Jazz and Modernism in Mid-Century America
About this course:
Cool Jazz emerged not long after World War II and introduced a new approach to both composition and jazz improvisation. It was a style, attitude, and approach that created an image of cool intellectualism which helped define modern jazz of the 1950s. This course explores a ten-year period defined by Miles Davis, beginning with his album Birth of the Cool (1949) and ending with Kind of Blue (1959). In between there was a significant and well-publicized cool movement on the west coast as well as a lesser-known but important series of events on the east coast. We explore it all through the music and musicians that contributed to the cool jazz approach including Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh, Shorty Rogers, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, June Christy and many more. We also explore the relationship of cool jazz with other mid-century modern movements in the fields of art, architecture, design, literature, film, and popular music. This includes Miro, Picasso, Charles and Ray Eames, Jack Kerouac, John Hubley, The Case Study Houses, Playboy Magazine, Marlon Brando, James Dean and more. The course is richly illustrated utilizing rare recordings, film footage, photographs, and memorabilia drawn from the vast archive of the Los Angeles Jazz Institute.