«THE “SECOND QUINTET”: MILES DAVIS, THE JAZZ AVANT-GARDE, AND CHANGE, 1959-68 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC AND THE ...»
THE “SECOND QUINTET”: MILES DAVIS, THE JAZZ AVANT-GARDE,
AND CHANGE, 1959-68
SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC
AND THE COMMITTEE ON GRADUATE STUDIES
OF STANFORD UNIVERSITY
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYKwami Taín Coleman August 2014 © 2014 by Kwami T Coleman. All Rights Reserved.
Re-distributed by Stanford University under license with the author.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial 3.0 United States License.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/ This dissertation is online at: http://purl.stanford.edu/vw492fh1838 ii I certify that I have read this dissertation and that, in my opinion, it is fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Karol Berger, Co-Adviser I certify that I have read this dissertation and that, in my opinion, it is fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
MichaelE Veal, Co-Adviser I certify that I have read this dissertation and that, in my opinion, it is fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Heather Hadlock I certify that I have read this dissertation and that, in my opinion, it is fully adequate in scope and quality as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Charles Kronengold Approved for the Stanford University Committee on Graduate Studies.
Patricia J. Gumport, Vice Provost for Graduate Education This signature page was generated electronically upon submission of this dissertation in electronic format. An original signed hard copy of the signature page is on file in University Archives.
iii ABSTRACT In 1963, four years after recording Kind of Blue, his most successful album to date, Miles Davis began to assemble a new ensemble to record and tour. But much had changed in those four years. Ornette Coleman’s sensational 1959 premiere at the Five Spot Café in Manhattan’s East Village introduced audiences to a free improvised “new thing” in jazz and marked the emergence of an avant-garde. In turn, critics quickly portrayed Coleman, along with Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, and others, as insurrectionists who were intent on shattering the jazz tradition. Meanwhile, jazz venues in New York shuttered as the city government implemented urban renewal programs that targeted vice districts for “slum clearance,” reshaping the city’s topography and impinging upon its music culture. As the “new thing” gained increasing critical attention, and musical experimentalism among emergent and veteran improvising musicians flourished, the music of Miles Davis’s “Second Quintet” gradually became more “free.” This dissertation offers an explanation of this stylistic change via the experimentalism of the so-called jazz avant-gardists, tracing how “free” (i.e. timbral, chromatic, polymetric, and free meter) improvisation proliferated in their live and studio recordings up to 1968. I suggest that the increasing abstraction and volatility of the Quintet’s music can be best understood in the context of the jazz avant-garde and the tumultuous social and structural changes of the 1960s.
I index the stylistic change of the Quintet chronologically across four chapters.
Chapter One discusses the emergent jazz avant-garde and New York City’s changing jazz culture and infrastructure circa 1959. The first half of Chapter Two is an exegesis of avantgardism in critical jazz literature; the second half of the chapter goes into detail on the improvisational and compositional techniques of the jazz avant-garde. Chapter Three explores three important events in the Quintet’s timeline: the departure of tenor saxophonist George Coleman, the addition of Sam Rivers on the group’s Japanese tour in the summer of 1964, and the Quintet’s several-week engagement at Chicago’s Plugged Nickel nightclub featuring Wayne Shorter in December 1965. Chapter Four begins with an overview of a revealing critic roundtable on the jazz avant-garde printed in a 1965 issue of Down Beat magazine that vividly illustrates the mostly negative reception of the “new thing” and the relatively narrow space that these artists had to respond to criticism. The latter half of the chapter shows the Quintet’s transformation between 1966-67, comparing the growing abstraction and intensity in their music with that of Cecil Taylor’s 1966 LP Unit Structures.
By focusing on free improvisation and calling into question genre as reliable taxonomy for artistic praxis, I seek to provide deeper understanding of Miles Davis’s music and that of the jazz avant-garde of the 1960s, acknowledging experimentation as an important pretext for innovation. Utilizing archival research, comparative music analysis, and original musician interviews, I show how expressive freedom was a shared ideal among improvising musicians across the musical field, from the underground into the mainstream.
As such, experimentalism, I argue, is the link between the jazz avant-garde and Davis’s quintet during a transformational moment in American music history.
The planning, implementation, and completion of this dissertation would have been impossible without the insight, feedback, and support of my excellent committee.
My deepest gratitude goes to Michael E. Veal, whose intense intellectual discourse, multitude of helpful suggestions, deep listening sessions, lively debates, and restorative home-cooked meals made every step of this challenging process surmountable. His advice to focus on the Quintet’s live recordings to unlock the clues behind their relationship to the jazz avant-garde – advice which I initially resisted for reasons still unknown – allowed all of the pieces of the puzzle to fit together. My committee chair, Karol Berger, has been steadfast in his support since day one. His aesthetics seminar series opened many of the conceptual doors I walked through in my research, planning, and writing. I am deeply grateful for his guidance, strategic and thought-provoking questions, and encouragement throughout the years.
Heather Hadlock, whose careful eye and insightful suggestions strengthened this project, guided me from the time I entered Stanford as a first-year graduate student to my flustered moments as a Ph.D. candidate on the job market. I have not yet explored the implications of gender as deeply as is necessary in this project, and I thank her for providing me with the tools to explore that dimension in my revisions for the book.
Charles Kronengold’s unparalleled insight into all matters twentieth century was, for me, invaluable. I thank him for helping me to dig deeper into the archives and ask questions concerning the relationship between musicians I had not considered. The many hours spent talking in his office were instrumental in not only developing ways to
being a hip and a serious researcher are not at all incompatible.
A very special thanks goes to Harry J. Elam, Jr., whose early advising and support made an indelible mark on both my scholastic and artistic work; when I was reluctant to call myself a scholar and musician in the same breath, Harry encouraged me to do so.
The research and writing of this dissertation was made possible by fellowships and grants from the Mellon Foundation, the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford University, and the Social Science Research Council. My deepest gratitude goes to Susan J. Weersing and the School for Humanities and Science at Stanford University for generously providing funding that allowed for the completion of this dissertation in 2013-14.
I want to recognize faculty at Stanford who provided generous guidance and support, including Jesse Rodin, George Barth, Albert Cohen, Murray Low, Herb Myers, Steven Sano, Eleanor Selfridge-Field, Erik Ulman, and Elaine Thornburgh. Were it not for the impeccable music department staff at Stanford University, the writing of this dissertation (and many important academic and artistic milestones along the way) would simply not have happened. Debbie Barney, Mario Champagne, Velda Williams, Elise Fujimoto, Scott Kepley, Ardis Walling, Nette Worthey, and Ericka Bratton, my deepest thanks goes to you.
No research project is possible without the assistance of patient, knowledgeable, and dedicated librarians. Thank you to Stanford University’s Music Library staff: Jerry McBride, Ray Heigemeir, Mimi Tashiro, and Rich Powers; and Columbia University’s Music Library staff: Elizabeth Davis and Nick Patterson.
by some of the world’s luminous and visionary musicians. I acknowledge and thank Reginald Workman, Vijay Iyer, Wallace Roney, Ron Carter, George Wein, George E.
Lewis, Nicholas Payton, Bob Stewart, and Olly Wilson for their input, insight, and guidance.
Thank you to my fellow graduate students Matthew Morrison, Adom Getachew, Justino Rodriguez, Jonathan Beltran Gonzalez, Michelle Lou, Anthony Diamond, and Tristan Ivory for their camaraderie, encouragement, and commiseration. I acknowledge also the invaluable help and support of Hughlyn F. Fierce, Jackie Modeste, Genevieve Stewart, Wes Watkins IV, Cally Waite, Michael Ralph, Rich Blint, Katherine Baur, and Zachariah Mamphilly.
Peter Losin’s excellent website Miles Ahead1 was a reliable and indispensible resource. Bertrand Uberall generously offered his time and insight into musicians’ copyright deposits at the Library of Congress.
My scholarly path was paved by the guidance and friendship of Juan Flores and Miriam Jiménez Román, two luminaries who I am lucky to call mentors. I found excellent examples of what it meant to be a music scholar as an undergraduate at Hunter College, where I was advised and metored by Ruth I. DeFord, Richard Burke, L.
Poundie Burstein, Michele Cabrini, Barbara L. Hampton, Mark Spicer, Jewel Thompson, and Priscilla Owens. Scott DeVeaux at the University of Virginia and Susan Muscarella of the California Jazz Conservatory are also deserving of thanks for their support and the important opportunities they made available to me.
Peter Losin’s Miles Ahead website: http://plosin.com/MilesAhead/main.aspx.
from Fatima Jihada, Raquel C. Casilla, Beatrice Anderson, Shayla Vie Jenkins, Yusha Sorzano, Rachael McLaren, and Laetiçia Emmanuel. Their kind spirits help me face each working day with calm, confidence, laughter, and love. I thank my dear brother Marcus Gilmore for reminding me of who I am and what’s important – you’ve always been my inspiration.
Thank you to my dear family for their unyielding love and support: María Román Coleman, Taina K. Coleman, Antonio (Tony) Ortiz, Donald Trammel, Mildred Sarah Coleman, Kevin Coleman, and Dorette Noris.
I honor the memory of Pheobe Jacobs, the Executive Vice President and Director of the Louis Amstrong Educational Foundation who saw enough of something in a young pianist from Harlem attending the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and the Performing Arts to take me under her wing. My accomplishments are a product of the confidence and determination Mrs. Jacobs helped to instill more than a decade ago.
I dedicate this dissertation to the memory of my father, Earl Coleman, the first and most important music teacher I have ever had. You were one of these young experimentalists in the 1960s, and each and every one of these pages is imprinted by your many profound lessons and your incandescent spirit.
Stories about Miles Davis, anthropologist John Szwed writes in his 2002 biography, are legion and often apocryphal.2 A survey of the critical work on the artist reveals how, over time, elements of Davis’s mythology have congealed into historical truths. Of the many viewpoints on Davis, those that highlight his mercurial creative personality, one that seemingly affected everything from the sound of his music to the contents of his wardrobe, most forcefully shape the narrative. What we understand about Davis is that he managed to change with the times several times, and his ability to adapt to new musical surroundings and absorb new ideas was a skill of which he was immensely proud. Davis, attending Ray Charles’s Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony at the White House in 1987, curtly responded to a rather impolite question about his accomplishments by saying: “'Well, I've changed music five or six times, so I guess that's what I've done,” subsequently turning the question around on the clueless attendant with a charged provocation.3 A more accurate description, however, is that “music” and extra-musical factors changed Davis, an effect made particularly obvious in the 1960s. Davis’s transformation during this period should be thought of in relation to the blossoming, boundary-pushing innovations of the experimentalism-inclined musicians who quickly earned the 1 Miles Davis quoted in Hollie I. West’s article “Black Tune,” Washington Post (March 13, 1969), L1 and L9.
2 John Szwed, So What: The Life of Miles Davis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002),1.
3 Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989), 378-381.
distinction of “avant-garde.” Theirs was a new musical paradigm that gradually gained the attention of many musicians, inspiring and influencing some and representing an artistic scourge to others. Most importantly, Davis was not unique in his adoption of new, unconventional techniques; other veteran musicians like Sonny Rollins (e.g. Our Man In Jazz, recorded in 1962), John Coltrane, and Charles Mingus turned towards the “free” concepts that were proliferating underground.