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Improvising over the Changes

Improvising over the Changes

Improvisation as Intellectual and Aesthetic Practice in the Transitional Poems of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka

Chapter:
(p.125) Movement IV Improvising over the Changes
Source:
The Shadow and the Act
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226554259.003.0005

This chapter analyzes LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka's transitional period, his turn from modernism to Black Art, stressing his use of jazz in poetry and cultural criticism. Specifically, it addresses how jazz improvisation has informed his work and ideological changes as a poet and cultural critic, and how improvisation has become a theoretical practice integral to his work and to understanding his work. Jones/Baraka's poetry and jazz criticism reveal the processes of a cultural identification. Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, The Dead Lecturer, and Black Magic are his first three collections. It is noted that jazz improvisation stood out as the most powerful aesthetic and philosophical option for Jones/Baraka. His articulations and improvisations have continued to exhibit and promote a pragmatic vision that remains influential on the ways the intersection of black music and the philosophical concerns of African American life are interpreted and conceptualized.

Keywords:   jazz improvisation, LeRoi Jones, Amiri Baraka, jazz, poetry, cultural criticism, The Dead Lecturer, Black Magic, black music

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