Critical Studies in Improvisation : The Other Side of Nowhere

Book Review

The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation and Communities in Dialogue

Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble, Editors.
Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2004
ISBN: 0819566829
439 pages

, University of California, San Diego

The dynamic musical and intellectual community that convenes each September for the Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium is a unique phenomenon – I am hard-pressed to find another example of a jazz festival (in the United States or elsewhere) that places a similarly extreme premium on intellectual and critical examinations of improvised music while in the midst of a full-fledged festival celebrating it. The interweaving of performances, round table discussions, keynote talks, workshops and paper presentations challenges listeners to think imaginatively and critically about the music they are hearing while scholars are encouraged to contextualize their work against the backdrop of the music.

The collection of essays contained in this book stems in part from the 1998 installment of the colloquium, which shared its name – “The Other Side of Nowhere.” Apparently unknown to editors Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble at the time of the colloquium and in the early stages of this book, “the other side of nowhere” was also used by Sun Ra (on film in the 1980 documentary Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise) to question basic assumptions about ways in which improvisation challenges standard knowledges. In a similar way, Fischlin and Heble believe in the open possibilities empowered through improvisation; for them, the “other side of nowhere” is a “metaphor for the alternative sound-world of improvised music making, and perhaps more notably, for the new kinds of social relationships articulated in a music that, while seeming to come out of nowhere, has profoundly gifted us with the capacity to edge beyond the limits of certainty, predictability, and orthodoxy” (1).

The implications of a dialogic social space articulated and empowered through improvisation, hybridity, code-switching, and mobility undermines interpretations of “nowhere” that characterize improvised music as random, meaningless and socially disconnected, as self-indulgent noise-making. Indeed, the risk, if any, of the title of this volume rests within interpretations of “improvisation” and “nowhere” that point to randomness, the lack of musical and social interaction, and more broadly, the separation of art and life, aesthetics and ethics. The complexities of Fischlin’s and Heble’s argument contradict this somewhat common view of improvisation as meaningless and detached:

“…’the other side of nowhere’ is also a neat reminder that improvisation doesn’t simply come out of nowhere: radical, excessive, and startlingly original as it might sound, improvised music, like all successful acts of music making (and indeed all acts of community building), derives its particularity from the force of context, one that challenges players, listeners and all those caught up in its social field, to reevaluate the ‘space’ (nowhere and elsewhere in which the conjoined activities of making music and community happen” (18).

Readers familiar with Fischlin’s and Heble’s other edited volume of essays, Rebel Musics: Human Rights, Resistant Sounds, and the Politics of Music Making, as well as Heble’s Landing on the Wrong Note: Jazz, Dissonance and Critical Practice, should easily recognize that both scholars have a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary understanding of jazz and improvised musical practices. In both these and the current text, Fischlin and Heble continually strive to connect improvisation to larger struggles of community and individual empowerment, optimism and the articulation of marginalized knowledges and histories that fall outside of hegemonic histories of jazz. Their “nowhere” is anything but random; on the contrary, it refers to the creative flexible ways that artists have addressed musical, social, and political questions.

In providing a theoretical framework for the essays contained in the volume, Fischlin and Heble resist defining “improvisation” in an absolute way with specific musical parameters; rather, they prefer to categorically recognize real-time music-making as social practice: “musical practices in which improvisation is a defining characteristic are social practices” (their emphasis, 11). While their theorization of improvisation’s slippery and flexible definition begins with the etymological origins of the word (16), it is their deft maneuvering between abstract notions of improvisation as community-building activity and illustrative examples (William Parker, Dave Douglas, Amiri Baraka, Horace Tapscott and others) that help make their arguments persuasive. By characterizing improvisation as transformative, capable of confronting challenging issues, and, I would add, ultimately utopian, Fischlin and Heble provide a flexible palate upon which to invoke concepts such as community, identity, jazz, and even improvisation itself.

The lengthy bibliography (and webography) compiled by Fischlin, Heble and Benjamin Lefebvre included at the end of the book and the prominent centering of improvisation throughout nearly all of the essays help to affirm that 1) a discourse on improvised music is alive and kicking and 2) interdisciplinary approaches to its study offer important theoretical tools for understanding the complex and varied terrain of improvised musical practices. With this in mind, The Other Side of Nowhere should be considered in the context of a number of other edited volumes and books that, over the last few decades, have proposed and explored interdisciplinary approaches to understanding improvisation: Bruno Nettle and Melinda Russell’s In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Improvisation, Krin Gabbard’s Jazz Among the Discourses and Representing Jazz, Derek Bailey’s Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music and John Zorn’s Arcana: Musicians on Music, Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Axium Writings, Malcolm Goldstein’s Sounding the Full Circle: Concerning Music Improvisation and Other Related Matters, Wadada Leo Smith’s Notes (8 Pieces); Source – A New World Music: Creative Music, Pauline Oliveros’ Software for People and Eddie Prévost’s No Sound is Innocent: AMM and the Practice of Self-Invention; and with a wider scope, Ron Sakolsky and Fred Wei-Han Ho’s Sounding Off!: Music as Subversion/Resistance/Revolution, Valerie Wilmer’s As Serious as Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz, Ronald Radano and Philip Bohlman’s Music and the Racial Imagination, Robert Walser’s Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History, E. Taylor Atkins Jazz Planet, and surely others, as well as the aforementioned Rebel Musics and Landing on the Wrong Note. The essays contained in The Other Side of Nowhere are frequently in direct dialogue with many of these texts.

One of Fischlin’s and Heble’s main goals appears to be the centering of liberatory possibilities in improvised music, of “alternative community formation, social activism, rehistoricization of minority cultures, and critical modes of resistance and dialogue” (2). The central ideas explored by the contributors are “power and resistance, the politics of identity formation, intercultural collaboration, gender and music, social mobility, institutional constraints [. . .] human rights, hope, and new networks of social interaction” (21). Through the myriad manifestations of improvisation’s use as a critical social tool shown in the wide-ranging essays, the empowering potential of process-oriented real-time artistic expression is persuasively demonstrated.

The Other Side of Nowhere is divided into four sections and framed by a preface from noted musicologist and jazz scholar Ingrid Monson and a lengthy introductory essay by Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble. The first section, titled “Performers Improvise,” contains a loosely organized “improvised essay” by musician, visual artist and filmmaker Michael Snow, a persuasive and frank contribution by influential composer and performer Pauline Oliveros, and an essay by pianist Dana Reason that explores how improvisation “encourages both improvisors and audiences to discover alternative ways of hearing, receiving, responding, and thinking” (82). Oliveros’ essay, “Harmonic Anatomy: Women in Improvisation,” is both autobiography and a pithy examination of several important women improvisors. She draws upon her personal experiences of exclusion, gendered essentialism and perseverance to illustrate the all-too-frequent ways that women are marginalized in music. These examples of powerlessness are answered by brief portraits of several prominent women improvisors that continue to challenge limiting assumptions about gender identity and musical expression. Oliveros’ belief in improvisation (especially evidenced in her “deep listening” practices) is, ultimately, positive: “Those who have never experienced power in their being, can know and discover this, and have a voice to speak for themselves without hesitation or reserve” (70).

The second group of essays, under the banner “Between and Across Cultures,” examines cross-cultural and intercultural perspectives on improvised music. George Lewis’ oft-cited 1996 essay “Improvised Music After 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives” is republished here accompanied by a new “Afterword” that revisits critical questions raised by the initial essay. Lewis’ first essay has had a far-reaching impact on many scholars of improvised and experimental musics. His constructs of “Afrological” and “Eurological,” metaphors for “musical belief systems and behavior” (133) rooted in African-American and Euro-American logics, have been adopted by many as valuable tools for discussing improvised music. One commonly cited passage from his essay explains that these two constructs are not ethnically, culturally, or racially essential: “…my construction of ‘Afrological’ and ‘Eurological’ systems of improvisatory musicality refers to social and cultural location and is theorized here as historically emergent rather than ethnically essential, thereby accounting for the reality of transcultural and transracial communication among improvisors” (133).

Lewis’ “Afterword” briefly and discerningly revisits several key ideas from the original essay. The more “personal tone” helps capture a wry and sardonic side to Lewis’ scholarship (perhaps representing somewhat of a connection to the witty, creative and expansive musical vision he frequently demonstrates as a performer). While Lewis insists that many of the racial and ethnic fault lines that occupied his first essay still exist (in journalism and new historical analyses), he points to several possible directions that could help to (re)historicize the development of “experimental music” and would include marginalized non-“Eurological” influences. Among other things, Lewis points to musician-written texts on experimental music that foreground questions about race, and he persuasively challenges the trope of “genre-transcendence” in dominant accounts of the New York-based “Downtown I” and “Downtown II” schools. He also highlights recent scholarship that casts new light on indeterminacy in Cage’s piano music, and poses the question of the “Afrological” in virtual worlds (or, how the body relates to cyberspace and other technology-enabled environments).

In addition to Lewis’ wide-ranging references to important texts on experimental and improvised music, a key strength in both of his essays rests within his perceptive and direct assertions that clearly articulate dominant issues in music today: “In comparing post-Bird and post-Cage aesthetics of real-time music making, one is confronted with two opposing tropes: (1) the image of the heroic, mystically ego-driven Romantic improvisor, imprisoned by his own will; (2) the detached, disengaged, ego-transcending artist who simply lets sounds be themselves” (169-170). Although he is keenly critical of ethnocentric and exclusionary disjunctures in musical discourses, he maintains a cautionary optimism that challenges American experimentalism:

“…the real point of both my original essay and this revisiting was to pose the thesis that the tradition of American experimentalism in music is at a cultural crossroads, facing a stark choice: (1) to grow up and assert its character as multicultural and multiethnic, with a variety of perspectives, histories, traditions, and methods, or (2) to remain an ethnically bound and ultimately limited tradition that appropriates freely, yet furtively, from its presumed Others. I am optimistic enough to advocate the former option” (170).

Lewis’ essay is joined by contributions from two other musician-scholars, both of whom studied with Lewis in the Critical Studies and Experimental Practices program (in Music) at the University of California, San Diego. Michael Dessen’s essay, “Improvising in a Different Clave: Steve Coleman and AfroCuba de Matanzas,” focuses on the collaboration between African American saxophonist Steve Coleman (and his group The Mystic Rhythm Society) and the Cuban folkloric group AfroCuba de Matanzas, which resulted in the 1996 compact disc The Sign and the Seal: Transmissions of the Metaphysics of a Culture. Through interviews conducted in Cuba and the United States, Dessen creates an intricate and complex picture of this remarkable cross-cultural, international and bilingual encounter, which attests to unifying musical, mystical and social aspects of the African diaspora while also problematizing essentialist notions of diasporic identity.

Jason Stanyek’s essay “Transmissions of an Interculture: Pan-African Jazz and Intercultural Improvisation” examines Pan-African jazz through the conceptual framework of African-diasporic collaboration. Although surveying a number of Pan-African musical encounters, he focuses primarily on (evidence of) improvisation in the pre-abolition African diaspora and, more centrally, on the 1947 collaboration between African American jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and Afro Cuban conguero Chano Pozo, which resulted in, among other musical hybridities, the “Cubana Be/Cubana Bop” sections of the “Afro Cuban Suite.” One of the strongest contributions to the volume, Stanyek’s mode of discourse calls upon well-theorized concepts of interculturalism, intercultural collaboration, Pan-Africanism, hybridity and diaspora, and draws upon important scholarship in ethnomusicology, cultural studies, African studies, jazz history and other fields. Stanyek’s characterizations of the complexities of face-to-face contact in the African diaspora brings with it new ideas about intercultural collaboration that will surely have wide-reaching implications for future scholarship.

The third group of essays, titled “Social Practice and Identity,” is the most varied and least conceptually unified section of the book. The wide-ranging contributions included here draw upon ways that jazz and improvised music have provided modes of resistance to hegemonic constructions of identity and encouraged new approaches to acting. In the final essay, the reader is given a glance into the role of producers in the sound of jazz recordings.

Mark Anthony Neal’s contribution maps notions of musical improvisation onto the social sphere of black youth culture during the 1940s and hip hop culture of the late 20th century. The strength of his argument rests within the sweeping ways that he brings together two seemingly disparate African American youth cultures through social improvisatory practices. However, the normative move to place 1940s black youth culture in line with an industry-driven commercial hip hop context creates more questions than are answered. In particular, the marginal position of bebop in relation to the dominant jazz industry of the early 1940s is, rather than corresponding directly to commercially embraced artists, perhaps more analogous to the “underground” scenes that have thrived on the East and West coasts since the earliest phases of hip hop culture. With this in mind, Neal’s deft exploration of the “black public sphere” in his book What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture (especially in his introduction and 161-168) addresses the continually shifting territories of public identity and forms of cultural expression that challenge mainstream commodification and appropriation.

Julie Dawn Smith’s essay explores ways in which the Feminist Improvising Group challenged gendered constructions of improvised music that marginalized women and coded improvisational space as masculine and heterosexual. Much of her essay focuses on the “intersections of sexual difference, gender, and sexuality” (231), all of which deserve more attention in jazz and improvised music discourses. Drawing on a variety of sources, including interviews conducted by the author, Smith details the development of the Feminist Improvising Group and the motivations that fueled its earliest members (Maggie Nicols, Lindsay Cooper, Corine Liensol, Georgina Born and Cathy Williams). The creation of an alternative space for exploring normally marginalized identities was a core consideration; as Smith states: “The opportunity for freedom in relation to sexual difference, gender, and sexuality for women improvisors was strangely absent from the discourses and practices of free jazz and free improvisation” (229).

Through deft analysis of the term “women-in-jazz,” historian and trumpeter Sherrie Tucker’s essay also problematizes standard assumptions about gender and music. At the center of her essay is the tension between 1) limiting gender assumptions often embodied by the term “women-in-jazz,” 2) empowering community-building potentialities in gender alliances, and 3) hegemonic definitions of “jazz community” that erase difference within the jazz continuum and support a monolithic version of “women-in-jazz.” One of her primary questions draws out these complex issues:

“How might a critical investigation of the concept of jazz community as a network of contested social formations with borderlands as well as nuclei, yield possible theories and practices of community formation that are porous, flexible, strategic and liberatory, as opposed to ideas about belonging and unbelonging that are conservative, comfy, and entrenched?” (250).

In drawing upon research and interviews examining women jazz performers in the 1920-40s (see her book Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s), the complex issues raised by the 1997 Guelph Jazz Festival that took “Women in Jazz” as its theme, and responses gathered on Jeanette Lambert’s women-in-jazz email list-serve, Tucker interrogates unified notions of jazz community and women-in-jazz. Her central arguments are persuasive and eloquently stated and, by drawing upon difference and heterogeneity, she challenges standard notions of margin and center in the often-used but seldom theorized term women-in-jazz. Her essay concludes with four “alternate takes” of the women-in jazz signifier, all of which hold keen insights on identity politics and music.

Marshall Soules and Krin Gabbard contribute essays in this section that theorize how improvisation and jazz have influenced acting. A central idea in Soules’ essay is the notion of “protocols of improvisation,” or “those voluntary guidelines used by performers … to ground the play of creativity within a matrix of constraints” (270). Throughout his essay, these “protocols” are given expansive reach; Soules draws upon cultural theory, psychological (and performative) definitions of selfhood, jazz improvisation, ethnomusicology, African-American literary theory and more.

Gabbard’s work theorizing the relationship between jazz and cinema is a cornerstone in interdisciplinary jazz scholarship. His Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema and his edited volume Representing Jazz are essential texts that explore the relationship between jazz and cinema. In his essay here, Gabbard explores the role of jazz and improvisation as influences in Marlon Brando’s character Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. From this context he argues that racial representation and the role of jazz in Hollywood cinema centers on three myths: 1) “improvising jazz artists dig into their unconscious minds and bypass more conventional modes of intellection,” 2) “the white musician can gain privileged access to Otherness through the music of African-Americans,” and 3) “jazz as an improvised art music can only be performed by disciplined artists” (300, 304). These myths point to powerful ways that improvisation is often coded by racial, social and intellectual assumptions. Both Soules and Gabbard provide incisive ways of think across the border of music and theatre.

Michael Jarrett’s contribution, “Cutting Sides: Jazz Record Producers and Improvisation,” consists of quotes attributed to various producers and record label owners (who he calls “industry workers” (322)) and a brief introductory essay. He gives voice to the “invisible men” of the jazz recording industry – the producers who helped pioneer the sound of jazz recordings and contributed to the development of the jazz recording industry. While his essay offers interesting insights into the ideologies of producers, we are left with a vision of recording that eliminates the asymmetrical power differentials between musicians and the jazz recording industry. In other words, and perhaps this is more a testament to the interesting nature of the contribution rather than a criticism, the reader is left with additional questions: what role did economic considerations of record labels play in these classic recordings? How did record labels assert curatorial and financial control? Were there musician-producers? How does the current “jazz industry” relate to the historical characterization of the recording process contained here?

The final section of essays, grouped under the title “Collaborative Dissonances,” explores ways in which collaborative tensions have fueled creative practices and community formation. Author and literary theorist Nathaniel Mackey’s contribution “Paracritical Hinge” explains the development of his idea of “discrepant engagement” (a topic of the 1999 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium and the subject of Mackey’s book of essays Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing) and includes extracts of his fictional writing from Atet A.D.. Mackey’s notion of “discrepant” comes from the West African Dogon concept of the “creaking of the word” – a noise upon which language is built. This becomes the theoretical grounding for the “paracritical hinge,” which “permit[s] flow between statement and meta-statement, analysis and expressivity, criticism and performance, music and literature, and so forth” (371). From his interest in ways that jazz improvisation can inspire new modes of literary expression, Mackey’s concept of “discrepant,” of a fundamental “noise,” challenges categorization and artistic boundaries. His deep understanding and creative play with ideas of “noise” and improvisation are further evidenced in the excerpts included from Atet A.D..

More than any other in this volume, English percussionist and author Eddie Prévost’s essay “The Discourse of a Dysfunctional Drummer: Collaborative Dissonances, Improvisation, and Cultural Theory” focuses squarely on the concept of “collaborative dissonance” as it plays out in actual musical and social environments. AMM, Prévost’s long-lived group, is a central focus throughout much of his pessimistic yet playful contribution, through which he theorizes connections between music and politics, improvisation and responsibility, as well as racial politics, and class considerations. Prévost’s views are underwritten by a sophisticated awareness of class; when he states that “the music I made was the result of Britain’s postwar welfare state” (358) and argues that improvised music challenges the notion of music as property (359), he highlights various economic and political dimensions of musical production that are seldom found in other contributions to the volume.

The final essay is by author and concert organizer John Corbett, whose free-flowing style seems to answer Michael Snow’s “improvised” essay that appears at the beginning of the volume. His connection to various constituencies in Chicago’s improvised music scene is often evidenced in his journalistic writings, but here he paints wide brush strokes; he calls upon various European and American improvisors, as well as French philosopher Gilles Delueze, to ruminate about the nature of endings in improvisation.

This wide-reaching volume is a promising testament to the interdisciplinary role that improvised music can play in the search for new modes of discourse in the humanities. I agree with Fischlin’s and Heble’s assessment: “The contributions to this volume make clear that humanities scholars have much to learn from performance practices that accent conversational energy and inventive flexibility, from art forms that disrupt orthodox standards of coherence, judgment, and value with a spirit of exploration and restless innovation” (35).

The pluralism represented by the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of the writers is a key strength throughout the book and the objective of forging a field of “improvised music studies” that crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries is given wide latitude. Within this new field, however, there will inevitably be uneven terrain – the irregular depth of analysis and occasional assumptive borrowing of terms that emerges throughout the contributions owes more to interdisciplinary enthusiasm than to egregious errors, misrepresentations or misguided theories.

A consanguineous problem is the somewhat unified, and often unquestioned, narratives of “improvised music” and “jazz” that ground most of the essays. Although Fischlin and Heble resist the defining of improvisation because of its “polymorphous and polysemic” qualities, the related project of defining “jazz” (as a readily identifiable and commonly assumed set of musical and social practices) frequently goes unchecked between the wide-ranging topics. In a related way, the politics of distinguishing between jazz, free jazz, improvised music, free improvisation, etc…, deserves wider attention. While these signifiers are often used interchangeably, they each have a political economy attached to specific environments from which they developed. The liberatory relativism that comes from exchanging one of these terms for another is enticing; however, we must keep in mind Eddie Prévost’s insightful phrase – “one musician’s dissonance is another’s jazz” (360). So, when the word “jazz” is used, whose jazz is it? And how do the slippery differences between these commonly exchanged signifiers – jazz, free jazz, improvised music, and so forth – relate to this?

These confusions are mediated by recourse to an improvised music discourse, what Fischlin and Heble call “a large and complex field of cultural practices incorporated in the notion of improvisation” (2). The prominent centering of improvisation throughout each essay (including every title except one) helps to remind readers of the editors’ optimism in improvisatory strategies and demonstrates the interdisciplinary flexibility that process-oriented models of creativity and interaction offer. Moreover, the diversity of imaginative approaches to the interdisciplinary use of improvisation challenges orthodoxies of knowledge, artistic production and critical social engagement.

In particular, the essays demonstrate a breakdown between performance and theorization, between academics and artists. While the authors usually interpret performance as critical social practice, the essays themselves are also “performances.” I am especially excited by the inclusion of several musician-scholars: Heble is a pianist, Lewis and Dessen are trombonists, Mackey has performed his poetry with musicians, Reason and Snow are pianists, Monson and Tucker are trumpeters, Prévost and Soules are percussionists, Stanyek is a guitarist and Oliveros is an accordionist. Many of these musician-scholars are also composers, multi-instrumentalists and interdisciplinary/media artists. The contributors’ hands-on understanding of performance provides a sense of experiential depth to their work and enables mobility between the worlds of performance and academic scholarship. As a result of this, the constructs of “insider” and “outsider,” the emic and etic perspectives of anthropology and ethnomusicology, break down – the idea of “participant observation,” the researcher that participates with their subjects in the course of their research, is necessarily befuddled by many of the “artist-scholars.” Rather than simply being aware of “shadows they cast in the field” (to borrow from Gregory Barz), the interdisciplinarity represented by artist-scholars in this volume points in new directions that go beyond the researcher/subject dichotomy.

The strong contributions by Oliveros, Tucker and Smith exploring the still under-examined role of women in improvised music and jazz are key strengths in this volume. The three authors utilize significantly different strategies to argue their positions; Oliveros’ autobiographical and matter-of-fact style, Tucker’s clever theorizations/improvisation of the term “women-in-jazz” and Smith’s inquiry of sexuality in music through the lens of feminist theory and the Feminist Improvising Group offer insightful approaches to questioning gender assumptions in improvised music. In a more general way, the three authors do away with what contributor Dana Reason has termed elsewhere the “myth of absence” – the myth that women have played little or no role in the history of improvised music. These contributions help to dispel this common myth.

The examinations of intercultural collaborations in the essays by Stanyek and Dessen also offer strong theoretical and practical perspectives and hold much promise for future scholarship. Both authors problematize essentializing notions of diasporic racial identity by focusing on process, difference and collaborative dissonance. Their analyses challenge notions of “diaspora” that assume monological and hegemonic African-diasporic identity. Moreover, their focus on difference as a predominant characteristic in Pan-African musical collaboration illustrates “dissonance” as complex and often improvised negotiations of musical, social, ethnic, linguistic and other diversities.

As a saxophonist and scholar, I am particularly drawn to transgressive interpretations of “dissonance” that point to optimism rather than discord and pessimism. Discrepant engagement, collaborative dissonance, and the confrontation of challenging social issues (race, gender, class, religion, and so forth) demonstrate how improvisation can be a site of critical social engagement while also recognizing that improvised music takes many shapes.

The principal strength of The Other Side of Nowhere is its constant articulation of meaning in improvisation that goes beyond the music itself. The arguments developed by the contributors are inherently interdisciplinary; interculturalism, gender assumptions in music, race and the politics of exclusion, social mobility, and community empowerment are a few of the powerful and extremely relevant perspectives explored in this volume. I am confident that The Other Side of Nowhere will become a cornerstone in the scholarly exploration of improvised music and will help to cultivate interdisciplinary research in the humanities.

Works Cited

Atkins, E. Taylor, ed. Jazz Planet. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2003.

Bailey, Derek. Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music. Ashbourne, England: Mooreland, 1980.

Barz, Gregory F. and Timothy J. Cooley, eds. Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Braxton, Anthony. Tri-Axium Writings. 3 vols. Dartmouth: Synthesis/Frog Peak, 1985.

Coleman, Steve, with The Mystic Rhythm Society and AfroCuba de Matanzas. The Sign and the Seal: Transmissions of the Metaphysics of a Culture. Compact disc. RCAVictor, 74321-40727-2, 1996.

Fischlin, Daniel and Ajay Heble, eds. Rebel Musics: Human Rights, Resistant Sounds, and the Politics of Music Making. New York: Black Rose Books, 2003.

Gabbard, Krin. Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

---, ed. Jazz Among the Discourses. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.

—--, ed. Representing Jazz. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.

Goldstein, Malcolm. Sounding the Full Circle: Concerning Music Improvisation and Other Related Matters. Sheffield, Vt.: Goldstein, 1988.

Heble, Ajay. Landing on the Wrong Note: Jazz, Dissonance and Critical Practice. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Mackey, Nathaniel. Atet A.D. San Francisco: City Lights, 2001.

—. Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing. New York: Cambridge Press, 1993.

Neal, Mark Anthony. What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Nettle, Bruno and Melinda Russell, eds. In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Improvisation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Oliveros, Pauline. Software for People. Baltimore: Smith, 1984.

Prévost, Eddie. No Sound is Innocent: AMM and the Practice of Self-Invention. Essex: Copula, 1995.

Radano, Ronald and Philip V. Bohlman, eds. Music and the Racial Imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Reason Myers, Dana L. “The Myth of Absence: Representation, Reception and the Music of Experimental Women Improvisors.” Ph.D. diss., University of California, San Diego, 2002.

Sakolsky, Ron and Fred Wei-Han Ho, eds. Sounding Off!: Music as Subversion/Resistance/Revolution. Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1995.

Smith, (Wadada) Leo. Notes (8 Pieces); Source – A New World Music: Creative Music. New Haven, Connecticut: Kiom, 1973.

Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise. Directed by Robert Mugge. Performed by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Rhapsody Films, 1993.

Tucker, Sherrie. Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

Walser, Robert, ed. Keeping Time: Readings in Jazz History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Wilmer, Valerie. As Serious as Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz. New York: Serpent’s Tail, 1992.

Zorn, John, ed. Arcana: Musicians on Music. New York: Granary, 2000.



Critical Studies in Improvisation / Études critiques en improvisation is generously supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (through both its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives and Aid to Scholarly Journals programs) and by the University of Guelph Library.
ISSN: 1712-0624