From Library Journal
More than simply an overview of three remarkable musicians' lives, this stellar example of distinctive scholarship (together with Lock's previous works, Forces in Motion and Chasing the Vibration) provides an invaluable commentary on American society. Lock relies on African American cultural practices and mythologies to support his underlying themes, which include the purpose behind each musician's works, how they dealt with misconceptions and misunderstandings (particularly regarding jazz criticism and attempts to gain respect for the music), and the democratic nature of jazz, with an emphasis on its black roots and methods of disowning previous racial stereotyping of the music. In recent years, jazz artists such as Sun Ra and Braxton, who were once marginalized by market forces and critics alike, have become topics of exceptional scholarship, and authors simultaneously strive to correct past writing about jazz artists, including such eminences as Ellington. These promising developments saturate Lock's latest work. Recommended for music libraries and public and academic libraries supporting music collections.-William Kenz, Moorhead State Univ. Lib., MN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
It seems odd to lump together the greatest jazz showman, Sun Ra; the greatest jazz orchestrator, Duke Ellington; and the greatest contemporary jazz experimentalist, Anthony Braxton. But Lock illuminatingly argues that the three men's cultural motivations are similar. As African Americans conscious of their people's history and status, they fought racism and the lingering ill effects of being a people forcibly torn from its origins. To assert the cultural eminence and the happy destiny of black people, Sun Ra grounded his music and its presentation in a mythos compounded of ancient Egyptian and science-fictional elements. Ellington proselytized jazz as an art and in his many programmatic suites, beginning with Black, Brown, and Beige
, sought to musically portray the complex truth of black lives. Less hindered by overt racism, Braxton placed his compositions within an overarching dramatic structure that Lock sees as an allegory of Braxton's confrontation with attempts to delimit his music and his people. Explicating music-as-sociology rather than music per se, Lock is utterly enthralling, even in the notes. Ray Olson
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