Synopses & Reviews
A landmark in jazz studies, Thinking in Jazz
reveals as never before how musicians, both individually and collectively, learn to improvise. Chronicling leading musicians from their first encounters with jazz to the development of a unique improvisatory voice, Paul Berliner documents the lifetime of preparation that lies behind the skilled improviser's every idea.
The product of more than fifteen years of immersion in the jazz world, Thinking in Jazz combines participant observation with detailed musicological analysis, the author's experience as a jazz trumpeter, interpretations of published material by scholars and performers, and, above all, original data from interviews with more than fifty professional musicians: bassists George Duvivier and Rufus Reid; drummers Max Roach, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Akira Tana; guitarist Emily Remler; pianists Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris; saxophonists Lou Donaldson, Lee Konitz, and James Moody; trombonist Curtis Fuller; trumpeters Doc Cheatham, Art Farmer, Wynton Marsalis, and Red Rodney; vocalists Carmen Lundy and Vea Williams; and others. Together, the interviews provide insight into the production of jazz by great artists like Betty Carter, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, and Charlie Parker.
Thinking in Jazz overflows with musical examples from the 1920s to the present, including original transcriptions (keyed to commercial recordings) of collective improvisations by Miles Davis's and John Coltrane's groups. These transcriptions provide additional insight into the structure and creativity of jazz improvisation and represent a remarkable resource for jazz musicians as well as students and educators.
Berliner explores the alternative waysand#8212;aural, visual, kinetic, verbal, emotional, theoretical, associativeand#8212;in which these performers conceptualize their music and describes the delicate interplay of soloist and ensemble in collective improvisation. Berliner's skillful integration of data concerning musical development, the rigorous practice and thought artists devote to jazz outside of performance, and the complexities of composing in the moment leads to a new understanding of jazz improvisation as a language, an aesthetic, and a tradition. This unprecedented journey to the heart of the jazz tradition will fascinate and enlighten musicians, musicologists, and jazz fans alike.
"Never before has a writer taken the reader so deeply and comprehensively into the process of making jazz and specifically, into the nature of jazz improvisation". -- Thomas Owens, Jazztimes
Explores how musicians, both individually and collectively, learn to improvise. Chronicling musicians from their first encounters with jazz to the development of a unique improvisatory voice, Berliner demonstrates that a lifetime of preparation lies behind the skilled improviser's every note.
A landmark in jazz studies, 'Thinking in Jazz' reveals as never before how musicians, both individually and collectively, learn to improvise. Chronicling leading musicians from their first encounters with jazz to the development of a unique improvisatory voice.
Includes discography (p. 827-832), filmography (p. 833-835), bibliographical references (p. 837-850), and index.
About the Author
Paul F. Berliner
is professor of ethnomusicology at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Soul of Mbira, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and is the recipient of an ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for outstanding writing in music.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Music Texts
Introduction: Picking Notes out of Thin Air? Improvisation and Its Study
Ch. 1: Love at First Sound: Early Musical Environment
Ch. 2: Hangin' Out and Jammin': The Jazz Community as an Educational System
Ch. 3: A Very Structured Thing: Jazz Compositions as Vehicles for
Ch. 4: Getting Your Vocabulary Straight: Learning Models for Solo
Ch. 5: Seeing Out a Bit: Expanding upon Early Influences
Ch. 6: The More Ways You Have of Thinking: Conventional Rhythmic and
Theoretical Improvisation Approaches
Ch. 7: Conversing with the Piece: Initial Routines Applying Improvisation
Approaches to Form
Ch. 8: Composing in the Moment: The Inner Dialogue and the Tale
Ch. 9: Improvisation and Precomposition: The Eternal Cycle
Ch. 10: The Never-ending State of Getting There: Soloing Ability, Ideals,
Ch. 11: Arranging Pieces: Decisions in Rehearsal
Ch. 12: Adding to Arrangements: Conventions Guiding the Rhythm Section
Ch. 13: Give and Take: The Collective Conversation and Musical Journey
Ch. 14: When the Music's Happening and When It's Not: Evaluating Group
Ch. 15: The Lives of Bands: Conflict Resolution and Artistic Development
Ch. 16: Vibes and Venues: Interacting with Different Audiences in Different
Epilogue: Jazz as a Way of Life
Appendix A: House Congressional Resolution 57
Appendix B: List of Artists Interviewed