Ontimpr0. Bibliography on Jazz Improvisation with some Abstracts
Alessandro, Bertinetto. “Paganini Does Not Repeat: Musical Improvisation and the Type/Token Ontology.” Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 31, no. 3 (2012): 105-126.
- This paper explores the ontology of musical improvisation (MI). MI, as process in which creative and performing activities are one and the same generative occurrence, is contrasted with the most widespread conceptual resource used in inquiries about music ontology of the Western tradition: the type/token duality (TtD). TtD, which is used for explaining the relationship between musical works (MWs) and performances, does not fit for MI. Nonetheless MI can be ontologically related to MWs. A MW can ensue from MI.
__________. “Performing the Unexpected Improvisation and Artistic Creativity. Daimon: Revista de Filosofia 57 (2012): 117-135.
- This paper looks to improvisation to understand artistic creativity. Indeed, instead of being anti-artistic in nature, due to its supposed unpreparedness, inaccuracy, and repetitive monotony, improvisation in art exemplifies and 'fuels' artistic creativity as such. The relationship between improvisation and artistic creativity is elucidated in four steps along with the concept of creativity in general and in reference to art. The paper focuses on the properties and the phenomenology and the particular demands of Emerson's writing, and ends by considering how exemplary moments of instruction in jazz are expressive of Emersonian self-trust.
Alperson, Philip. “Musical Improvisation and the Philosophy of Music.” Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Edited by George E. Lewis and Benjamin Piekut. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
- This chapter argues that the prevailing orienting concepts and tenets of contemporary philosophy of music—the centrality of aesthetic objects, the assumption of the mono-functionality of music, the paradigm of European classical music, and the spectatorialist perspective—do not provide the basis for an adequate understanding of musical improvisation. The essay calls for a more robust philosophical consideration of the gamut of improvisational activity, including the aesthetic aspects of musical improvisation, the range of musical and social skills made manifest by improvisers, and the deeper social meanings of the practice, including the implicit reference to human freedom and situated meanings that arise from the national, ethnic, racial, gendered, and socio-economic contexts in which the music arises. Such a view would be theoretically nuanced, empirically informed, phenomenologically sensitive, and ineliminably indexed to the manifold ways in which improvised music situates itself in the complex of human affairs.
__________. “A Topography of Improvisation”. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. LXVIII/3, Summer 2010.
__________. “Facing the Music: Voices from the Margins.” Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy. 29 (2009): 91-96.
__________. “The Philosophy of Music: Formalism and Beyond.” The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics. Edited by Peter Kivy. Oxford and Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 2004.
__________. “Creativity in Art.” The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. Edited by Jerrold Levinson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
__________. Musical Worlds: New Directions in the Philosophy of Music. Edited by Philip Alperson. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.
__________. “Improvisation” and “Performance.” The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Edited by Michael Kelly. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
__________. "On Musical Improvisation". Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 43, no. 1 (Fall/Autumn 1984): 17–29. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/430189.
Aristotle. "Poetics". Translated by Richard Janko. Indianapolis, 1987.
Ashley, Richard. “Musical Improvisation.” Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology. Edited by Hallam, Susan and Ian Cross, & Michael Thaut. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Bailey, Derek. “Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music.” Revised edition. London: British Library National Sound Archive, 1992. ISBN 0-7123-0506-8.
Bakkum, Nathan C. “Out But In: Between Discourse and Practice in a London Jazz Quartet”. Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 33, no. 1 (Spring 2013): 49-70.
Barrett, Frank J. “Cultivating an Aesthetic of Unfolding: Jazz Improvisation as a Self-Organizing System.” The Aesthetics of Organization. Edited by Stephen Linstead & Heather Höpfl. Sage Publications, (2000): 228-45.
Benson, Bruce Ellis. “The Fundamental Heteronomy of Jazz Improvisation.” Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4 (2006): 453-467.
__________. The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Berkowitz, Aaron. The Improvising Mind: Cognition and Creativity in the Musical Moment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
- The ability to improvise represents one of the highest levels of musical achievement. An improviser must master a musical language to such a degree as to be able to spontaneously invent stylistically idiomatic compositions on the spot. This feat is one of the pinnacles of human creativity and yet its cognitive basis is poorly understood. What musical knowledge is required for improvisation? How does a musician learn to improvise? What are the neural correlates of improvised performance? In The Improvising Mind these questions are explored through an interdisciplinary approach that draws on cognitive neuroscience, study of historical pedagogical treatises on improvisation, interviews with improvisers, and musical analysis of improvised performances. Findings from these treatises and interviews are discussed from the perspective of cognitive psychological theories of learning, memory, and expertise. Musical improvisation has often been compared to 'speaking a musical language.' While past research has focussed on comparisons of music and language perception, few have dealt with this comparison in the performance domain. In this book, learning to improvise is compared with language acquisition and improvised performance is compared with spontaneous speech from both theoretical and neurobiological perspectives. ISBN: 9780199590957.
Biasutti, Michele. “Pedagogical Applications of Cognitive Research on Musical Improvisation.” Frontiers in Psychology 6, 2015.
Bresnahan, Aili. “Improvisation in the Arts”. Philosophy Compass 10, no. 9 (2005): 573-582.
- This article focuses primarily on improvisation in the arts as discussed in philosophical aesthetics, supplemented with accounts of improvisational practice by arts theorists and educators. It begins with an overview of the term improvisation, first as it is used in general and then as it is used to describe particular products and practices in the individual arts. From here, questions and challenges that improvisation raises for the traditional work-of-art concept, the type-token distinction, and the appreciation and evaluation of the arts.
Brown, Lee B. “Improvisation.” Edited by Theodore Gracyk and Andrew Kania. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music. New York: Routledge (2011): 59-69.
__________. "Feeling My Way": Jazz Improvisation and its Vicissitudes: A Plea for Imperfection. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58, no. 2 (2000): 113-123.
__________. “Postmodernist Jazz Theory: Afrocentrism, Old and New.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57, no. 2 (1999): 235-246.
__________. “Musical Works, Improvisation, and the Principle of Continuity.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54, no. 4 (1996): 353-369.
Cantrick, Robert. “Does "Musical Improvisation" Refer?” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 44, no. 2 (1985): 192-193.
Carvalho, John M. “Repetition and Self-Realization in Jazz Improvisation.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68, no. 3 (2010): 285-290.
Collingwood, R. G. The Principles of Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1938.
Crutchfield, Will. “Improvisation: II. Western Art Music: 5. The Nineteenth Century: (ii) Vocal music.” New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition. Edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001.
Davies, David. “Works and Performances in the Performing Arts.” Philosophy Compass 4, no. 5 (2009): 744-755.
- The primary purpose of the performing arts is to prepare and present 'artistic performances', performances that either are themselves the appreciative focuses of works of art or are instances of other things that are works of art. In the latter case, we have performances of what may be termed 'performed works', as is generally taken to be so with performances of classical music and traditional theatrical performances. In the former case, we have what may be termed 'performance-works', as, for example, in free improvisations. Where we have performances of performed works, a number of distinctive philosophical questions arise: What kind of thing is a performed work? How is it appreciated through its performances? Is 'authenticity' an artistically relevant quality of performances of performed works, and, if so, why? How much of what goes on in the performing arts is rightly viewed as the performance of performed works? Artistic performances, whether or not they are of performed works, raise philosophical questions of their own. Can a performance itself be rightly viewed as a work of art? How do improvisation and rehearsal enter into the performing arts, and how do they bear on the appreciation of artistic performances? What role does the audience play in such performances? Does the performer's use of her own body as an artistic medium, as for example in dance performance, generate special constraints on appreciation? How, finally, does what is usually classified as 'performance art' relate to activities in the performing arts more generally construed? The paper critically survey the ways in which these questions have been addressed by principal theorists in the field.
Davies, Stephen. Musical Works and Performances: A Philosophical Exploration. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Day, William. “Knowing as Instancing: Jazz Improvisation and Moral Perfectionism.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58, no. 2 (2000): 99-111.
- This essay presents an approach to understanding improvised music, finding in the work of certain outstanding jazz musicians an emblem of Ralph Waldo Emerson's notion of self-trust and of Stanley Cavell's notion of moral perfectionism. The essay critiques standard efforts to interpret improvised solos as though they were composed, contrasting that approach to one that treats the procedures of improvisation as derived from our everyday actions. It notes several levels of correspondence between our interest in jazz improvisations and the.
Dietrich, Arne. “Neurocognitive Mechanisms Underlying the Experience of Flow.” Consciousness and Cognition 13, no. 4 (2004): 746-761.
- Recent theoretical and empirical work in cognitive science and neuroscience is brought into contact with the concept of the flow experience. After a brief exposition of brain function, the explicit–implicit distinction is applied to the effortless information processing that is so characteristic of the flow state. The explicit system is associated with the higher cognitive functions of the frontal lobe and medial temporal lobe structures and has evolved to increase cognitive flexibility. In contrast, the implicit system is associated with the skill-based knowledge supported primarily by the basal ganglia and has the advantage of being more efficient. From the analysis of this flexibility/efficiency trade-off emerges a thesis that identifies the flow state as a period during which a highly practiced skill that is represented in the implicit system’s knowledge base is implemented without interference from the explicit system. It is proposed that a necessary prerequisite to the experience of flow is a state of transient hypofrontality that enables the temporary suppression of the analytical and meta-conscious capacities of the explicit system. Examining sensory-motor integration skills that seem to typify flow such as athletic performance, writing, and free-jazz improvisation, the new framework clarifies how this concept relates to creativity and opens new avenues of research.
Everitt, Nicholas. “The Argument From Imperfection.” Philo 9, no. 2 (2006): 113-130.
Ferand, Ernst. Die Improvisation in der Musik. Zurich: Rhein‐Verlag, 1936.
Gioia, Ted. The Imperfect Art: Reflections on Jazz and Modern Culture. New York and Oxford, 1988.
Godlovitch, Stan. “Musical Performance: A Philosophical Study.” Philosophical Explorations 40, 1998.
Goehr, Lydia. The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music. Oxford, 1992.
Gould, Carol S., and Kenneth Keaton. “The Essential Role of Improvisation in Musical Performance.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58, no. 2 (2000): 143-148.
Gracyk, Theodore. “Jazz After Jazz: Ken Burns and the Construction of Jazz History.” Philosophy and Literature 26, no. 1, (2002): 173-187.
Gritten, Anthony. “Themes in the Philosophy of Music.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69, no. 3 (2011): 342-344.
__________. “Review: The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue: A Phenomenology of Music.” British Journal of Aesthetics 45, no. 2 (2005): 197-199.
Gushee, Lawrence. Pioneers of Jazz. The Story of the Creole Band. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Haas, Andrew. “On Aristotle’s Concept of Improvisation.” Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology 2, no. 1 (2015).
- Improvisation is the origin of art and science, tragedy and comedy, acting and doing, of the self as improvising and improvised. But clearly we cannot use improvisation to explain improvisation. We cannot be satisfied with an argument that improvisation is, well, improvisational--nor simply free-play. Rather, improvisation as αὐτο-σχεδιάζεῖν, means self-schematization.
__________. “Notes on Aristotle’s Concept of Improvisation.” Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology 2, no. 1 (2015).
Hagberg, Garry L. “Jazz Improvisation and Ethical Interaction: A Sketch of the Connections.” Art and Ethical Criticism. Edited by Garry Hagberg. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.
__________. “Jazz Improvisation : A Mimetic Art ?.” Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4 (2006): 469-485.
__________. “On Representing Jazz: An Art Form in Need of Understanding.” Philosophy and Literature 26, no. 1 (2002): 188-198.
__________. “Foreword: Improvisation in the Arts.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58, no. 2 (2000): 95-97.
__________. “Improvisation: Jazz Improvisation.” Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Edited by Michael Kelly. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Hamilton, Andy. “The Art of Improvisation and the Aesthetics of Imperfection.” British Journal of Aesthetics 40, no. 1 (2000): 168-185.
__________. “The Art of Recording and the Aesthetics of Perfection.” British Journal of Aesthetics 43, no. 4 (2003): 345-362.
__________. “The Aesthetics of Imperfection.” Philosophy 65, no. 253 (July 1990): 323-340. DOI 10.1017/S0031819100057636.
- Ferruccio Busoni's Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music appeared in 1910. Schoenberg, in his copy of the little book, wrote critical marginal comments which crystallize two opposed outlooks in musical aesthetics. Busoni writes: Notation, the writing out of compositions, is primarily an ingenious expedient for catching an inspiration, with the purpose of exploiting it later. But notation is to improvisation as the portrait is to the living model. What the composer's inspiration necessarily loses through notation, his interpreter should restore by his own efforts.
Hodeir, André. Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence. Translated by David Noakes. New York, 1956.
Hogg, Bennett. “Enactive Consciousness, Intertextuality, and Musical Free Improvisation: Deconstructing Mythologies and Finding Connections.” Music and Consciousness: Philosophical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives. Edited by David Clarke & Eric F. Clarke. Oxford: Oxford University Press, (2011): 79-93.
Iseminger, Gary. “Sonicism and Jazz Improvisation.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68, no. 3 (2010): 297-299.
Iyer, Vijay. “Improvisation, Temporality and Embodied Experience.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 11, nos. 3-4, (2004): 159-173.
Kanellopoulos, Panagiotis A. “Freedom and Responsibility: The Aesthetics of Free Musical Improvisation and Its Educational Implications—A View From Bakhtin.” Philosophy of Music Education Review 19, no. 2 (2011): 113-135.
Kania, Andrew. “All Work and No Play: An Ontology of Jazz.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69, no. 4 (2011): 391-403.
- Kania argues for an ontology of jazz according to which it is a tradition of musical performances but not works of art. He rejects three alternative proposals: (i) that jazz is a work performance tradition, (ii) that jazz performances are works of art in themselves, and (iii) that jazz recordings are works of art. He notes that the concept of a work of art involved (1) is non-evaluative, so to deny jazz works of art is not to judge it inferior to artistic traditions with works, and (2) is univocal across other musical traditions, so to claim there are works of art in jazz would be to use a different sense of the term than when, say, discussing classical music.
Kippen, James. “Where Does the End Begin? Problems in Musico-Cognitive Modeling.” Minds and Machines 2, no. 4 (1992): 329-344.
- Research with computer systems and musical grammars into improvisation, as found in the tabla drumming system of North India, has indicated that certain musical sentences comprise (a) variable prefixes, and (b) fixed suffixes (or cadences) identical with those of their original rhythmic themes. It was assumed that the cadence functioned as a kind of target in linear musical space and yet experiments showed that defining what exactly constituted the cadence was problematic. This paper addresses the problem of the status of cadential patterns and demonstrates the need for a better understanding and formalization of ambiguity in musico-cognitive processing. It would appear from the discussion that the cadence is not a discrete unit in itself, but just part of an ever-present underlying framework comprising the entire original rhythmic theme. Improvisations (variations), it is suggested, merely break away from and rejoin this framework at important structural points. This endorses the theory of simultaneity. However, the general cognitive implications are still unclear, and further research is required to explore musical ambiguity and the interaction of musical, linguistic, and spatio-motor grammars.
Kivy, Peter. Music, Language, and Cognition: And Other Essays in the Aesthetics of Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Kocherhans, Thomas. “Improvisation as Liberation: Endeavours of Resistance in Free Jazz.” Cuadernos de Filosofía Latinoamericana 33, no. 106 (2012): 39-52.
- This investigation seeks to explore connection points between music and societal processes by linking improvised music to cultural networks and social practices. Exceeding musicological and action-theoretical reflections, the improvisation is regarded from a cultural sociological perspective, which asks how improvisational practices can be integrated into cultural, historical and discursive contexts. Taking free jazz as the scope of the investigation, it is argued that there is a necessity to discuss its characteristic improvisation in connection to the critical, radical and aesthetical practices of the African-American community. The musical practices of free jazz, therefore, can be seen as social practices in which a form of resistance is manifested through an intended liberation of the current musical and cultural order. Improvisation processes expressed in free jazz hence reflect an ethnically motivated strategy in which the ruling system of values is questioned while simultaneously offering alternative modes of expression.
Kraut, Robert. “Why Does Jazz Matter to Aesthetic Theory?”. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63, no. 1 (2005): 3–15.
Kutschke, Beate. “Improvisation: An Always-Accessible Instrument of Innovation.” Perspectives of New Music 37, no. 2 (Summer, 1999): 147–162. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/833513.
Lewandowski, Joseph D. “Adorno on Jazz and Society.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 22, no. 5 (1996): 103-121.
- This paper offers a philosophical-political reconstruction of Theodor Adorno's engagements with jazz. Rather than considering whether or not Adorno got jazz 'right', it provides an account of how and why Adorno develops the criticisms that he does. Adorno's analysis of jazz has three interpenetrating claims emerge: (1) a rejection of jazz's sense of improvisation and spontaneity; (2) a demonstration of jazz's entwinement with the modern technologization of everyday life; and (3) a critique of jazz's pseudo-individualizing tendencies. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of the place and critical possibilities of music in Adorno's critique of modernity.
Lewis, George E. "Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives." Black Music Research Journal 16, no. 1 (1996): 91-123.
Lewis, George E., and Benjamin Piekut. The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Volume 1. New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2016.
- Improvisation informs a vast array of human activity, from creative practices in art, dance, music, and literature to everyday conversation and the relationships to natural and built environments that surround and sustain us. The two volumes of the Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies gather scholarship on improvisation from an immense range of perspectives, with contributions from more than sixty scholars working in architecture, anthropology, art history, computer science, cognitive science, cultural studies, dance, economics, education, ethnomusicology, film, gender studies, history, linguistics, literary theory, musicology, neuroscience, new media, organizational science, performance studies, philosophy, popular music studies, psychology, science and technology studies, sociology, and sound art, among others.
__________. The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Volume 2. Oxford University Press USA, 2016.
Laroche, Julian, and Ilan Kaddouch. “Spontaneous Preferences and Core Tastes: Embodied Musical Personality and Dynamics of Interaction in a Pedagogical Method of Improvisation.” Frontiers in Psychology 6, 2015.
Livy, Peter. Authenticities: Philosophical Reflections on Musical Performance. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995.
Monson, Ingrid. Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
__________. “Doubleness and Jazz Improvisation: Irony, Parody, and Ethnomusicology.” Critical Inquiry 20, no. 2 (1994): 283-313.
Nachmanovitch, Stephen. “Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art.” Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, Inc.; New York: Distributed by St. Martin's Press, 1990. ISBN 0-87477-578-7 (cloth); New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons ISBN 0-87477-631-7 (pbk).
Nettl, Bruno. “Preface.” Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society. Edited by Gabriel Solis and Bruno Nettl. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, (2009): ix–xv.
__________. Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society. Edited by Gabriel Solis and Bruno Nettl. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-252-03462-6 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-252-07654-1 (pbk).
__________. In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation. Edited by Bruno Nettl with Melinda Russell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Nielsen, Cynthia R. “What Has Coltrane to Do With Mozart: The Dynamism and Built-in Flexibility of Music.” Expositions 3 (2009): 57-71.
- Although contemporary Western culture and criticism has usually valued composition over improvisation and placed the authority of a musical work with the written text rather than the performer, this essay posits these divisions as too facile to articulate the complex dynamics of making music in any genre or form. Rather it insists that music should be understood as pieces that are created with specific intentions by composers but which possess possibilities of interpretation that can only be brought out through performance.
Nooshin, Laudan. “Improvisation as ‘Other’: Creativity, Knowledge and Power—The Case of Iranian Classical Music.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 128 (2003): 242–96.
Nooshin, Laudan, and Richard Widdess. “Improvisation in Iranian and Indian Music”. Journal of the Indian Musicological Society, 36/37 (2006): 104–19.
Noy, Lior, Nava Levit-Binum, & Yulia Golland. “Being in the Zone: Physiological Markers of Togetherness in Joint Improvisation.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 9, 2015.
Paradiso, Francesco. “Playin(G) Iterability and Iteratin(G) Play : Tradition and Innovation in Jazz Standards.” Epistrophy 2, 2017.
- This study draws a comparative framework between deconstructive reading of texts and jazz standards and argues both are defined by the constant play of tradition and innovation. Tradition results from repetition of a set of rules and dominant understanding of texts/tunes, while improvisations take on that tradition and generate innovations. The act of reading/playing also becomes an act of invention/improvisation that manifests a constant tension between the old that is handed down through writing/recording and the new that is generated by the reader/musician.
__________. “Creative Implications of Deconstruction: The Case of Jazz Music, Photography, and Architecture.” Dissertation. University of New South Wales, 2014.
Peters, Gary. The Philosophy of Improvisation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.
- Improvisation is usually either lionized as an ecstatic experience of being in the moment or disparaged as the thoughtless recycling of cliches. Eschewing both of these orthodoxies, The Philosophy of Improvisation ranges across the arts--from music to theater, dance to comedy--and considers the improvised dimension of philosophy itself in order to elaborate an innovative concept of improvisation. Gary Peters turns to many of the major thinkers within continental philosophy--including Heidegger, Nietzsche, Adorno, Kant, Benjamin, and Deleuze--offering readings of their reflections on improvisation and exploring improvisational elements within their thinking. Expanding the field of what counts as improvisation, "The Philosophy of Improvisation" will be welcomed by anyone striving to comprehend the creative process.
Piekut, Benjamin. "Indeterminacy, Free Improvisation, and the Mixed Avant-Garde: Experimental Music in London, 1965–75", Journal of the American Musicological Society 67, no. 3 (Fall 2014): 769–824.
Rinzler, Paul E. The Contradictions of Jazz. Scarecrow Press, 2008.
Roberts, Howard, and Garry Hagberg. The Guitar Compendium: The Praxis System: Technique, Improvisation, Musicianship, Theory. 3 vols. Tübingen, 1989.
Ryle, Gilbert. “Improvisation.” Mind 85, no. 337 (1976): 69-83.
Sarath, Edward W. “Improvisation, Consciousness, and the Play of Creation: Music as a Lens Into Ultimate Reality and Meaning.” Ultimate Reality and Meaning. Edited by B. K. Adlai. Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Pune, 2007.
Sawyer, R. Keith. “Improvisation and the Creative Process: Dewey, Collingwood, and the Aesthetics of Spontaneity.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58, no. 2 (2000): 149-161.
__________. “The Semiotics of Improvisation: The Pragmatics of Musical and Verbal Performance. Semiotica 108, nos. 3-4 (1996): 269-306.
Schroeder, David. “Four Approaches to Jazz Improvisation Instruction.” Philosophy of Music Education Review 10, no. 1 (Spring, 2002): 36-40.
Schuller, Gunther. Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development. New York and Oxford, 1968.
Snell, Alden H., and Christopher D. Azzara. “Collegiate Musicians Learning to Improvise”. Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, No. 204 (Spring 2015): 63-84.
Solis, Gabriel, and Bruno Nettl. Musical Improvisation: Art, Education, and Society. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
Sudnow, David. Ways of the Hand: The Organization of Improvised Conduct. Harvard University Press, 1978. ISBN(s): 978-0262-194-679 or 0262-194-678.
Sudnow, David, and Hubert L. Dreyfus. Ways of the Hand: A Rewritten Account. MIT Press, 2001. ISBN(s): 978-0262-194-679 or 0262-194-678.
- Ways of the Hand tells the story of how David Sudnow learned to improvise jazz on the piano. Because he had been trained as an ethnographer and social psychologist, Sudnow was attentive to what he experienced in ways that other novice pianists are not. The result, first published in 1978 and now considered by many to be a classic, was arguably the finest and most detailed account of skill development ever published. Looking back after more than twenty years, Sudnow was struck by the extent to which he had allowed his academic background to shape the book's language. He realized that he could now do a much better job of describing his experiences in a way that would not require facility with formal social science and philosophical discourse. The result is a revised version of the book that carries the same intellectual energy as the original but is accessible to a much wider audience.
Thom, Paul. For an Audience: A Philosophy of the Performing Arts. Philadelphia, 1994.
Valone, James J. “Musical Improvisation as Interpretative Activity.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 44, no. 2 (1985): 193-194.
Wachowski, Witold. “Immunology of Music”?: A Short Introduction to Cognitive Science of Musical Improvisation.” Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 3, no. 1 (2012): 182-187.
Walton, Ashley E., and Michael J. Richardson, Peter Langland-Hassan, & Anthony Chemero. “Improvisation and the Self-Organization of Multiple Musical Bodies”. Frontiers in Psychology 6, no. 313 (2005): 1-9.
William, D. A. Y. “The Ends of Improvisation.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 68, no. 3 (2010): 291-296.
- This essay attempts to address the question, "What makes an improvised jazz solo a maturation of the possibilities of this artform?" It begins by considering the significance of one distinguishable feature of an improvised jazz solo - how it ends - in light of Joseph Kerman's seemingly parallel consideration of the historical development of how classical concertos end. After showing the limits of this comparison, the essay proposes a counter-parallel, between the jazz improviser's attitude toward the solo's end and Ludwig .
Witkin, Robert W. “Why Did Adorno "Hate" Jazz?”. Sociological Theory 18, no. 1 (2000): 145-170.
Young, James O., and Carl Matheson. “The Metaphysics of Jazz.” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58, no. 2 (2000): 125-133.
Bibliography ________________________________________ This section lists books that either specialise in European free music or in which the music forms a substantial component. Magazines that regularly (though not in every issue) feature the music are listed at the end of this section.
Bailey, Derek (1992). Improvisation, its nature and practice in music. The British Library, 0 7123 0506 8.
What should really be the first port of call for anyone interested in the topic, whether new to the subject or having some playing or listening experience. Deals with issues wider than within Europe. First published 1980 by Moorland Publishing (ISBN 0 903485 73 7) in a user-friendly edition, in contrast to the 'global' grab-you cover of the new - perhaps a reflection of the involvement of the British Library?! The second edition was accompanied by a four-part television series on (UK) Channel 4.
Cerutti, Gustave and Renaud, Philippe (1988). Five British independent labels: 1968- 1987. Jazz 360 Discographies, no ISBN. A discography of Bead, Incus, Leo, Matchless, and Ogun. 'All these labels have proved their importance through their impressive series of releases, especially in the face of multinational companies concerned more with quantity of sales than quality of music. Moreover, these labels are not only still in existence, they are continually in progress.' An invaluable document though now out-of-print. To some extent updated by the label information held at this Web site and by Philippe Renaud's Simply not cricket: 1964-1994, 30 years of British jazz.
Cook, Richard and Morton, Brian, (1992). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP & cassette. Penguin Books, 014 015364 0. The first edition of this guide provides excellent background to European free improvisation through numerous brief biographies and extensive record reviews. The vinyl of the FMP, Incus and Po Torch labels, for example, is dealt with in far more detail (for obvious though sad reasons) than in the second edition, published in 1994.
Corbett, John (1994). Extended play: sounding off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein. Duke University Press, 0 8223 1473 8. The title indicates the range of this excellent book, written by a long-term enthusiast for (free) improvisation world-wide. Interviews with Han Bennink, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann and Steve Beresford, a shorter piece on Barry Guy, and lots of other snippets one way and another.
Chamberlain, Safford. (2000; 2005 paperback). An unsung cat: the life and music of Warne Marsh. Scarecrow Press, 0-8108-5350-7 (pbk). Studies in jazz no. 37. This is a detailed look in over 400 pages of a musician whose playing is, through champions such as Anthony Braxton, in at least indirect lineage to the music created by European improvisers. In addition to comments from Braxton - a page-and-a-half that will be familiar to most Braxton followers but still good to have included - Chamberlain includes some interesting comments on Marsh's tone and improvisational approach that wouldn't have been out-of-place in Derek Bailey's book: 'Warne Marsh refused to rely on a conventionally "pretty" tone as a substitute for ideas... he was committed to the process of improvisation , and tone was an aspect of that process... Frequently Marsh seems to have deliberately sacrificed tonal appeal in order to force the listener to focus on the energy of his ideas" (p. 10). Chamberlain has, apparently, spent almost ten years researching the book, in addition to studying saxophone with Marsh, and he has interviewed extensively - 220 interviewees are listed, including Braxton and Gary Windo - to give a detailed picture of this fascinating musician. Musical analysis is provided for seven solos and the book ends up with an 83-page discography and an index.
Dean, Roger T (1992). New structures in jazz and improvised music since 1960. Open University Press, 0 335 09897 5. The title says it all, but more than that there has been a deliberate intention here to 'counterbalance the American bias in the jazz literature' and, accordingly, there is a sensible, serious study of the European avant-garde from a variety of perspectives.
Fujak, Július (2005). Musical Corr≡la(c)tivity. University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra, Slovakia. ISBN 80-8050-870-4. This book with accompanying CD has its own page on the site. Jenkins, Todd S. (2004). Free jazz and free improvisation: an encyclopedia. Greenwood Press, 0-313-29881-5 (two volume set). I was kindly sent this rather expensive item (approx £100) by the publishers soon after publication (October 2004) and yet it took until January 2006 to be able to comment in any kind of objective way. While an encyclopedia, by its very nature, represents an initial jumping-off point for a subject or discipline, and decisions always have to be made on the level of comprehensiveness, it is a pity that the author and his editor were not more rigorous in a musical activity that it so relatively compact. It is perhaps inevitable that the focus would be American but, in a book that includes ‘free improvisation’ in the title, coverage of European musicians can be said to be only modest, either in the musicians included or in the extent (word count) of that coverage. What is particularly disheartening, though, is the number of errors, examples of which are: • Tony Oxley has played with his Celebration Orchestra (Ixesha, 1994, Ogun) [No, Ixesha was by the Dedication Orchestra, drummer Louis Moholo] • Lines burnt in light inaugurates [Evan] Parker's third independent label after Incus and Maya, the imprint named after his wife, baroque violinist Maya Homburger [No, Maya is run by MH and Barry Guy, not Parker] • On Cornelius Cardew piano music… (1996, on Tilbury's label, Matchless) [No, Eddie Prévost runs Matchless] • Brötzmann performed with Günter Sommer and British bassist Barre Phillips [No, American] • Wireforks, with Henry Kaiser, was [Derek] Bailey's first duet with a guitarist [No, in terms of recorded duets, this was preceded by two years by the ferocious playing with Buckethead during Company 91] This might appear to be critical pettiness gone mad, but in a book signalling itself as an 'encyclopedia' and thus carrying a high degree of authority, it suggests a lack of expertness on the subject and an unwillingness to check facts. There are other 'assertions' made that are definitely incorrect or suggest (unsubstantiated) facts by the nature of the language used. Having said that, there is an enthusiasm in the writing that is at times both touching and catching, particularly in the description of Derek Bailey's work and his ability to continually spring surprises. So, nuggets do occur! Approach with care and double-check the facts!
Lindenmaier, H. Lucas and Philippe Renaud (1990). Discographical references FMP. Booklet accompanying the FMP 11-CD box set Cecil Taylor in Berlin '88 which provides excellent discographies for those musicians involved in Taylor's Berlin project.
Litweiler, John (1984). The Freedom principle: jazz after 1958. Da Capo Press (hardback Morrow), 0 306 80377 1. Concentrates on American free jazz with portraits of Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor and the AACM. There is one chapter on 'Free jazz in Europe' (pp. 240-264) which, while generally favourable, tends to undermine the integrity of the European players by making frequent comparisons with the US scene.
Marley, Brian and Wastell, Mark (editors) (2005). Blocks of consciousness and the unbroken continuum, Sound 323, 335 pages + DVD. ISBN 978-0-9551541-0-2. Limited to 800 copies, £50 each. A lavish (high quality paper, contemporary design throughout by Damien Beaton, nestles-in-the-hand size for browsing and flicking through, integral DVD, limited edition status) and forward-look at current developments in improvised music with only the slightest nod to the past. There is a feeling of a strong coverage of electro-acoustic music - chapters on Sachiko M (Clive Bell), John Wall (Brian Marley) and Richard Chartier (Will Montgomery) - but not exclusively so, with Dan Warburton tackling composition vs. improvisation and David Toop on the ideology of improvisation. Rhodri Davies has secured statements from 23 people responding to the question 'What are you doing with your music" varying from the considered, perceptive and thought-provoking to the garrulous and, just occasionally, the crass, the banal and the self-serving. And then there's David Reid's DVD, an excellent electronic eye for those of us who couldn't be there, whether it's London, Leeds, Manchester or Derby (which, in this instance, I was). A modern cornucopia of musicians and musical areas not covered in this kind of detail outside of the periodical literature.
Martinelli, Francesco (2002). Joëlle Léandre discography, Bandecchi & Vivaldi. Paperback, 160 pages. ISBN 88-8341-015-7. To call this book a 'discography' does it a serious disservice; it is so much more with commentaries, the inclusion of reviews, pieces by Léandre herself, and indexes by album, track and musician (all in English). The main section is organized by recordings in chronological order with the usual discographical details but interspersed with reviews and occasional comments. Most importantly, there's a feast of photographs. Maybe it's a sign of age (my own!) but the essence of photographs seems to be what they tell us about our view of the world now and how it compares and contrasts with our view years ago: maybe there is a similarity but look at how much has changed in the meantime. So we get not only young Joëlles but young others as well - who is that person? Oh, OK! - and many inspiring and also amusing images like JL and Daunik Lazro apparently claiming equal ownership of a shopping trolley. The photographs do bring this book to life but there are still things to be learnt throughout by even the most dedicated Léandreophile. I particularly enjoyed the text of Taxi! and the comment, "You don't see many of those around these days" seems also to apply to books like this.
Martinelli, Francesco (2001). Mario Schiano discography, Bandecchi & Vivaldi. Paperback, 111 pages. ISBN 88-8341-008-1. The first edition of this discography was published, in Italian only, in 1996. This expanded edition is in English, updates the recordings to 2000 and, in addition to a straight discographical listing, includes occasional comments from Martinelli and the full text of reviews, taken from publications such as Cadence, Coda, Improjazz, and The wire, even the very occasional one from Down Beat! Sprinkled throughout are a range of fascinating photographs which not only support the text but indicate - as always in these circumstances - the changing fashions, particularly through hair styles. In addition to official recordings there are appendices listing 'other' recordings (tapes, TV, radio broadcasts), a bibliography (largely of record reviews) and an overview essay by Martinelli. Indexes are provided. Altogether, this excellent publication should do much to increase awareness of Mario Schiano for those who have not yet heard him.
Ohshima, Kouichi (1997). Peter Brötzmann discography. Improvised Company, Japan, no ISBN. Fifty-four page discography, complete to March 1997. Peterson, Lloyd. (2006k). Music and the creative spirit: innovators in jazz, improvisation, and the avant garde. Scarecrow Press, 0-8108-5284-5 (pbk). Studies in jazz no. 52. Here, in over 300 pages, is collected interview material or commentaries from 41 musicians arranged alphabetically from Anderson (Fred) to Zorn. Unfortunately, none of the material is dated and the fact that no indication is provided anywhere about how this was gathered - in spite of preface, acknowledgements and an introduction - leaves one with the feeling that much is the result of impersonal e-mail correspondences rather than conducted in face-to-face interviews. Certainly in many cases there is little feeling of individual personalities coming across and the constant repetition of questions provides a numbing sensation rather than what must have been an intended clarity, indicating how different musicians responded to the same query. Poor and inconsistent editing also suggests that some of this material has been submitted in word processed form and not subsequently checked. One of the drawbacks, of course, is the 'musician is special' syndrome, and that we are in the presence of persons with access to knowledge not available to normal mortals. This is so clearly not the case, as is shown many times throughout this book, and not only when they are talking about something they might not be supposed to know something about - i.e. the functioning of the wider world - but also about the subject of the book, creativity. But perhaps the variety and frustration of the responses, from self-interested, isolationist and lacking insight to wider and objective perceptions, gives the book its ultimate fascination. There is not much to make one jump for joy, but there are excellent, thought-provoking sensible responses - as one would expect - from George Lewis and Evan Parker. The interviews of Derek Bailey and Peter Brötzmann are good but too short, though PB is also included in a wider 'Chicago Roundtable'. From the European perspective, Mats Gustafsson, Barry Guy and Paal Nilssen-Love are also included.
Renaud, Philippe (1995). Simply not cricket: 1964-1994, 30 years of British jazz. Philippe Renaud (self published from 14 Allee des Myosotis, 41000 BLOIS, France), 2 9509156 0 4. Second edition of a mammoth undertaking and an essential reference source for British and - where they overlap - European free improvisation though, of course, by its very title the book is wider ranging than that. As Renaud points out in his preface, this is not a discography in the true sense as individual track listings are not included and no attempt is made to collate all the appearances of a particular musician in a single section; this is left for the reader to do via the index. What is provided is a pretty near exhaustive listing of artists' recordings by title, presenting recording date and overall personnel. To present a more detailed analysis would run to several volumes, though I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't being planned somewhere along the line. Three sections are provided: records released by British musicians irrespective of label; recordings of rest- of-the-world musicians which feature British players; and finally, contributions to recordings where the musician has little or no solo space e.g. as a member of an orchestra or big band. And there's a photograph of Paul Rutherford's trombone on the cover. What more could one want? Most people, myself included, owe a vote of thanks to Philippe for his efforts in putting this together, especially for tracking down details of those little-known or hard-to-track-down records and CDs. Renaud is also one of the editors behind Improjazz.
Prévost, Edwin (1995). No sound is innocent, Harlow, Essex: Copula. ISBN 0-9525492-0-4. Written by one of the founding members of AMM, the book is divided into three sections: AMM and the practice of self-invention; Meta-musical narratives; and Essays. The book is a bringing together of connected and unconnected writings on a wide range of parameters that have a bearing on the making of music and particularly those issues that come into play in (and sometimes before and after) improvisation. Prévost points out that 'The meta-musical narratives were constructed, as an act of writing, in a manner parallel to a musical improvisation - or as near as I could make it. Each narrative is commenced from a new moment. I worry away at the problems discussed, defining while I think... Consequently many of the themes recur, each time approached from a slightly different perspective and seen within a different constellation of issues.... I would prefer each narrative to be read separately and independently, in the order of the readers' choice'. There is no direct discussion or criticism of individual musicians or recordings, and this is certainly no manual, no quick route to the practicalities of improvisation. Rather it is a collection of feelings and perspectives, sometimes discursive, occasionally acerbic, invariably provocative. In addition, there are a number of Appendices which include a historical summary of AMM (included on this web site), an AMM discography, a discography of associated recordings, and a bibliography.
Prévost, Edwin (2004). Minute particulars: meaning in music-making in the wake of hierarchical realignments and other essays, Harlow, Essex: Copula. ISBN 0-9525492-1-2. In 177 pages Eddie Prévost includes twenty-nine thought-provoking essays on ideas, perceptions, reactions and the practices of improvised music, as well as a short index. Reactions to the real world - in particular, the political, corporate and commercial ones - are never far from the surface and the place of the individual is mirrored through that of the musician developing his or her own position, responsiveness and voice in a group context. Discourses include the questioning of terminology such as 'non-idiomatic' to describe improvised music, cover sonic extremes and racial focus in current and recent musical endeavours, and revisit an hilarious review of reviews of the Ganelan Trio's first London concert in 1984. The premise with which each essay begins is analysed, explored and intellectually wrestled with so that even if the reader doesn't concur with the conclusions, at least there is food for further thought. Occasionally there is the impression of a Candide innocently walking through an embattled and battered musical landscape wondering where it's all gone wrong. Not sufficiently to suggest that the author made the wrong decision in becoming a musician - if there was a choice - and, in any case, there is the occasional footnote to indicate that perhaps (some) things are now on the mend. A recommended read.
Robinson, Perry (2002). The traveler, by Perry Robinson and Florence Wetzel. Lincoln: Writers Club Press/iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-21538-9. 413pp. http://www.iuniverse.com. Even now, at 63, Perry Robinson seems to fall into the best-kept secret category. In spite of playing and recording with free jazz musicians such as Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon and Roswell Rudd, appearing on historically-important recordings such as Liberation Music Orchestra and Escalator over the hill, and working with the Brubecks, Günter Hampel and Annette Peacock, Robinson is still not widely known as a jazz clarinet player and improviser. The book intersperses Robinson's recollections with comments from others, some written specially, some culled from liner notes or other extant sources (Bill Dixon's comment comes from Dixonia, for example). Son of the composer Earl Robinson (who wrote Joe Hill), the journey described includes the McCarthy witch-hunts, stories of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and others, moving through early free jazz, the loft scene and up to today. And many byways in between. There is a brief chapter on European avant-garde which begins, "The first free European group I ever heard was the Peter Brötzmann trio with Fred van Hove and Han Bennink at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival in 1972. I tripped out, it blew me totally". [For a recent (2001) CD see Bob's pink Cadillac]
Schwarz, Barbara (ed.) (2006). The sound of squirrel meals: the work of Lol Coxhill. Hamburg: blackpress. viii, 152pp. (Osterstrasse 52, D-20259 Hamburg, Germany; +49-40-4309 7866; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) In his introduction to this book, Steve Beresford writes, 'I have lost track of the year Barbara started this project, but painting the Forth Bridge is a reasonable, if clichéd, comparison...' and I have similar vague memories of both Steve and Barbara mentioning this to me shortly after I started the web site. And now it's here: 5 pages of biography and photos (Lol as a boy scout and in a teenage football team...); articles and interviews spanning 26 years; a bibliography and list of films, videos and television appearances; and, pride of place, 70 pages of discography interspersed with excerpts from sleeve notes, relevant interview and article extracts and comments from Lol scattered throughout. An excellent browsing companion to make one realise the depth and variety of Lol's work and interests and to make you think "Oh! I didn't realise he'd done that; how amazing!".
Sutherland, Roger (1994). New perspectives in music, London: Sun Tavern Fields. ISBN 0-9517012-6-6. An account of the more radical innovations that have taken place in music since 1945, including electronic composition, musique concrète, minimalism, improvisation and computer music. The book is divided into three sections: The European avant-garde, dealing with Russolo, Webern, serialism, electronic music, music and speech, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Nono, and Parmegiani; The American experimentalists, covering Cowell, Cage, graphics and indeterminacy, live electronic music, and systems music; and Transatlantic perspectives - intermedia, improvised music, imaginary orchestras, and sound sculptures and invented instruments. The book concludes with a general bibliography, biographies, a select bibliography of individual composers, and a shortlist of recommended recordings. The book is A4 format and well illustrated with photographs and reproductions of posters and graphic scores. The 23-page chapter on improvised music offers a deliberately selective view of the subject being 'principally concerned with those forms of improvisation which evolved within the post-war classical tradition and which were a logical extension of compositional practices in the work of such composers as Cardew, Stockhauen, Rzewski and Evangelisti'. As such, the chapter covers AMM, Gruppo Nuova Consonanza, Musica Elettronica Viva, Cardew and the Scatch Orchestra.There is a particularly good description of Tony Oxley's early work, in and out of the Howard Riley Trio.
Watson, Ben (2004). Derek Bailey and the story of free improvisation, London: Verso (http://www.versobooks.com; email@example.com). ISBN 1844670031. 443 pages of Derek Bailey viewed partly through the eyes of Ben Watson but also verbatim through detailed interviews with Bailey, Tony Oxley and Gavin Bryars and shorter contributions from other musicians such as Steve Lacy and Eugene Chadbourne. There's a great amount that's extremely enjoyable, particularly taking in the early days in Sheffield, the explorations of Joseph Holbrooke, interludes in the Channel Islands, and Bailey talking about close friends, musicians or non-musicians. Over 100 pages are devoted to Company, not surprisingly given the importance and relevance of the enterprise to Bailey's musical make-up though, inevitably, covering a 17-year period, some of the individual annual events are only sketched out. Though there have been outlines of Company elsewhere, particularly in Derek Bailey's own Improvisation, its nature and practice in music, it is a pity that this part of the text features less verbatim comments - even from Bailey, but certainly from the multitude of musicians who have appeared at these events - than at other places in the book. The final main chapter focuses on Bailey's position as international free improvisation ambassador, moving between Japan, New York, London and Barcelona, and places in between, and comes pretty well up-to-date with a description of Limescale. There's a Derek Bailey discography and an Incus discography but, speaking perhaps as a librarian, it is a real pity that there is no single bibliographic listing of the multitude of references made throughout the book, and that some references are even left dangling in the air. Apart from that, an extremely enjoyable and recommended read.
Whitehead, Kevin (1998). New Dutch swing, New York: Billboard. ISBN 0-8230-8334-9. This book lives up to its sub-title - 'an in-depth examination of Amsterdam's vital and distinctive jazz scene' - covering in its extensive first section the ideas and innovations of the three main protagonists of improvised music in Holland: Han Bennink, Willem Breuker and Misha Mengelberg. From here the spokes radiate out to cover, amongst others, the ICP Orchestra, Ernst Reijseger, Tristan Honsinger, Maarten Altena and many others in varying amounts of detail. A chapter on the 'third generation' covers Peter van Bergen, Cor Fuhler, and The Ex though many musicians carrying the flame forward are also discussed and interviewed throughout the book. A discography points readers in a number of listening directions. The style varies from the frustrating - clearly having been written for US readers and using any amount of Americanisms - to the absorbing and involving in descriptions of musical performances. This is where Whitehead excels and he also provides a substantial amount of background and historical detail, the whole supported by his own personal observations. Vital for those interested in the new Dutch scene because, apart from a number of disconnected interviews and articles in magazines and CD notes, no-one else has covered this music with this level of focus.
Zwerin, Mike (2005). The Parisian jazz chronicles: an improvisational memoir, New Haven, Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10806-0. Reflections on the life and work of jazz musicians and others sparked off by interviews or focused observations are interwoven into a very fine tapestry alongside the autobiography - the personal, playing and writing development - of Mike Zwerin. As an American in Paris, with family expectations that he pursue the corporate American way, this is perhaps less a story of rebellion and more one of dogged - if frequently diverted and distracted - pursuit of one's guiding star: music. Comparisons between life, work and culture in the US and Europe, particularly France, are pretty near spot-on and there are also discussions on serious and non-serious music. Read quickly, the subtitle might suggest a memoir of an improvisational life but Zwerin cunningly has more than this in mind. One chapter might traverse a logical arc from beginning to end, others will amble off their starting theme into related territory and return without causing the reader anxieties, whereas in those chapters when you think he's totally lost the plot, shards bring the seemingly divergent elements back into a well-argued whole by the end. There is a real feeling of improvising musician and crafted writer working side-by-side on this. Mind you, by the frequent references to drugs in various chapters there are also probably times when he did lose the plot. Artists covered include, among many others, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Michel Petrucciani, Wayne Shorter, Bob Dylan and Melvin Van Peebles. There's a great Jim Hall story and reflection on creativity, all done in less than a page. But the point is not who is in but the way it all comes together into a well-written and extremely enjoyable book on jazz, improvisation and lots, lots more.
Work Area Two