John Lewis and the Challenge of

John Lewis and the Challenge of "Real" Black Music

by Christopher Coady


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For critics and listeners, the reception of the 1950s jazz-classical hybrid Third Stream music has long been fraught. In John Lewis and the Challenge of “Real” Black Music, Christopher Coady explores the work of one of the form’s most vital practitioners, following Lewis from his role as an arranger for Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool sessions to his leadership of the Modern Jazz Quartet, his tours of Europe, and his stewardship of the Lenox School of Jazz.

Along the way Coady shows how Lewis’s fusion works helped shore up a failing jazz industry in the wake of the 1940s big band decline, forging a new sound grounded in middle-class African American musical traditions. By taking into account the sociocultural milieu of the 1950s, Coady provides a wider context for understanding the music Lewis wrote for the Modern Jazz Quartet and sets up new ways of thinking about Cool Jazz and Third Stream music more broadly.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780472053209
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Series: Jazz Perspectives
Pages: 254
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Christopher Coady is a lecturer in musicology, University of Sydney

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Branching Out: The Great Era of Venue Creation 24

2 "Bearded Undertakers": Rhythm and Reputation 60

3 "Finesse, Precision, and Logic": Musical Traditions and the African American Elite 83

4 Composition in Context: Lewis and the MJQ, 1952-62 114

5 Lewis and Film Noir 156

6 "Real" Black Music 172


Appendix A Formal Outlines of Selected Works 185

Appendix B Sait-on jamais (1957) Soundscape 201

Appendix C Odds against Tomorrow (1959) Soundscape 207

Notes 213

Bibliography 219

Scores 231

Filmography 233

Index 235

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