8 No. 1
Equity in the Hard Sciences at Emory
in the hard science faculty ranks at Emory
sciences faculty by gender at other institutions
happening along the way? Why aren't women choosing academia proportionately,
and why aren't women staying in academia?"
think the 'nature versus nurture' question is not meaningful, because
it treats them as independent factors, whereas in fact everything
is nature and nurture."
Crisis in the Humanities
So what else is new?
Away the Dust of Everyday Life
and the Emory Experience
Diary and the Map
and Foucault on making sense of history
death, money and chemistry in the Carlos Museum
In 1987, the U.S. House of Representatives declared jazz a national
treasure. This was an important step in ensuring that jazz retains
its rightful place in our cultural history. Jazz is America’s
classical music. Its breadth and depth reveal the essence of the
blues and the artistry of the baroque. With such a broad range of
influences, it is no wonder that jazz is a unique product of the
American experience. Pianist Thelonious Monk said, “Jazz is
freedom.” Indeed, this art form is characterized by the very
principle upon which this country was founded: the quest for freedom
Performance and education stand in equal importance in preserving
the future of jazz. Artists and educators need tools and resources
to share the rich history of jazz with our communities and to promote
greater understanding of the social and moral values of various
cultures and how those values are expressed artistically. Such needs
were behind the establishment of Emory’s jazz studies program
It is a little-told story that jazz has been a part of the Emory
experience since the early 1970s. The university has hosted performances
and residencies by artists ranging from Dave Brubeck to Wynton Marsalis.
The first Emory jazz ensemble was organized in 1974 by a pre-med
student who, along with some friends, expressed an interest in the
genre. They organized themselves, found practice venues, even purchased
their own music. This ensemble existed as a novice group throughout
As interest increased, formal classes in jazz history and improvisation
were added. The first jazz combo was formed in the mid 1990s and
served as the foundation for small ensemble development. Classes
and ensemble rehearsals were held in the Performing Arts Studio
of the Burlington Road Building. Given this development, the jazz
studies program was a natural addition to the music department curriculum.
Today, the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts is the home of
the Emory jazz studies program, providing a world-class venue for
concert performances as well as state-of-the-art facilities for
instruction and rehearsal. While many of our students are music
majors with a jazz focus, there are others who are pre-med, law,
and business. These students often have musical backgrounds and
simply want to maintain their artistic interests while pursuing
degrees. The jazz ensembles are an excellent way to have fun while
being intellectually challenged and stimulated. Students may participate
in a large ensemble (the Emory Big Band) or smaller groups (the
Emory Combos). The smaller groups allow for more playing and improvising
time. Students who wish to improve their improvising skills may
also take beginning and advanced classes in jazz improvisation or
private instruction. Those interested in the evolution and development
of jazz may take courses in jazz history.
But more broadly, and perhaps more significantly, it has been said
that jazz is the ideal model of a democracy. Everyone in an ensemble
has an equal voice and an opportunity to lead. Jazz provides an
excellent platform for personal, social, and intellectual growth.
What better way to develop leadership skills than to be an integral
part of such a creative environment? What better way to develop
problem-solving skills than to tackle the challenge of improvising
over a set of chord progressions? These life-enhancing skills are
necessary regardless of one’s chosen profession. As Art Blakey
said, “Jazz sweeps away the dust of everyday life.”
What is jazz?
tell my students that jazz is more than music; it is a socio-cultural
phenomenon. It is at the foundation of the African-American experience
and is primarily viewed as the music of African Americans. It emerged
from the struggles and challenges of an enslaved people and represents
the sheer will to survive against insurmountable odds. It also represents
the joy and celebration of life despite existing conditions—the
acknowledgement of an existing condition and hope for a better day.
With this in mind, we raise the question, “Who owns jazz?”
The obvious answer would be that jazz is all about the black experience
in America. But is it only about that experience? If this were true,
the music would contain only those qualities and characteristics
found in native African music. Instead, jazz possesses the best
qualities from many genres—the rich rhythmic and tonal qualities
found in the traditional and ceremonial music of Africa, the harmonic
and melodic symmetry and form of western European music. The combination
became the foundation for the blues, jazz, and gospel. Jazz therefore
represents the intersection of cultural ideals in a less than ideal
Let’s face it: jazz did not have a pretty beginning. It represents
people who are not at their best, given the circumstances. Ownership
of another human being is just as appalling as enslavement itself.
Both are in bondage. Neither is truly free, yet both are on a quest
for survival. So they adapt—like harmony and melody, they
are bound to each other. Further, rhythm is the single unifying
factor in a cohesive ensemble performance. Without it, neither the
orchestra, dance band, combo, nor the duo would be possible.
Who owns jazz? We own jazz. Who are we? We are those who have chosen
to liberate ourselves from the consequences of the bondage of an
earlier existence. We are those who have chosen to celebrate life
in the midst of adversity. We are those who have indeed learned
to improvise when the solution isn’t readily apparent. We
are those who view jazz not only as artistic expression but as an
imitation and celebration of life. Jazz allows us to take ourselves
seriously while still affording us the opportunity to forgive, embrace,
and even laugh.
Music or art?
a sense of the history of jazz, a jazz educator is better equipped
to speculate on the future of jazz—and perhaps make a profound
impact on it. Early in its history, jazz was entertainment, dance
music, a cause for celebration. With its roots in the New Orleans
tradition, jazz was born out of Dixieland, fused with the blues
of the Mississippi Delta, and eventually merged with the harmonic
intricacies of Western European classical music as it made its way
to Chicago and New York. As the genre grew more sophisticated, it
began to move away from its roots. At the turn of the century, musicians
became more educated, and jazz became more of a profession than
an avocation. The music underwent a rapid transformation and found
its ways in to the dance halls and high society of New York, eventually
becoming the popular music of the day.
With the advent of broadcasting and commercialism, jazz would remain
at the forefront of American popular music until the late 1930s.
True to form, jazz during the twenties expressed the sentiments
of a world at war. In the thirties, it was the voice of the Depression.
The heyday of the big band drew to a close, however, due in part
to the economic difficulty of maintaining large ensembles. Artistic
unrest and the need for a new means of expression loomed on the
horizon. Those who would later be considered the pioneers of modern
jazz and bebop—including Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Coleman
Hawkins—already were foretelling the future of jazz in the
late 1930s and early ’40s.
Bebop represented the epitome of virtuosity for the jazz musician.
Consequently there was a shift in focus from the people who made
the music to the music itself. Now it became increasingly important
to listen to the artist for what he had to say rather than reacting
to how the music, as pure entertainment, made you feel. In short,
jazz had become art. Although this was a significant step in the
evolution and development of jazz, it would eventually be viewed
as its point
of departure from popular music.
Today jazz is influenced by cultures from all around the world,
from Hip Hop to World Music. Note, however, that these influences
are also born out of the struggles and challenges of those who create
it. Is this a coincidence? Perhaps not: maybe jazz is just taking
on a new identity for a new age.
Emory’s jazz studies program is preparing students for their
roles as the torchbearers of jazz, ensuring that our national treasure
will, in fact, be treasured for years to come. They become immersed
in that history, but they also come to understand that jazz is a
language. Instruction in music theory, improvisation, and the development
of technique helps artists communicate their ideas clearly and effectively—that
is, become proficient in a language. Students learn how to express
thoughts and ideas through a medium that is often more expressive
than words. Improvisation gives students the opportunity to take
the listener on a journey—to tell the story in their own words.