Fall 2007

ARTS 615
Jazz in the Sixties


09/20/2007 - 12/13/2007
Thursday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Music Studios 301

The 1960s were a turbulent but stimulating time for the world of jazz. The R&B-based soul jazz movement was at its peak and often at odds with the still-developing avant-garde aesthetic. Brazilian and African music became increasingly influential while older forms of jazz like bebop, big band music and traditional jazz (or "Dixieland") were struggling to remain viable and relevant. Rock & Roll's surge in popularity was threatening the commercial solvency of jazz while acting as a musical and cultural force to which all jazz musicians had to react. The jazz of this era is also inexorably linked to the political and social upheaval of the time, particularly those aspects relating to African American identity and struggle for equality.

We will broadly explore the various movements that comprised the jazz of this decade, delving deeply into the music of some of the most important figures in jazz during this time, such as Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Stan Getz, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Jimmy Smith, Yusef Lateef and Sun Ra. We will study musicians who typified a particular movement, those who assimilated several movements into a personal style, and those who moved freely from one faction to another. All the while, we will be contextualizing the music within the social and political climate of the decade and the broader artistic and commercial landscape of music at the time.

Sound recordings will be the primary source material for this course, with occasional video footage. Additionally, we will read the book Notes and Tones complied by Arthur Taylor, as well as a number of other articles and excerpts.

Grades will be based on class participation, four essays based on analyzing recordings, an essay based on a relevant live performance, and a research project that will culminate in both an essay and an oral presentation.

While musical training and vocabulary are not prerequisites for this class, students should be comfortable with the idea of listening to music analytically. The ability to aurally distinguish instruments from one another (for example, hearing the difference between a saxophone and a trumpet) is important.

In observance of Rosh HaShanah (Thursday, September 13th), this course will begin one week later on Thursday, September 20, 2007.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Noah Baerman (B.Mus., M.M. Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University) is director of the Wesleyan jazz ensemble. He is also a jazz pianist who has recently released his fifth album, "Bliss." His best-known release is "Patch Kit," a trio album with Ben Riley and longtime Miles Davis associate Ron Carter. In March 2005 he was featured as a guest on the public radio program Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. Alfred Publishing Company has released nine instructional books by Noah, most recently the Versatile Keyboardist, as well as a DVD, Beginning Jazz Keyboard. He is also a recent recipient of the Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation "New Works" grant. Click here for more information about Noah Baerman.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Arthur Taylor, NOTES AND TONES, 1993 edition (Da Capo), Paperback


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