Jazz is a genre broad in scope that has crossed lines of race, class, geography, politics, religion, and genre. This three-part course explores the origins and proliferation of jazz, from its beginnings in New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Kansas City to its most recent appearances in Europe and Asia. Key to the history of jazz is its connection to recorded sound. Jazz was the first musical genre shaped by modern sound technology — the first world-wide music phenomenon.
Exploring the various facets and histories of jazz is the central goal of this course. Each class session will focus on understanding the shifting meanings of the music as it moves through various cultural/political contexts. Together, we will listen to a range of recordings — all with the goal of discovering what makes jazz so vital to America’s multi-faceted identity. Designed for jazz fans and newcomers alike, this three-part course demonstrates how jazz has never stopped changing. From the Blues and Dixieland to Swing, BeBop, Cool Jazz, and Fusion, jazz offers something for everyone.
Anna Celenza is a professor of music at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of several books, including Jazz Italian Style: From Its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra, and her most recent book, Music that Changed America. In addition to her scholarly work, she has served as a writer/commentator for NPR’s Performance Today and published eight award-winning children’s books, including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite. She has been featured on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, including the BBC’s “Music Matters” and C-Span’s “Book TV.”