Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation

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Overview

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 ...

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Thinking in Jazz: The Infinite Art of Improvisation

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Overview

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 ways--aural, visual, kinetic, verbal, emotional, theoretical, associative--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.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Describes how jazz musicians, both individually and collectively, learn to improvise. By chronologically leading musicians from their first encounters with jazz to the development of a unique improvisatory voice, Berliner documents the lifetime of preparation that lies behind a skilled improvisor's every note. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226043814
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Series: Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 883
  • Sales rank: 389,483
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet 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.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Music Texts
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Picking Notes out of Thin Air? Improvisation and Its Study 1
Ch. 1 Love at First Sound: Early Musical Environment 21
Ch. 2 Hangin' Out and Jammin': The Jazz Community as an Educational System 36
Ch. 3 A Very Structured Thing: Jazz Compositions as Vehicles for Improvisation 63
Ch. 4 Getting Your Vocabulary Straight: Learning Models for Solo Formulation 95
Ch. 5 Seeing Out a Bit: Expanding upon Early Influences 120
Ch. 6 The More Ways You Have of Thinking: Conventional Rhythmic and Theoretical Improvisation Approaches 146
Ch. 7 Conversing with the Piece: Initial Routines Applying Improvisation Approaches to Form 170
Ch. 8 Composing in the Moment: The Inner Dialogue and the Tale 192
Ch. 9 Improvisation and Precomposition: The Eternal Cycle 221
Ch. 10 The Never-ending State of Getting There: Soloing Ability, Ideals, and Evaluations 243
Ch. 11 Arranging Pieces: Decisions in Rehearsal 289
Ch. 12 Adding to Arrangements: Conventions Guiding the Rhythm Section 314
Ch. 13 Give and Take: The Collective Conversation and Musical Journey 348
Ch. 14 When the Music's Happening and When It's Not: Evaluating Group Performances 387
Ch. 15 The Lives of Bands: Conflict Resolution and Artistic Development 416
Ch. 16 Vibes and Venues: Interacting with Different Audiences in Different Settings 449
Epilogue: Jazz as a Way of Life 485
Music Texts 505
Appendix A: House Congressional Resolution 57 759
Appendix B: List of Artists Interviewed 760
Sources 763
Notes 769
Discography 827
Videography 833
Bibliography 837
Index 851
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