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Philosophisticated Lady

So you think philosophy and literature have no place in jazz history? I'm here to convince you otherwise. In pursuit of a wider understanding of jazz's history, we'll explore and analyze jazz as seen through the eyes of several (in)famous philosophers, writers or schools of thought. Feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions you have. Cheers!


Jazz & The Wolf

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When a literary critic is analysing one of Hermann Hesse's most influential novels, the discussion of jazz music used as a literary device might not immediately jump to his mind. However, throughout Steppenwolf, a story about a troubled academic who believes to be split between man and wolf, jazz proves to be a crucial motif. “From a dance hall there met me as I passed by the strains of lively jazz music, hot and raw as the steam ...

Swinging with Sartre: Jazz Is Like Bananas

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“Jazz is like bananas, it must be consumed on the spot." These immortal words were first brought to life by the famous French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in an article that appeared in the Saturday Review, November 29, 1947. The article, titled I Discovered Jazz in America, was written after a visit to jny: New York City in the mid-forties, where Sartre had attended a jazz performance at Nick's Bar. “They play. You listen. No one dreams. ...


Jazz & Existentialism: Worlds Apart?

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Jazz: a form of musical expression that originated in the United States. Existentialism: a European school of thought that reached its peak in the 1940s. At first thought, we might not associate these two phenomena with one another, yet their correlation throughout history is indisputable. Existentialism in the modern sense of the word, was largely defined in France during and after World War II. There are a considerable amount of factors one must take into account when examining ...


What would Plato have thought about jazz music?

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"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." (Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 39 [Free Press, 1979]) Have you ever wondered what one of the most celebrated philosophers of Ancient History might have thought about jazz music if he had lived to witness its development? There are several fragments of Plato's writings that may point us in the direction of finding out.


Glamour or Gloom? Fitzgerald's Jazz Age

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Many names have been given to the 1920s: the Roaring Twenties, the Golden Twenties, Les Années Folles and, of course, the Jazz Age. It was a decade fuelled by innovation and change; a time of movement: cars were becoming the favoured means of transportation, commercial airline flights were on the rise, social dancing was energetic and popular music was “hot." Those who are familiar with the writings of the celebrated author F. Scott Fitzgerald, will know that his work is ...


According To Adorno: A Portrait Of Jazz's Harshest Critic, Part 2

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Part 1 | Part 2 Though Adorno had many points of criticism regarding the technical aspects of jazz, his contempt for the music genre was fueled by something else. Given the fact that Adorno was best known for his critical theory of society, it is far from surprising that jazz would not escape a social deciphering in his essays."Jazz is not what it 'is,'" he claims in Über Jazz; jazz is defined by the role it plays in ...


According to Adorno: A Portrait Of Jazz's Harshest Critic, Part 1

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Part 1 | Part 2 Though the vast majority of his writings on music dealt primarily with the classical tradition, Theodor Adorno (1903-1969) also devoted a considerable amount of attention to jazz. To say Adorno was skeptical of this dance music that had paddled its way across the Atlantic, would be a gross understatement at best. On top of being incredibly biased, his opinions on jazz music were so harsh, that one may wonder if they are to ...