NEW MUSIC, NEW YORK
By 1950, what historian Daniel Belgrad has called an “aesthetic of spontaneity,” promulgated among “a loose coherence of in dividually unique artists, writers, and musicians,”1 was at the heart of much of the most daring American expressive culture. Many of these artists were based in New York City, arguably the cultural center of the United States, and an environment that nurtured bebop, free jazz and free improvisation, indeterminacy, the musical New York School, the Black Mountain and Beat poets, the Abstract Expressionist painters, and later, early minimalism, the Judson Church dance experiments, and the Living Theater and its offshoots.
Poet Ronald Sukenick's 1987 memoir of the Greenwich Village art scene of the era attests that “the uniquely native American art form, jazz, became, through the fifties, more central than ever for underground artists of all kinds.”2 The Beat poets, for example, were well known for their spontaneously generated “bop prosody.”3 In Abstract Expressionist circles, jazz was widely admired by people as diverse as Franz Kline, Jack Tworkov, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan, and Larry Rivers, who introduced his tenor saxophone improvisations as part of his work. The painter Lee Krasner ob served that her husband, the painter Jackson Pollock, “would get into grooves of listening to his jazz records—not just for days—day