Technology and the Stylistic Evolution of the Jazz Bass traces the stylistic evolution of jazz from the bass player’s perspective. Historical works to date have tended to pursue a ‘top down’ reading, one that emphasizes the influence of the treble instruments on the melodic and harmonic trajectory of jazz. This book augments that reading by examining the music’s development from the bottom up. It re-contextualizes the bass and its role in the evolution of jazz (and by extension popular music in general) by situating it alongside emerging music technologies. The bass and its technological mediation are shown to have driven changes in jazz language and musical style, and even transformed creative hierarchies in ways that have been largely overlooked. The book’s narrative is also informed by investigations into more commercial musical styles such as blues and rock, in order to assess how, and the degree to which, technological advances first deployed in these areas gradually became incorporated into general jazz praxis. Technology and the Jazz Bass reconciles technology more thoroughly into jazz historiography by detailing and evaluating those that are intrinsic to the instrument (including its eventual electrification) and those extrinsic to it (most notably evolving recording and digital technologies). The author illustrates how the implementation of these technologies has transformed the role of the bass in jazz, and with that, jazz music as an art form.
Table of Contents
Introduction. 1. The Bass and the Early Mechanical Roots of Jazz (1915-1930) 2. The Bass, Technology and the Development of the Rhythm Section (1930-1945) 3. The Spoils of War and the Jazz Bass: Tape Recorders and Editing (1945-1960) 4. The Electrification of the Bass: Behold the Illegitimate Cousin (1954-1970) 5. The Jazz Bass, Multi-Track Recording Technology and Fusion (1970s) 6. Jaco Pastorius: The Electric Jazz Bass Attains Respectability (1976-1985) 7. The Young Lions and the Technological Backlash (1980-1990) 8. Pro Tools, Computers and the Bass (1990-2005) 9. The Future of the Jazz Bassist (2005-2012) Conclusion.
Peter Dowdall is a former New York City bassist and recording engineer and is currently teaching at the University of Adelaide, Elder Conservatorium of Music.