Thriving on a Riff

Thriving on a Riff : Jazz and Blues Influences in African American Literature and Film

2 (1 rating by Goodreads)
Edited by  , Edited by 

List price: US$105.01

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


Thriving on a Riff explores the influence of jazz and blues in two key areas of cultural expression, literature and film, where these musics have often been inextricably linked with notions of racial identity and self-representation. From the Harlem Renaissance to the present day, African American writers have adapted blues and jazz forms for their own ends. Individual chapters here focus on the distinctive approaches of writers as various as Sterling Brown (Steven C. Tracy), James Weldon Johnson and J.J. Phillips (Nick Heffernan), Paul Beatty (Bertram Ashe) and Amiri Baraka and Nathaniel Mackey (David Murray). There are interviews (by Graham Lock) with leading contemporary poets Michael S. Harper and Jayne Cortez, who also read their work on the book's companion website. The performing self, as found in autobiography as well as in music and film, is explored in Krin Gabbard's account of Miles Davis, while John Gennari investigates factual and fictional versions of Charlie Parker. Cinema's representations of musical performance have varied greatly, as is shown by essays on Hollywood's adaptations of blackface minstrelsy (Corin Willis) and Howard Hawks' view of jazz as democracy in action (Ian Brookes). Film scores too have proved controversial in deploying jazz to denote sleaze and criminality: reacting against this audio stereotyping, the more sophisticated and nuanced efforts of Duke Ellington and John Lewis are discussed by, respectively, Mervyn Cooke and David Butler. Finally, Michael Jarrett brings together many interpretative threads in proposing a new model of influence, or conduction, exemplified in the iconic sounds of the train and its various criss-crossing echoes in and through African American culture. A significant addition to the growing body of work on jazz and blues as cross-cultural influences, Thriving on a Riff presents new and provocative work by the most distinguished scholars in the field, whose perspectives span the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 203.2 x 261.62 x 25.4mm | 1,315.41g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • w. 9 halftones
  • 0195337026
  • 9780195337020

Review quote

The book is balanced, consistently well and persuasively written and opulently presented. It also has a genuinely useful website ... the best aspect of the book is its subtle awareness of the effect of jazz and the way it shaped the spinning of words and images to make African American culture distinctive Trevor Herbert, Times Higher Education Criss-crossing artistic and disciplinary divides with an exemplary spirit of inquiry, the essays and interviews collected in Thriving on a Riff make a vital contribution to our understanding of the influence of jazz and blues on other forms of African American creative practice. In addition to documenting salient moments in this history of cross-genre interplay, Graham Lock and David Murray have extended the archive with an accompanying website through which curious readers can now become active listeners. I encourage you to tune in. Ajay Heble, Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph/ Artistic Director, The Guelph Jazz Festival highly readable Roger Thomas, Jazz UK Examining complex issues of authenticity, identity, and assimilation within a broad cultural context, Thriving on a Riff's thought-provoking essays and interviews illuminate the various meanings and metaphors of a music that remains as misunderstood as it is inspirational and sublime. Art Lange, co-editor, Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry & Proseshow more

About Graham Lock

Graham Lock is Research Fellow in American Music, University of Nottingham, and author, Forces in Motion: Anthony Braxton and the Meta-reality of Creative Music (Quartet, 1988), Chasing the Vibration: Meetings with Creative Musicians (Stride, 1994), and Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra, Duke Ellington and Anthony Braxton (Duke, 1999), and editor, Mixtery: A Festschrift for Anthony Braxton (Stride, 1995) David Murray is Professor of American Studies, University of Nottingham, and author, Indian Giving: Economies of Power in Early Indian-White Exchanges (Massachusetts UP, 2000), Forked Tongues: Speech, Writing and Representation in North American Indian Texts (Indiana UP, 1992)show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Introduction: You've Got to be Jazzistic ; I. MUSIC, IMAGE, AND IDENTITY ; 1. "You Ain't Got to Be Black to beBlack": Music, Race Consciousness, and Identity in The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Mojo Hand ; 2. Blackface Minstelstry and Jazz Signification in Hollywood's Early Sound Era ; II. JAZZ, BLUES, AND LITERATURE ; 3. "Thanks, Jack, for That": The 'Strange Legacies' of Sterling Brown ; 4. Songlines: An Interview with Michael S. Harper ; 5. Synthesizing the Hoodoo of Voodoo: The Music as [Dis]embodied Hero in Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo ; 6. Paul Beatty's "White Boy Shuffle" Blues: Jazz Poetry, John Coltrane, and the Post-Soul Aesthetic ; 7. Giving Voice: An Interview with Jayne Cortez ; 8. "Out of this World": Music and Spirit in the Writings of Nathaniel Macket and Amiri Baraka ; III. MUSIC, IMAGE, AND IDENTITY - II ; 9. Blaxsploitation Bird: Ross Russell's Pulp Addiction ; IV. JAZZ, BLUES, AND FILM ; 11. "A Rebus of Democratic Slants and Angles": the Have and Have Not, Racial Representation and Musical Performance in a Democracy at War ; 12. "No Brotherly Love": Hollywood Jazz, Racial Prejudice and John Lewis's Score for Odds Against Tomorrow ; 13. Anatomy of a Movie: Duke Ellington and 1950s Film Scoring ; V. EPISTROPHY ; 14. Jumping Tracks: The Path of Conductionshow more

Rating details

1 ratings
2 out of 5 stars
5 0% (0)
4 0% (0)
3 0% (0)
2 100% (1)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X