Jazz Cultures

Jazz Cultures

Jazz Cultures

Jazz Cultures


"Ake blends careful historical research with intelligent textual criticism and sophisticated cultural theory. . . His critiques augment and enhance our understanding and appreciation of great artistry, but they do much more. This is new, imaginative, original, and generative work. There are very few people who can write about both music theory and social theory with such clarity, depth, and insight."--George Lipsitz, author of "Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Poetics of Place

"David Ake is a jazz artist who has woodshedded with his critical theory as much as with his instrument. As an astute commentator on a wide range of jazz subjects, he has the virtuosity of an Art Tatum and the eclecticism of a John Zorn."--Krin Gabbard, author of "Jammin' at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema

"David Ake's writing combines the best of modern scholarship with the no-nonsense attitude of a gigging musician. In "Jazz Cultures, he seizes upon precisely those issues and historical moments that best reveal how jazz studies might mature into something worthy of the music. A wonderful antidote to the usual cliches of jazz history and a splendid debut."--Scott DeVeaux, author of "The Birth of Bebop


When I entered graduate school school at UCLA, in 1994, it was with hopes of answering a question that had dogged me in one way or another since I had relocated to New York in early 1990. Before that move and its resulting quandary, I had enjoyed a certain amount of professional success as a jazz pianist in Los Angeles and Munich. But somehow the notion that “real jazz” resided only in New York grabbed hold of me, and I set forth for “The City” with my friend, the outstanding saxophonist and composer John Schroeder.

Like so many jazz pilgrims before me, I experienced New York as a daily roller coaster of glorious little victories and discouraging little defeats. Supremely inspiring rehearsals, gigs, and recording sessions with like-minded players (they deserve mention: Ralph Alessi, Ben Allison, Jeff Ballard, Chuck Braman, Scott Colley, Ravi Coltrane, Mark Feldman, Gerry Gibbs, Philip Harper, Mike Karn, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Jeff Lederer, Ben Monder, Scott Neumann, John Schroeder) redeemed the tedious day-to-dayness of subsistence living. During that New York period—I don't know when, exactly—this question presented itself to me: How did I get here?

Now, this wasn't posed in the metaphysical sense of “where does life come from?” but in the very literal sense of “how did a white, beer-

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