• You Don't Know Jazz! with Dr. Lewis Porter

    June 9, 2011. Posted by Alex Rodriguez.

    Welcome to WBGO's new blog feature, a biweekly series with jazz pianist, composer, author and scholar Dr. Lewis Porter. Currently Professor of Music at Rutgers University-Newark, just down the street from the WBGO studios, Dr. Porter founded the University's Jazz History and Research MA program in 1997.

    (PLEASE NOTE: If the reader uses any of the material from this series, no matter how brief, this article and its web address must be cited as the source. Thank you for respecting the intellectual property of Dr. Porter.)

    Before sharing the first post, Dr. Porter offers some introductory thoughts:

    There are a number of observations that I have made in the course of my jazz research over the past 40 years (that is, dating back to when I was a teenager and didn’t yet realize I was doing jazz research) that I routinely teach to my graduate students. While no single one of these observations warrants an article of its own, taken together, they lead to a revision of many of the current accepted ideas and paradigms of jazz historiography (the writing of jazz history). Individually, some of them contradict completely what is usually said in writing and teaching about jazz. Others, on the contrary, provide much needed evidence for things that are commonly said but for which there has previously been little or no support. Still others concern specific topics relating to more accurate descriptions of important musicians' jazz styles. Yet all of these observations might point the way toward new approaches to jazz historiography and suggest that a tremendous amount of research that has yet to be done.

    As an active jazz pianist myself, I tend to be drawn especially to points about the sounds themselves. But, as I’ll note, some of the points relate to the social, political, and philosophical issues that surround the music. While most of these observations come from my own listening and research, in some cases I will refer to work by other jazz historians that has not drawn enough attention.

    The text for each installment will be short and to the point. Listen to the corresponding podcast for details, explanation, and significance of each installment.

    Experience has shown me that jazz musicians, fans, authors and teachers are reluctant to give up their old stories. This series will challenge you to change how you talk about jazz. Guess what? You can do it! Read, comment and share so that we can all work to spread accurate information about our beloved music, free of distracting myths and rumors.

    Without further ado:

    Episode 1: A Blues Recording From The Congo -- In 1906!

    Episode 2: The Origins of the Word "Jazz"

    Episode 3: Myths About Jazz, Part One

    Episode 4: Myths About Jazz, Part Two

    Episode 5: Myths About Jazz, Part Three

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