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Volume 4 (2012): Dan Morgenstern Festschrift

Dan Morgenstern
Photograph courtesy of Edward Berger

This volume of Current Research in Jazz is a Festschrift honoring Dan Morgenstern on the occasion of his retirement after thirty-five years as director of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies. An international selection of jazz scholars have paid tribute to the many facets of a figure who has done so much for jazz over more than half a century by presenting a bouquet of articles addressing jazz archives, publications, composition, history, musical analysis, biography, and bibliography.

Joining CRJ as guest editors for this special project were Marcello Piras and Terry Teachout.

Introduction: The Invisible Giant

Terry Teachout

Within the world of jazz, Dan Morgenstern’s name is universally known. It is impossible to sensibly discuss jazz journalism and scholarship in the twentieth century and beyond without making prominent mention of him. Yet outside that world, Morgenstern is all but unknown. He is an invisible giant, content to labor in the shadows.

Roads Not Taken: Jazz Innovation Anachronisms

Randy Sandke

Odd meter music decades before Dave Brubeck? Latin jazz from the 1930s? There are tantalizingly bizarre instances in the history of jazz in which later musical developments are eerily pre-figured. Often these jarring moments occur in the midst of the most pedestrian and of-the-time settings.

“Just Scratchin(g) the Surface”: The Unacknowledged Commonality of Jazz, Blues, and Gospel

Brian Priestley

There has been little attention paid to the study of elements in common between instrumental jazz and vocal blues and gospel. This article attempts to isolate some examples of the many and varied ways in which these three genres of music, despite their ideological differences, have influenced each other. The author touches on the non-verbal content of vocal music and the pseudo-verbal elements of instrumental jazz, including that of Duke Ellington. Priestley’s contention is that jazz scholars’ willful ignorance of these factors diminishes their awareness of what constitutes the fundamental attraction of jazz.

Composers as Jazz Innovators

Stefano Zenni

Histories of jazz often employ the model of a “tree of influences,” following generations of improvisers and asserting that jazz is essentially a player’s art. However, another narrative is possible, in which the focus is on innovation by composers who expanded the jazz language and sometimes influenced improvisers, and that such stylistic change displays interaction among improvisers and composers.

“Pure Jazz” and “Charlatanry”: A History of De Jazzwereld Magazine

Walter van de Leur

One of the world’s first periodicals dedicated to jazz, the Dutch magazine De Jazzwereld (1931–1940) displays a fascinating history that documents stylistic changes in the music and sheds light on the culture’s evolving views regarding authenticity and popularity.

History and Analysis of “Autumn Leaves”

Philippe Baudoin

Judging by the number of times it has been recorded, “Autumn Leaves” is the most important non-American standard in the jazz repertoire. This article traces the composition’s interesting history through the various published versions, and shows how its oft-studied musical structure has ties to classical compositions.

“Three Angels”: Albert Mangelsdorff’s and Other Jazz Musicians’ Reworking of the German Folk Music Tradition

Wolfram Knauer

Although nationalist views of music have sometimes been called into question, our cultural background shapes us to the core, in our language, our behavior, our expectations, our thinking, feeling, and being. This article examines German discourses about the use of national folk traditions or about “being German” and their compatibility with African-American jazz.

Bix Beiderbecke in New Orleans

Bruce Boyd Raeburn

This article considers the process by which the cornetist, pianist, and composer Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke became an iconic presence in the New Orleans jazz imagination. It examines the influence of New Orleans jazz musicians on Beiderbecke and his reciprocal influence on them, tracking numerous exchanges which transgressed class, racial, and geographical boundaries.

Treemonisha, or Der Freischütz Upside Down

Marcello Piras

Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha is in many ways an unusual opera, for its composer came from a small town, far removed from the opera world. Yet it is full of quotations and references to other operas. This article, almost entirely based on original research, sheds light on several chapters in Joplin’s life and influences, unearthing many new data on his milieu, teachers, contacts, and cultural influences. Its conclusions are that Joplin conceived Treemonisha as a crossword puzzle of symbols, adopting Carl Maria von Weber’s masterpiece, Der Freischütz, as an empty mold and systematically reversing its meanings.

“Special — From First to Last”: Dan Morgenstern’s Relationship with Louis Armstrong

Ricky Riccardi

Over the course of two decades, Dan Morgenstern developed a close relationship with Louis Armstrong, resulting in some of Morgenstern’s most inspired and passionate writing. This article examines what Morgenstern witnessed while in Armstrong’s presence.

Reflecting on Jazz Archives: Past, Present, and Future

Michael Fitzgerald

What does the future hold for jazz archives and the researchers who make use of them? While archives must continue to provide the resources and services of the past, before long they will be asked to accommodate new approaches, and they should take an active role in helping to design the tools that will shape the future of jazz research.


Down Beat Under Dan Morgenstern — A Bibliography

Michael Fitzgerald

An article-by-article listing of the full contents of the issues that Morgenstern edited between July 1967 and July 1973.

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