Skip to Content

Appel, Ellington and the Modernist Canon

Eric Lewis

Published: 2005-09-01

This review/article questions the function of cannon building by focusing on Appel's recent attempt to include, among others, Ellington into the cannon of great modernist artists. I demonstrate that his arguments are insensitive to what may be different about Ellington's relationship to (so-called) primitivism when comparted to Picasso and others. I also show that his "readings" of assorted Ellington works assume a version of Neo-Liberalism that may well be at odds with Ellington's own relationship to contemporary America.

Available Files

  • Appel_Ellington_Modernist_Canon.pdf

    225 KB | application/pdf


Improvisation implies a deep connection between the personal and the communal, self and world. A “good” improviser successfully navigates musical and institutional boundaries and the desire for self-expression, pleasing not only herself but the listener as well.

– Rob Wallace