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Civic JazzAmerican Music and Kenneth Burke on the Art of Getting Along$
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Gregory Clark

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226218182

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226218359.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 25 February 2021

What Jazz Does

What Jazz Does

(p.83) Five What Jazz Does
Civic Jazz

Gregory Clark

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines jazz as what Kenneth Burke called a “democratic situation” in which individuals who are more or less equal and more or less free must connect with and separate from each other in the process of shaping their lives, individual and collective. Burke considers us all inhabitants of a persistently rhetorical situation in which we each choose constantly to identify with or separate from others. Prompted by the influence of others we must make choices about “acting-together.” And, particularly in a democratic culture, that “acting-together” is both unavoidable and transformative. Jazz improvisation in an ensemble setting models ways that “acting-together” can be transformative for the musicians and for those to whom their music is addressed. Indeed, unexpected change and transformation are the structure of this music itself. This chapter examines jazz music that is explicitly rhetorical to illustrate ways that what matters most in jazz may be what happens to people in the process of making and listening to the music.

Keywords:   Democracy, civic life, action, transformation

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