The Turnaround: After the Sixties

More on this thread. Thanks everyone for the input — I’ve listed a couple of great books below that were brought up by attentive readers. I’ve also listed a few books that were important to me. Because of that this turned into a two post blog… The rest of the comments tomorrow. I’m going to hear Oliver Lake with DJ Jahi Sundance.

There’s something here that should not get lost in the shuffle. The history that needs to be told includes all sorts of music from all sorts of traditions: contemporary classical, music from non-U.S. of A. parts of the world, electric music, pop, blues, country, pure improvisation and purely imaginary traditions.

This isn’t about jazz and what it is or isn’t. It’s about the full breadth of music, and the explosion that took place after the decade we usually think of as the explosive one. To limit the outlook to any one style, or even to one’s personal taste, is to shut off part of any potential understanding of what happened. You can’t separate it out and still hear it. It’s the sound of life.

Does anyone remember the book Jazz-Rock Fusion by Julie Coryell and Laura Friedman? It’s the book that introduced me to interviews with Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Randy Brecker, John McLaughlin, Jaco Pastorius, Carla Bley, Tony Williams, and many others. It was published in 1978. Jazz-rock Fusion went on to become a dirty word, as evidenced by this apparently fought-over wikipedia entry. As a 16 year old I got a lot out of that book, and I remember all the musicians talking about all kinds of music.

For musician interviews, two of the best:

Talking Music: Conversations with Five Generations of American Experimental Composers, William Duckworth (Da Capo, 1995)

Notes and Tones: Musician-to-musician Interviews, by Arthur Taylor
(Da Capo, 1977) (Sorry for the Aamazon link, couldn’t find a better one — if you do please let me know.)

A few more great tomes:

Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice, by Derek Bailey. (1992, Da Capo, again)
Wonderfully non-partisan and thorough.

Beats of the Heart: Popular Music of the World, by Jeremy Marre and Hannah Charlton (Pantheon, 1985) There’s also a video that goes with this world-wide history.

African Rhythm and African Sensibility: Aesthetics and Social Action in African Musical Idioms, by John Miller Chernoff (University of Chicago, 1975) Great and very readable study.

Trackings: Composers Speak with Richard Dufallo
(This is a link to the book at the Earle Brown site.)

A few other books sent in:

Chasing The Vibration by Graham Locke (Stride Publications, 1994)

Interviews with Steve Lacy (I guess he changed his mind about talking as the years went by), Cecil Taylor, Mal Waldron, Sun Ra, Chris McGregor, Wadada Leo Smith, and many, many others. Powerful. Locke is also the author of one of my favorite musician-portrait type books: Forces in Motion, the Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton.

Innovations in British Jazz by John Wickes (Soundworld, 1999)

I have not read this book, but from the info on their web page it looks incredibly detailed and thorough. Covering everyone from Joe Harriott to Paul Rutherford to Trevor Watts & John Stevens, Mike Westbrook, AMM, exiles from South Africa, The Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Tony Oxley, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Mike Gibbs, Kenny Wheeler, John Surman, Alan Skidmore, Harry Beckett, John Taylor, Norma Winstone, Mike Osborne, The Brotherhood of Breath, Soft Machine, Gong, Lol Coxhill, Egg, Matching Mole, Gentle Giant, London Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, Keith Tippett, Tony Coe, Henry Cow, Robert Wyatt, King Crimson, Bill Bruford, Annette Peacock, Brand X. And that’s a small sample. Hard to believe but the site announces a Volume 2 coming…

Because I am my demanding father’s son I now say: Okay, now please take on the world!