four singers - from the Hilliard Ensemble again. So, not all the titles were jazz. ECM was, and remains, almost impossible to define, but much of the company's catalog is irrefutably jazz, or jazz influenced.
In the words of the British newspaper, The Independent, celebrating the label's thirtieth birthday in 1999, 'The ECM label and its founder Manfred Eicher have altered musical history. The company has become the most important imprint in the world for jazz and new music. After 30 years, their albums still range over the eclectic and unclassifiable - and have a sound world as distinctive as the record sleeves' famous austere design."1
The visual style consists of muted colors, and a consistent, plain, typeface. Moody, ascetic, monochrome photography is favored, empty landscapes with enigmatic images are common. The style extends to the sound quality of the recordings, most of which Manfred Eicher still produces himself.
The austerity is as thoroughgoing and consistent as it is special.
When I made my first visit to the headquarters of ECM, in a pleasant suburb to the north of the Bavarian city of Munich in Germany, I was directed to premises above a supermarket. No sign on the building identified it as the ECM offices. Access was through the supermarket checkout, by way of a door in the wall. Then I stumbled up a gloomy staircase bearing a diminutive sign saying 'ECM Records'. Once inside, the offices were smart, tasteful and businesslike. The reception and hospitality offered was kind and generous. But the lack of outward display was truly exceptional, particularly in a profession - selling records - not normally known for its reticence or modesty. This seemed consistent with the ECM image.
Landmark recordings on ECM include the early Afric Pepperbird (1970), by Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek (b. 1947), Garbarek's later pairing with the Hilliard singers, Officium (1993), in which saxophone improvisations are set against medieval church music, Keith Jarrett's The Koln Concert, released in 1975 and which sold more than two million copies, recordings by saxophonist John Surman (b.1944), issues by former Garbarek drummer Edward Vesala (b.1945) which incorporate Ode to the Death of Jazz, and several recordings that have little to do with jazz, including bandoneon player Dino Saluzzi (b. 1935). (The bandoneon is an Argentinian type of button accordion.)
Also in the catalogue was Turkish influenced improvised music by Anouar Brahem with clarinetist Barbaros Erköse, a fascinating series of recordings of improvised world music by Stephan Micus, and several composed-ensemble albums by Edward Vesala the Finnish drummer and composer. An artist significant to ECM, Eberhard Weber, launched the thumbprint sound of the label with The Colors of Chloe. Others who recorded for ECM include John Abercrombie, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Egberto Gismonti, Dave Holland, Pat Metheny, Terje Rypdal, Ralph Towner, Eberhard Weber, Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone.
Bassist Glen Moore was generous in his praise of ECM, crediting Manfred Eicher with keeping the band Oregon (Paul McCandless, reeds, flute, Glen Moore, bass, violin, piano, Ralph Towner, guitar, piano, synthesizer, Collin Walcott, sitar, percussion, voice) together. "Oregon was the real beacon through that whole thing. Oregon really stayed in existence because of Manfred Eicher at ECM. He invited us to record. ECM organized tours for us in Europe. We went from playing in these little bars where we had to clean the floor and put down the lines of baking soda to keep the cockroaches off our instruments to going to Europe and playing in the radio houses and beautiful halls and in Vienna where Beethoven conducted and where Mozart had played. ECM really gave us the opportunity to feel like adult musicians, away from America, where there'd always been a lot more pop emphasis and all this electric kind of superstar feeling. Because of ECM, we were able to hang in there."2
The JAZZPAR prize
Sometimes called The Jazz Oscar, or the Nobel Prize of Jazz, the world's largest international jazz award of its kind, presented every year solely to people from the jazz world, is the Danish JAZZPAR Prize. At the time of writing it carries a financial presentation equivalent to approximately $27,000, which is awarded at an annual concert in Copenhagen, the final concert in a Prize Concert Tour. The money is given to an internationally known and fully active jazz artist who is especially deserving of further acclaim. Former winners are Muhal Richard Abrams (1990), David Murray (1991), Lee Konitz (1992), Tommy Flanagan (1993), Roy Haynes (1994), Tony Coe (1995), Geri Alien (1996), Django Bates (1997), Jim Hall (1998), Martial Solal (1999), Coos Potter (2000), Marilyn Mazur (2001), Enrico Rava (2002) and Andrew Hill (2003).
1. The Independent, quoted April 1999, on ECM web site www.ecmrecords.com
2. Stokes, W. Royal, op. cit., p. 164.
11. Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York
The Lincoln Center is at Broadway and 64th, in Manhattan, on the West Side near to Central Park, a modern complex of concert halls, opera houses and open-air plazas. In recent years there has been an association between the Lincoln Center and jazz, as represented by the virtuoso trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Jazz at 'Lincoln Center (J@LC) is one of twelve constituent organizations on the campus of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
The relationship began with Wynton's Jazz at Lincoln Center series, for which he is cofounder and Artistic Director. The series has run since 1987, presenting recreated historical performances. The concerts have drawn capacity audiences. Showcasing some of the best young players, it includes trumpeters Nicholas Pay ton and Wallace Roney, and clarinetist Dr. Michael White. Now there is a fifteen-strong Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Directed on stage by Marsalis, it employs players such as Victor Goines (saxophones), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Ted Nash (saxophones), Rodney Whitaker (bass) and Joe Temperley (baritone).
At the beginning of the new century, Wynton Marsalis is featured prominently as a commentator and performer in a television mini series on jazz, and fronts the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra en national and international tours. Not everyone agrees with Wynton's view of jazz and jazz history. Nevertheless, he has assumed the role of an articulate and enthusiastic spokesman for jazz around the world. J@LC also organizes a major youth band competition, Essentially Ellington. Several radio stations are devoted exclusively to jazz. Some of these can be heard anywhere in the 'World, via the Internet. Classic jazz films are available on DVD, though terrestrial television, which has long relegated arts programs to off-peak spots, virtually ignores jazz.
Recently a $130 million project building was completed, and Frederick P. Rose Hall is the new home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. This is the world's first performing arts facility designed specifically for jazz education, performance and broadcasting. Located at Columbus Circle, components include a 1,300 seat concert theater, a 700 seat performance space, a 140 seat jazz cafe, the Irene Diamond Education Center, and the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, an interactive multimedia history of jazz. Maybe we will meet there?
The New Conservatives; Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis was born in New Orleans in 1961. The beginning of his professional life overlapped with the final decade of Miles Davis's career. Wynton's father, New Orleans pianist Ellis Marsalis, has four sons: saxophonist Branford, trombonist and producer Delfeayo, drummer Jason, and Wynton. Before the ascent to worldwide fame of his sons, Ellis was best known as an educator, whose students included trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Victor Goines, saxophonist Donald Harrison, singer Harry Connick Junior and trumpeter Nicholas Pay ton.
By the age of fourteen Wynton, a superb trumpet player by any standards, had performed the Haydn Trumpet Concerto with the New Orleans Philharmonic. At the age of eighteen he began studying at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, commencing as a pit musician in Sweeny Todd, and on gigs with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. During a twelve-month stint with Art Blakey, he recorded before his nineteenth birthday. Soon after, he was working with the Herbie Hancock Quartet (Ron Carter, bass, Tony Williams, drums). By 1982 Down Beat readers had voted him Jazz Musician of the Year. His debut LP Wynton Marsalis was chosen as Jazz. Album of the Year, and he was named 'Number One Trumpet'.
Most notably, he defeated Miles Davis in each category. Wynton has won eight Grammy Awards, and received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his album on the subject of slavery, Blood on the Fields. He is one of the few musicians who can work convincingly at the highest levels in both jazz and classical music, able to satisfy the most exacting standards of each genre.
The first musician to be triumphantly successful in the two cultures was Benny Goodman. While near to his heyday as King of Swing, Goodman embarked on an exploration of European Concert Music. Inverted snobbery ensured that this cost him much status in the jazz world, but no objective listener can question Goodman's right to stand as the pioneer figure among that rare breed of musicians who can pass happily between jazz and straight.
A few other musicians followed. Andre Previn (b.1929) made some lithe and blithe small group jazz albums in the 50s before emerging as the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1960s. After Goodman and Previn, the list of colossi that bestride the two cultures begins to tail off. This is not to belittle the several first-rate musicians who worked at the top end of the profession in both areas. One is Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000), who, in addition to his career as a virtuoso pianist, in 1962 began to cultivate jazz and improvisation. Another is Gunther Schuller (b.1925), composer, French horn player and author of The Swing Era, named 'jazz book of the century' by Jazz Educators' Journal. Also to be mentioned are pianist, composer and Harvard academic Mel Powell (1923-1998), trombonist and composer Raymond Premru (b. 1934), pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Richard Davis (b.1930). The British composer and pianist Richard Rodney Bennett (b.1936) sings a very convincing jazz ballad, but no major jazz singer seems to have succeeded in both categories. The very difficulty of compiling the above list makes the point.
Wynton Marsalis belongs to this rare elite. His achievement in bridging the divide between jazz and orchestral playing eclipses even those of Goodman and Previn. Not only was Wynton Marsalis the first musician ever to win Grammy awards in both jazz and classical categories, but, like all his other achievements, this was accomplished early in his life.
Wynton's emergence and first successes occurred at the start of the 1980s. The jazz style in which he played was rooted in the Blue Note music of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Miles Davis, who had so frequently pointed the way forward for jazz, and whose style from an earlier period was part of the music Marsalis emulated, now emerged from retirement with a straightforward fusion band, using synthesizers and rock rhythms, showing little sense of adventure or experiment.
In the late 1980s Wynton, with the critic (and former drummer) Stanley Crouch, began attacking Miles in print, saying that Miles had left jazz for the pop marketplace. The criticisms were outspoken, strongly expressed, and many regarded Wynton as too new on the scene, and, paradoxically, too much influenced by Miles Davis, for it to be seemly for him to say such things. Though there was more than a grain of truth in what Wynton was expressing, observers were reminded of the old advice about glass houses and stones. Wynton, though a wonderful trumpet player, was conservative in his approach to jazz, and at the time not yet a genuinely individual stylist.
After Wynton came a host of these 'young lions', also called 'yuppie jazz musicians', 'neo-bop', 'neoclassicists' or 'new conservatives'. They included Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Tom Harrell, Nicholas Payton and Wallace Roney on trumpets, James Carter, Kenny Garrett, Javon Jackson, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman and Gary Thomas (b.1961) on saxophones, and Cyrus Chestnut, Benny Green and Marcus Roberts on piano.
Eric Nisenson, who has written at length about this problematical aspect of contemporary jazz in Blue: The Murder of Jazz, says: "The emergence and promotion of these young musicians was supposed to be good for jazz, supposedly giving birth to this new 'golden era,' which is how a number of writers have described this period of jazz. But in the long run, of course, it was neither good for jazz nor good for these young jazz musicians to be declared masters when they were just at a point of beginning to learn what jazz is all about." 1
The flames of this controversy were further fueled by the policy adopted by Wynton for his Jazz at Lincoln Center series, wherein he was widely accused of bias against white musicians. The controversy was renewed by the manner in which Wynton discharged his responsibilities as presenter and adviser for the major TV series, Jazz, produced by Ken Burns.
By design or coincidence, in 1999 the cornetist and author Richard Sudhalter published Lost Chords, White Musicians and Their Contribution to Jazz, 1915-1945.2 Despite its title, this is not a contentious book. Sudhalter merely attempts to contest the increasingly held view of early white musicians as musically insignificant. This publication, thoroughly researched and engagingly written, is an obligatory read for anyone studying jazz up to the bebop era. It would be unfortunate if jazz were to become mired in a tug-of-war between revisionist views of jazz history based largely on race. Reverse racism is still racism.
Whatever else has been said about the work of Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, there is no better introduction to jazz than to attend a concert by the band. Wynton, a charming and communicative bandleader, masterminds a disciplined and polished ensemble, with a deep sense of tradition, offering accessible performances that avoid the obscure or self indulgent.
The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra is not the only jazz ensemble to be part of an official organization and to receive official funding. In France, the Government has created the Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ). Similar organizations supporting jazz orchestras, frequently linked to a broadcasting company, include the Danish Radio Band in Copenhagen, the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra in Sweden, the UMO Big Band in Finland, and the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany. Regrettably, there is no such ensemble in Britain, though the UK Jazz Development Trust has lobbied for the establishment of one.
Of course, at first there were no written methods of instruction.
Jazz was taught by example, whether by observing live performances in person, from recordings, or private study. The next generation - Louis Armstrong and his contemporaries - chose prominent New Orleans musicians as their ideals. Relatively few musicians were taken as models. These included Buddy Bolden, Bunk Johnson, Joe Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and a handful of others. After 1917, recordings, and later the radio, served as the main medium of dissemination.
The influence of Louis Armstrong was enormous. Players taught themselves by listening to and copying from his records, memorizing key aspects of his style. During the 1920s and 1930s, sheet music collections of Armstrong's 'hot licks' were published. These were compilations of short phrases, taken out of context, usually without any harmonic information.
The jam sessions, rent parties and cutting contests created opportunities for musicians to learn from each other. By the time of the swing era there were available published collections of hot licks by other players, including those of Benny Goodman and Coleman Hawkins. Additionally, Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Harry James and others published instrumental instruction books. It is not at all clear when the guitar chord symbol method of notating jazz harmony was codified and adopted. Many popular sheet music publications of the 1920s and 1930s carry ukulele chord box diagrams, which offer a harmonic shorthand.
Jazz activity began in American colleges as early as the 1920s, though ensembles were usually student initiated and student led, frequently playing little more than jazz-influenced dance music. However, at least one institution, Alabama State Normal College, had a jazz ensemble that was officially recognized by the end of the 1920s.
By the middle 1930s there were instructional columns appearing in jazz magazines, together with jazz transcriptions. The first arranging books were published. In major American cities, competent musicians who played jazz began to teach. Many of the leading swing musicians seemed hungry for knowledge and formal study. From the height of the swing period onward, several prominent jazz musicians explored classical music, and many turned to serious performers and composers to widen their education. Benny Goodman studied with classical clarinetist Reginald Kell, Charlie Parker pestered Edgard Varèse for lessons, Quincy Jones studied with legendary French teacher Nadia Boulanger. One notable figure sought out by several prominent jazzmen was Joseph Schillinger (1895 - 1943). He had left Russia in 1928, settled in New York, and taught music, mathematics, art history and his own rhythmic theories at the New School for Social Research, New York University, and Columbia University Teachers College.
Schillinger had devised a system of composition that reduced the elements of rhythm, melody and harmony to what he called 'geometric phase relationships'. Eventually, he expanded this idea to include orchestration, emotion in music, theater, design, and the moving image. Schillinger's system was taught to his private pupils. They included prominent musicians such as pianist Eubie Blake, trombonist Tommy Dorsey, Vernon Duke, George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, composer, pianist, actor and author Oscar Levant, John Lewis, Gerry Mulligan, and Glenn Miller.3 Today, little mention is made of Schillinger's writings. Significantly, despite his grand theories, he did not employ them in his own music. The Schillinger House of Music in Boston was founded by pianist and arranger Lawrence Berk in 1945. In 1954 Berk changed the name to Berklee College of Music.
In June, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 'Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944,' better known as the 'G. I. Bill of Rights.' This law made available billions of dollars in education and training for millions of armed service veterans. It was famed legislation which has since been recognized as one of the most important acts of Congress. To this day, American men and women in uniform still earn education benefits. At the end of World War n, many service musicians entered higher education as a result of the bill. Institutions such as North Texas State University, the University of Miami and, later, Berklee College of Music, rose to prominence in this era, a period that effectively marked the beginning of the rise of formal jazz education in the USA.
Berklee alumni include guitarist John Abercrombie, the arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi, vibraphone player Gary Burton, guitarist Kevin Eubanks, arranger Quincy Jones, singer Diana Krall, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, producer/arranger Arif Mardin, guitarist Al DiMeola, saxophonist Scott Robinson, guitarist John Scofield, and saxophonists Sadao Watanabe and Ernie Watts.
As early as 1942, Leonard Feather, Marshall Steams and Robert Goffin taught the first jazz history course, at the New School for Social Research in New York. During the 1950s many American colleges and universities added jazz studies to their list of courses. Music publishers began to offer graded band arrangements, and the first summer schools were held. The Stan Kenton big band camps were organized during this period. These later evolved into the Jamey Aebersold combo camps.
ABC of Jazz Education
Jamey Aebersold is the 'A' of the 'ABC' of jazz education. The 'B' is David Baker, the 'C' Jerry Coker. Baker is the widely published author of books on arranging and jazz improvisation, and Chair of the Jazz Department at Indiana University. Coker is a former Woody Herman saxophonist, author of several seminal texts on jazz pedagogy and Professor of Music at the University of Tennessee. Aebersold, a saxophonist and businessman, has had a great impact on jazz education. His series of 'play-along' records is a commercially available library of 'music minus one' of more than ninety CDs, covering many standard songs, jazz originals and Broadway tunes. In turn this inspired today's Band in a Box computer software, which effectively provides for jazz students to create their own play-along recording, in any key, at any tempo, with any chord progression. In 1960 there were five thousand high school jazz bands in the USA. By the middle of that decade more than forty American colleges offered degrees in jazz studies. In 1968 Matt Betton (1913-2002) founded the National Association of Jazz Educators (NAJE), with a first year membership of a hundred. The name was changed to the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) in the early 1990s, though even at the time of writing the membership is predominantly American. The annual conference (usually held in January) rarely takes place outside North America, though there are members in thirty-one countries. Today, education is an integral part of jazz. Jazz education has boomed. Now it is possible to study jazz to degree and postgraduate level in a college environment in many countries. In New York, J@LC is committed to jazz education. After another adjustment to its name, the International Association for Jazz Education now has in excess of eight thousand members, being the fastest growing music education organization in the world.
From the beginning, jazz was often attacked and derided. This was not merely the usual antipathy of the older generation towards the music of the youngsters, and it was not only the Nazis who banned jazz. The hostility was widespread. Jazz was belittled in music education texts and journals. It was thought to have a degenerative effect on school music. Around the world, many teachers of serious music banned jazz from being played in practice rooms. When pianist Roland Hanna (1932-2002) studied music at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, he was forbidden to play jazz.4
The eminent classical violinist Nigel Kennedy (b. 1956) studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli was appearing at Carnegie Hall. Though his violin teacher Dorothy DeLay had told Kennedy not to play jazz, he went on stage with Grappelli. "Two days later, I was having a lesson with Dottie again ... She then proclaimed that there had been two CBS A&R classical music people there and that as a result I'd never record classical music for that label because of that one jazz appearance."5
Attitudes began to change in the 1960s and 1970s, though not completely. As recently as 1980, the director of Leeds College of Music which at that time possessed the largest jazz department in the UK explicitly prohibited staff and students from playing jazz on the college's best piano! No reason was given.
Yet, very gradually, jazz was accepted by the music education community. This was partly because it came to be regarded as art music and not as mere dance music or entertainment. Jazz was also successful in attracting students. Extracurricular jazz activities were notably popular.
During the 1960s, jazz education began to take place outside America, first in Graz (Austria) and Leeds (UK), then in many countries. As the opportunities for a young instrumentalist to earn a living as a professional jazz musician, or as a sideman in a touring band, shrank, so the college jazz departments grew. The new jazz departments offered work to those older musicians who had the necessary communicative and pedagogical qualities to enable them to teach. In the context of poor employment prospects in the jazz profession it was possible (in the early years, when college places were not so plentiful) to recruit a student intake of talented young musicians.
By the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, the music education community began to accept jazz gracefully. In the new century, jazz education is generally considered to be a vital component of the study of music. The flow of students between countries became a two-way trend. At the time of writing over 40% of the students at Boston's Berklee College of Music are of foreign origin. In Europe, the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) flourishes. Jazz departments in Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Israel and Britain have American staff and students. In Britain, the large, long-established commercial music examination organization, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) introduced local graded exams in jazz at the beginning of the new century. In 2003, the ABRSM examined more than 600,000 candidates worldwide. Many were sitting the new jazz syllabus. The eventual impact of this initiative on jazz education will be enormous. Jazz education is not without its critics. Some commentators have pointed to an unhealthy concentration on music that originated between 1945 and 1965, the period from Parker to late Coltrane. Attending an IAJE conference (they are spectacular events), one finds that Dixieland is almost ignored, free jazz overlooked, and rock-jazz and funk relegated to a less prominent place in the curriculum. Many tutors seem to be guilty of an 'I'll teach what I love' attitude, and are seemingly embarrassed by early swing, New Orleans jazz and the avant-garde. Compromise is needed.
The new century has also seen the rise of a new breed of jazz scholar, who introduces the mysterious language of sociology, comparative literature, film studies and linguistic theory into homely jazz contexts. Ploughing through complex, opaque prose, one wonders what Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker or Duke Ellington would have made of these developments.
The importance of education and understanding - even for the listener - has been vividly described in an analogy by journalist Sholto Byrnes. Imagine a man looking through a window high above a trampoline. "All he sees is a group of people bobbing up and down, seemingly at random. If he could see the trampoline, he would understand their movements, just as the listener needs to understand the chordal basis of a jazz improvisation to comprehend how the performer is using it."6
1. Nisenson, E., op. cit., p.226.
2. Sudhalter, R., op. cit.
3. Burk, J. M. and Schneider, W. J., New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Vol. 22 (London: Macmillan, 2001), p.506.
4. Voce, S., Roland Hanna. Obituary in The Independent, London, 16 November, 2002.
5. Kennedy, N., Always Playing (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1991), p. 19.
6. Byrnes, S., The Independent, London, 30 May, 2003.