Making the Scene: Contemporary New York City Big Band Jazz

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University of California Press, 2007 - Music - 398 pages
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"Alex Stewart's excellent book tackles a subject which has been hidden in plain sight: the central importance of the big band, not as dead artifact of the Swing Era, but as a seminal and nurturing force through the entire history of jazz down to our own time. Through an attractive blend of ethnographic participant-observation, historiography, and formal analysis, Stewart puts the big band at the center of jazz, arguing for its indispensability as a locus of instrumental training and rehearsal, composition, legitimation, and professional networking. Informed and enriched by his own experience as a performer in those worlds as well by his ethnomusicological training, Stewart brings a multi-angled perspective to processes of music-making and career-building that are not often illuminated in scholarly or journalistic literature."--John Gennari, author of Blowin' Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics

"A superb book, combining first-class scholarship with the insights of a musician who was there."--Bill Kirchner, jazz musician, historian, producer

"I finished the book, then ordered two copies to give to friends. It was fascinating--I knew everyone!"--Carla Bley, composer, pianist, bandleader

"Most of the analytical literature of jazz deals with small-group jazz. This book contributes to a new understanding of familiar material by arguing for the continuing relevance of the big band format to current debates about the definition of jazz, the future directions of the jazz tradition, and the relationship between improvisatory freedom and composed order."--John Murphy, University of North Texas

"Alex Stewart has given us an account of the New York big band scene that combines a clear fondness for big band music, and the people who make it, with a razor-sharp analytical intelligence. His book makes the emphatic case that this music deserves serious attention; he has done us all--writers, players and listeners--a great service."--Steve Swallow, bassist, composer

"This is an important contribution to jazz research dealing with a formerly under-explored area. Stewart provides exceptional insight, taking advantage of his insider status as jazz musician/scholar. Variations of big band performance practice and stylistic approaches are explored through a collection of interviews, ethnnographic study, and score analysis. This book greatly complements and enriches the field of music study at large."--Christopher Washburne, Columbia University
 

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Contents

New York City Big Band Scenes
25
Behind the Scenes Training Rehearsals and Gigs
40
The Rise of Repertory Orchestras
61
On the Inside The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
90
Making It Work Leaders and Musical Direction
118
New Directions in Jazz Composition Three Portraits
132
On the Edge Sue Mingus and the Mingus Big Band
176
In the Crack to Totally Outside AvantGarde Bands
203
Blood on the Fields Wynton Marsalis and the Transformation of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
278
Outro
309
SOME NEW YORK CITY BIG BANDS ACTIVE IN 19971998
315
NOTES
317
SOURCES
355
SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY
369
CREDITS
373
INDEX
375

Jazz and Clave Latin Big Bands
227
Going for It AllWomen Bands
257

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About the author (2007)

Alex Stewart, a former freelance jazz musician, is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Vermont.

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