What Jazz Is
What Jazz Is
This chapter describes jazz as an expression, in Burke’s words, of “national values, ideals, and expectancies” in the United States—of essential elements of the national identity. Identity, wrote Burke, is made of attitudes and perspectives. Those interact in the ways people try to influence each other toward the end of aligning their differences. It’s the mechanism of our conflict and our getting along. Burke describes how art wields that influence in terms that readily apply to jazz. Playing jazz or listening to it is an experience that enables individuals to transcend their differences sufficiently to achieve sufficient harmony of feeling and expression to make the music, at least for the duration of the tune. Inherent in that transcendence is a transformation of some of the elements of individual identity. The chapter describes that happening in an encounter with the blues, a music that can align individuals in feelings that might enable them to work together.
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