LITR 5XX: Jazz Literature

Jazz Literature

James J. Donahue

Syllabus Draft

Course Description: In this course, we will study a sampling of literary works inspired by and responding to jazz. Along the way, we will experience a variety of forms of jazz music, in audio and video formats, from John Coltrane and Miles Davis to contemporary international artists. Because of the large number of artists that could be studied, this course will only briefly attend to a small selection, thus serving as an introduction to further reading and study rather than a comprehensive survey. Although a background in music studies (theory and performance) is not required, you are invited to bring to this class any related training and knowledge. Our focus will be on acquiring a basic understanding of the principles of bop and free jazz as a means of approaching, experiencing, and understanding literary texts. Specifically, we will focus on principles of adaptation, revision, and recurring themes.

Course Objectives: Upon successful completion of this course, you will:

-have further developed your skills in reading, analyzing, and writing about literary texts;

-have advanced your studies in 20th century American literature and culture;

-have built a solid foundation upon which you can further engage the arts.

Course Materials:

Note: The music will not be available at the university bookstore. You are encouraged to acquire copies of the music (in the format most accessible for your personal use). You are also encouraged to share materials.

Books

Jack Kerouac: Mexico City Blues, Old Angel Midnight

Bob Kaufman: Cranial Guitar: Selected Poems by Bob Kaufman

Amiri Baraka: Wise, Why’s, Y’s

Michael S. Harper: Dear John, Dear Coltrane

Michael O’SiadhailHail! Madam Jazz

Toni Morrison: Jazz

Paul Beatty: Slumberland

CDs

Miles Davis: Kind of Blue

Charles Mingus: Pithecanthropus Erectus

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme, Lush Life

Marianne Trudel: La vie commence ici

Mats Gustafsson: HIDR0S6

Gil Scott-Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Course Outline:

Unit 1: Jazz as Method

Reading

“My Favorite Things” (The Sound of Music) Sheet music

Donna LeeSheet music

Audio Recordings

Rodgers and Hammerstein, “My Favorite Things” (from The Sound of Music)

John Coltrane, “My Favorite Things” (album version)

Jaco Pastorius, “Donna Lee” (album version)

Online Materials

My Favorite Things

Selection from The Sound of Music

John Coltrane live performances: 1961, 19631965

Mary J. Blige, “My Favorite Things

Kids On The Slope, “My Favorite Things

Charlie Parker, “Donna Lee

Jaco Pastorius, “Donna Lee” live: 1982

Unit 2: The Beat Movement and the Bop Aesthetic

Readings

Jack Kerouac: “About the Beat Generation” (handout); “The Beginning of Bop” (handout); “Beatific: The Origins of the Beat Generation” (handout); Mexico City Blues; Old Angel Midnight

Bob Kaufman: Cranial Guitar: Selected Poems by Bob Kaufman

Audio Recordings

Jack Kerouac: “Lucien Midnight: The Sounds of the Universe in My Window”; selections from “Poetry for the Beat Generation” (with Steve Allen)

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

Video Recording

Jack Kerouac on The Steve Allen Show

Unit 3: Free Jazz

Readings

Amiri Baraka: Wise, Why’s, Y’s

Michael S. Harper: Dear John, Dear Coltrane

Selected John Coltrane Poems, including:

Jayne Cortez, “How Long Has Trane Been Gone

Sonia Sanchez, “a/coltrane/poem

Haki R. Madhubuti, “Don’t Cry, SCREAM

Audio Recordings

Charles Mingus: Pithecanthropus Erectus

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme, Lush Life

Video Recording

“Songs in Amiri Baraka’s Wise, Why’s, Y’s

Unit 4: Jazz Beyond Borders

Reading

Michael O’Siadhail, Hail! Madam Jazz

Audio Recordings

Marianne Trudel, La vie commence ici

Mats Gustafsson, HIDR0S6

Video Recordings

Marianne Trudel Trio: Rehearsals and performances

Unit 5: Spoken Word

Audio Recording

Gil Scott-Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Video Recordings

Gil Scott-Heron: Black Wax

Tracie Morris: “Slave Sho to Video aka Black but Beautiful

Tyehimba Jess, “Another Man Done

Spoken Word Poems by Native American/First Nations Women

Unit 6: Jazz as Method (2)

Possible Readings

Toni Morrison: Jazz

Paul Beatty: Slumberland

Jackie KayTrumpet

Artists I Would Like To Include (but do not yet know how)

Nathaniel Mackey

Mendi Obadike

Brad Mehldau

Keith Jarrett

Michael Manring

And there are plenty of others, so please make suggestions!

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s