African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective (Critical and by Ingrid Monson

By Ingrid Monson

The African Diaspora offers musical case experiences from quite a few areas of the African diaspora, together with Africa, the Caribbean, Latin the United States, and Europe, that interact with broader interdisciplinary discussions approximately race, gender, politics, nationalism, and song.

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And through performance practice, jazz becomes linked to cultural memory, signifyin(g) and ritual: The technique, knowledge of structure and theory, and the external ideas that facilitate and support improvisation, then, must be called on to convey, in coherent and effective presentation, what emerges from cultural memory. It is this dialogical effectiveness that jazz musicians strive for as they create and recreate, state and revise, in the spontaneous manner known as improvisation; it is this Signifyin(g) revision that is at the heart of the jazz player’s art; and it is this Signifyin(g) revision that debunks the notion that jazz is merely a style, not a genre, for in meeting the substantive demands of Signifyin(g) revision, it is not merely the manner in which attacks, releases, sustainings, tempi, and other technical-musical requirements are rendered that makes jazz.

Blues-derived playing and expression, then, become not a function of harmonic or rhythmic complexity. Neither, however, are they merely a function of simplicity. 19 Implicit in Redman’s statement is the assumption that other participants in a musical event know such “strength” and “power” when they hear it. To some degree, Redman’s assertions are borne out by the evaluative commentary of audience members at musical events. On numerous occasions, I heard musicians, critics, and other participants disparage musicians whose playing was marked by an inability to play compellingly on blues-based compositions or with convincing blues feeling.

You know, it’s always you have, they have to always put that, put that other like perspective on it, which in a lot of cases isn’t really that necessary. I mean, it’s like these, all of those players, they, they could play, but if you just really want to deal with like the, the definitive sound and the people who, who made like the, the real contributions to jazz, you know, I think you, you have to give credit where it’s due. Similarly, saxophonist Donald Harrison expressed disappointment when I told him of a debate that took place in a New York University classroom where I had lectured.

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