Co-authored by three prominent philosophers of art, Jazz and the Philosophy of Art is the first book in English to be exclusively devoted to philosophical issues in jazz. It covers such diverse topics as minstrelsy, bebop, Voodoo, social and tap dancing, parades, phonography, musical forgeries, and jazz singing, as well as Goodman’s allographic/autographic distinction, Adorno’s critique of popular music, and what improvisation is and is not. The book is organized into three parts.
Drawing on innovative strategies adopted to address challenges that arise for the project of defining art, Part I shows how historical definitions of art provide a blueprint for a historical definition of jazz. Part II extends the book’s commitment to social-historical contextualism by exploring distinctive ways that jazz has shaped, and been shaped by, American culture. Chapters 4 and 5 use the lens of jazz vocals to provide perspective on racial issues previously unaddressed in the work, after which chapter 6 examines the broader premise that jazz was a socially progressive force in American popular culture. Part III concentrates on a topic that has entered into the arguments of each of the previous chapters: what is jazz improvisation? It outlines a pluralistic framework in which distinctive performance intentions distinguish distinctive kinds of jazz improvisation.
This book is a comprehensive and valuable resource for any reader interested in the intersections between jazz and philosophy.
Foreword by Emily Foster: Lee Brown: A Recollection
PART I How is Jazz Distinctive? Essence and Definition
1 Dancing, Dwelling, and Rhythmic Swing
2 A Theory of Jazz Music: "It Don't Mean a Thing …"
3 Defining Jazz Historically
PART II Jazz and American Culture
4 Jazz Singing and Taking Wing
5 Race, Jazz, and Popular Music: The Legacy of Blackface Minstrelsy
6 Jazz and the Culture Industry
PART III Music Ontology
7 Improvisations and Spontaneity
8 Musical Forgeries, Improvisation, and the Principle of Continuity
9 Phonography, Repetition, and Spontaneity
10 Jazz Improvisation and its Vicissitudes: A Plea for Imperfection