Music Studies

New Books in April

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Curling up on the couch with a great book is an excellent way to practice social distancing this month. All these titles will deliver before our sale ends on May 1, so check our website regularly. You can save 50% on all in-stock titles with coupon SPRING50

Tyler Bickford traces the dramatic rise of the “tween” pop music industry in Tween Pop, showing how it marshaled childishness as a key element in legitimizing children’s participation in public culture.

The contributors to Playing for Keeps examine the ways in which musical improvisation can serve as a way to negotiate violence, trauma, systemic inequality, and the aftermaths of war and colonialism. This volume is edited by Daniel Fischlin and Eric Porter.

John F. Szwed’s Space is the Place is the definitive biography of Sun Ra—composer, keyboardist, bandleader, philosopher, entrepreneur, poet, self-proclaimed extraterrestrial from Saturn, and a founder of Afrofuturism. We are pleased to be bringing this classic back into print with a new preface.

In Vital Decomposition, Kristina M. Lyons presents an ethnography of human-soil relations in which she follows state soil scientists and peasant farmers in Colombia’s Putumayo region, showing how their relationship with soil is key to caring for the forest and growing non-illicit crops in the face of violence, militarism, and environmental destruction.

Micha Rahder explores how multiple ways of knowing the forest of Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve shape conservation practice, local livelihoods, and landscapes in An Ecology of Knowledges.

In Relations, Marilyn Strathern provides a critical account of anthropology’s key concept of relation and its usage and significance in the English-speaking world, showing how its evolving use over the last three centuries reflects changing thinking about knowledge-making and kin-making.

In Virtual Pedophilia, Gillian Harkins traces the genealogy of the transformation of cultural construction of the pedophile as a social outcast into the image of normative white masculinity from the 1980s to the present, showing how his “normalcy” makes him hard to identify and stop.

In A People’s History of Detroit, Mark Jay and Philip Conklin use a Marxist framework to tell a sweeping story of Detroit from 1913 to the present, outlining the complex socio-political dynamics underlying major events in Detroit’s past, from the rise of Fordism and the formation of labor unions to deindustrialization and the city’s recent bankruptcy.

In Revolution and Disenchantment, Fadi A. Bardawil explores the hopes for and disenchantments with Marxism-Leninism in the writings and actions of revolutionary intellectuals within the 1960s Arab New Left.

In Tehrangeles Dreaming, Farzaneh Hemmasi draws on ethnographic fieldwork in Los Angeles and musical and textual analysis to examine how the pop music, music videos, and television made by Iranian expatriates express modes of Iranianness not possible in Iran.

The Lonely Letters is an epistolary blackqueer critique of the normative world in which Ashon T. Crawley meditates on the interrelation of blackqueer life, sounds of the black church, theology, mysticism, and the potential for platonic and erotic connection in a world that conspires against blackqueer life.

Drawing on Whitman and Adorno, Morton Schoolman proposes aesthetic education through film as a way to redress the political violence inflicted on difference society constructs as its racialized, gendered, Semitic, and sexualized other in A Democratic Enlightenment.

In Kwaito Bodies, Xavier Livermon examines the cultural politics of the youthful black body in South Africa through the performance, representation, and consumption of Kwaito—a style of electronic dance music that emerged following the end of apartheid.

Reflecting on the experience, philosophy, and practice of Latin American indigenous and Afro-descendant activist-intellectuals who mobilize to defend their territories from large-scale extraction, Arturo Escobar shows in Pluriversal Politics how the key to addressing planetary crises is the creation of the pluriverse—a world of many epistemological and ontological worlds.

The contributors to AIDS and the Distribution of Crises outline the myriad ways that the AIDS pandemic exists within a network of varied historical, overlapping, and ongoing crises borne of global capitalism and colonial, racialized, and gendered violence. This collection is edited by Jih-Fei Cheng, Alexandra Juhasz, and Nishant Shahani. It is currently available to read free online as part of our Navigating the Threat of Pandemic syllabus.

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New Books in March

Spring is just around the corner—so it’s time to stock up on books for a whole new season of reading. Check out all of these titles arriving in March!

In I Never Left Home, poet and revolutionary Margaret Randall tells the moving, captivating, and astonishing story of her life, from her childhood in New York to joining the Sandanista movement in Nicaragua, from escaping political repression in Mexico to raising a family and teaching college.

Demanding Images is Karen Strassler’s ethnography of Indonesia’s post-authoritarian public sphere, exploring the role of public images as they gave visual form to the ideals, aspirations, and anxieties of democracy.

Focusing on a wide range of media technologies and practices in Beijing, Underglobalization by Joshua Neves examines the cultural politics of the “fake” and how frictions between legality and legitimacy propel dominant models of economic development and political life in contemporary China.

A writing manual as well as a manifesto, Every Day I Write the Book combines novelist and essayist Amitava Kumar’s practical writing advice with interviews with prominent writers, offering guidance and inspiration for academic writers at all levels.

In Negative Exposures, Margaret Hillenbrand explores how artistic appropriations of historical images effectively articulate the openly unsayable and counter the public secrecy that erases traumatic episodes from China’s past.

The contributors to Visualizing Fascism, edited by Julia Adeney Thomas and Geoff Eley, examine the imagery and visual rhetoric of interwar fascism in East Asia, southern Africa, and Europe to explore how fascism was visualized as a global and aesthetic phenomenon.

In his new book-length prose poem, The Voice in the Headphones, musician David Grubbs draws on decades of recording experience, taking readers into the recording studio to tell the story of an unnamed musician who struggles to complete a film soundtrack in a day-long marathon recording session.

Rahul Mukherjee explores how the media coverage of and debates about nuclear power plants and cellular phone antennas in India frames and sustains environmental activism in Radiant Infrastructures.

Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky theorizes the process genre—a filmic genre characterized by its representation of chronologically ordered steps in which some form of labor results in a finished product—in The Process Genre.

In The Queer Games Avant-Garde, Bonnie Ruberg presents twenty interviews with twenty-two queer video developers whose radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is driving a momentous shift in the medium of video games.

Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas traces how parenting practices among urban elites in Brazil and Puerto Rico preserve and reproduce white privilege and economic inequality in Parenting Empires.

In Rock | Water | Life, Lesley Green examines the interwoven realities of inequality, racism, colonialism, and environmental destruction in South Africa, calling for environmental research and governance to transition to an ecopolitical approach that could address South Africa’s history of racial oppression and environmental exploitation.

Matt Brim shifts queer studies away from sites of elite education toward poor and working-class students and locations in Poor Queer Studies, showing how the field is driven by those flagship institutions that perpetuate class and race inequity in higher education.

In Paris in the Dark, Eric Smoodin takes readers on a journey through the streets, cinemas, and theaters of Paris to sketch a comprehensive picture of French film culture during the 1930s and 1940s.

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New Books in February

This month, we’re releasing an array of new reads in all of the subjects you love. Take a look at these new books coming this February!

The concluding volume in a poetic triptych, Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Dub: Finding Ceremony takes inspiration from theorist Sylvia Wynter, dub poetry, and ocean life to offer a catalog of possible methods for remembering, healing, listening, and living otherwise.

In Wild Blue Media, Melody Jue destabilizes terrestrial-based media theory frameworks and reorients the perception of the world by considering the ocean itself as a media environment—a place where the weight and opacity of seawater transforms how information is created, stored, transmitted, and perceived.

In The Ocean in the School, Rick Bonus tells the stories of Pacific Islander students at the University of Washington as they and their allies struggled to transform a university they believed did not value their presence into a space based on meaningfulness, respect, and multiple notions of student success.

In Orozco’s American Epic, Mary K. Coffey examines José Clemente Orozco’s mural cycle Epic of American Civilization, which indicts history as complicit in colonial violence and questions the claims of Manifest Destiny in the United States and the Mexican desire to mend the wounds of conquest in pursuit of a postcolonial national project.

Nandita Sharma traces the development of the categories of migrants and natives from the nineteenth century to the present in Home Rule to theorize how the idea of people’s rights being tied to geographical notions of belonging came to be.

In Unfixed, Jennifer Bajorek traces the relationship between photography and decolonial politics in Francophone west Africa in the years immediately leading up to and following independence from French colonial rule in 1960, showing how photography both reflected and actively contributed to social and political change.

In Are You Entertained?, a collection of essays, interviews, visual art, and artist statements on topics ranging from music and dance to Black Twitter and the NBA’s dress code, the contributors consider what culture and Blackness mean in the twenty-first century’s digital consumer economy. This volume is edited by Simone C. Drake and Dwan K. Henderson.

In Musicophilia in Mumbai, Tejaswini Niranjana traces the place of Hindustani classical music in Mumbai throughout the long twentieth century, showing how the widespread love of music throughout the city created a culture of collective listening and social subjects who embodied new forms of modernity.

Focusing on the work of a Marxist anticolonial literary group active in India between the 1930s and 1950s, Neetu Khanna rethinks the project of decolonization in The Visceral Logics of Decolonization by showing how embodied and affective responses to colonial subjugation provide the catalyst for developing revolutionary consciousness.

Contributors to Queer Korea, edited by Todd A. Henry, offer interdisciplinary analyses of non-normative sexuality and gender nonconformity in Korea, extending individualized notions of queer neoliberalism beyond those set in Western queer theory.

Drawing on Marxist phenomenology, geography, and aesthetics and film from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan made between the 1990s and the present, Erin Y. Huang theorizes the economic, cultural, and political conditions of neoliberal postsocialist China in Urban Horror.

The contributors to Affective Trajectories examine the mutual and highly complex entwinements between religion and affect in urban Africa in the early twenty-first century, tracing the myriad ways religious ideas, practices, and materialities interact with affect to configure life in urban African spaces. This collection is edited by Hansjörg Dilger, Astrid Bochow, Marian Burchardt, and Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon.

In Naked Agency, Naminata Diabate explores how the deployment of defiant nakedness by mature women in Africa challenges longstanding assumptions about women’s political agency.

From The Guiding Light to Passions, Elana Levine traces the history of daytime television soap operas as an innovative and highly gendered mass cultural form in Her Stories.

In Seeing by Electricity, Doron Galili traces television’s early history, from the fantastical devices initially imagined fifty years before the first television prototypes to the emergence of broadcast television in the 1930s, showing how television was always discussed and treated in relation to cinema.

Jeremy Packer and Joshua Reeves provide a critical account of the history and future of automation in warfare in Killer Apps by highlighting the threats posed by the latest advances in media technology and artificial intelligence.

Originally published in German in 1978 and appearing here in English for the first time, the second volume of Peter Weiss’s three-volume novel The Aesthetics of Resistance depicts anti-fascist resistance, radical proletarian political movements, and the relationship between art and resistance from the late 1930s to World War II.

Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop by Sarah Eckhardt accompanies the exhibition of the photography of Virginia artist Louis Draper and other members of the Kamoinge Workshop that opens at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in February 2020. We are distributing it for the museum.

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New Books in December

‘Tis the season for brand new books! This month, we’re releasing a variety of compelling titles from a wide range of disciplines—art, history, music, theory and philosophy, cultural studies, and many more. Check out these great reads available in December.

Andrea Smith examines the racial reconciliation movement in Evangelical Christianity through a critical ethnic studies lens in Unreconciled, evaluating the varying degrees to which Evangelical communities that were founded on white supremacy have attempted to address racism and become more inclusive.

In Picasso’s Demoiselles, eminent art historian Suzanne Preston Blier uncovers a previously unknown history of the influences and creative process of Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, one of the twentieth century’s most important, celebrated, and studied paintings.

In The Sonic Episteme Robin James examines how twenty-first-century conceptions of sound as acoustic resonance shape notions of the social world, personhood, and materiality in ways that support white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

In Listen But Don’t Ask Question Kevin Fellezs traces the ways in which slack key guitar—a traditional Hawaiian musical style played on an acoustic steel-string guitar—is a site for the articulation of the complex histories, affiliations, and connotations of Hawaiian belonging.

Militarization: A Reader, edited by Roberto J. González, Hugh Gusterson, and Gustaaf Houtman, offers an anthropological perspective on militarization’s origin and sustained presence as a cultural process in its full social, economic, political, cultural, environmental, and symbolic contexts throughout the world.

Originally published in French in 1997 and appearing here in English for the first time, David Lapoujade’s William James: Empiricism and Pragmatism is both an accessible and rigorous introduction to and a pioneering rereading of James’s thought.

With topics that span the sixteenth century to the present in Latin America, the United States, Australia, the Middle East, and West Africa, the contributors to Ethnopornography show how ethnopornography—the eroticized observation of the Other for supposedly scientific or academic purposes—is fundamental to the creation of race, colonialism, and archival and ethnographic knowledge. This volume is edited by Pete Sigal, Zeb Tortorici, and Neil L. Whitehead.

In Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan Patrick Galbraith examines Japanese “otaku,” their relationships with fictional girl characters, the Japanese public’s interpretations of them as excessive and perverse, and the Japanese government’s attempts to co-opt them into depictions of “Cool Japan” to an international audience.

In Mafalda: A Social and Political History of Latin America’s Global Comic—first published in Argentina in 2014 and appearing here in English for the first time—Isabella Cosse examines the history, political commentary, and influence of the world-famous comic character Mafalda from her Argentine origins in 1964 to her global reach in the 1990s.

In The Licit Life of Capitalism Hannah Appel uses a case study of U.S. oil industry in Equatorial Guinea to illustrate how inequality makes markets, not just in West Africa but globally.

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Diving Deep into Black Sacred Music

In today’s post, Dan Ruccia, Marketing Designer at Duke University Press and PhD in music composition, digs deep into our journal Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology (published 1987–1995), outlining its highlights and contributions. Access to Black Sacred Music’s full archive is now available via individual subscription or library purchase.

coverimageIn the preface to “The Theology of American Popular Music” (3:2, 1989), Black Sacred Music editor Yahya Jongintaba (then known as Jon Michael Spencer) described theomusicology as “a musicological method for theologizing about the sacred (the religious/churched), the secular (the theistic unreligious/un-churched), and the profane (the atheistic/irreligious) . . . principally incorporating methods borrowed from anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy.” Jongintaba saw theomusicology as a distinct branch of musicological study akin to ethnomusicology. He further envisioned it as a way to drive scholarly interest in popular music, which was then still largely ignored by musicology (popular music studies was still very much in its infancy) and religious studies. 

During its nine years of publication (1987–1995), the journal took a broad approach to its subject area, publishing scholarly essays on spirituals, the blues, rock, hip hop, and musical practices of the African and African-American church alongside a rich collection of archival documents recounting Black musical life from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Below are a few highlights.

coverimageIn “Musicology as a Theologically Informed Discipline” (8:1, 1994), journal editor Yahya Jongintaba lays out what he sees as the parameters of theomusicology as distinct from ethnomusicology. As he re-articulates the points about the interdisciplinary influences mentioned above, he also makes pointed critiques about the colonialist, eurocentric, and racist roots of those disciplines. He suggests that “theology can, in turn, liberate the social sciences by its willingness to confront oppressive scholarly methods, constructs, and intents on ethical grounds.” 

On Afro-American Popular Music: From Bebop to Rap” (6:1, 1992), part of the special issue “Sacred Music of the Secular City: From Blues to Rap,” is a reprint of a 1983 article in which Cornel West “provide[s] a cognitive mapping of the major breaks and ruptures in Afro-American popular music in light of their changing socioeconomic and political contexts from bebop to rap, from Charlie Parker to the Sugarhill Gang.” He gives special attention to Motown, the “technofunk” of Parliament/Funkadelic, and rap as dynamic expressions of Black identity and norm-breaking.

coverimageThe journal also featured some of the earliest scholarly discourse around hip hop, contained in the issue “The Emergency of Black and the Emergence of Rap” (5:1, 1991). Contributors to the issue chart the distinct phases of rap’s first decade, analyze the way Nation of Islam ideology weaves its way through Public Enemy’s music and performance, and investigate the African spirituality of MC Hammers “U Can’t Touch This.” Perhaps the most provocative article in the issue is Sonja Peterson-Lewis’s “A Feminist Analysis of the Defenses of Obscene Rap Lyrics,” which responds to the 2 Live Crew obscenity trial in 1990. Peterson-Lewis critiques 2 Live Crew’s lyrics, particularly the way their depictions of violence against women reinforce sexist tropes.

coverimageAnother key contribution from the journal was its publication of important archival materials. Most of its regular issues feature some kind of historical reprint: antislavery songs; accounts of the use of spirituals in various contexts; and articles by figures such as Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Paul Robeson, and Langston Hughes. In the issue Unsung Hymns by Black and Unknown Bards (4:1, 1990), Jongintaba collected 100 hymns—some are just lyrics, others include sheet music—written by 14 hymnists over nearly two centuries. While none of the authors are anonymous (like the authors/composers of many spirituals), most had been forgotten to history.

Finally, the journal published two invaluable readers of the prominent African-American composers William Grant Still (6:2, 1992) and R. Nathaniel Dett (5:2, 1991). The Dett Reader compiles 20 essays written between 1918 and 1938, documenting his research into the origins and history of spirituals. The Still Reader features 35 essays spanning 40 years discussing his views on classical music, race, and the role of the composer in the 20th century. These issues represent the most comprehensive collections of primary documents by these men.

Black Sacred Music provided a trove of innovative research and significant historical documents that cannot be found anywhere else. Today, scholars on four continents are involved in producing an array of theomusicology-focused books, articles, dissertations, theses, papers, lectures, blogs, and courses.

Black Sacred Music Archive Now Available

We are excited to announce the digitization of Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology, published semiannually from 1987 to 1995 and now available online for the first time.

Subscribe now for access, or ask your library to purchase the archive.

Black Sacred Music, under the editorship of Yahya Jontingaba (formerly known as Jon Michael Spencer), sought to establish theomusicology—a theologically informed musicology—as a distinct discipline, incorporating methods from anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy to examine the full range of black sacred music. Topics included the theology of American pop, the early days of rap, the African church, spirituals, gospel music, civil rights songs, and much more.

The journal consisted of scholarly articles, essays, hymns and folk songs, sermons, historical reprints, and reviews of books, hymn books, and recordings. It also published volumes of archival writings by R. Nathaniel Dett, William Grant Still, and Willis Laurence James.

Notable contributors include Philip V. Bohlman, Michael Eric Dyson, Andrew Greeley, Mark Sumner Harvey, Willie James Jennings, D. Soyini Madison, Sonja Peterson-Lewis, Harold Dean Trulear, William C. Turner Jr., Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, Cornel West, and Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.

Jason Borge’s Latin American Jazz Playlist

978-0-8223-6990-5Today we’re pleased to share a playlist and commentary by Jason Borge, author of the new book Tropical Riffs: Latin America and the Politics of Jazz. In the book, Borge traces how jazz helped forge modern identities and national imaginaries in Latin America during the mid-twentieth century. Borge is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas, Austin.

Tropical Riffs is not meant to be a survey or formal analysis of Latin jazz or Latin American jazz per se. Rather, it is a cultural and intellectual history of jazz’s singular impact in the region from the 1920s until the 1980s, with a focus on Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico. My book’s central aim is to explain why jazz—or what passed for jazz—resonated so deeply and for so long with such a wide range of Latin American fans, critics, intellectuals, and musicians. It is inevitable that Tropical Riffs would deal with individual artists and recordings, given the region’s prominent though somewhat misunderstood place in the complex transnational circuitry of jazz and 20th century popular music generally. The following playlist gives a sampling of the performers and performances that speak to the main issues covered in the book’s five chapters.

Chapter 1: La civilizada selva: Latin America and the Jazz Age

Adolfo Aviles Jazz Band, “Blue Skies” (Odeon Nacional, 1927)

Ovaldo Viana e Orquestra Romeu Silva, “O Teu Sapateado” (from the film O Jovem Tataravô, dir. Luiz de Barros, 1936)

Like many other Latin American orchestras of the time, the Adolfo Aviles Jazz Band was basically a multi-purpose dance band, adept at interpreting different musical styles to accompany different dances foxtrots and tangos. “Blue Skies” is a popular Tin Pan Alley tune of the 1920s recorded by, among others, Josephine Baker, a huge star in Latin America in the late 1920s. For many, Baker symbolized the Jazz Age not only in terms of her stylized nègre spectacle and performative derring-do but also by bringing a sense of cosmopolitan danger to local audiences. Baker’s fame only increased after she toured several South American cities in 1929. In “O Teu Sapateado,” Ovaldo Viana and the Orquestra Romeu Silva perform in front of a screen filled with images of Baker. Romeu, by the way, was quite familiar with both jazz and Baker, having played with Baker in the early 1930s as well as the clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Booker Pittman, who began his decades-long tenure in Brazil and Argentina as a part of Silva’s orchestra.

Chapter 2: Dark Pursuits: Argentina, Race, and Jazz

Oscar Alemán, “Blues del Adios” [Bye Bye Blues] (Odeon Argentina, 1942)

Gato Barbieri, from Jazz is Alive and Well in New York (documentary, 1973)

Astor Piazzolla with Conjunto Electrónico, “Libertango” (French television: Les rendez-vous du dimanche, March 20, 1977)

In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, nowhere in Latin America did the passion for jazz rage stronger than in Argentina. Part of the same Parisian milieu as Silva and Baker in the 1930s, the Afro-Argentine guitarist Oscar Alemán was, after Django Reinhardt, probably the most prominent swing guitarist in Europe. Alemán was also a consummate showman and a highly adaptable singer who returned to Buenos Aires as a conquering, semi-authentic, jazz icon—which for most porteño critics and fans normally meant being Black and estadounidense. Gato Barbieri and Astor Piazzolla, like Alemán, achieved fame abroad while wrestling with charged and ambivalent conceptions of jazz (and tango) back home. Barbieri apprenticed as a free jazz player with Don Cherry, then reinvented himself in the late 1960s as a mestizo revolutionary drawing from an assortment of Andean, Brazilian, and other musical sources, as this clip from a French documentary shows. Piazzolla, meanwhile, focused on “swingifying” tango in stints in Europe, the US, and in Argentina. This recording of “Libertango” shows him in his short-lived fusion format, at a time when he was eager to update himself in ways that would resonate with international audiences in the 1970s and 1980s.

Chapter 3: The Anxiety of Americanization: Jazz, Samba, and Bossa Nova

Orquesta Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, “Gavião Calçudo” (Parlophone, 1929)

Carlos Lyra, “Influência do Jazz,” from Depois do Carnaval: O Sambalanço de Carlos Lyra (Philips, 1963)

Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz, “The Girl from Ipanema” (The Hollywood Palace, ABC TV, 1964)

The history of Brazilian popular music of the early to mid-20th century is haunted by the spectre of perceived cultural impurities, often considered synonymous with americanização [Americanization] and jazz in particular. Such fears first came to the fore in the late 1920s with the publication of a series of articles decrying the audible jazz influence of the Orquesta Típica Pixinguinha-Donga, particularly in the Parlophone recordings of the samba-maxixe “Gavião Calçudo” (included here) and Pixinguinha [Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr.]’s famous composition “Carinhoso.” The anxiety of americanização simmered for several decades, coming to a boil again in the early 1960s with the rise of bossa nova. Tellingly, one of the movement’s early hits—Carlos Lyra’s “Influência do Jazz”—gave explicit if ambivalent expression to samba’s supposed contamination at the hands of jazz. By contrast, US jazz artists like Stan Getz were only too eager to capitalize on bossa’s jazz “problem,” often upstaging the bossanovistas in the process, as this television clip reveals.

Chapter 4: The Hazards of Hybridity: Afro-Cuban Jazz, Mambo, and Revolution

Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, with Chano Pozo, “Manteca” (RCA Victor, 1947)

Pérez Prado and His Orchestra on The Spike Jones Show, May 1, 1954

Irakere, Live in Concert, March 23, 1979, Capitol Theatre (Passaic, NJ)

When Dizzy Gillespie and the Cuban-born percussionist Luciano “Chano” Pozo made music together shortly after the end of the Second World War, New York City became ground zero both for bebop and “Cubop,” or Afro-Cuban jazz. Most jazz critics and historians now generally acknowledge that the Gillespie-Machito-Pozo sessions (such as this recording of Pozo’s composition “Manteca”) signalled the birth of what today is known as Latin jazz. Meanwhile, another jazz-informed, circum-Caribbean hybrid was being born in the nightclubs of Havana and the soundstages of Mexico City. Epitomized (if not created) by the bandleader Dámaso Pérez Prado, mambo was often reduced to caricature in US film and television appearances of the 1950s. In the 1960s, while critics and industry insiders in the United States struggled to come to terms with Afro-Caribbean contributions to transnational popular music, Cuban revolutionary orthodoxy made “jazz” a bad word, in spite of the jazz-like music that continued to be performed on the island.  The jazz prohibition would be blown wide open in the 1970s with the rise of the Cuban jazz-fusion supergroup Irakere.

Chapter 5: Liberation, Disenchantment, and the Afterlives of Jazz

Bix Beiderbecke, “Jazz Me Blues” (Matrix, 1927), one of many jazz recordings mentioned in Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortázar

Dave Brubeck, “Nostalgia de Mexico,” from Bravo! Brubeck! (Columbia, 1967)

Tino Contreras, “Santo,” from Misa en jazz (Musart, 1966)

Even after the international popularity of jazz went into slow decline beginning in the 1950s, the music, aggressively promoted abroad by the US State Department, continued to captivate Latin American audiences. This was especially true of writers and intellectuals like the Argentine Julio Cortázar, whose landmark novel Rayuela [Hopscotch, 1963] is chock-full of references to jazz and blues, from Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong to Bix Beiderbecke (included here) and Art Tatum. There were countless musical tributes and quotations as well. In 1966, the Mexican jazz drummer and composer Tino Contreras recorded “Santo,” an unusual homage to Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” and part of Contreras’s conceptually ambitious project, Misa en Jazz [Jazz Mass]. As if to return the favor, Brubeck, one of the main jazz ambassadors of the 1960s and 1970s (along with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others), recorded Bravo! Brubeck! live in Mexico in 1967.

Want to learn more about Latin American jazz? Pick up the paperback of Tropical Riffs for 30% off using coupon code E18BORGE on our website.

New Books in March

Spring is just around the corner, and so are these great new titles coming out in March.

978-0-8223-6983-7In Me and My House Magdalena J. Zaborowska uses James Baldwin’s house in the south of France as a lens through which to reconstruct his biography and to explore the politics and poetics of blackness, queerness, and domesticity in his complex and underappreciated later works.

Bridging black feminist theory with disability studies, Sami Schalk’s Bodyminds Reimagined traces how black women’s speculative fiction complicates the understanding of bodyminds in the context of race, gender, and (dis)ability, showing how the genre’s exploration of bodyminds that exist outside of the present open up new social and ethical possibilities.

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In Murder on Shades Mountain Melanie S. Morrison tells the tragic story of the murder and attempted murder of three young women in 1930s Birmingham, Alabama, and the aftermath, which saw a reign of terror unleashed on the town’s black community, the wrongful conviction and death sentencing of Willie Peterson, and a black-led effort to free Peterson.

In Archiveology Catherine Russell uses the work of Walter Benjamin to explore how the practice of archiveology—the reuse, recycling, appropriation, and borrowing of archival sounds and images—by filmmakers provides ways to imagine the past and the future.

Crystal Biruk’s Cooking Data offers an ethnographic account of research into the demographics of HIV and AIDS in Malawi in which she rethinks how quantitative health data is produced by showing how data production is inevitably entangled with the lives of those who produce it.

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We’re excited to be publishing two novels in translation this month. Published in China in 2009 and appearing in English for the first time, Liu Zhenyun’s award-winning Someone to Talk To follows two men living seventy years apart who in their loneliness and struggle to find meaningful personal connections highlight the contours of everyday life in pre- and post-Mao China.

Originally published in 1924, José Eustasio Rivera’s novel  The Vortex follows the harrowing adventures of the young poet Arturo Cova and his lover Alicia as they elope and flee from Bogotá into the wild and woolly backcountry of Colombia. A major work of twentieth-century Latin American literature, The Vortex is both a denunciation of the sensational human-rights abuses that took place during the Amazonian rubber boom and one of the most famous literary renderings of the Amazonian rainforest.

Examining the cultural and gender politics of Chinese contemporary art at the turn of the twenty-first century, Sasha Su-Ling Welland’s Experimental Beijing shows how artists, curators, officials, and urban planners negotiated the meanings of the avant-garde, built new cultural institutions, wrote new histories of Chinese art, and imagined new, more gender-inclusive worlds.

New in the MoMA Primary Documents series, Modern Art in the Arab World, edited by Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers,  and Nada Shabout, is a compendium of critical art writings by twentieth-century Arab intellectuals and artists that explore the formation of a global modernism through debates on originality, public space, spiritualism and art, postcolonial exhibition politics, and Arab nationalism, among many other topics.

Lamonte Aidoo’s Slavery Unseen upends dominant narratives of Brazilian national identity by showing how the myth of racial democracy is based on interracial and same-sex sexual violence between slave owners and their slaves that operated as a mechanism of perpetuating slavery and heteronormative white patriarchy.

978-0-8223-7147-2In Now that the Audience is Assembled David Grubbs explores the ephemeral nature of improvised music in Now that the audience is assembled, a prose poem that in its depiction of a fictional musical performance challenges common understandings of how and where music is composed, performed, and experienced.

Jan M. Padios’ A Nation on the Line examines the massive call center industry in the Philippines in the context of globalization, race, gender, transnationalism, and postcolonialism, outlining how it has become a significant site of efforts to redefine Filipino identity and culture, the Philippine nation-state, and the value of Filipino labor.

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David Garcia’s Listening for Africa Playlist

978-0-8223-6370-5DSC04996Today, David F. Garcia offers a playlist to accompany his new book Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music’s African Origins. You can save 30% on the paperback with coupon code E17LISTN.

Taking on a topic like the discourse of a music’s origins entails following multiple artistic, disciplinary, and political directions. Of course, setting boundaries helps make such an endeavor feasible but no less massive. In Listening for Africa I look at a group of fascinating individuals, some well known and others not so well known, who from varying perspectives engaged the idea and nature of black music and dance’s African origins. Their reasons for engaging this idea were not merely didactical but rather to change their world. From the Great Depression, Jim Crow, and the rise of Nazism to World War II, the Cold War, and African decolonization, citizens of the modern world invested their place in it drawing from modernity’s promises of freedom through knowledge, art, and work. Only, the realization of freedom for many would be deferred by modernity’s discursive defaults.

The following audio recordings and films are explored in depth in the book. Listen and watch as you read about the individuals depicted in them and their journeys living in their shared modern world, turbulent though it was.

Chapter 1. Analyzing the African Origins of Negro Music and Dance in a Time of Racism, Fascism, and War

“Ag’ya,” Jamaica & Martinique Fieldwork, 1936, video clip #19, filmed by Katherine Dunham. Music Division, Library of Congress.

L’ag’ya, scene 3, the Katherine Dunham Company, Studebaker Theater, Chicago, 1947, filmed by Ann Barzel.

Chapter 2. Listening to Africa in the City, in the Laboratory, and on Record

“Tambó,” Gilberto Valdés y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (V83315), Havana, 1940.

“Sangre Africana,” Gilberto Valdés y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (V 83315), Havana, 1940

“Toitica la Negra,” Katherine Dunham and Ensemble, recorded with Decca (40028), New York, 1945.

“Abakuá song,” Harold Courland: Cuba, Eastern and central regions, Afro-Cubans (253.4), Guanabacoa, 1940.

“Elube Chango,” Harold Courland: Cuba, Eastern and central regions, Afro-Cubans (252.4), Havana, 1940.

“Elube Chango,” Casino de la Playa with Miguelito Valdés, recorded with Victor (V 82770), Havana, 1939.

Chapter 3. Embodying Africa against Racial Oppression, Ignorance, and Colonialism

Sanders of the River (London Film Productions, 1935) featuring Paul Robeson as Bozambo. Boat-rowing scene occurs at 1:07:00.

Nabonga (PRC Pictures, 1944). Modupe Paris appears at 14:23 and 15:45.

Chapter 4. Disalienating Movement and Sound from the Pathologies of Freedom and Time

Liberian Suite, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, New York, 1947.

Film No. 4, Harry Smith, ca. 1950.

“Manteca,” Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, recorded with RCA Victor (47-2860), New York, 1947.

“Guarachi guaro,” Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, recorded with RCA Victor (20-3370), New York, 1948.

Chapter 5. Desiring Africa, or Western Civilization’s Discontents

“Rareza del siglo,” Julio Cueva y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (23-0677), Havana, 1946.

“José” as performed by Pérez Prado in the film Al son del mambo (Filmadora Chapultepec, 1950).

“Kon-Toma,” Pérez Prado y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (23-1344), Havana, 1949.

“Qué te pasa, José” as performed by Amalia Aguilar and Silvestre Méndez in Ritmos del Caribe (Compañía Cinematográfica Mexicana, 1950).

Del can can al mambo (Producciones Calderón S.A., 1951). Mambo dancing displaying symptoms of el mal de San Vito occurs at 1:21:53.

Astor Piazzolla and Lalo Schifrin, New York, 1958

978-0-8223-6236-4We’re pleased to share a guest blog post from Matthew Karush, author of the new book Musicians in Transit: Argentina and the Globalization of Popular Music.

In Musicians in Transit, I explore the careers of seven Argentine musicians across the twentieth century. My focus is on how these artists navigated the economic and ideological structures of the global music business. Whether they played tango, folk, jazz, pop, or rock, all of these musicians recorded for multinational companies, performed for foreign audiences and critics, and engaged with foreign genres and musicians. These encounters imposed creative limits, but they also opened up opportunities. In response, Argentine musicians produced innovative music and achieved commercial success while generating new ways of conceptualizing their identities. Their aesthetic and commercial maneuvers both shifted global perceptions of Latin American music and enabled their Argentine fans to reimagine their own relationship to the rest of the world.

The North American travels of tango innovator Astor Piazzolla and jazz pianist and composer Lalo Schifrin provide revealing examples of how Argentine musicians responded to foreign expectations. Coincidentally, Piazzolla and Schifrin followed similar itineraries in the 1950s: both left Buenos Aires for Paris in 1954, returned shortly thereafter, and then moved to New York City in 1958. When they traveled in Europe and the United States, they were both perceived as “Latin,” a quasi-ethnic identity that implied a series of musical stereotypes. This perception exerted a profound impact on the kind of music they would go on to make, although that impact was very different in the two cases.

By the time he moved to New York (or returned there – Piazzolla actually grew up in New York City), Piazzolla was an accomplished tango composer and arranger as well as a performer on the bandoneón, the accordion-like instrument featured in tango bands. In the mid-fifties, he had developed an avant-garde version of the tango, which sounded like this:

This is “Lo que vendrá,” from 1956. It shows Piazzolla trying to infuse tango with the sophistication of both classical music and modern jazz.

Piazzolla was clearly enthusiastic about opening the tango up to foreign influences. In New York, he planned to create a new group that would attract a North American audience by performing a hybrid of jazz and tango. Yet as an Argentine in the United States, Piazzolla was seen as Latin, and musically, Latin meant Cuban drums and rhythms. As a result, Piazzolla’s big break in New York came from Tico Records, a local label that specialized in mambo and other Latin dance genres. Tico paired Piazzolla’s group with a Latin percussion section including Johnny Pacheco, the future salsa innovator.  Here they are playing the Duke Ellington standard, “Sophisticated Lady”:

The choice of material, the vibraphone, and the long bandoneón solo all reveal Piazzolla’s intention to borrow from jazz. But the inclusion of the bongos sets the music against a stereotypical Latin rhythm. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this funny-sounding hybrid failed to find an audience in the US.

Chastened, Piazzolla abandoned his attempt to win over a North American audience and returned to Buenos Aires in 1960. Interestingly, the music he made over the next few years, on the heels of his New York failure, represented his most impressive burst of creativity and innovation and would largely set the template for the rest of his career. His new band was called the Quinteto Nuevo Tango (pictured on the cover of my book). Here it is in 1963 performing Piazzolla’s composition, “Fracanapa”:

As I argue in the book, this music avoided the “fusion” strategy of his New York phase. He was now free of the need to appeal to North American listeners or to fit into the category of Latin music. Inspired by modern jazz, his music sounded like a cosmopolitan version of tango, or as he liked to describe it, “the contemporary music of Buenos Aires.” On the strength of this music, Piazzolla became an icon in Argentina, but he would not achieve a significant audience in the United States until the 1980s.

Lalo Schifrin’s response to the Latin label was very different. Eleven years younger than Piazzolla, Schifrin was a jazz wunderkind with a deep love of bebop and no interest in the tango or in any other Latin American musical genre. Nevertheless, by the mid-1950s, the idea of “Latin jazz,” conceived as a mixture of jazz improvisation with Cuban rhythms, was well established. This category, and the larger one of Latin music, created opportunities for someone like Schifrin, who combined impressive musical skills with Latin American ancestry. Shortly after moving to New York, Schifrin took a job as pianist and arranger for the Latin bandleader Xavier Cugat. Here he is performing with the Cugat band on US television:

The video demonstrates Schifrin’s showmanship, but it also reveals the way he was able to play the role of an authentic practitioner of what the television announcer calls “the modern Latin form.” Similarly, within a couple of years, Schifrin was helping to popularize bossa nova, the Brazilian samba-jazz hybrid, both as the pianist in Dizzy Gillespie’s quintet and as a solo artist:

In late 1963, Schifrin’s career took a definitive turn when he began composing music for movies and TV. His reputation as a Latin music master helped him get his first Hollywood jobs, and many of his early compositions bear the traces of this background. His most famous composition is no exception:

Not only do the bongos give “Mission Impossible” a Latin flavor, but as I argue in the book, the song’s dominant theme plays with listeners’ expectation of the clave, the basic rhythmic cell of Afro-Cuban music. Although Schifrin quickly jettisoned the Latin label and has enjoyed a long career composing in a wide variety of styles, his original reception as a Latin music specialist facilitated his access to US audiences and shaped some of his most influential work.

Piazzolla and Schifrin had opposite experiences in the US: Piazzolla failed to find an audience and quickly returned to Argentina, while Schifrin succeeded and stayed. Nevertheless, they both developed their musical personalities and innovations by grappling with the expectations imposed on them by North Americans.

Use coupon code E16KARUS to save 30% on Musicians in Transit when you order through our website.