Today, jazz history is dominated by iconic figures who have taken on an almost God-like status. From Satchmo to Duke, Bird to Trane, these legendary jazzmen form the backbone of the jazz tradition. Jazz icons not only provide musicians and audiences with figureheads to revere but have also come to stand for a number of values and beliefs that shape our view of the music itself. Jazz Icons explores the growing significance of icons in jazz and discusses the reasons why the music's history is increasingly dependent on the legacies of 'great men'. Using a series of individual case studies, Whyton examines the influence of jazz icons through different forms of historical mediation, including the recording, language, image and myth. The book encourages readers to take a fresh look at their relationship with iconic figures of the past and challenges many of the dominant narratives in jazz today.
Introduction: jazz narratives and sonic icons; 1. Jazz icons, heroes and myths; 2. Jazz and the disembodied voice; 3. Not a wonderful world: Louis Armstrong meets Kenny G.; 4. Men can't help acting on impulse!; 5. Witnessing and the jazz anecdote; 6. Dispelling the myth: essentialist Ellington; 7. Birth of the school.
"However, those inside the jazz world who are willing to undertake a critical evaluation of their practices will find the volume enlightening, and those outside it who have marveled at the gushing praise reserved for various jazz figures and dates will find here one plausible explanation for that reception."
-C.Wadsworth Walker, Kansas City Kansas Community College